Civil ceremony wedding venues are hugely popular throughout the England and Wales. However, what exactly does it mean to be a licensed wedding venue?
If you want a legally-binding wedding ceremony with no religious affiliation, 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.
Scottish and Northern Irish wedding venues do not need a civil ceremony license as it is the officiant who is licensed to perform the legally binding ceremony and not the venue. You should be able to have your civil ceremony at almost any venue in Highlands and Islands and you'll be able to decide whether that's a civil ceremony or a celebrant ceremony. The listed venues have identified that they are able to cater for both your wedding ceremony and reception.
Civil Ceremony Wedding Venues FAQ
If I want to get married in Scotland or Northern Ireland, are the regulations for my civil ceremony different from England and Wales?
The below 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. 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.
Can any wedding venue in Highlands and Islands 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 you can only have your wedding reception at but you will have to check with the wedding venue itself. Take a look at our range of civil ceremony licensed venues in Highlands and Islands.
How does a venue get approved for a civil ceremony license?
Every venue in Highlands and Islands 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. The venue must also be regularly available to the public for the purpose of conducting marriage ceremonies. This is why private homes can’t be approved for a civil ceremony license. 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?
In England and Wales, 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 Highlands and Islands.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can have a civil ceremony outside because it is the officiant who is licensed and not the venue. So your wedding in Highlands and Islands will be able to be outdoors if that's what you're dreaming of.
Can I have a civil ceremony in a marquee in Highlands and Islands?
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 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. 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.