Proposed changes to marriage laws could benefit Devon and Cornwall, say wedding planners

Proposed changes to marriage laws could benefit Devon and Cornwall, say wedding planners

Authored by Mary
Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 14:39

Cornish wedding planners have welcomed recommendations that would allow couples in England to marry anywhere, saying they could benefit Devon and Cornwall by drawing couples from across the UK to get married, when Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The Law Commission has proposed changes which would overhaul England’s archaic wedding laws, which currently only allow legal wedding ceremonies to take place in a place of worship or licensed venue with an officiant and certain wording.

Under the proposed changes, couples would be allowed to legally marry anywhere, including outdoors. And in any future national lockdowns, the Law Commission recommends that the law is changed so that weddings can legally take place online.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that couples would like more flexibility about how they can get married. Our clients tell us they want more choice over where they can marry and the kind of ceremony they can have,” says Hazel Parsons, co-founder of Out of the Ordinary Weddings.

Out of the Ordinary Weddings is a partnership of two of Cornwall’s leading wedding planners Hazel Parsons and Rebecca Edwards. “During the coronavirus pandemic we have been helping couples celebrate outdoors, in smaller venues and even online, however, these are just celebrations and the couples are still required to have a legal ceremony in a place of worship or licensed venue,” adds Rebecca Edwards.

England has lagged behind Scotland and Northern Ireland where non-religious humanist weddings are already legally binding.

Rebecca says: “Scotland has allowed legally binding humanist weddings to take place anywhere since 2005. It has proved popular with couples and hospitality businesses alike, allowing Scotland to capitalise in the ‘wedding tourism’ trend. The law in England as it stands is out of step with what couples are looking for.”

Hazel Parsons believes the proposed change could benefit Devon and Cornwall’s hospitality businesses and wider economy. “There is predicted to be a boom in weddings when coronavirus restrictions are eased. If the Government accepts the Law Commission's proposals later this year and changes the law to allow legally-binding weddings to take place anywhere, hospitality businesses in Devon and Cornwall will definitely benefit. Many couples are looking for the beautiful coastal scenery we have in Devon and Cornwall as a backdrop to their wedding and anything which makes that more accessible is a very good thing.”

The Law Commission has carried out a consultation on its proposals to reform the law governing how and where couples can get married in England. The final report and recommendations for the Government is expected to be published later in the year.