In England and Wales, as the law currently stands, the only places where a marriage has legal status is in church, a registry office or a licensed building. The latter requires a venue to successfully apply for a licence to enable marriages taking place there to have legal recognition. In both registry offices and licensed buildings, a registrar must be present and in overall control. No religious content is allowed in either of these two venues.
So couples choosing to celebrate their love though a legally recognised marriage ceremony are faced with limited choice in terms of where they can marry and the content of their ceremonies
In an increasingly secular society, with a wide range of spiritual beliefs and customs, including humanist and atheist, it is not surprising an increasing proportion of people are seeking alternative ways to mark their love and mutual commitment. Ancient and sacred sites, gardens, beaches, caves, and cliff-tops are just a few of the different backdrops against which increasing numbers of couples are choosing to make their vows to each other.
To overcome the current frustrating legal situation, couples have 2 separate ceremonies – one that covers the legal requirements, and one that enables them to experience the perfect and unique ceremony chosen by them. This may be achieved by having the 2 events on the same day or different days, perhaps an intimate occasion at the registry office followed by a beautiful wedding or blessing ceremony shared with family and friends.
There is strong hope the law will eventually change to allow for more choice as to where and when a wedding ceremony will be legally recognised. Until then couples seeking alternative and more personalised ways to mark this special life event will be forced to tolerate this ‘workaround’.
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