Wedding venues licensed for civil ceremonies are the most popular.
If you want to have your marriage ceremony and reception all in one venue in Bedfordshire, then a civil ceremony is the best match for you. You can either get married in a register office, or you can have a civil ceremony at an approved wedding venue. To be an approved civil ceremony venue, wedding venues need to apply for a civil ceremony license.
If your dream wedding venue isn't licensed for civil ceremonies, there's other options in Bedfordshire. The alternative is marrying in a humanist or spiritual ceremony, which will allow you to marry in any venue (or in an unlicensed part of an otherwise licensed venue, such as a garden or private beach), but will need to be followed by a legal civil ceremony in a register office at another date.
Take a look at our FAQ below for everything you need to know about your civil ceremony licensed wedding venue.
Frequently Asked Questions - Civil Ceremony Venues
Can any wedding venue in Bedfordshire have a civil ceremony license?
Not just traditional wedding venues have civil ceremony licenses. Some more unique venues including safari parks, tree houses and beach venues have this license. If they’re on our civil ceremony venue list, then you can legally marry there. However, don’t assume that more traditional venues always have a civil ceremony license. Venues have to pay to get themselves approved for civil ceremonies. Therefore, some aren't licensed and can only host humanist ceremonies or just your wedding reception. You can find your dream Civil ceremony licensed wedding venue in Bedfordshire on Guides for Brides.
How does a venue get approved for a civil ceremony license?
When a venue in Bedfordshire applies for a civil ceremony license it needs to be assessed by the local council. This includes whether or not they’re in a safe and reasonable state for members of the public, and if they meet fire safety regulations. If you're wanting to have your wedding in a private home or in gardens, you will be unable to do this. The venue needs to be open to the public regularly. If you’re hoping to marry on private land, in a back garden or a large home that isn’t available to the public, you’ll need to hold your legal ceremony in a register office instead.
Can I have a civil ceremony outside?
If you want to tie the knot in an outdoor wedding ceremony, then your wedding venue will need a separate civil ceremony license for this. The legal elements of the ceremony must also take place in a fixed and permanent structure, such as a wooden gazebo or pagoda. This means that you can’t legally marry under a floral arch, on an open beach or in woodland, for example. Don’t presume that any permanent fixture in a wedding venue’s garden will be automatically covered by a civil ceremony license. Venues need to purchase licenses for separate structures. If you want to know if you can get married in a garden, search our ‘Outdoor wedding ceremony’ filter or simply enquire with your chosen wedding venue in Bedfordshire.
If I want to get married in a marquee, will I need to have the ceremony elsewhere in Bedfordshire?
The law does not consider marquees to be permanent structures, even ones that are up all year round. If you want to hold your wedding in a marquee, it's best to get married in a nearby church or licensed venue indoors before the reception. One way to get around this is to have your ceremony over the threshold of a doorway. This way, your guests can be seated in the marquee while you are technically indoors.
What takes place during the marriage at a civil ceremony licensed venue?
A civil wedding ceremony has certain legal requirements. You must have two witnesses over the age of 18, and you will need to exchange contractual words of marriage. What you say during your ceremony can be changed to a certain degree. Ask your registrar about what needs to be included and work around that to make your own words and promises.
Can I include religious readings or music in my civil ceremony?
Unfortunately, if you want to have a religious reading or music included in your marriage ceremony, you can't have a civil ceremony. To make this happen, you would have to get married in a church building or have a religious blessing after your marriage.
If I want to get married in Scotland, are the regulations for my civil ceremony different?
The above requirements only apply to weddings in England and Wales. In Scotland, humanist ceremonies are legally binding, so brides in Scotland have more flexibility when choosing their wedding venues. Unlike civil ceremonies, humanist weddings do not require specific wording, or for the ceremony to be under a permanent structure. Another benefit to having a humanist ceremony as opposed to a civil ceremony is that you are allowed to include religious elements such as religious music or readings.