Approved Premises for Civil Marriages and Civil Partnerships - part 1
The 1994 Marriage Act and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 allow Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to issue a licence for Marriages and Civil Partnerships to be solemnised in buildings within the Borough approved for that purpose by the Council. The law is intended to allow civil marriages and civil partnerships to take place regularly in approved buildings, without compromising the fundamental principles of English marriage law and parliament’s intention to maintain the solemnity of the occasion.
Who can apply for a licence?
Applications must be from named individuals who are owners/proprietors or trustees of a freehold or leasehold interest in a premises.
The named individual will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions applying to the issue of the licence.
Where the applicant is not the owner of the premises for which the licence is applied for, they must ensure that the owner has no objection to the application.
What type of buildings can be approved?
Civil marriages and civil partnerships must take place in identifiable buildings. This will preclude ceremonies from taking place in the open air, tents, marquees or any other temporary structures and in most forms of transport. The primary use of a building would also render it unsuitable, if that could demean marriage or civil partnership or bring it into disrepute.
A marriage and civil partnership registration is a solemn and serious legal contract. The accommodation must:
a) Be secular in nature and have no recent or continuing connection with any religion, religious practice or religious persuasion which would be incompatible with the use of the premises for the solemnisation of marriages in pursuance of section 26 (1) (bb) of the Marriage Act 1949 and the formation of civil partnerships under section 6(3A)(a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
b) Having regard to its primary use, situation, construction and state of repair, provide a dignified and seemly location for the solemnization of marriages and the registration of civil partnerships.
c) Be of permanent construction and have a roof.
d) Be regularly available to the public to use for the solemnization of marriages and the registration of civil partnerships.
e) Have open doors to allow free and easy access to members of the public wishing to witness the marriage/civil partnership and/or make objections prior to or during the ceremony.
Rooms for the celebration of marriages and civil partnerships may be considered in the following categories of accommodation. This list is not exhaustive:
- Civil Buildings
- Stately Homes
- Buildings of Architectural or Historical Interest
- Public Buildings
A private house is unlikely to be an appropriate venue for marriages and civil partnerships as it would not be known to the public as a marriage and civil partnership venue, and is unlikely to be available for regular use.