Government asks Law Commission to conduct a full review of weddings law

The Law Commission welcomes the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government will ask the Law Commission to review the laws around weddings in England and Wales. The project will look to propose options for a simpler and fairer system to give modern couples meaningful choice. We look forward to settling the Terms of Reference for the project with Government.

The Law Commission published a Scoping Paper in 2015 outlining a range of problems with the outdated law which governs how and where people can marry. The law is failing to meet the needs of modern couples.

The law which governs marriage dates from 1836. The regulation of how and where weddings can take place is too restrictive for a modern Britain.

Law Commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said:

“A couple’s wedding day is a profoundly important event in their lives. But the current law does not meet the needs of modern couples.

“Reform of the law would aim to make the law more flexible and give couples greater choice so they can marry in a way that is meaningful to them, whilst also lowering the cost of wedding venues.

“We therefore welcome the Government’s announcement and look forward to continuing our work in this area.”

Lowering the costs of weddings

The announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer highlights that reforms to remove unnecessary restrictions on where a wedding can take place and potentially reduce unnecessary red tape could lower the cost of wedding venues for couples.

The Law Commission agrees that the complex and restrictive rules on wedding venues are in need of reform.

In the Scoping Paper, the Law Commission identified a range of questions that would need to be addressed by a full law reform project. We also suggested four guiding principles which should underpin a revised law of marriage:

  • Certainty and simplicity;
  • Fairness and equality;
  • Protecting the state’s interest; and
  • Respecting individuals’ wishes and beliefs.

Next Steps

The Law Commission and Government must settle the Terms of Reference for the project.