Changes to UK legislation: get married any time, day or night!

I briefly caught a short story on the national news earlier this week, about the UK’s first bride and groom to wed at midnight. Did you see it? I’m not too clued up on the laws about what time you can get married, so I was pleased when wedding planner Aimee Dunne got in touch to explain the changes to the law and what it means for UK brides and grooms.

Photo credit Phil Drinkwater

Wedding photo credit Phil Drinkwater. Click to see the real wedding (a Papakata wedding in Cheshire)

Midnight wedding, anyone?

From October 1 2012, the UK has joined the 21st century as outdated restrictions on marriage and civil partnership times are removed. The Home Office have announced that people wanting to get married or register a civil partnership will now be able to do so any time of the day or night under the Protection of Freedoms Act. Couples were previously restricted to between 8am and 6pm.

“This is great news for the industry and anyone tying the knot”< says Aimee Dunne. “It allows couples to plan a day that suits them, a midnight marriage, or a partnership over breakfast.

It also gives venues and religious groups more scope in offering services that appeal to couples tying the knot in the 21st century.

If there is one thing that couples are always asking me for as a planner, it’s to make their day unique and less of the ‘typical’ wedding; these changes will really help me to offer couples weddings and partnerships that are truly unique to them.

These changes show the General Register Office are listening to what couples want and shows a real effort to move marriages into the 21st century.

The Home Office have said that Local Authorities are already planning changes to their services and religious groups have been made aware of the changes; it is however yet to be seen how they will deal with providing services outside of the traditional hours, and how this is managed will be a key factor in how successful and positive these changes are.”

The old time restrictions dated back to 1837!

The original laws date back to 1837. Time restrictions were introduced when the first General Register Office was established, in a bid to prevent secret marriages. The hours were further extended in 1886 and then 1934. Civil partnerships were then introduced in 2005, with the same time restrictions.

This change is one of a number of measures being introduced as part of the Protection of Freedoms Act, which received Royal assent in May this year. It was raised by members of the public through a cross-government survey: ‘Your Freedom’. People had the chance to suggest ideas on restoring liberties that have been lost, repealing unnecessary laws and stripping away excessive regulation.

* * *

Thank you, Aimee, for enlightening us! There are far too many rules and regulations surrounding weddings and it’s good to see this one binned! If only the equal marriage laws could be changed so easily – I’d be happy!

Aimee Dunne is a Wedding and Event planner based in Beckenham, Kent and a member of the UKAWP

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



  • Belinda Mccarthy
    8 years ago

    Yay, about time! The reasoning behind the previous law was so antiquated that it was almost embarrassing, really.

    Now, wasn’t there some rumblings ages ago about changing the law about marrying outdoors? What ever happened to that?

  • Lianne potter
    8 years ago

    Excellent news! Now we’ve got to push for being allowed to marry anywhere!

  • Aimee Dunne
    8 years ago

    Happy to assist and wonderful news I think! x

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