Apply to your council for a ‘grant of approval’ to hold civil marriages and civil partnerships.
The grant of approval will be valid for a minimum of 3 years. You can apply to renew your grant of approval if it expires in less than a year.
You need to identify a specific room or rooms where weddings or civil partnerships will take place. This must be part of the building - not in the open air or under a marquee.
The council must be happy that the premises are ‘seemly and dignified’ and that they will be regularly available for marriages or civil partnerships.
The premises must also have all the necessary fire and safety provisions required by the local council.
- appoint someone suitable to make sure all conditions are followed
- give this person’s details to the council after you get the licence
- tell the council if the person’s details change
- tell the council about any change to the premises, eg name or layout
- make sure that the superintendant registrar or local registration authority or registrar has approved all wedding or civil partnership arrangements before the proceedings take place
- make sure your premises can be inspected at reasonable times
- display a notice that the premises are approved 1 hour before and during the proceedings
- make sure that there’s no food or alcoholic drinks sold or consumed in the specified area 1 hour before and during the proceedings
You also need to make sure that the proceedings:
- only take place in the specified area
- don’t have any religious content (eg music or readings)
- are freely open to the public
There may also be other specific requirements for your grant of approval (eg your council may ask you to provide space for car parking).
Civil marriages can’t be conducted anywhere with current or recent religious connections - eg you can’t get a grant of approval for a chapel in a stately home.
Civil partnerships can be conducted on religious premises approved for this purpose. However, any application for a grant of approval must be subject to the consent of the faith group’s governing body.
Faith groups are under no legal obligation to allow their premises to be used for civil partnerships.
How to apply
Send the following to the council:
- details of yourself and your venue
- a plan of the building showing the area where ceremonies will be held
- any other documents they require, eg a copy of your public liability insurance certificate
- the fee (this depends on your council)
The council will inspect the premises.
You may lose your grant of approval if you don’t follow these requirements, or if the council feels that your venue is no longer appropriate.