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Marriage in a pub, or on the beach

The UK Government has asked the Law Commission to review outdated restrictions on wedding venues

UK law firm marriage glut

UK law firm marriage glut

Following the budget announcement, on Monday, the government has now asked the Law Commission to review what are now recognised as outdated restrictions on wedding venues. The Treasury has said that more venue choices could lower the average venue booking cost and boost the hospitality sector.

Current Law

At present, weddings in England and Wales may only take place in a building, or permanent structure, that has been licensed for weddings. For civil cermonies, alcohol may not be served during the wedding or up to an hour beforehand.  There must be at least two witnesses to the cermony and the marriage must be conducted by, or in the presence of, a person authorised to register marriages.

The requirements that couples specigy the building in which the cermony is to take place – and the restrictions on the consumption of food and alcohol in the area during, and before, the event – date from 1837.

Common law marriages are not recognised in England and Wales, and so it is important to ensure that all of these formalities are complied with. If the marrige is not valid, the couple is afforded none of the protections that the law offers to married couples.

Anticipated legal changes

Lifting restrictions on al fresco locations, such as gardens and beaches, is a possibility. Marriage in a pub is a possibility too. The purpose of the Law Commission review is to make it cheaper and simpler for couples to get married, thus potentially supporting more people to get married.


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