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Part 2 - Conditions which determine suitability of accommodation

Approved Premises for Civil Marriages and Civil Partnerships - part 2

The accommodation and facilities MUST meet the following minimum standards before approval can be granted.

Availability

The building must be available for marriages and civil partnerships on a regular basis not just for one specific occasion. The law permits marriages and civil partnership registrations everyday between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Number of rooms

Within a building one or more ceremony rooms can be approved. In addition there must also be a separate room where the Registrar can interview the couple confidentially before the ceremony begins.

A separate area or room must be provided where guests may wait.

The ceremony room

The room(s) in which ceremonies will be solemnized must be identifiable by description as a distinct part of the premises.

The location of the ceremony room should, where possible, be close to, or easily approached from the main entrance of the building.

The approved premise must prominently publicise the location of the ceremony room(s). In addition signs directing the public to the ceremony room should be available and displayed on days when marriages or civil partnerships are taking place.

The minimum size should allow at least 7 seated occupants. (The couple, two witnesses, two registration staff and the premises’ responsible person.)

For 1 hour prior to and during the ceremony, the rooms provided for the ceremony must not be used for any other purpose, neither must food nor drink be sold or consumed in there.

On the day of the ceremony the Superintendent Registrar, or her deputy, must be satisfied that the room meets the desired standards and it is clean, tidy and free from noxious or stale odours.

Marriages and civil partnerships can ONLY take place in the room(s) which is approved for that purpose.

Access

A marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is a public event and any member of the public who wishes to attend must be able to do so.

In any accommodation, where an admission charge is usually made, or access is to members only, this must be waived for anyone wishing to attend the ceremony, and arrangements made for the easy access of Registration Staff.

Registration Staff must have access to the ceremony room at least 30 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin.

The ceremony party, guests etc will require access to the waiting area or room at least 20 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin. This may be subject to discussions between the Licence Holder and ceremony party.

Safety of staff and their legal documents

The proprietors of the building must provide security for all Registration Staff, particularly in the unlikely but not unknown circumstances of a marriage or civil partnership registration having to be stopped.

The Licence Holder may, dependent on the size of the party, decide to provide an usher or ushers to control or assist the guests. The usher(s) will be under the supervision of the Registration Staff during the ceremony. It is expected that the Responsible Person will be on hand at the ceremony to usher guests into the ceremony room at the appropriate time and present the couple, together or separately accordingly with the couple’s preference, to the Registrar for the pre ceremony interviews.

Facilities for people with disabilities

Access and toilet facilities must be available for people with mobility disabilities.

A hearing loop must be installed and working in the ceremony room.

Furniture and equipment

For large rooms holding 100 or more guests, a clip-on lapel microphone must be provided for the Superintendent Registrar who will conduct the ceremony.

Two tables plus 5 chairs should be provided in the ceremony room, placed as directed by the Superintendent Registrar, for the couple, their witnesses and the Registrar.

The Registration Staff must at all times have access to a telephone.

The position of chairs for guest and members of the public will be dictated by the size of the room and with agreement with the Registration Staff, in order to allow free access and movement during the ceremony. All guests must be seated.

A box of tissues, carafe of water and 4 glasses should be provided.

Lighting levels must be satisfactory for the Registrar on the day of the ceremony. At the discretion of the Registrar additional lighting may be required in that part of the room where the entry is to be made into the register and the register signed.

Heating and ventilation and protection for the register

All rooms to be included in the licence must have suitable heating available.

All rooms to be included in the licence must have suitable ventilation to fresh/outside air by opening windows or air conditioning systems.

The venue must have adequate cover where the registrar will sit to prevent the register being damaged by dampness and water.

Toilets

Adequate toilet facilities should be available, easily accessible and clean.

Music

Suitable music can be played for the entrance of the bride (or couple) and the exit of the couple. Background music can be played as guests assemble, when the register is being signed and whilst photographs are being taken of the ‘mock’ signing. Any music used around the ceremony must be agreed between the couple and the Superintendent Registrar prior to the ceremony.

The Licence Holder will be responsible for ensuring compliance with Performing Rights and Phonographic Performance Rights.

Complaints

A complaints procedure for use by the general public using the approved premises and by the Registration Staff officiating at ceremonies will be in operation. All complaints will be investigated by the Council. Dudley Council may revoke any licence where the Licence Holder ignores or abuses the conditions applying to the approval of the licence as set out in this document.

Legislation

Health and Safety laws, Fire Regulations, insurance cover and other such legislation must be complied with, in respect of the attendance of a marriage or civil partnership party, their guests, Registration Staff and members of the public. The building must not contravene any planning regulations or other requirements set by the Council or the Fire Service.

Secular nature

The secular nature of civil marriage and civil partnerships precludes the use of any building with a recent or continuing religious connection. This effectively rules out any building or room which is still considered to be linked by name, description, purpose or appearance to a religion. A chapel in a stately home, a building containing furniture or fittings associated with a place of religious worship, a disused church or chapel or a building with stained glass windows depicting a religious image are examples of a continuing religious connection. However, premises in which a religious group meets occasionally may be suitable if the primary use of the premises is secular.

Marriages and civil partnerships in approved premises may be followed by a celebration or commemoration of the couple’s choice, providing that it is not a religious marriage or civil partnership ceremony and is separate from the civil ceremony. However, if a religious blessing were to follow the ceremony on particular premises, or be considered part of the service being offered on the premises, there may well be a religious connection which would breach the requirements and lead to the approval being revoked.

Liability

The Council accepts no liability should the ceremony not be able to take place or be stopped.