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.
There are hundreds of wedding venues in Central London 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 Central London 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 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 Central London.
How does a wedding venue get approved for civil ceremonies?
The local council determine if wedding venues in Central London are suitable for a civil ceremony license. 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 Central London.
If I want to get married in a marquee, will I need to have the ceremony elsewhere in Central London?
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. Ask your chosen registrar about what you need to say during your civil ceremony and then you can work around this to write your own vowed and promises to your partner. Find an abundance of venues licensed for civil ceremonies in Central London on Guides for Brides.
Can I include religious readings or music in my civil ceremony?
By law a civil ceremony cannot include any religious element, including readings or music. You also cannot hold a civil ceremony in a religious building in Central London. If you would like to include religion in some way, you can have a religious blessing after your civil ceremony.
How is a civil ceremony different in Scotland?
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. 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.