Wedding venues licensed for civil ceremonies are the most popular.
If you want to have your marriage ceremony and reception all in one venue in West Sussex, 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.
So many wedding venues in West Sussex have a civil ceremony license, but just double check they do before booking them. If they don't you will have to find another way of getting a legally-binding marriage. 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.
Take a look at our FAQ below for everything you need to know about your civil ceremony licensed wedding venue.
Civil Ceremony Wedding Venues FAQ
Can any wedding venue in West Sussex 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. It costs wedding venues money to apply for a license, so some just host humanist or spiritual ceremonies, or simply host wedding receptions rather than ceremonies.
How does a wedding venue get approved for civil ceremonies?
If a wedding venue in West Sussex 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. 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?
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. Due to the law, if you get married outside it still needs to be under a fixed permanent structure. 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 West Sussex.
Can I have a civil ceremony in a marquee in West Sussex?
The law does not consider marquees to be permanent structures, even ones that are up all year round. If you want to hold your wedding in a marquee, it's best to get married in a nearby church or licensed venue indoors before the reception. 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. 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.
If I want a religious element to my marriage, can I have this during a 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 West Sussex. If you would like to include religion in some way, you can have a religious blessing after your civil ceremony.
Does a Scottish civil ceremony differ from others in the UK?
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