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 Essex, 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 Essex. 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.
Have questions about your civil ceremony wedding venue? Take a look at our FAQ below…
FAQ - Civil ceremony licensed wedding Venues
Can any wedding venue in Essex 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 Essex. Check them out.
What determines the decision of approving a venue for civil ceremonies?
If a wedding venue in Essex 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. 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 Essex.
If I want to get married in a marquee, will I need to have the ceremony elsewhere in Essex?
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 will happen during a civil ceremony?
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 Essex 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 Essex, 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?
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. If you're wanting to have religious elements to your ceremony, whether that be a song or a reading, a humanist ceremony would work perfect for you in Scotland. Speak to a few venues around you to see what ceremonies they can offer and what would work for you