There are lots of different types of wedding ceremony, so it is worth doing plenty of research to ensure both you and your wedding venue are eligible for the ceremony that you want. There are many factors you need to consider, such as your religion, sexuality, budget and the legal licenses that the venues hold.
Wedding ceremonies are experiencing a time of change. While once a church wedding would be the norm, these days less than half of all UK couples have wedding ceremonies in church. For some, it is because they don’t usually go to church and feel it would be hypocritical to then get married there. For others, it is because one of the parties to be married is divorced, and therefore can’t have a church wedding.
Churches have fought back over the past few years. Couples are no longer restricted to getting married in their local church, and, depending on the vicar’s discretion, you can have a church ceremony in any church to which you can prove an association, for example, the church where you grew up or regularly attended at a particular point in your life.
At present more than half of marrying couples in the UK have a civil ceremony. Civil ceremonies are carried out by a registrar and an assistant, who documents the wedding. The civil ceremony can be held on any day of the week (although there are restrictions on time), in a registry office or a venue licensed for civil ceremonies. For those wanting a wedding ceremony in an unusual or unlicensed venue, it might be necessary to have the civil ceremony at a register office either before or after, to ensure all the legalities of the wedding.
Civil partnerships in the United Kingdom were granted under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to give same-sex couples rights and responsibilities that were similar to civil marriage. However, in 2013, The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced to allow same-sex civil ceremonies, which saw civil partnerships become less popular with same-sex couples (the UK saw a 49% fall in civil partnerships by 2015.) There are some legal differences between the two, which you can see below.
Humanist and spiritual ceremonies allow you to have a ceremony without the strict rules and legalities or a civil ceremony. It can be organised by yourself, take any form you like and be wherever you would like. However, this will not be legally binding and must be combined with a civil or church ceremony if you wish it to be legal.
If you choose to get married abroad, your ceremony and the legal elements of your wedding will depend on which country you choose to marry in. We recommend doing plenty of research on your chosen wedding destination, as you may need to be resident in the country for a set number of days before you can hold a legal ceremony there.