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What does the new wedding law mean for you?

Something huge may be just around the corner that could completely transform the way couples get married in England and Wales. A new wedding law has been proposed by the Law Commission that would allow couples to legally get married anywhere they like — from their own back garden to their favourite park.

back garden

If the government agrees to the new law, couples will be allowed to get married in all sorts of new and creative places, including:

  1. Outdoors in places not connected with buildings, such as beaches, forests, and parks
  2. Budget-friendly local venues, such as village halls, community centres, and private homes
  3. In international waters onboard cruise ships registered in the UK


The new law wouldn’t just change where couples can get married — it would also change how they can get married. The Law Commission is arguing for couples to be allowed ceremonies that truly reflect their personal beliefs and values, like humanist ceremonies.
humanist ceremonies

Right now, no spiritual or religious elements are allowed to be included in a civil ceremony. And the rules for both civil and religious ceremonies are incredibly strict. But if the new law passes, it would let couples:

  1. Have a religious ceremony somewhere that isn’t a place of worship without having to incorporate prescribed words
  2. Have a personalised religious ceremony that includes aspects of each individual’s personal reliefs, led by an interfaith minister
  3. Have a civil ceremony that includes religious elements, such as prayers and hymns


If the law is passed by the government, it would make a huge difference to non-religious couples who still want to get married, such as humanists. It would allow them to get married wherever they want and however they want while still having their ceremony recognized by the state. This is something that simply doesn’t exist right now.

couples can get married

Where and how couples can get married is strictly regulated and depends on the type of wedding. Before they get married, couples are forced to choose between a civil and a religious ceremony, with no option for another type of ceremony that properly reflects their beliefs.

With a very small number of exceptions, all couples must get married in a place of worship, registry office, or a venue that has been specifically approved for civil ceremonies. They can’t get married outdoors — except within the grounds of an approved venue.

couple fails

If a couple fails to comply with the legal requirements, which happens with some ceremonies (such as humanist weddings), their marriage isn’t legally recognised. Many people don’t even realise this until their relationship comes to an end. This means that neither person in the relationship has any real legal status or protection, since they’re not legally classed as married.

The details can be a little confusing, but if this law is passed, the consequences will be huge. Couples throughout England and Wales will have more freedom to get married where and how they choose.

They won’t be stuck with the strict rules which haven’t changed in decades. Instead, they’ll be able to celebrate their love in a way that reflects their relationship.


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