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Home / News and Insights / Insights / Another thing on the ‘to do list’ for wedding planning – changes to the registration of marriages

As the evenings draw darker and the weather colder, we are coming to the end of the traditional wedding period for the year but there are many couples busy making preparations for weddings in 2020 and beyond.

For those couples, a further task will be added to their to-do list by the introduction of the Civil Partnership, Marriages and Deaths (registration etc) Act 2019.

This new legislation is designed to modernise the marriage registration process, and some might say to remove some of the power / responsibility regarding weddings from the clergy. It will update the marriage record to include not only the details of the bride and grooms’ father but also their mothers’. More significantly, however, it also alters the process to acquire their marriage certificate. Currently the marriage certificate is signed at the marriage ceremony itself. The couple are presented with their certificate on the day by the registrar and no further steps are necessary to formalise the marriage.

This new legislation will change this process. The couple, together with their witnesses and officiating clergy / registrar will sign what will be called a ‘marriage document’, with the marriage certificate only being issued once the marriage is formally registered. The marriage will not, therefore, be ‘official’ at the end of the wedding day celebrations.

The most significant difference is that this registration process will be the responsibility of the couple. They must ensure that the marriage document is registered at their local registry office within a period of seven days from the date of their wedding. It will only be at that point that the couple are issued with a formal marriage certificate. For many couples busy planning their upcoming nuptials, this will add a significant headache to their planning, as many still go on honeymoon straight from their wedding or shortly thereafter, leaving them with limited / no time to ensure that the relevant documentation to formalise their marriage are registered.

To assist with this, there will be an option for a couple to ask a third party representative to lodge the marriage document on their behalf within the seven day time frame. Couples will need to ensure that whoever they entrust with this carry it through as, if the relevant registration does not take place in the time frame specified, then the couple could be subject to hefty fines of circa £1,000 which will leave a significant dent in the couples’ post wedding finances. It is, therefore, vital that any couple looking to marry in the future ensure that these requirements are complied with.

These are significant changes for not only those marrying but also the clergy and registrars that are currently responsible for conducting such ceremonies. Currently, there is not a specific date in place for when these new changes will come into effect but it is anticipated that this will happen in December 2019, so watch this space for further updates on this to ensure that your wedding planning and the planning of those you know goes smoothly.

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