All you need to know about picking the perfect wedding venue, wherever you're planning on tying the knot
Planning on a religious ceremony?
Church of England
Until recently, the law restricted couples who wanted a religious ceremony only to marry in their parish church. Now it’s more flexible and you can choose any church outside your parish that you, your parents or grandparents have a connection with (for example, if your parents married there or if you were christened there).
Useful contact: Church of England (020 7898 1000, www.cofe.anglican.org)
Church of Scotland
A Church of Scotland ceremony can be in any place, provided your minister agrees to it, and may be solemnised by a minister, clergyman, pastor or priest. You don’t need to be a resident of Scotland, but you will need to contact the local register office no later than 15 days before your intended wedding date.
Useful contact: Church of Scotland (0131 225 5722, www.churchofscotland.org.uk)
You and your groom must both be free to marry, and one of you must have been baptised Catholic to wed in a Catholic church. You’ll also need to visit your local superintendent registrar at your local town hall or council office to give notice of your intention to marry and obtain your licence.
Useful contact: Marriage Care – Catholic (020 7371 1341, www.marriagecare.org.uk)
A Jewish wedding fulfils a religious and civil purpose, but you’ll need two applications – one for your local register office and one for the religious authority under which the ceremony will take place. Ceremonies can take place in a synagogue or licensed venue, but it’s worth noting that Jewish weddings cannot take place on a Saturday.
Planning on a civil ceremony?
To be able to legally marry in a register office, you and your fiancé must both give notice in person to the superintendent registrar at your local town hall or council office, who will issue you with a certificate of common notice. You should then make a booking with the register office to get the date you want – weddings can be booked no less than 17 days and no more than 12 months in advance.
Civil ceremonies can take place at any venue that has been approved for the purpose. The premises must be regularly open to members of the public, so private homes are unlikely to be approved. Likewise, approval will not be given for open-air venues, unless it’s a permanently built structure. You can search for an approved venue at www.gro.gov.uk.
You will need to give notice of your intention to marry to your local superintendent registrar, and contact the local register office closest to your venue to book a registrar to conduct the ceremony.
Planning on an overseas ceremony?
Weddings abroad are legal as long as they don’t contravene UK laws – for example, underage rules and being free to marry. Always contact the country’s embassy for advice to ensure you have the right documents, and when you will need to provide them.
Many countries require a minimum residency period of between one and seven days before you can marry. Marriages in some countries can involve lots of red tape, so it’s often easier to have a civil ceremony in the UK and then a blessing abroad.
Useful contact: Foreign & Commonwealth Office (020 7008 1500, www.fco.org.uk)