Marriage in England and Wales from 4 May

Regulations relating to the solemnization of marriage (SI 2021/539), and the keeping of records (SI 2021/538), were published on 29 April 2021. Links to these and the earlier Regulations on the registration of marriage, (SI 2021/411 and SI 2021/412*), and copies of the Explanatory Notes are reproduced below.

The Regulations are applicable to England and Wales; the Explanatory Notes are not part of the Regulations.


The Marriage (Keeping of Records in Churches and Chapels) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/538.

These Regulations come into force on 4th May 2021

These Regulations provide for records of marriages to be kept in churches and chapels of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, other than chapels to which Part 5 of the Marriage Act 1949 applies (naval, military and air force chapels).

Regulation 2 requires parochial church councils to provide books known as “registers of marriage services” to churches and chapels in their parish in which banns of matrimony may be published, for the purposes of keeping the records required by regulation 3. Regulation 2 also imposes requirements relating to the durability and pre-printed content of these registers, and provides that they belong to the parochial church council.

Regulation 3 requires specified information to be recorded in a register of marriage services when a marriage has been solemnized on or after 4th May 2021 according to the rites of the Church of England or Church in Wales in a church or chapel in which banns of matrimony may be published. The record must be made and signed by the member of the clergy by whom the marriage was solemnized.

Regulation 4 imposes requirements relating to the keeping of registers of marriage services provided under regulation 2.


The Marriage (Authorised Persons) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/539

These Regulations come into force in accordance with regulation 1(2) and (3). 

These Regulations make provision about the authorisation of persons to be present at the solemnization of marriages in certain buildings and chapels registered for the solemnization of marriages under the Marriage Act 1949 (“the Act”). The provision made by these Regulations replaces provision made by the Marriage (Authorised Persons) Regulations 1952 (“the 1952 Regulations”).

Under section 43 of the Act, persons may be authorised to be present at the solemnization  of marriages in a building registered for the solemnization of marriages under section 41. Section 43 is also applied by section 70 of the Act, with modifications, in relation to naval, military and air force chapels registered for the solemnization of certain marriages. Authorised persons have functions under the Act in relation to the solemnization and registration of marriages. Section 43 requires the name and address of a person authorised under that section to be certified to the Registrar General and the district’s superintendent registrar within the time, and in the manner, prescribed by regulations.

Regulation 2 prescribes the time and manner in which such certification is to be made.

Regulation 3 revokes provisions of the 1952 Regulations. Amendments have also been made to those Regulations by the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/411) in connection with amendments made to the Act by those Regulations. As a result of these two sets of amendments, only regulations 1 and 2 of the 1952 Regulations (citation, commencement and interpretation) remain in place, subject to savings made by the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2021. Those remaining provisions are required for the purposes of those savings.


Other relevant legislation

Registration of Marriages Regulations 2021, SI 2021/411

These Regulations amend the Marriage Act 1949 (“the 1949 Act”) to provide for a new marriage registration system…

The amendments further provide that following solemnization of the marriage, the marriage document or marriage schedule must be signed and returned to the registrar for the registration district in which the marriage took place. The registrar must then register the marriage by entering particulars into a register, accessible in electronic form. The clergyman will be responsible for returning the marriage document to the registrar and the specified person (as defined in new section 53C(8), inserted by regulation 7) will be responsible for returning the marriage schedule, except in respect of a marriage schedule where the marriage was solemnized by a registrar…

The impact of the new marriage registration system on the public sector is outlined in the impact assessment prepared for the Registration of Marriage Bill 2017 – 2019 available via the Explanatory Notes for that Bill at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0019/Impact-assessment.pdf


The Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Regulations 2021, SI 2021/412

These Regulations amend the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 (“the 2015 Regulations”). The amendments are connected with the amendments to the Marriage Act 1949 (“the 1949 Act”) made by the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2021 (S.I. 2021/411). Those amendments to the 1949 Act provide for a “marriage document” to be issued by a member of the clergy where a marriage is to be solemnized following the publication of banns or on the authority of a special or common licence. They also provide for other marriages to be solemnized on the authority of a “marriage schedule” issued by a superintendent registrar (rather than, as formerly, on the authority of certificates). After solemnization of the marriage, the signed marriage document or marriage schedule must be returned to the registrar for the district in which the marriage was solemnized so that the registrar may then register the marriage. The amendments made to the 1949 Act also provide for the registration of marriages in a new electronic register instead of in marriage register books…

A full impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument because no, or no significant, impact on the private, voluntary or public sector is foreseen…


* The Explanatory Memorandum to the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2021, SI 2021/411 clarifies:

“[6.5] The early commencement of some provisions in the instrument (on the day after the day on which the instrument is made [i.e. 26 March 2021]) is to enable the above regulations to be made and to enable the issue of marriage documents and marriage schedules by the clergy and superintendent registrars in preparation for marriages taking place on or after 4th May 2021. The instrument will not impose any new duties on people from that early date of commencement.”

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Marriage in England and Wales from 4 May" in Law & Religion UK, 29 April 2021, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2021/04/29/marriage-in-england-and-wales-from-4-may/

 

2 thoughts on “Marriage in England and Wales from 4 May

  1. Really? In 2021 and making changes to include mother’s name, and the legislation itself still says “clergyman” instead of ‘member of the clergy’ in at least one place? That’s disappointing.

    • Agreed. And yes, we did notice. However, for consistency, Regulations must mirror the wording in the Act, and the problem is therefore with the Marriage Act 1949, for which further primary legislation would be required to introduce changes to the wording. dp

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