Outdoor weddings at licenced venues in England and Wales will be legalised permanently after the change received overwhelming support from the public, faith groups and the wedding industry.

It will mean that marrying couples will continue to have greater choice in how they celebrate their big day.

Temporary legislation allowing outdoor civil weddings and partnerships for the first time has been in place since last summer.

A government consultation found that 96% of respondents backed making this change permanent, while 93% supported extending it to religious weddings. Ministers will lay legislation today to legalise outdoor civil weddings and partnerships indefinitely. Reforms to religious ceremonies will be made in due course after the consultation found every major faith group supported the move.

Prior to last summer, civil ceremonies at a licensed wedding venue had to take place indoors or within a permanent outdoor structure, such as a bandstand.

Couples can now have the whole ceremony outside in the venue’s grounds – providing them with greater flexibility and choice, as well as boosting the recovery of the wedding sector which saw many ceremonies postponed during the pandemic.

The move gives the wedding industry the certainty needed to invest in their services and locations for ceremonies before the end of the temporary legislation in April.

Justice Minister Tom Pursglove MP said:

A wedding is one of the most important days in a person’s life and it is right that couples should have greater choice in how they celebrate their special occasion.

These reforms will allow couples to hold more personalised ceremonies and provide a welcome boost for the wedding sector.

An ongoing Law Commission report into marriage laws is due to be published in July and the government will carefully consider the recommendations once received. This report is exploring how to modernise and improve marriage law into a simple, fair and consistent legal structure. This includes widening the locations that people can get married at and whether more types of weddings should be legalised.

The government says it will set out its plans to legalise outdoor religious weddings in due course as this will require changes to primary legislation.


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