Today could mark the start of some exciting changes to where couples can get married in the future in England and Wales. I’m looking forward to hearing about changes in marriage laws today when Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announces the Budget later. He is expected to announce relaxed rules around wedding venues.
the cost of weddings is rising
One of my first marketing jobs was working for a firm of accountants and around budget time we’d need to update all the marketing material that concerned tax rates etc. So since then, I’ve always kept a bit of an eye on the budget. But my ears pricked up more for this annual budget (the last one before Brexit negotiations in November) as there has been lots of talk around the government trying to help couples getting married to keep wedding costs down with a view to the end of austerity.
current marriage laws
Not wishing to get too political, it is interesting that this proposed change could help with the rising costs of weddings and marriage laws could change to bring England and Wales more in line with modern living and other countries.
Currently, the Marriage Act that is primarily in use is the Marriage Act 1949, with some amendments. This requires that a marriage must take place ‘either in a register office, approved premises or in a place of religious worship that has been officially registered for marriages by the Registrar General for England and Wales’.
Therefore, the general rule is that it is the place not the person that is licensed to perform a legal ceremony and it must take place under a solid structure (with a permanent roof). Plus the register must be signed indoors.
changes in where you can legally get married
Many laws surrounding marriage remain unchanged since 1836. The last big change around wedding venues was the Marriage Act 1994 which allowed legal marriages to take place in certain “approved premises”. (Before this amendment, marriage ceremonies could only be conducted in churches and register offices.)
The government is set to propose that the Law Commission reviews the legislation on wedding venues. This could mean that couples could get married outdoors, on beaches, at home and under temporary structures such as marquees. It may also open things up for smaller hotels, restaurants and pubs to boost this part of the hospitality sector.
marriage laws around the world
This proposed change has been discussed before in 2013 but didn’t come to fruition at the time. This proposal (pardon the pun!) is already the case in Scotland where ceremonies can be legally held outdoors, not just by a religious leader or registrants but also for humanists to conduct legally binding ceremonies.
In the US, you can be married by anyone who has been authorised by that state to perform weddings. Couples do not need to have a separate civil and religious wedding ceremony.
Likewise, in Australia a civil ceremony can take place in any location. They are conducted by a registered celebrant and both religious and civil ceremonies are legally binding.
So it could mean that the general rule is that it is the person not the place that is licensed to perform a legal ceremony going forwards.
Meanwhile I wonder if people will put a Brexit 50p in their wedding shoes instead of a silver sixpence in the future too?!
marriage law changes over the years
Here are some other significant changes in marriage laws that have shaped how, where and when couples can get married in England and Wales:
- Until the middle of the 18th century, marriages could take place anywhere provided they were conducted before an ordained clergyman of the Church of England.
- In 1753, the Marriage Act declared that all marriage ceremonies must be conducted by a minister in a parish church or chapel of the Church of England to be legally binding.
- The Marriage Act 1836 allows marriages to be legally registered in buildings belonging to other religious groups if a Registrar and two witnesses were present. It was prohibited to get married during the evenings and at night.
- The Marriage Act 1949 requires that a marriage must take place either in a register office, approved premises or in a place of religious worship that has been officially registered for marriages by the Registrar General for England and Wales. Hours of marriages increased to take place between the hours of six in the evening and eight in the morning.
- The Marriage Act 1994 allows marriages to be legally binding in certain “approved premises”. Prior to the act, marriage ceremonies could only be conducted in churches and register offices.
- The Civil Partnership Act 2004, granted civil partnerships to same-sex couples in the United Kingdom with rights and responsibilities identical to civil marriage.
- In 2013, Parliament passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which introduced civil marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales which same the first same sex marriages in March 2014.
- In April 2019, all couples in England and Wales will be able to choose to have a civil partnership rather than get married.
Take a look at other top tips on planning the major elements of your guest list, venue and budget (or the who, where and how much of what I term the ‘holy trinity of wedding planning‘).
Obviously, I love a good wedding and even more so a royal one. Well, if you wait longer enough then two come along at once and we’ve certainly been spoilt for royal weddings this year!
I was glued to the television once again on Friday to see Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank get married for the Royal Wedding part two. Yes, it may only be 5 months since the last one, and yes, it was at the same venue of Windsor Castle again, but this wedding sequel still offered new trends and insights.
Royal wedding trends
You can guarantee that a royal wedding is sure to be a lavish affairs and an exaggerated Pinterest fantasy that will influence trends and weddings to come. Who can forget the puff ball dress of Eugenie’s mother on her wedding day to Prince Andrew in the 1980s.
And the affect of Kate and William’s royal wedding in 2011 is still apparent now as couples continue to choose to have trees inside at their weddings. Likewise, Harry and Meghan’s wedding prompted further foliage and minimalist trends – here’s my Royal Wedding Fever report from earlier this year.
I love seeing emerging trends and things that may influence weddings in the future.
Along with the happy couple, the (celebrity) guests arriving gives a glimpse of fashion colours and trends. This wedding called for traditional morning suits to be worn, which even Cara Delevingne sported. The other ladies had to keep hold of their hats as it was such a windy day.
Guests wore bold seasonal colours of bright pink, greens, navy and pastel pink. Whilst the mother of the bride and Princess Eugenie’s sister and chief bridesmaid wore emerald green and royal blue respectively. Princess Beatrice topped off her outfit with a royal blue alice band hat – another new evolution in the hat world and perhaps playing it safe consider the weather (and previous hat faux pas that this Princess has fallen foul of!)
Art & culture influences
You could see nods of the Princess’s love of the art world in a number of elements at the royal wedding including the green and blue sashes that the bridesmaids wore which incorporated the Mark Bradford artwork also in the Order or Service. Their sashes also brought together the outfit colours of Sarah Ferguson and Princess Beatrice.
Green also featured on the Bride’s Russian inspired tiara with emeralds, which was borrowed from the queen.
Additionally the jacquard print of the wedding dress, by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, contained symbolic emblems such as a thistle (to represent their love of Scotland) which was echoed in her bouquet; a shamrock (for the Ferguson family); a York rose; and trailing ivy (to symbolise their home) which she also carried in her bouquet.
The cut and style of the dress were elegant and simple with long sleeves, nipped in waist, full pleated skirt and a voluptuous long train. The beautiful portrait neckline, with a nearly off the shoulder look, provided a low back feature. Also with the decision to omit wearing a veil, the low back showed that the Princess was not afraid to her scars.
For me the star of the show was the flowers. Once again, I was blown away by the floral display up the steps and around the west door of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the royal wedding took place.
The theme of the wedding really celebrated nature and the season with leaves, berries, foliage and flowering branches foraged from Windsor Great Park. I love the immense autumnal vibe and the idea of using what nature has provided and going out to collect and bring back what you find. There were roses, hydrangeas, dahlias and berries in bright, bold oranges, pinks and purples. Plus those impressive liquid amber trees standing proud (albeit a little blowing in the wind) either side of the entrance.
The rich floral colours reminded me of a Wind in the Willows photo shoot that I did that encapsulated those deep autumnal colours.
Traditional versus modern
The wedding fell on the anniversary of the first Oktoberfest which originally celebrated a royal wedding in 1810. This wedding seamlessly blended traditional royal elements along with modern millennial thinking. It was a true celebration of the things and people that they love and wanted to be a part of their special day. As well as the pomp and ceremony of the ceremony, they had a two celebration with a festival and funfair themed party.
Their reading was far from traditional with an excerpt from The Great Gatsby and like so many brides nowadays, Eugenie chose not to obey her new husband.
It was good to learn that they had banned plastic from their wedding with the environment being a hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment.
Plus they decided to shy away from tradition with their wedding cake, and enjoy a red velvet and chocolate wedding cake.
For me, Eugenie and Jack’s wedding conveyed some great messages: celebrating nature, embracing culture, thinking seasonally and considering the environment. Plus Princess Eugenie made a massive statement by not wearing a veil – to be proud of who you are and not to hide your scars.