The modernisation of the Marriage Act


Both parents are to be named on marriage certificates going forward following a change to the Marriage Act. Currently, a historical anomaly means that just the bride and grooms’ fathers are named. This change has been campaigned for by a cross party group of MPs and also applies to civil partnerships.

In addition, marriages are now going to be recorded electronically signalling a move from a handwritten registry book. The aim of having one singular electronic register is to speed up the process and avoid unnecessary administration of handwritten registry books.

These changes are the biggest changes to the marriage system since 1837 and were made in agreement with the Church of England. They bring England and Wales in line with the rest of the UK.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.”

The changes came into effect on Tuesday 4 May 2021.

More information

If you would like to know more about the changes to the Marriage Act, please contact our family team here or by email.

This article was written by Jo Smith, Marketing Manager. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of May 2021.


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