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.
If your dream wedding venue isn't licensed for civil ceremonies, there's other options in Devon. 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 Devon 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. 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 Devon. Check them out.
What determines the decision of approving a venue for civil ceremonies?
Every venue in Devon 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. 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 Devon.
Can I have a legally-binding civil ceremony in a marquee setting in Devon?
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 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 Devon 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 Devon, 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?
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!