The UK marriage law changes and what you need to know

The UK marriage law changes and what you need to know

marriage law change the facts

Currently in the UK if you want to enter the legally recognised act of Marriage your choices are essentially limited to either a Church wedding or civil ceremony involving a registrar and licensed premises which can often be very impersonal.

The current marriage laws largely date back to 1836 and given the trend towards celebrant led weddings and the wider choice in venues available are generally considered to be out of date.

You may be one of thousands of couples that have been looking forward to a wider choice in where and by whom you can be legally married. Following the announcement in 2018 that the Law Commission would be carrying out a two year review of the existing laws.

Unfortunately this two year announcement has led to a lot of confusion.

Fast forward to early 2020 and many Wedding Planners , Venues and wedding suppliers are experiencing an influx of enquiries from expectant couples looking to take advantage of the proposed changes that would relax the laws with many receiving conflicting advice.

So let’s take a look at the facts you need to know?

  • The Law Commission were asked to investigate and make recommendations on law changes that could see registrars able to carry out more personal ceremonies, Celebrants licensed to legally marry and the rules on where you are allowed to be married to be relaxed.
  • The Law Commission review was set to last 2 years and has now been completed. This has led to much confusion with couples being advised that the law change could be effective from early 2020, sadly this is not correct.
  • What happens next? Now that the law commission has carried out the research and made the recommendations, we enter a further 2 year period of consultation following which new legislation will then be drafted and will have to pass through both Parliament and the House of Lords
  • The expected time scale will not see the end of consultation for 2 years following which new legislation will have to be passed through parliament the time frame for which will very much depend on the political will at the time and by what other political issues the country is dealing with at that time, as such nobody can put an exact date or time line on the proposals passing in to law however the general advice is the very earliest we are likely to see a change in the law is 2022 but most likely 2023/2024

RandFWeddings are keen supporters of the law changes and work closely with the National Celebrants Convention and many others whom have been working with the law commission on their study. Given our interests in the wedding industry, we have also been appointed as key stakeholders by the law commission meaning that we will have our say during the consultation and be kept up to date of the most recent developments directly.

Are the proposed Marriage law changes now effective?

Unfortunately No. The UK Law commission has however completed its research and presented its recommendations for public consultation.

How long will the public consultation on the marriage law take?

The consultation period is planned to last two years following which draft legislation will be created for discussion in parliament which could take considerably longer.

Will the Marriage law definitely change?

Sadly we cant answer this, what we can say is that many people are being advised that the law changes are definite however the proposals may change during public consultation, and they may change further during parliamentary discussion. What we can say is that there is to date little political resistance to the changes and almost everyone involved in the law change discussion understands and supports the need for change.

Should we wait until the marriage law changes?

Only you as a couple can answer this, however our advice would be that you may potentially be holding off your marriage plans for anything up to another 4 years following which there is no guarantee that the changes you are waiting for will be part of the law changes.

Article references and resources

More information and the current project status provided by the law commission on the proposed marriage law changes can be found here

Images Courtesy of Lina & Tom Wedding photography Featuring Zena Birch Wedding Celebrant


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