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 County Durham, 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 County Durham 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.
Take a look at our FAQ below for everything you need to know about your civil ceremony licensed wedding venue.
FAQ - Civil ceremony licensed wedding Venues
Can any wedding venue in County Durham 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. Some venues, you can only have a humanist or spiritual ceremony at, or just have your reception there. This is because they haven't paid for a civil ceremony license. We have all of the top venues licensed for civil ceremonies in County Durham. Check them out.
How does a venue get approved for a civil ceremony license?
Every venue in County Durham is assessed and researched before they are approved for civil ceremonies. This is done by the local council in which the venue is based. 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 Durham.
If I want to get married in a marquee, will I need to have the ceremony elsewhere in County Durham?
The law does not consider marquees to be permanent structures, even ones that are up all year round. 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. 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 Durham 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 Durham, 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. You can also include religious elements in your humanist ceremony. If you’re a bride in Scotland, ask your wedding venue about what kind of ceremony would work best for you.