How to find the perfect Wedding Venue

The Registrar General for England and Wales has issued updated guidance on the approval of premises as venues for civil marriages and civil partnerships. It provides detailed guidance as to how the public, local authorities, faith groups and registration officers can obtain approval of premises for the celebration of civil marriages and civil partnerships.

This guidance is in four parts:

  • Part One provides generic guidance that applies to all premises that are to be approved for civil marriages and civil partnerships, or religious premises to be approved for civil partnerships only;
  • Part Two provides additional guidance that is specific to the approval of secular premises for civil marriages and civil partnerships;
  • Part Three provides additional guidance that is specific to the approval of religious premises for civil partnerships; and
  • Part Four provides other guidance for couples wishing to solemnize a marriage or register a civil partnership on approved premises and gives information about the designation of civil partnership registrars.

The guidance is in full here. And for those looking for a suitable venue, here is a non exhaustive list of currently approved premises.

Who can marry?

Full details are set out on the Government’s main website.

You can get married or form a civil partnership in the UK if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • free to marry or form a civil partnership (single, divorced or widowed)
  • not closely related

You need permission from your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Only same sex couples can form a civil partnership.

Same sex couples

You can:

  • form a civil partnership in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • get married in England, Scotland and Wales
  • convert your civil partnership into a marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

Marriages and civil partnerships in Scotland and Northern Ireland

There are different rules for getting married or forming a civil partnership in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What you need to do

There are usually 2 steps to getting married or forming a civil partnership in England and Wales.

  1. Give notice at your local register office.
  2. Have a religious ceremony or civil ceremony at least 28 days after giving notice.

There may be different steps for some religious ceremonies.

Getting married or forming a civil partnership abroad

Find out about who to contact and which documents you may need to get from the UK authorities if you want to get married or form a civil partnership abroad.

You can register your overseas marriage or civil partnership in the UK if one of you is:

  • a UK national marrying a foreign national before a UK consular officer in a country without legal registration facilities
  • a serving member of, or attached to, the British Armed Forces

Marrying in England or Wales if you live abroad

You may be able to give notice in the country where you’re living if that country has signed up to the ‘British Subjects Facilities Acts’. Your partner must be a resident of England or Wales.

Contact the register office for the district in England and Wales where you intend to marry.

If you’ve been divorced or widowed

If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before, you need to take either:

A foreign divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it took place.

The registrar will check your overseas divorce documents and may have to get in touch with the General Register Office to confirm whether your marriage or civil partnership can go ahead.

What about a Pre-Nup?

Congratulations on setting the date, you have picked the venue and now just need to sort out the Dress and who is going to be the Chief Bridesmaid. Has the Best Man been nominated yet? Along with all those essential jobs to do as part of the preparations, spare a thought for the legal implications of what you are entering into with your perfect partner. It is wise to consider whether to arrange a Pre-Nuptial agreement.

Whilst these are not (yet) legally enforceable in the English Courts, Judges are increasingly willing to look at an agreement entered into before marriage, when considering all the factors on divorce/dissolution. It is therefore worth considering entering into a ‘pre-nup’ before marriage especially where one or both parties have significant wealth to bring into the relationship. A pre nup can cover the home, spousal support and a pre-nup will set out the rights and obligations of each partner concerning any property and the division of personal possessions. To have the best chance of being taken into account, agreements should also include full disclosure by both parties of all their assets, including those held offshore, and arrangements if the marriage produces children.

It doesn’t have to be unromantic, just think of it as relationship insurance. Although perhaps don’t set a fixed term as was rumoured when Tom Cruise married Katie Holmes. And, if you are planning on breaking any records, check out our ‘Wedding World Records’ post here to see what you have to beat!

Things to consider:

  • The respective parties’ assets and independent wealth accrued prior to marriage and what they intend to retain

  • How you will hold, own and contribute towards post marital assets

  • Provision for a review e.g. if child/ren born, medical reasons, incapacity, unemployment etc.

  • Has or is any 3rd party contributing towards marriage/marital assets e.g. parent(s) and do they expect to be repaid

  • In whose name(s) is any property to be registered?

  • What arrangements will there be for payment of shared outgoings?

Contact us

If you need advice on this or any other family law issue Paradigm Family Law are here to help. Our team of specialist family lawyers can advise on the legalities or otherwise of a pre nuptial agreement, and even on the validity of your marriage. Feel free to call us on 0845 6020422 or email Paradigm Family Law at [email protected] to make arrangements for a free initial consultation and ask us about our fixed fees.