Changes to marriage laws in UK to be announced next week

Changes to the marriage laws are set to be announced next week. Picture: Press Assocation (PA)
Changes to the marriage laws are set to be announced next week. Picture: Press Assocation (PA)

Changes to the marriage laws are set to be announced in next week’s budget, the Government has said.

A cash boost proposed for the hospitality sector will mean more hotels, restaurants and pubs could be able to hold weddings following a review of marriage law, a spokesman said.

The chancellor is expected to say he wants to make the outdated rules around wedding venues ‘simpler and fairer’, and reduce red tape, while continuing to ensure the dignity of marriage ceremonies is preserved.

To do so, he is expected to say the Government will ask the Law Commission to review the laws around wedding venues in England and Wales.

A spokesman said: “In its 2015 report, the Law Commission established a strong case for the need for reform. So the review will look widely at how and where marriages can take place in England and Wales.

“It will also look at how to accommodate the increasing demand from couples to have a legally binding ceremony outdoors, which is permitted in Scotland.”

The current red tape for getting a licence to hold weddings includes needing to identify a specific room where the ceremony would take place, and that it must be part of a building rather than in the open air or under a marquee, the Government said.

The licence holder must also make sure that no food or alcoholic drinks are sold or consumed in the specific area 1 hour before and during the proceedings.

This means many small business owners are put off trying to get a licence, which drives up the cost for couples, and restricts choice.

A spokesman said: “Surveys show the average wedding costs between £20,000 and £30,000, which includes an average cost of around £4,500 for venue hire.

“This can mean some people who want to get married are put off by the expense.

“Relaxing restrictions would make it cheaper and simpler for couples to get married, potentially supporting more people to get married.

“While the laws around who can get married have evolved substantially in recent years, the laws on how and where marriages must take place have remained largely unchanged since 1836.

“This review will help the law keep pace with modern Britain, while helping people keep the cost of living down.”

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