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Outdoor weddings here to stay

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Couples will legally be allowed to get married or form a civil partnership outside after being temporarily allowed during the pandemic.

Legislation allowing outdoor civil weddings and partnerships for the first time has been in place since last summer when it was introduced in a bid to make ceremonies safe during Covid-19.

A government consultation found that 96% of people backed making this change permanent, while 93% supported extending it to religious weddings.

The government says the move will provide greater flexibility and choice to couples and the wedding sector. Ministers will set out legislation for the change today. Reforms to religious ceremonies will be made in due course after the consultation found every major faith group supported the move.

Prior to last summer, civil ceremonies at a licensed wedding venue had to take place indoors or within a permanent outdoor structure, such as a bandstand.

But the new rules mean couples will be able to have the whole ceremony outside in the venue’s grounds.

The move gives the wedding industry the certainty needed to invest in their services and locations for ceremonies before the end of the temporary legislation in April.

Tom Pursglove MP, justice minister, said: “A wedding is one of the most important days in a person’s life and it is right that couples should have greater choice in how they celebrate their special occasion.

“These reforms will allow couples to hold more personalised ceremonies and provide a welcome boost for the wedding sector.”

The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 will come into force on the 6 April 2022.

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.

The regulations apply only to ‘approved premises’ – the changes don’t enable outdoor weddings to take place on religious premises or in outdoor areas that are not part of the grounds of approved premises.

An ongoing Law Commission report into marriage laws is due to be published in July and the government will carefully consider the recommendations once received. This report is exploring how to modernise and improve marriage law into a simple, fair and consistent legal structure. This includes widening the locations that people can get married at and whether more types of weddings should be legalised.

The government will set out its plans to legalise outdoor religious weddings in due course as this will require changes to primary legislation.