Fundamentally, marriage is a legal contract
Fundamentally, marriage is a legal contract, and as such demands certain requirements of the parties entering into it. These vary slightly depending on whereabouts in the UK you live and where you wish to marry, but broadly they are the same. However, extra care should be taken if you have very unusual circumstances, such as one party being housebound, hospitalised or detained. For the most comprehensive advice available check your local authority’s homepage and also the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Who can get married?
In the UK, two types of ceremonies leading to marriage are recognised:
Religious ceremonies and civil ceremonies.
In addition to this, same-sex couples are able to enter into civil partnership, which gives the couple the same legal protection and rights as mixed gender couples. There are very slight technical differences between all three, (see overleaf), but generally the rules for marrying or entering into a marriage or a civil partnership are as follows:
- In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, both parties must be 18 or over on the day of the wedding, or 16 and over with parental consent. In Scotland,
persons over 16 can marry.
- Neither party can be currently married or in a civil partnership.
- The individuals wishing to marry cannot be closely related. (The list of excluded relationships is listed at www.adviceguide.org.uk if in doubt. Be
sure to check under the part of the UK you are resident in!)
- Both parties must be consenting to the marriage and capable ofunderstanding the ceremony.
- In Scotland, the marriage would have to be also regarded as valid in the country/ies to which either party belong.