Yorkshire lawyer is advising couples getting wed to make sure their ceremony results in a valid marriage.
Thousands of British couples get married every year but, with more weddings taking place in unusual or exotic locations, it is easy to lose sight of the legal requirements that make a marriage lawful.
Marriages conducted abroad are only valid under the law of England and Wales if they are recognised as valid in that country and all requirements have been met.
Amy Chapman, a solicitor in the family law team at Langleys, York, says a simple check list will ensure that a marriage is valid whether at home or abroad.
“For a marriage taking place in England and Wales, it must be monogamous and in accordance with the requirements of the marriage acts,” said Amy.
“The rules state that you must be 16 or over but if you are under 18, you will need your parents’ consent, and the wedding can only take place in certain places including a church of the Church of England or Church in Wales, a register office, approved premises or a place of religious worship which has been registered for marriages by the Registrar General for England and Wales.”
Each party to a marriage must give notice of their intention to marry in person to the superintendent registrar of the district in which they live, well in advance of the marriage. The notice must be displayed for 15 days and is valid for a year.
For marriages in the Church of England or Church in Wales, it is necessary for banns to be read three times on separate Sundays before the marriage at the church where the couple are to be wed and the parish church where each partner lives.
All weddings must take place in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages or a person authorised to register marriages which includes vicars. They will register the marriage and issue a marriage certificate.
She added: “A marriage certificate is vital because it is the proof that most organisations ask for to show that you are legally married.
“The importance of having a valid marriage cannot be underestimated particularly if the marriage breaks down and a couple wish to divorce. Failure to comply with the necessary requirements can make a marriage void or a non-marriage which can lead to potential financial consequences.
“So make sure that when you are planning a wedding, it complies with all the legal requirements. The last thing you want years down the line is to discover that you were not actually married in the first place.”