Wedding venues licensed for civil ceremonies are the most popular. In Northern Ireland and Scotland it is the officiant who is licensed and not the venue, meaning you have the freedom of choice in your venue.
If you want to have your marriage ceremony and reception all in one venue in County Down, then a civil ceremony is the best match for you. You can either get married in a registery 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 in England and Wales. However, this does not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland where the officiant is licensed and not the venue.
Above you will find venues in County Down that can host both your civil ceremony and your wedding reception.
FAQ - Civil ceremony licensed wedding Venues
Can any wedding venue in County Down 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 in England and Wales. 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 venue get approved for a civil ceremony license?
When a venue in England and Wales 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. 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 County Down.
Can I have a legally-binding civil ceremony in a marquee setting in County Down?
The law in England and Wales 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 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 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 or Northern Irish civil ceremony differ from others in the UK?
The above requirements only apply to weddings in England and Wales. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, humanist ceremonies are legally binding, so brides in Scotland and Northern Ireland 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. When you've chosen your wedding venue in these countries, speak to the staff to work out what ceremony will work best for you. You can even include religious readings in your humanist ceremony!