Getting married

Getting married

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Getting married

You are entitled to get married if you are single, widowed or divorced and you meet the age requirements.

A marriage can take place at a register office, at a building approved for civil marriage or in a religious building registered for the solemnisation of marriage.

If you are currently in a same-sex civil partnership registered in England, Wales or Scotland, you could convert it into a marriage. From 7 December 2020, for 3 years, this will also be possible in Northern Ireland. If you do this, you will be issued with a marriage certificate, which will show the marriage as existing from the date of your civil partnership.

In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, there are 2 ways to convert your same-sex civil partnership:

  • A simple process at a register office; or
  • A 2-stage process where a superintendent registrar or their deputy can complete the conversion at another venue. This will allow your family and friends to attend and a ceremony can follow immediately after.

The conversion can take place at a wide range of approved premises such as hotels, stately homes and religious premises which have been registered for the marriage of same-sex couples. You will have to pay a fee for the conversion depending on when and how you do it.

For more information on the legal requirements of getting married, see: The law on getting married

Minimum age for getting married

The minimum age at which you can get married varies, depending on where you live:

  • In England & Wales, you can get married from the age of 16 if you have parental consent. Without parental consent, you can get married at 18. A law has been passed to remove the 'aged 16' option, but it is not yet in force.
  • In Northern Ireland, you can get married from the age of 16 if you have parental consent. Without parental consent, you can get married at 18.
  • In Scotland, you can get married from the age of 16, with or without parental consent.

Considerations before getting married

There are many things to consider before getting married, such as:

  • Do you need to consider whether you should enter into a Prenuptial agreement?
  • Does one or both of you wish to change your name (Changing your name) or that of a minor child (Changing the name of a minor) following your marriage?
  • When do you want your wedding to take place, taking into consideration the time it takes to give notice (Giving notice) before your wedding?
  • If one of you is subject to immigration control, what steps must you take before you can get married?

In this section of the law guide, we explore all of these issues relating to getting married. Click on the links on the left hand side of the page to find out more information on all of these topics relating to your marriage.

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