New Marriage Registration Laws

August 18, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

What you need to know about the change in the law

affecting couples from the end of 2019

Big changes are on the way on how marriages are to be registered in England and Wales, thanks to new marriage laws predicted to come into force late 2019, if you are planning a Christmas wedding or are getting married in 2020 anywhere other than in a registry office or with an officiating registrar, you can’t afford to not to read on to save yourself stress, heartache and a possible £1000 fine after you’ve said “I do”.

Signing the register after your marriage is set to change with new laws in England and Wales coming into force.

The recent passing of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 has provided some quite big changes to the ways in which couples in England and Wales can marry and also the ways in which the registrations of these marriages can occur. As well as allowing opposite-sex couples to form a civil partnership – something only same-sex couples were previously able to do – it also sets out plans to radically change the registration process for those couples not using a registry office or registrar to legally wed.

Under current rules, couples that marry in England and Wales sign a register and are given their marriage certificate there and then – the piece of paper that legally states they are now husband and wife. Under the new rules, couples will instead sign a document that they will have to take to the registry office of the town they have married in and that will then be entered onto a central register held by the General Registry Office (GRO). If this sounds familiar to those who have married in Scotland, it’s likely because it is. In Scotland, following notice given by an M10 form, couples collect a “marriage schedule” which must accompany them to the venue and which they sign after saying their vows. This marriage schedule is then dropped back into the registration office within 3 days of the marriage, the registration office registers the marriage, and the couple’s marriage certificate is sent out to them in the post approximately 1 week later. This new law for England and Wales seems set to mirror this.

Whilst no timescale has been set for couples to take the paperwork that they sign on their wedding day to the registry office, it is thought that at most 7 days will be allowed for couples to do so. Plenty of time, you may think, but not necessarily, with many newlyweds jetting off on honeymoon the day after their nuptials.

Representatives of the Faculty Office and the Legal Offices of the Church of England and Church in Wales have already voiced their unease with the new rules, stating that they feel under pressure to bring them in before the end of the year. Additionally, they believe it will add stress onto a new marriage and are casting doubts on the ability of the registry offices and GRO to keep up with timely processing of new marriages.

Don’t let your happy day land you in financial bother by not following the new laws, coming into effect Dec 2019 in England and W

£1000 fine!

Under this new law, newlyweds who have not registered their marriage within the 7 days after their wedding could be set to receive a £1000 fine, in much the same way that new parents can if they fail to register their baby’s birth within the set time frame as outlined in the law. A rather hefty price to add on to the already skyrocketing cost of the average wedding in the UK. Fail to register your marriage on time, and you’ll most definitely feel the cost. However, it is allowed for another person to deposit the marriage certificate to the registry office on behalf of the couple. But make no mistake – the overall responsibility for this lays with the couple, so be wary whom you entrust this duty to.

Are there any other things set to change with these new marriage laws in England and Wales?

In a move welcomed by many single parents, Father’s details will be able to be substituted by Mother’s maiden name and details and, as previously mentioned, heterosexual couples can now have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.

Just to reiterate 

The new registration laws will affect ALL marriages in England and Wales, however, it is those marrying in a legal religious ceremony (that don’t already need a legal ceremony to be performed beforehand) whom will feel the most effect from this new law. For example, anyone marrying in a church of England ceremony, Roman Catholic Ceremony, etc with a Vicar or Priest. And only those marriages thought to be from December 2019 onwards. Those carried out by a registrar will feel little change except that they won’t get their marriage certificate there and then like they would have done before. Scottish Weddings are unaffected.

Having a religious ceremony December 2019 onwards? Make sure you understand the new laws in England and Wales

Who can I contact for further advice regarding these new laws?

If you are getting married December 2019 onwards, your vicar, priest or other legal officiants will be able to advise you on how and where to register your marriage to avoid a fine and further advice on the new marriage laws in England and Wales likely to affect you. Alternatively, contact your local registry office or the GRO directly here.



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