What does it mean to be a licensed venue for civil ceremonies?
Having a civil ceremony is the perfect option for those of you who want a legal ceremony but without having to get married in a church or with a religious connection, 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.
Most wedding venues in County Armagh will have a civil ceremony license, however some don't, so you will want to ensure that your chosen venue does before booking them. 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.
We're here to answer all of your questions on wedding venues licensed for civil ceremonies below...
Frequently Asked Questions - Civil Ceremony Venues
Can any wedding venue in County Armagh have a civil ceremony license?
It’s not just mansion houses or castles that can be approved wedding venues - approved premises can include everything from hotels and restaurants to zoos, aquariums, treehouses and caves! 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 County Armagh on Guides for Brides.
What determines the decision of approving a venue for civil ceremonies?
When a venue in County Armagh 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. Due to the venue needing to be regularly open to the public to be an approved venue, you aren't able to legally marry in a private home or estate. 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. Due to the law, if you get married outside it still needs to be under a fixed permanent structure. 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 County Armagh.
Can I have a civil ceremony in a marquee in County Armagh?
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 County Armagh on Guides for Brides.
Can I include religious readings or music in my civil ceremony?
You can't have your civil ceremony in a religious building in County Armagh, such as a church. It applies the same way round - you can't have a religious aspect to your civil ceremony. Therefore, unfortunately you are not allowed to have a religious reading during your civil ceremony.
Are civil ceremonies more flexible in Scotland, as opposed to England and Wales?
In Scotland, humanist ceremonies are legally binding, meaning that you don't have to have a civil ceremony in order for it to be official. This means that you have lots more options on what you and your partner can say during the ceremony and there's a wider choice of venues for you to marry at. Unlike civil ceremonies, humanist weddings do not require specific wording, or for the ceremony to be under a permanent structure. If you're wanting to have religious elements to your ceremony, whether that be a song or a reading, a humanist ceremony would work perfect for you in Scotland. Speak to a few venues around you to see what ceremonies they can offer and what would work for you