Marriage or Civil Partnership Licences

"I do" - but make sure your venue is licensed.

Buildings such as hotels, castles, stately and country homes or, indeed, any other permanently immovable structure can be licensed to allow civil marriage ceremonies to take place.

The marriage ceremony at a licensed venue is a civil ceremony. No religious content whatsoever is allowed. Licensed premises often apply for a Civil Wedding Licence to the Local Authority, or the Registrar for its area for a licence which will permit marriages or civil partnerships to take place. The Local Authority’s policy will state whether it is the Local Authority or the Registrar that would deal with the application.

In order to be granted a licence, the premises must, in the opinion of the Local Authority or Registrar, be a “seemly and dignified venue” for the proceedings, which must take place in a room or rooms that are identified by description as a distinct part of the premises. A licence will not be granted if the primary use of the building would render it unsuitable, if it would demean or bring the proceedings into disrepute.

Applications require a plan of the premises and a fee to be a payable, and other information which may be required by the Local Authority or Registrar, such as a Fire Risk Assessment and Public Liability Insurance details. Some authorities and Registrars will require the application to be publicised in the local newspaper, or they may publish it on their own website. There is usually a 21 day objection period from the date when the notice is published.

Once granted, the approval is granted for a period of 3 years and needs to be renewed accordingly. Renewal applications can be made between 3 and 6 months prior to the renewal date, or less if required by that particular Local Authority or Registrar, although they will always require at least one month’s notice.

An approval can be revoked by the Local Authority or Registrar if the holders fail to comply with the conditions of the approval, or if the use of the premises has changed and the premises is no longer suitable to hold such proceedings.