Ceremony Legalities in England and Wales

The rules and regulations of marriage must be complied with. Here are some important points:

- The ceremony must take place in the presence of a superintendent registrar or an authorised person (e.g. vicar or priest).

- It must be witnessed by at least two competent people, who also sign the marriage register.

- The minimum legal age is 16, but under-18s must obtain written consent from their legal guardians.

- A couple may not marry if either of them is currently married to someone else.

- The bride and groom must not be directly related, either as blood or adoptive relatives.

- Step-parents and children can marry if both parties are over 21 and the younger partner has not lived in the house with, or been raised by, the elder partner. In such cases, special ecclesiastical licenses are required for church weddings.

- The marriage must take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. N.B. this doesn't apply to Jewish or Muslim weddings.

- The civil preliminaries must be complied with for any marriage or registration of civil partnership (registration of a same sex couple) taking place in a register office or approved venue, and for all religious marriages other than the Church of England or Church in Wales.

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