Should the regime for legally binding marriage ceremonies be reformed?

29th July 2022

The Law Commission published a report detailing a suggested reform to the Marriage Act 1949 as it fails to support marriage and puts up unnecessary barriers. The suggestion is that the officiator should be regulated rather than the location.

Tuesday 19th July 2022 marked the date in which the Law Commission published a report detailing their recommendation for major reform of the Marriage Act 1949, as in their view, the current position is failing to support marriage and is creating unnecessary barriers for couples.

At present, wedding ceremonies are either religious or civil and do not allow for other beliefs or representations of marriage. Consequently, couples are faced with additional challenges and costs so that their union can be recognised by law. As a result of the current framework, many couples have to hold a pre-wedding or post-wedding ceremony at a registration office, as the actual wedding perhaps held in a woodland or on a beach, is not legally binding.

Current legislation bases itself upon regulating a building or location, but the report suggests the focus is shifted to regulating the officiator of the ceremony instead.

This approach would licence the individual who carries out the ceremony meaning that a wider section of beliefs would have the ability to be recognised legally.

Reforming the legislation in this way should make marriage more convenient, more representative, less uncertain and provide greater choice.

The report will now go before Government for them to decide whether they adopt the suggestions raised.

The Licensing and Leisure Team at Kuits assist dozens of venues each year to obtain wedding licences, please contact them on 0161 832 3434 or at

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