How is a venue licensed for civil ceremonies? Find out why civil ceremony licensed venues are so popular.
If you want to have your marriage ceremony and reception all in one venue in Dorset, 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 Dorset 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...
Civil Ceremony Wedding Venues FAQ
Can any wedding venue in Dorset 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. 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 Dorset. Check them out.
How does a wedding venue get approved for civil ceremonies?
If a wedding venue in Dorset wants a civil ceremony license, it must be assessed before hand. This is done by the council, who determine whether it's suitable. 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 Dorset.
Can I have a legally-binding civil ceremony in a marquee setting in Dorset?
The law does not consider marquees to be permanent structures, even ones that are up all year round. Due to this law, you can't legally have a civil ceremony in a marquee, even if it's permanent. 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. What you say during your ceremony can be changed to a certain degree. Ask your registrar about what needs to be included and work around that to make your own words and promises.
Can I include religious readings or music in my civil ceremony?
Unfortunately, if you want to have a religious reading or music included in your marriage ceremony, you can't have a civil ceremony. To make this happen, you would have to get married in a church building or have a religious blessing after your marriage.
If I want to get married in Scotland, are the regulations for my civil ceremony different?
The above requirements only apply to weddings in England and Wales. In Scotland, humanist ceremonies are legally binding, so brides in Scotland 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 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!