The upcoming royal wedding is focusing a lot of attention on England. Some people might be thinking of making England a destination wedding location. My daughter is planning her upcoming nuptials and is quite amazed at the intricacies of the marriage laws in Britain.
A year ago, my daughter and fiance headed off to London, England, to experience living there. It was their dream to live overseas. In December, she called to invite us for her wedding. â€œLovely! I will get to experience a destination wedding,â€ I thought. You may recall my previous post on understanding the details of the marriage laws at your destination. They’ve had quite the adventure understanding the English system.
My daughter excitedly started to plan her wedding and set out to discover what the legal requirements for a wedding are. In England, all marriages are legalized as civil marriages unless they are conducted by the Church of England, which is governed separately in the Marriage Act of 1949. She found out that all civil marriages in England must conform to the following rules:
Must be performed only at the registry office or in authorized premises. Special venues have been licensed, such as castles and hotels. This means there are no outdoor weddings legally authorized; no home weddings; no improvised venue.
Must be performed in the presence of a superintendent registrar or an authorized person, and must take place between 8am and 6pm.
Both parties must have lived in the registration district for at least seven days before giving notice to the register office, ie. applying for a Certificate of Authority (Marriage License). After giving notice, you must wait another 16 days before the marriage can take place.
The ceremony can not contain any religious content if held at the registry office. If it is held at an authorized hotel, for example, then it may be more leisurely and contain non-religious music, poetry and prose, and customized vows.
Taking a deep breath, and fully intending on getting through this, she got the paperwork required to obtain a Certificate of Authority. Since they are not British citizens, each of them must independently complete a 10 page form AND submit an essay describing the conditions and circumstances of their relationship. This is because the registry office must be satisfied that this marriage is not attempting to bypass the English immigration laws. After they are approved, then they can get married.
Wow. At this point, she is bewildered, because she has seen me marry people who applied for their marriage license on the same day. There had to be an easier way of getting married, she thought. My daughter is a very determined and resourceful woman. She found out that the Church of England will marry them after they have met with the Vicar, jointly completed a one-page form and have the Publishing of Banns read on three Sundays. She contacted the local church and voila. I will be there to celebrate their wedding on May 11, 2011.