Approved premises

Suitability criteria

A licensed venue must be a permanent, immovable structure of at least one room, boat, or other vessel that is permanently moored. Ceremonies / formations may occur in the licensed rooms and linked outdoor areas, which the Superintendent Registrar has accepted.

There must be alternative venue arrangements if an outside ceremony needs to be moved due to weather etc.

The venue must be in keeping with the solemnity and dignity of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

The venue should comply with disabled access requirements. However, it is accepted that this may not always be possible given the building'sbuilding's age, construction, and style.

The premises must be regularly available for the solemnisation of civil marriages or the formation of civil partnerships.

The public must be allowed unrestricted access to witness the marriages or civil partnerships, and/or make an objection to or during the ceremony. No charge may be made to any member of the public attending a ceremony.

Within the venue

An individual room or area will be registered as the 'Ceremony Room', and formations and ceremonies may only occur within the registered room or area. You can also use linked outdoor areas that the Superintendent Registrar has accepted.

The licence fee provides for one 'Ceremony Room'. You can add additional rooms for a fee.

Whilst the 'Ceremony Room' does not have to be separate from other activities at the venue, it must not be affected by any other activity happening simultaneously.

There is no required minimum or maximum room or area size as this will vary between venues. It is suggested that an ideal minimum occupancy of 25, divided between seating and standing, is preferred. Consideration must be given to where an outside ceremony must move due to inclement weather.

Rooms or areas should be suitably decorated and in keeping with the venue's overall décor, age, condition, and style.

The room or area will need to be provided with a table and two chairs at one end where the ceremony will take place. The room should also include a comfortable space where the couple and the registration officer will stand to conduct the ceremony.

Ideally, a smaller table would be located to one side where they can sign the wedding schedule. Often at the ceremony's closing, the family will come to the front to congratulate and wish the couple well. This provision will allow the witnesses space to sign the schedule.

Chairs should be provided for guests. These can be set 'theatre style' with a central aisle or as agreed with the couple, subject to final approval by the registration staff.

We suggest that the front rows are reserved for family and aisle seats for the witnesses / interpreter and guests carrying out the readings. Subject to agreement with the couple, chairs do not need to be provided for all guests.

A 'red carpet' for an aisle may be provided but is not essential. Where a 'red carpet' is supplied, the venue must ensure that it is cleaned regularly, maintained, and does not present a health and safety hazard.

A further separate room or area must be available to allow for the confidential interviewing of the ceremonial party before the start of the ceremony and such other appropriate ceremony use. The preliminary room should be a quiet and confidential space. Often the person getting married will bring in a chaperone; there must be room for this.

You must ensure all rooms /areas to be used are clean, set up and ready one hour before the agreed start time for the ceremony. The sound system must be reliable, and the wedding team must be confident and familiar with how it works.

Outside area

It is now legal for a couple to marry fully in an approved outside space. This area will need to fall within the boundary of the property with the licensed rooms; if you have a beautiful outdoor area that you would like to open up for ceremonies, please include it on your floor plan. *Do not include on your list of rooms to be licensed, or you will incur a charge.

We always advise you to prepare a room should you have to move the celebration indoors. Please note that the Registrar makes the final decision.

Fire and health and safety

We will deem the applicant to be the responsible person (or acting on their behalf) under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure that a fire risk assessment has been carried out on the premises.

The assessment is required to reduce the fire risk and ensure that all people on the premises can escape if there is a fire. We will ask the applicant for a copy of the fire risk assessment at the inspection time to confirm that one has been done. You may obtain advice from the Fire Authority.

When the premises first applies, we must officially consult with the Fire Authority. The Fire Authority may wish to inspect the premises, and any recommendations regarding fire precautions, alarms, signage etc, may need to be resolved before a licence is approved or becomes a special condition of the licence.

We will also consider the health and safety of the registration officers and the public who visit the premises.

Planning decision

Applicants are advised to consult with their local planning authority to check whether use as a venue for civil ceremonies would constitute development or change of use. We reserve the right to contact the planning authority where any doubt occurs.

Public liability/third party insurance

The building or structure to be licensed must have public liability (third party) insurance cover during the three years of the licence.

Car parking

It would help if you considered parking to allow the registrar and celebrant space to arrive and depart promptly. Reserved spaces should be near the main entrance of the building/ceremony room.

The person responsible on the day of the celebration will need to oversee car parking, access arrangements for the bridal or partner's car, and any car parking provided for guests attending the ceremony.

Food and drink

No food or drink may be served and/or consumed within the ceremony room/area one hour before and during the ceremony.

Registrars and celebrants

Registration staff and celebrants will arrive 30 – 60 minutes before the event. On arrival, please escort, if necessary, the registration staff to the ceremony room and the room where the legal preliminaries will take place.

We ask for fresh water to be provided; they will likely have come from another ceremony. To help our celebrants and registrars a quick debrief to know how the couple is so, we can help manage any nerves they might be feeling.

Please introduce the photographer to the celebrant and registrar as this allows for a coordinated response following the ceremony.