Wedding venues licensed for civil ceremonies are the most popular.
If you want a ceremony in County Down 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.
There are hundreds of wedding venues in County Down with a civil ceremony license, but it’s important to check that your dream venue has one if you’re wanting a legally-binding ceremony. 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...
FAQ - Civil ceremony licensed wedding Venues
Can any wedding venue in County Down have a civil ceremony license?
Civil ceremony licensed wedding venues can range from a classic country house or barn to more unique venues including caves and safari parks. 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 Down on Guides for Brides.
How does a wedding venue get approved for civil ceremonies?
The local council determine if wedding venues in County Down are suitable for a civil ceremony license. 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. If you're wanting to marry outside, it will need to be under a permanent structure, unlike a floral arch or an open beach setting. 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 Down.
Can I have a civil ceremony in a marquee in County Down?
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. One advantage of a civil ceremony is there's the option to say what you wish as part of your wedding vows. There are some things that need to be legally stated for it to be legally binding but you can work around this. Find an abundance of venues licensed for civil ceremonies in County Down 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 County Down. 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. 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.