Marriage Laws in England and Wales are centuries old, steeped in history and tradition. Amendments to these laws have been made, however they remain fairly unchanged since the Marriage Act of 1836.  In 2021 we have already seen the removal of the traditional handwritten certificate replaced with an electronic certificate.  On Thursday 1st July 2021 Approved venues will be permitted for a temporary period to hold outdoor wedding ceremonies without the need for a permanent structure.

So what do these changes mean for couples, their ceremonies and the venue…

Black and White Photograph of Sarah, Wedding Planner at Elizabeth Grace Weddings


I am not sure if we have meet so a quick hello from me.

Hi I’m Sarah the planner behind Elizabeth Grace Weddings. I help couples with busy lives turn their wedding dreams into a reality. With a career in weddings and events spanning over 15 years, during which time I have had the honour to create some amazing events including celebrities and royalty. However my heart lies with Wedding Planning and I have had the privilege to help couples plan their weddings each unique and individual to them. I am passionate about what I do and turning dreams into reality.

Marriage Laws in England and Wales

Civil Weddings and Partnerships ceremonies currently can only take place at an approved premises such as a hotel, Stately Home or other permanent structure. Outdoor weddings are permitted if there is a permanent structure at the venue, with a roof. This structure must also be licensed for Wedding Ceremonies, the same as rooms within a hotel or Stately Home would be. Religious ceremonies in England and Wales must take place in Certified Places of Worship registered for marriage. Including Churches and chapels of the Church of England and Church of Wales.

Marriage Laws in England & Wales Change on 1st July 2021

On Thursday 1st July 2021 Outdoor Civil Weddings and Partnerships will be legal. The venue must be Approved to hold Civil Weddings and Partnerships. This means that ceremonies can now take place fully outside without the need for a permeant structure. The location of the ceremony will be assessed before the ceremony. Location needs to be a seemly and dignified place for a ceremony to take place. Under previous law the ceremony had to take place within a permeant structure with a roof and would be licensed to hold ceremonies. This change is only temporary until April 2022.

Why is it only a Temporary Change?

It is only temporary to help with the current restrictions and giving couples more choice on their ceremony. There is due to be a review and Consultation in Autumn 2021 about the practical impacts of this policy, which may mean a change to the law which is not time limited.

To explain more as to how this change has come about, although the temporary change is due to COVID, this was already part of a wider review. The Government launched a review into the Marriage Laws in England and Wales in June 2019. The review was due to take 2 years, we all know what happened and the timetable has gone slightly adrift. This is the first time ever there has been a review of our wedding laws in England and Wales most of which date back to the 19th Century. The review of our overall wedding laws is being carried out by the Law Commission. You can find out more about this temporary change from this link .gov


Can I have a legal ceremony in my Garden?

At present you can not have a legal wedding ceremony at home. The Temporary change only applies to current Approved Venues

Can my celebrant perform the legal ceremony?

At the moment in England and Wales a celebrant is not able to legally register your marriage. In England and Wales it is places not people who are licensed for Marriages.

Can I have my Church Service Outside?

Religious weddings will continue to take place within certified places of Worship, that are registered for marriage, and Churches and chapels of the Church of England or Church of Wales. However the good news is that this is planned to change as part of the overall review. The exception to this rule is Jewish and Quaker weddings which for historic reason can take place outside.

Lets Talk

Want to find out more about planning your outdoor ceremony or other aspects of your wedding planning. You can book a Half an Hour Discovery Call with me click the link to book .

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