Responding to the Outdoor Wedding Consultation
In this article we offer some guidelines for those responding to the outdoor wedding consultation in England and Wales. The consultation closes on 24th January 2022.
Background to the consultation
In 2021, the Government made a temporary law change to allow outdoor weddings to take place in the grounds of licensed premises. This change applied to England and Wales and is effective between July 2021 and April 2022. The aim of the change was primarily to make weddings safer during the pandemic, although this review has been ongoing for some time.
The Government is now proposing to make this change permanent from April 2022. It also proposes extending this right to religious weddings. A public consultation has been launched, inviting responses from all interested parties.
Which outdoor wedding venues will this affect?
This change will only apply to the grounds of premises that already hold a license for civil or religious weddings. For example, if a hotel has a civil ceremony license for its indoor function suite, this can be extended to include the hotel’s outdoor spaces. If a minister can carry out legally binding weddings in their church, they can extend this to the church gardens. This change would be permissive, meaning that venues and churches could choose whether or not to allow outdoor weddings.
Which venues does this exclude?
Venues that don’t have a civil ceremony license will not be affected by this law change. So a change to this effect would not allow couples to legally marry in any outdoor location they choose. It would also not apply to private premises such as residential gardens. However, this option is being considered as part of a separate review being conducted by the Law Commission.
Responding to the outdoor wedding consultation
The consultation is largely aimed at those who have direct experience of this temporary law change. So if you own or work at a venue that has made use of this change since July 2021, it’s important to share your thoughts. What worked well, and what not so well? Alternatively, if you could have made use of this change but chose not to, what was your reason for this?
If you don’t have direct experience of this but still have an opinion to share, you can also respond to the consultation. However the Ministry of Justice makes it clear that only responses to this particular law change will be considered (not responses that relate to the wider Law Commission review).
It’s important to read the consultation document in full before responding. This provides a clear outline of how this law change would work in practice. Following this, you can answer all or some of the questions provided in the online survey.
Here are the links you will need:
Share your thoughts
Have you responded to the outdoor wedding consultation? We would love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch or tag us in your social media posts. Let’s collate ideas that will help us push for even wider change in the near future!