The Law Commission Consultation - Are Weddings About to Change?

The Law Commission Consultation – Are Weddings About to Change?

Written by Emma Hla
On Thursday 3rd July the Law Commission published Getting Married: A Consultation Paper on Weddings Law.

In the Consultation Paper, they have put forward provisional proposals for a comprehensive overhaul of the current, overly-restrictive and (I think we would all agree) outdated law of weddings.

The suggestions put forward, which covers where couples can get married in England and Wales, giving notice, the location and content of the ceremony, the people who must attend, and how marriages are registered, are now in a consultation period.

We have been asked by the Law Commission to review the paper, submit our views and share with our venue members – It would be great if you could take a moment to read through the proposed legislation (we’ve handily linked below for you) to see how this might impact your business – the positives and perhaps the not-so positives.

The proposals are of course being put forward to give couples greater choice within a simple, fair and consistent legal structure, so that people can have a wedding that is meaningful to them – something we are all passionate about.

However, after a pretty tough 2020, we want to ensure any changes both embrace couples and their individual desires and continue to support the wedding sector.

 

the law commission consultation Links

  • You can read the full paper here.
  • You can read a shorter summary paper here.
  • You can read an at-a-glance paper here.

The paper Highlights

The proposed changes:

Civil Preliminaries

Allow individuals to give notice of their intended wedding remotely, and to choose the registration district where they have their in-person interview.

Provides for online publication of upcoming weddings that will be accessible to the wider community.

Types of Weddings

Their scheme would enable weddings conducted by non-religious belief organisations (such as Humanists) and/or independent celebrants, if Government decided to permit them.

Location

All weddings will be legally permitted to take place in a location chosen by the couple. Couples will be able to marry outdoors and in their own homes.

Ceremonies

There will be no prescribed words, giving couples greater freedom as to the form their wedding takes, enabling the law to recognise the variety of ceremonies that people use to mark their weddings, including religious ceremonies.

So long as it is still identifiable as a civil ceremony, couples will be able to have religious songs, readings and hymns as part of their civil weddings.

Validity

Fewer ceremonies will result in a wedding that the law does not recognise at all.

Positives

The positives are without a doubt most welcome.

The proposed changes will give couples greater freedom to shape their individual wedding days.

For venues who don’t currently hold a license (fields and land, or marquee and tipi suppliers) it means couples will be able to choose you for their whole wedding experience – both ceremony and reception – without having to consider the legal part.

Couples will have the option of creating a ceremony that’s individual, bespoke and celebratory, conducted in a way that truly reflects their life and love.

Outdoor weddings are increasing in popularity, the changes will allow venues who don’t currently have an outdoor licensed structure to conduct legal ceremonies on their estate.

possible challenges

Whilst I absolutely believe couples will still want to marry in beautiful surroundings, make a weekend escape of their celebration or wow guests with a jaw-dropping backdrop, the freedom that comes with a wider range of location choices for couples may have an impact on licensed venues directly and converting those enquiries may become even harder.

With greater choice, there may also be some increased pressure on pricing.

It’s important we understand what this impact might look like, so please do feel free to share your views with us at emma@cocoweddingvenues.co.uk and we will support you in our feedback with any concerns you might have.

Have your say

The publication of the Consultation Paper marks the opening of a period of public consultation, which will last until 3rd December 2020.

Written submissions to their consultation can be sent using their online response form. Where possible, it would be helpful if this form was used.

Alternatively, comments may be sent:

  • by email to weddings@lawcommission.gov.uk; or
  • by post to Weddings Team, Law Commission, 1st Floor, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AG. (If you send your comments by post, it would be helpful if, whenever possible, you could also send them electronically.)

They are keen to hear the full range of views, and would welcome your submission answering as many or as few questions as you like. More information about this project can be found on their website, here.

Updates about consultation events will be published on their website in the coming weeks.

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