With legislation poised to change on outdoor marriage licenses, we find out what happened in this year’s Budget changes, and the possible implications for bridal…
So what happened Mr Hammond? Published on 29 October 2018, the budget report was all set to include changes to the 180-yearold marriage laws in an attempt to make wedding ceremonies more affordable. But after reading the entire budget (there’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back), it would appear nothing official has hit the statute books… yet.
Under the current laws (which have remained largely unchanged since 1836), civil ceremonies in England and Wales are prohibited on beaches, in gardens, or beneath marquees. They must take place in solid structures with a permanent roof if they are to be solemnised legally. Quite why leads us down an utterly baffling rabbit hole (so we won’t go there).
But of course, weddings do take place outdoors in spite of this ‘rule’. In reality, so long as a ‘venue’ has a wedding license, then an official marriage can take place. But costs of attaining such a license, given UK legislation on health and safety, fire codes, food and beverage rules, insurance etc, make obtaining a license prohibitive for many establishments – whether outside or in. It was the simplification of these rules in a bid to reduce the anachronistic red tape around marriages that Mr Hammond was expected to comment on. But he didn’t. Or not yet anyway. Because demands for such changes certainly continue apace with modern expressions of how and when people want to get married. And the costs of weddings today continues to spiral; the average wedding now costs between £20,000 and £30,000, including about £4,500 for venue hire (hotels currently account for about 40% of the 7,500 premises licensed to conduct civil ceremonies).
Were these changes to come into play, what might the ramifications be? Reforming the regulations could allow more pubs and restaurants to host the actual wedding service (as well as the after-party), saving couples from hiring more expensive venues.
Since research suggests brides continue to set aside a healthy budget for their wedding dress, this could mean that brides could afford a more expensive dress. This might be good news for one branch of bridal, whilst potentially (albeit not necessarily) proving unwelcome news to the UK’s venue industry.
We asked Country House Weddings for a comment and they said: “We welcome change and the opportunities it may afford us to offer our couples even more choice and flexibility within the grounds with a fantastic wet weather back-up plan!” countryhouseweddings.co.uk.
Should brides take up the anticipated, more readily available option of getting married outdoors, however, perhaps bridal gowns themselves would reflect a concomitant change in style… watch this (outdoor) space for more!
Main image credit: Olegs Samsonovs Photography