How is a venue licensed for civil ceremonies? Find out why civil ceremony licensed venues are so popular.
If you want a ceremony in Bristol and Somerset that's legally binding without getting married in a church, and you’re getting married in England or Wales, 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.
So many wedding venues in Bristol and Somerset have a civil ceremony license, but just double check they do before booking them. If they don't you will have to find another way of getting a legally-binding marriage. 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.
Civil Ceremony Wedding Venues FAQ
Can any wedding venue in Bristol and Somerset have a civil ceremony license?
There's many different types of venue that can be licensed for civil ceremonies. Anything from castles and hotels to barns and even unique venues such as zoo's! 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. Some you can only have your wedding reception at but you will have to check with the wedding venue itself. Take a look at our range of civil ceremony licensed venues in Bristol and Somerset.
How does a wedding venue get approved for civil ceremonies?
If a wedding venue in Bristol and Somerset wants a civil ceremony license, it must be assessed before hand. This is done by the council, who determine whether it's suitable. 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. The venue must also be regularly available to the public for the purpose of conducting marriage ceremonies. This is why private homes can’t be approved for a civil ceremony license. 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. You can't legally have a civil ceremony in an open area such as in open woodland or under a flower archway on the beach. It must be a fixed structure like a wooden gazebo that is separately licensed. 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 Bristol and Somerset.
Can any marquee in Bristol and Somerset be licensed for a civil ceremony?
The law does not consider marquees to be permanent structures, even ones that are up all year round. As a result, it can be difficult to have a civil ceremony in a marquee. 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 does a civil ceremony involve?
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. Ask your chosen registrar about what you need to say during your civil ceremony and then you can work around this to write your own vowed and promises to your partner. Find an abundance of venues licensed for civil ceremonies in Bristol and Somerset on Guides for Brides.
If I want a religious element to my marriage, can I have this during a civil ceremony?
By law a civil ceremony cannot include any religious element, including readings or music. You also cannot hold a civil ceremony in a religious building in Bristol and Somerset. If you would like to include religion in some way, you can have a religious blessing after your civil ceremony.
Does a Scottish civil ceremony differ from others in the UK?
If you wish to get married in Scotland, there's many more venues that you can do this is. This is because in Scotland, humanist ceremonies are legally binding and in a humanist ceremony there's a lot more flexibility on what you and your partner can say. Unlike civil ceremonies, humanist weddings do not require specific wording, or for the ceremony to be under a permanent structure. When you've chosen your wedding venue in Scotland, speak to the staff to work out what ceremony will work best for you. You can even include religious readings in your humanist ceremony!