In an ideal world, you could have your wedding on your terms: in the location you want, at the time you want, reciting the vows you want. Unfortunately, the UK has some pretty strict and strange rules concerning when and where legal weddings and civil partnerships can take place. It all boils down to one frustrating fact: you can’t get married where you may want.
Where You Can’t Get Married in the UK
You can fall in love literally anywhere: at the checkouts in a supermarket, on a train, on a beach, in a hospital but the same cannot be said of marriage in the UK. In fact, the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Regulations asserts that weddings cannot happen just anywhere.
Gone is the idyllic notion to mutter your vows in a lush English garden surrounded by roses, wildflowers. In the UK, you may not be able to legally marry with your toes in the sand of a beach, the tide becking at your back (except in Scotland.) Nor can you marry in a tent or a marquee or any other temporary structure. As of 2015, outdoor weddings can occur provided the venue obtain an additional licence. We’re pleased to announce that one of our suppliers Bickleigh Castle in Devon is one of the first UK venues with a licence to host outdoor weddings!
You cannot marry in most forms of transport, this means trains, planes and automobiles are out of the question. In fact, the law states legal premises are those that are permanently immovable, comprising of at least a room that is permanently moored. You can get married in a boat or other vessel so long as it, like all other legal venues, is fixed in place permanently.
To further complicate proceedings, current UK law also prohibits civil marriages occurring on premises licensed for religious holdings. Up until 2012, there were even laws that stated marriages had to take place between 8:00 and 18:00! Thankfully, that is no longer law, giving couples the right to marry any time of day they choose (venue, officiant or minister willing, of course.)
What You Can’t Say at Your Wedding in the UK
Writing your own vows is a sweet way to put a unique spin on your wedding. It’s an easy way to keep your wedding about you and the love of your life: you could include inside jokes, promises that matter to the two of you and on and on. The operative word here being could.
In the UK, you cannot write your own vows. Instead, you must choose from a set of pre-written vows either for religious or civil weddings and recite these to your partner. Wedding ceremonies in the UK are not set up to be manipulated or customised. They are viewed as a wholly legal, binding and serious matter, with strict rules, guidelines and requirements.
This realisation can be shocking for newly engaged couples as they set about planning their wedding. Suddenly, they find they must confirm to somewhat archaic rules enforced by government on what may be the happiest day of their life together.
Thankfully, there are still ways to get exactly what you and your soon-to-be spouse want for your wedding day. It does require a bit of finagling and it might mean you end up forking out a bit more for the wedding budget, but you can have the day of your dreams.
How to Get the Wedding You Want
- Go to Scotland or
Head to Europe, America, Africa, pretty much any other developed country has more laid-back marriage laws than the UK and they’ll let you tie the knot on a beach, too.
- Do it twice
You can have a blessing or unofficial ceremony on the beach, in a garden, in a tent or a marquee, so long as you realise it will not be legally binding. To make it so, you’ll have to head to a registrar’s office before or after and do things the proper way.