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Couples could marry at home and on beaches under wedding law shake-up

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Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie is urging the government to adopt radical new rules around wedding venues and services following recommendations from the Law Commission.

New proposed laws would allow couples to marry in “any safe and dignified location,” clearing the way for ceremonies in private homes and on beaches.

Ms Baillie created the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Weddings as a response to issues and concerns raised during the pandemic and she has continued to push for reform of the sector.

Current wedding law includes key parts which date back to 1836 or even earlier and they are confusing and outdated.

Unnecessary regulation inhibits many couples from marrying in a location that is meaningful to them or enjoying a ceremony that reflects their personal wishes and beliefs.

Currently, in England, weddings law means that couples must choose between a civil or religious ceremony with no option of reflecting other beliefs.

The Law Commission has recommended a new system that focuses regulation on the marriage official responsible for the ceremony, rather than on the building where a wedding can take place

Permitted venues would be expanded, following the law change, to include gardens, beaches, forests, parks, village halls and cruise ships

These recommendations would ensure fair treatment for all beliefs, removing the barriers where different religions are currently bound by a vast array of different rules.

“I am really pleased with these recommendations which would really bring up old and confusing parts of marriage law into the 21st century,” said Ms Baillie.

“The industry itself is hungry for change and I know many people feel incredibly inhibited by the narrow range of venues and type of service they can use.

“It needs to be broader and more inclusive and I hope ministers will look carefully at these recommendations and look to adopt them.”

The UK Weddings Taskforce spokesperson said: ‘’We welcome these proposals to reform our marriage laws in England & Wales, and bring them in line with modern society, in line with what is already in place in Scotland.’

‘’Offering couples more choice and more freedom as to how and where they marry and celebrate their commitment is long overdue. The UK Weddings Taskforce supports the Law Commission’s review, and appreciates those MPs, including Baillie, who have supported the need for change to update the current system to reflect 21st-century values.’’

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