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From today, couples marrying in England and Wales will be able formally to set a date for their marriage up to a ye...
From today, couples marrying in England and Wales will be able formally to set a date for their marriage up to a year in advance - giving them more time to make all the necessary arrangements.

Previously the law meant this date could only be legally finalised within three months. Couples gave notice of their intention to marry to a superintendent registrar who then issued a certificate valid for only three months. The new provision makes the certificate valid for a year and means couples can make more definite and longer term arrangements for their wedding.

Arrangements could include not only the legal formalities but everything associated with the ceremony, reception and honeymoon.

Some of the uncertainty under the old system has been removed and couples will be able to enter into longer-term firm contracts with the providers of wedding services such as dress and car hire, catering and photographers.

The changes followed wide consultation with local authorities,

registration officers, representatives of the churches and other

organisations. The new provision offers an improvement over the

current twelve month advance booking system used by many

superintendent registrars which is provisional on a notice of

marriage being given within three months of the date of the wedding.

It also removes the burden from the couple of having to visit the

superintendent registrar more than once before the wedding day.


1. Marriages affected include civil ceremonies at register offices

and approved premises, and religious ceremonies other than the Church

of England and the Church of Wales.

2. The Deregulation (Validity of Civil Preliminaries to Marriage)

Order 1991 comes into force on 1 October 1997 under section 1 of the

Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, which allows for primary

legislation to be amended for the purposes of removing or reducing

burdens on businesses or others, provided that necessary protection

is not removed.

3. Civil preliminaries to marriages will continue to be arranged, as

now, by the couple in the registration district(s) where they live.

Superintendent registrars are still responsible for ensuring that the

couple are each able to marry at the time notice to marry is

given and for the issue of the appropriate authority for the

marriage to take place.

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