Approved premises

A licenced venue can hold legally binding marriage and civil partnership ceremonies within their approved areas. They can also offer non-legal ceremonies such as naming and renewal of vows.

How to apply

The cost to licence your premises is £1500 for a term of three years. Additional rooms can be included for £50 each.

Click here to apply and pay

Further information is available from the gov.uk website.

For any queries, please email ceremonies@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

Types of venues

Civil marriages

Civil marriages take place between 8am and 8pm on any day of the week, including Sundays, bank and national holidays. Ceremonies outside these core hours will need to be assessed on an individual basis.

All civil marriages are solemnised by a Superintendent Registrar and registered by a Registrar of Marriages. The staff are provided and will typically arrive at the venue 30 to 60 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

We will endeavour to provide staff to carry out the ceremony if a couple can legally marry. However, on days when there are many bookings, we may ask that the timings are altered to meet demand.

Civil partnerships

Civil partnerships occur between the core hours of 8am and 8pm on any day of the week, including Sundays, bank, and national holidays.

Unlike a civil marriage, a civil partnership is legalised by a formation. A couple may wish to enhance their formation with a ceremony which we are happy to provide.

We will endeavour to provide staff to complete the formation if a couple can legally form a civil partnership. However, on days where there are many bookings, we may ask that the timings are altered to meet demand.

A Civil Partnership Registrar forms all civil partnerships; they will endeavour to arrive at the venue 30 – 60 minutes before the start of the ceremony or formation.

Other ceremonies

In addition to civil marriage and partnership ceremonies/formations, other ceremonies may be held at licensed venues.

These currently include the following:

  • Renewal of vows – these are for couples who wish to renew their marriage or civil partnership vow. They may take place on anniversaries, where the couple has had a ceremony abroad or at certain events in a couple's relationship.
  • Naming ceremonies – these are for parents who wish to have a nonreligious ceremony to welcome a new addition to the family. This could be a new baby, an adopted child or where the parents are re-marrying or entering into a partnership and wish to welcome the children from previous marriages/relationships into the new family unit. This ceremony can be held following a marriage or civil partnership ceremony/formation.

These ceremonies have no legal basis. Although the preferred option is to perform them in the room/area agreed for ceremonies, they can take place in any other approved room/area within the venue or grounds, subject to the fine weather. These ceremonies cannot include any religious content.

Fees

Fees for licensing venues and fees for ceremonies are set annually and are payable upon application.

For ceremonies or formations, the couple or person booking the ceremony is responsible for paying the fee to us directly.

Licensing fees for new approved venue including one room

  • £1500

Extra fees for additional rooms (at time of application)

  • £50 per room

Licensing fees for renewal of existing approved venues

  • £1500

Term of licence

  • three years

Amendment to licence: Change of holder (transfer or new business)

  • £150
  • Licence to be reissued with correct information. To be signed, witnessed, and returned.

Amendment to licence: Rebrand (change of premises name)

  • £150
  • Licence to be reissued with correct information. To be signed, witnessed, and returned.

Amendment to licence: Rooms added during term of licence

  • £200 includes one room and £50 for each additional room
  • Premises visit and licence to be reissued. To be signed, witnessed, and returned. New licence notice issued for display.

Partnership

We intend that the licensing of a venue should work as a partnership between ourselves and the venue. Working individually and together to promote being married in Lincolnshire and provide couples with a range of venues to celebrate their ceremony.

We are committed to providing an effective backup and support network which includes:

  • promoting licensed venues
  • 365 days of attendance at licensed venues for civil marriages, partnerships and other ceremonies
  • seek to improve the licensed venue system continuously

Licensed venues are expected to:

  • abide by conditions and requirements set by the local authority
  • show integrity and commitment in dealing with couples/parents wishing to hold a ceremony at their venue
  • be fair, responsive, and courteous in the delivery of a quality service
  • be professional and have well informed employees who take pride in what they do
  • notify couples/parents of any limitations or conditions applying to the venue in respect of civil marriage, civil partnership and other ceremonies

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.

Ceremony timeline

30 – 60 minutes before the ceremony

  • Registrar and celebrant arrive. This allows time for the registrar and celebrant to settle in, find somewhere suitable to park (unless space has already been reserved), chat with a venue wedding team member, and meet the photographer.

30 minutes before the ceremony

  • Both parties will speak to the registrar before the ceremony. This is to check that all their details are correct, called the preliminaries. They may do this together, but it is usually done separately. The registrar will also review the ceremony's details so they know what to expect. Information will include elements such as the order of ceremony, if anyone will be given away, who stands where, and who has the rings.
  • Depending on the couple’s choice, music may be playing whilst guests begin to arrive.

15 minutes before the ceremony

  • The ceremony will start at its allocated time. There must be no delay, as the registrars may have other ceremonies to attend. We ask for guests to be seated.

Ceremony

  • Once the guests have been seated, the registrar will be standing in the centre. The music will begin to play, signifying the arrival of Party 1.
  • The ceremony will take place over the following 30 minutes.
  • The registrar / celebrant will close the ceremony and congratulate the couple on their marriage.

After the ceremony

  • The registrar will invite the married couple and their witnesses for the signing of the schedule.
  • Once the official schedule is signed there is usually a photographic opportunity using a ‘dummy’ schedule (the original is a legal document and therefore cannot be photographed).
  • The couple will be invited to lead their guests from the room to the next stage of their celebrations.
  • There are occasions where, as part of the couple’s ceremony plan, they have asked for a relative or close friend to bless their marriage. Whilst we make it clear that a civil ceremony should contain no religious content, we are happy to introduce the person carrying out the blessing. Once we have left the room, the blessing can take place.

Venue checklist

Please read the guide below to ensure your premises meet all the requirements to apply for a grant of approval.

All documents /certificates need to be signed and dated where possible.

Evidence you will need to provide

  • Room plan. To be uploaded at the time of application.
  • Please clearly mark all areas you wish to be included in your application. This includes outside spaces within the boundary of your property. These will be included at no extra charge.
  • Employer liability insurance certificate.
  • Public liability insurance certificate(s).
  • Planning permission - Please get in touch with your local District Council for further information. Where planning is not required written confirmation to be supplied at application.

Risk assessment

  • Fire risk assessment and emergency evacuation plan
  • Ongoing fire logbook checks
  • Fire alarm service and testing record(s)
  • Fire extinguisher service and inspection record(s)
  • Fire safety signage

Responsible persons

  • Name and contact telephone number of ‘responsible person’ -  The main point of contact for the Registration and Celebratory Service. Person responsible for overseeing health and safety on day of celebration

Is the proposed room

  • A permanent and immovable structure.
  • Seemly, dignified, and free from anything that may compromise the occasion's solemnity.
  • Available for frequent use.
  • Not used or affiliated with any religion.

Does the proposed room

  • Allow for unobstructed public access.
  • Have a quiet and private area for the preliminaries of the celebration.
  • Have adequate toilet facilities.
  • Have disabled access and facilities.

Application procedure

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Public notice of the application will be given on our website. A period of 21 days will be allowed for objections.

The licence

The licence is valid for a period of three years. The licence fee is £1500 plus £50 for each additional room. We will contact Licensed Venues one year before expiry inviting them to reapply.

The licence notice

You must display the licence notice prominently and permanently at the main entrance to the venue. Additional copies can be provided for other parts of the venue or display in the ceremony room/area.

Refusal to approve a licence

If a licence is not approved the applicant will be given notice in writing and the reason for the decision.

An applicant who is aggrieved about:

  • Our refusal to grant a licence, or
  • The attachment of Additional or Special conditions to the grant of a licence

may seek a review which will be carried out by the Appeals Sub Committee.

Promotion of the licence

The licence holder or any person or persons employed or acting on his/her behalf in respect of the licensed venue, may not imply in any advertisement, statement or document that we or the Registrar General recommends the Licensed Venue as a venue for civil marriage or civil partnership.

Licence holders may use the following words to describe the granting of a licence as a Licensed Venue: “Approved by Lincolnshire County Council as a venue for the solemnisation of Civil Marriages and the formation of Civil Partnerships”.

Renewing a licence

You can make an application to reapply for a licence one year before the expiry date. You will receive a reminder at this time.

Revoking a licence

We may revoke a licence if:

  • Any conditions attached to the granting of the licence have been broken.
  • The use or structure of the Licensed Premises has changed in that we no longer consider the premises a suitable venue for solemnising civil marriages and forming civil partnerships.
  • We are directed to do so by the Registrar General.

The licence holder may revoke the licence at any time within the three year licence period.

Transfer of licence

The licence is not transferable between premises. The licence, subject to our approval, may be transferred between licence holders.

The transfer would generally apply to the sale of a venue or an appointment of a new manager. You will inform us of any changes by letter.

A transfer fee of £150 will apply, please email ceremonies@lincolnshire.gov.uk to arrange.

General Register Office

The Registrar General has issued the following guidance for England and Wales in accordance with their duties under the Marriage Act 1949 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004.