Wedding Law reform update

Nov 28, 2023
let the celebrations begin!

My blog dated September 13th 2022 covered the proposals set before government for wedding law reform.

After considerable deliberation, the Law Commission had presented these proposals in July 2022. An interim response was promised within 6 months and a final response within one year.

Would it be a surprise to know that not even an interim response has been issued yet?

To reiterate: many of our current wedding laws date back to 1836 when things were very different. Piecemeal amendments had followed, but these had created “unsatisfactory confusion and concerns that the law is not representative.” [Siobhan Baillie, MP]

Marriage is an important institution – for individuals and society as a whole. It remains popular, even if ways to get married have become diverse.

It is important to encourage (not discourage) couples to marry – and thousands would welcome less complexity and bureaucracy. These are things the proposals offer.

The use of Independent Celebrants have been growing in popularity over the years  They are a professional and committed body. There seems to be no reason why they cannot be trusted to conduct a suitable  and respectful ceremony. And it’s the couple’s big day, so they should be able to celebrate it in the way that appeals to them and meets their spiritual needs.

It therefore makes sense to me (and not only me!) that reforms should involve the regulation of both independent celebrants and humanist celebrants. And it should be said that independent celebrants would welcome regulation, training and monitoring under the auspices of the General Register Office.

The government has other concerns too, of course, but these proposals have import too. They should not be put on the back-burner. A General Election is on the way, and soon activities will be election-related, and the wedding law proposals will be side-lined.

And if they are, will they even be resurrected by the new government?

I hope I can report good news to you – and imminently – but I’m not holding my breath!