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Changes to marriage law with new electronic registration

22 November 2021

There have been several legal changes recently in the way people can marry.

Since 1 July 2021, civil wedding and civil partnership ceremonies in England and Wales can take place outdoors, offering more options to couples looking to tie the knot.

Under the previous laws the legal ceremony had to take place in an approved room or permanent structure, such as a stately home or hotel. All aspects of the wedding ceremony can now take place outdoors, providing a greater level of flexibility for venues and couples.

The venues themselves will be able to more safely accommodate larger groups of guests. At this stage, the change is just a trial until 5 April 2022, but it is hoped that they will become permanent.

A further change to the way in which marriages in England and Wales are registered came into force from 4 May 2021, with the creation of an electronic marriage register. Previously, couples would sign a register book which was held at register offices, churches and other premises licensed for marriage straight after the marriage ceremony. The couple now sign a marriage schedule during the ceremony and will receive their marriage certificate by post shortly after the wedding.

The new electronic register system is more secure and saves the need for paper records to be manually entered onto a database, saving time and money.

At last, too, the names of both parties’ parents are mentioned in the marriage entry, rather than just the father or step-father; a move which represents the more modern attitude of today’s society.

How we can help

If you are thinking of tying the knot then you may wish to put a prenuptial agreement in place. This bespoke document is drawn up by a solicitor or lawyer and it helps to protect the assets you have when entering into a marriage or civil partnership.

Could a prenup be a suitable option for you? Contact us to find out more.

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Family law solicitor Kristie Silsby helps clients both with the legal considerations when starting a relationship, including nuptial and cohabitation agreements, as well as when there is a breakdown in a relationship. 

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