The Law Commission has published its consultation on wedding law, with a number of very significant proposed changes to weddings in England and Wales.
The most significant change for most is the proposal that it is the officiant, not the location, that is regulated, with couples being able to choose where they get married. The proposals are good news for some businesses, in particular celebrants, catering companies, marquee companies, wedding planners and hire companies. However for many Approved Venues, already reeling from the costs of so many cancelled and postponed weddings, the news could not have come at a worse time.
The proposals are now in the consultation stage. We would urge any venue or business that relies on weddings to review the Law Commission’s paper and provide feedback.
The deadline for feedback is the 3rd of December 2020.
Please feel free to CC email@example.com, as we will be keeping a record of objections raised so that we can help make your voice heard. We were involved at the pre-consultation stage, along with Bridebook, and will continue to represent and protect our clients through these much needed, but incredibly disruptive, changes.
The Law Commission have published 3 documents which you might find useful
If you have any questions, the email address to send them to is firstname.lastname@example.org and the telephone number for the Law Commission is 020 3334 0200.
The Key Changes
The background to The Law Commission’s examination of wedding law which started in 2015, is that many of the existing laws date back to the nineteenth century, and fail to reflect today’s multicultural society. Often, couples from certain religious backgrounds are not able to marry in a way that reflects their beliefs. The purpose of the proposals is to bring weddings in line with the needs of today’s couples and allow them greater freedom when planning their wedding day.
The key changes:
Individuals will be able to give notice of their intended wedding remotely, and choose the registration district where they attend to complete the preliminaries. All preliminaries will be carried out through civil registration, instead of having a different method for some religious weddings.
Upcoming weddings will be published online, accessible to the wider community.
The officiant, rather than the location, would be regulated. The officiant would need to be present but would not have to carry out the ceremony.
Weddings could be conducted by non-religious belief organisations such as Humanists as well as by Independent celebrants.
Weddings could take place in a location chosen by the couple such as outdoors, in their own homes, at a military establishment or on a UK registered cruise ship.
There will be no prescribed words or vows, giving couples greater freedom and recognising the variety of ceremonies that people use to mark their weddings, including religious ceremonies.
Couples will be able to have religious songs, readings and hymns as part of a civil wedding.
Fewer ceremonies will result in a wedding that the law does not recognise as being valid.
The impact of the proposed changes
For couples, the proposals allow far greater freedom for them to have a wedding which suits them.
The changes will significantly reduce the number of couples choosing to go overseas to have the wedding they choose.
The changes will be welcome news for a number of businesses that will benefit from a more diversified wedding industry.
The option of having weddings at a wider range of locations will suit the many non-approved venues including small niche venues, pubs and restaurants who can’t justify the licensing fee for a handful of weddings each year.
Marquee companies will welcome the proposed plans to allow couples to marry in a location of their choosing as they can have their ceremony and reception in the same place.
Whilst the news is generally good for the industry, and will see a lot of outdated and exclusive laws updated to reflect modern society, it also has the potential to cause some issues for certain sectors. Approved venues, in particular, will have concerns over the plans to allow weddings to take place at a wider range of locations as this may lead to a decrease in bookings for them.
These concerns are very important to us.
What happens next?
The deadline for feedback is 3rd December 2020 however it will be a significant time before any laws are finalised.
We want to help all of our clients find a solution that helps them, whether through helping to raise objections, or support, of the changes, or helping you to prepare for the impact of such changes.
Please share this article with others. The link is here: https://www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/business-information/law-commission-proposals
About the author
Written by: Alison Hargreaves
Alison founded Guides for Brides in 1995 and has been advising brides and businesses ever since. She has an unrivalled knowledge of the wedding industry and is part of an international network of wedding professionals and entrepreneurs. Alison frequently appears on podcasts and expert panels as well as judging various wedding awards.