Published: 00:00, 09 December 2016
There was when the only place a civil marriage ceremony could take place was in the marriage room of a Registery Office.
But times have changed and civil marriages and partnerships are sealed in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, though contrary to popular belief, the criteria for their designation as suitable places for such an important event, are still very strictly laid down.
To begin with, the place must be a permanent structure so a marquee in your garden won’t do though a ship permanently moored seems to be acceptable.
The marriage ceremony may only be conducted in a room set aside exclusively for the purpose and there should not be a bar or catering facility within that room.
Music may be provided but it must be strictly secular. No religious music, hymns, etc., may be played or sung.
The place must have been inspected and certified in advance by the local registrar and the ceremony will of course be conducted by a registrar who must be accompanied by an assistant.
The choice of venues is spectacular and wide ranging and includes some TV and film studios, stately homes, museums, premises in theme parks, some sports centres, holiday centres and zoos, conference and exhibition centres and of course, hotels, and this list is far from definitive.
Having selected a venue it is important to make the booking as soon as possible.
It is now possible to give notice of intention to marry in a Register Office or certified wedding venue up to twelve months in advance.
Obviously the more popular, attractive or fashionable venues will get booked up fast, so waste no time making the booking to avoid disappointment.
The majority of wedding venues will supply a series of wedding packages ranging from a simple ceremony with just the bride, groom and their two witnesses present, to a large event with a hundred guests or more, and all the trimmings including reception, cake, flowers, photography, honeymoon suite, guest accommodation and transport.
Prices will depend on the scope of services supplied. In many ways, choosing a civil wedding of this type can be far simpler than any other because all the various ‘strings’ are drawn together by the venue staff leaving the bridal party to focus on other things.
A marriage in a Registery Office however is similar to that in a church in that only the ceremony is handled there and the rest of the arrangements, car, photographer, flowers, reception, etc., will have to be organized separately.
Arranging a civil wedding can be as complex and demanding as any religious event and advice will usually be required.
If you have any questions or doubts about your civil wedding arrangements, your local Registrar or their office will be able to give you all the information you require to ensure not only a happy wedding, but a legally valid marriage in the eyes of the law as it stands today.