New Weddings Law - Final Report Submitted
The Law Commission of England and Wales has published its final report into reforming the law of weddings. The recommendations, if approved by the government, will allow couples to get married in a wider range of locations, including temporary structures.
Why the report has been made
According to the report, in 2019 just under 220,000 marriages occurred in England and Wales and the governing body believes this is because the main marriage law, dating from 1836, has failed to keep pace with modern life.
Currently the two options for a wedding are:
- A religious wedding in a place of worship.
- A civil wedding in a licensed secular venue.
What the report is recommending
Convenience is at the heart of this report, with recommendations on who can get married, who can solemnise weddings, simplified legal requirements and where weddings can take place.
What does this mean for venues that want to hold weddings?
This is great news for venues that are wanting to incorporate a temporary or permanent outdoor structure. Ceremonies will now be able to take place fully outdoors or under a partially covered structure. The outside areas of the location will be assessed to ensure the venue is ‘Seemly and Dignified’. The scheme would allow couples to host their wedding ceremony in any type of location so long as their officiant agrees.
In order to hold legal outdoor weddings and civil partnership registrations, a venue must be an Approved Premises or must become an Approved Premises under the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005, as amended. Existing Approved Premises will be permitted to use any outdoor areas in the venue for civil wedding and civil partnership registrations without having to re-apply for approval, subject to certain conditions.
You will still need a premises licence and personal licence to sell alcohol.
What happens next
The report was submitted in July and it will be the new government that approves the plan before the changes come into force.
However, if you have seen the demand for weddings and ceremonies rise, and are thinking about adding a temporary structure such as a tipi or a marquee onto your property, it’s an excellent time to seriously consider making that investment. Extending your event business in this way will give you the opportunity to have multiple events at your premises at one time.
Whilst this change in the law gives wedding planners much more flexibility, it’s worth noting that there are still a number of hoops to jump through when installing a temporary event structure on your property.
Planning permission: You can get away without planning permission if you use a marquee that is up for less than 28 days during the year – but with the time taken to set up events that equates to a handful of occasions. When you set up a wedding venue your planning application has to cover the issue of noise. If you disturb your neighbours with music and the sounds of celebrations, you will get complaints. Especially if it happens repeatedly. Complaints can escalate to local authorities and could result in fines, enforcement notices and the withdrawal of licences.
Public Liability Insurance: You must have public liability insurance, and to carry out a health and safety risk assessment preferably by a qualified consultant.
Direct Acoustic Solutions are experts in this niche field, having gone through the process many times. We will guide you through and conduct noise impact assessment before providing bespoke noise solutions to enable you to get the most out of your temporary structure and grow your events business.
The report has now been published, you can read it here, and the final step is for the government to approve it.