Major changes to the way marriages in England and Wales are registered are being introduced to help modernise the system.
From 4th May 2021, a single electronic marriage register will be created to make the system simpler and more efficient.
It will also correct a historic anomaly to allow for the names of both parents of the couple to be included in the marriage entry and on marriage certificates for the first time, instead of only their fathers’ names.
These regulations to amend the Marriage Act mark the biggest changes since 1837.
Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said:
When Hazel and I got married in 2017, my dad and Hazel’s mum shared the day with us, but sadly my mum and Hazel’s dad could not be with us, both having passed away beforehand. Whilst Hazel’s dad could still be part of the day by being listed on our marriage certificate, one was missing – my mum.
These changes bring the registration process into the 21st century and means no parent will be missing on their child’s wedding day.
Marriages are currently registered by the couple signing a register book, which is held at each register office, in churches and chapels, and at religious premises registered for marriage.
Creating a single electronic marriage register will save time and money and is a more secure system, eliminating the need for data to be extracted from hard copies.
The changes have been made in consultation with stakeholders, such as the Church of England.
The Reverend Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England, said:
We are very pleased that the marriage registration system can now include the names of mothers as well as fathers on registers.
Changing practices that go back many years is never straightforward, but we believe the new system changes as little as possible in terms of the couple’s experience of their church wedding and that the clergy will find the new regulations become second nature very quickly.
As per the government’s roadmap, weddings can currently take place with up to 15 attendees in premises that are permitted to open.