How to become a Licensed Venue for Civil Marriage and Civil Partnership
4. What type of premises is suitable?
An 'Approved Premises' must be a permanent immovable structure providing a room suitable for marriage or civil partnership ceremonies, or any boat or vessel that is permanently moored.
The ceremony room must be readily identifiable within the premises. This will preclude legal ceremonies from taking place in the open air, a tent, marquee or other temporary structure and in most forms of transport.
A private house is unlikely to be an appropriate venue for civil marriage or civil partnership ceremonies. It would not be known to the public as a civil ceremony venue or be regularly available for their use.
The main use, situation, construction and state of repair of the premises may make it unsuitable for ceremonies if, in the opinion of East Sussex Registration, it is not a seemly and dignified venue for proceedings.
Marriages and civil partnerships must be solemnised in premises with open doors, which the Registrar General interprets to mean that the public must be allowed unfettered access to witness a ceremony and make objections prior to or during the ceremony.
- A gazebo will be considered for licensing provided it is a permanent structure, large enough to accommodate six people, the registrar’s table and chairs.
- It must be in a quiet area of the grounds.
- A suitable room inside must be available in case of bad weather.
- The premises must be secular in nature and have no recent or continuing connection with any religion.
- This effectively rules out any building whose description, purpose or appearance is still considered to be linked to religion.
- Premises where a religious group meets occasionally may be suitable if the primary use of the premises is secular.
Dignified and Seemly
- The premises must provide a seemly, dignified and solemn location for the celebration of civil marriages and civil partnerships and must be separate from any other activity on the premises at the same time as the ceremony.
- ESCC will consider the primary use, situation, state of repair and construction of the premises when making its decision.
- The premises must be regularly available to the public for ceremonies.
- It will be the decision of the applicant to determine the number of ceremonies that will take place during the licence period and when the Approved Premises is available.
Fire and Health & Safety
- The premises must have the benefit of such fire precautions as may reasonably be required.
- ESCC is required to consult the fire authority and be assured that the premises comply with requirements.
- ESCC will also take into consideration the health and safety of the registration staff and public who will be attending ceremonies.
Applicants must have planning permission or be satisfied that they do not need planning permission to regularly hold marriage or civil partnership ceremonies on the premises.
Provision of Rooms
- A suitable room or rooms must be provided for ceremonies.
- Another private room must also be provided for the Registrars to hold a confidential interview with the couple prior to a marriage or civil partnership ceremony.
- Where the ceremony room will not be available until immediately before the ceremony, a separate area or room must be provided where guests may wait.
- A marriage or civil partnership ceremony may only take place in a room approved within the licence.
- If, for some reason, that room is unavailable, the licence and therefore the ceremony, may not be transferred to another unlicensed room.
- For this reason you may wish to license more than one room on the premises.