Types of wedding ceremonies
There are lots of different types of wedding ceremonies, 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 venues’ legal licenses.
Church wedding ceremonies
Wedding ceremonies are experiencing a time of change. While a church wedding was once the norm, today less than half of UK couples have church wedding ceremonies. For some, it is because they don’t usually go to church and feel it would be hypocritical to marry 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.
Civil wedding ceremonies
At present more than half of marrying couples in the UK have a civil ceremony. Registrars perform and an assistant who documents the wedding. The civil ceremony can be held in either a registry office or an approved wedding venue. You can marry any day of the week, but there may be restrictions on time.
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.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 introduced civil partnerships in the UK to grant same-sex couples rights and responsibilities similar to civil marriage. However, in 2013, The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced to allow same-sex civil ceremonies. This 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 wedding ceremonies
Humanist and spiritual ceremonies allow you to have a ceremony without the strict rules and legalities or a civil ceremony. You can include elements of any religion and have as many or as few readings or songs as you like. You can also marry in any location you like – however, this will not be legally binding. If you wish your marriage to be legal, it must be combined with a civil ceremony at a later date.
If you want to marry abroad, the country you choose will determine the legalities of your ceremony. 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.
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