Marriage Laws in England

Simplified laws

  • Must be over 18 and different genders and free to marry
  • Can not marry blood relatives , Adopted children or adoptive parents but they are allowed to marry the rest of their adoptive family, including their adoptive brother or sister.
    • People who are step relations or in-laws may marry only in certain circumstances.
    • A marriage can take place in a Register Office, a Church , a Meeting House, any other religious building, premises approved by the local authority, a place where one partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover, the home of one of the partners if the partner is housebound, a hospital or a prison
  • the marriage must be conducted by a person or in the presence of a person authorised to register marriages in the district
  • the marriage must be entered in the marriage register and signed by both parties, two witnesses, the person who conducted the ceremony and, if that person is not authorised to register marriages, the person who is registering the marriage.
  • You and your partner must give notice of marriage in your local Register Office,
  • both partners must be resident in England or Wales for seven days before notice is given (on the eighth day). A notice must state where the marriage is to take place. The marriage can then take place after 15 days have elapsed from the date on which notice of the marriage is entered in the marriage notice book.
  • The information which may be required is evidence of  name and address, evidence of date of birth, evidence of nationality.
  • The marriage ceremony in the local Register Office or local authority approved premises will take approximately 10-15  minutes. The Superintendent Registrar or Registrar in Northern Ireland  will make a short statement about marriage; you can ask the registrar  beforehand to indicate what form of words will be used. It is not possible to use religious words in the civil ceremony. However, the ceremony may include readings, songs or music that contain reference to a god as long  as they are in an ‘essentially non-religious context’.
  • Each partner is required to repeat a standard set of promises. These may not be changed, but may be added to, as long as the  additions are not religious. Rings are not required but can be exchanged  if the couple wishes to.

After the ceremony, the marriage register is signed by both partners. Two witnesses, who must be over 16, must also sign at the time of the marriage. Witnesses must understand the language of the ceremony and have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the ceremony. Register Office staff are not allowed to act as witnesses.

Vows and promises

There are three options which cannot be changed by law for the vows but the promises of a wedding can be anything within reasoning. All promises and vows must be checked by the register minister or secretary

for the more indepth details of these laws here is a word document containing that information

marriage laws

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