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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 10:00 GMT
Where would you like to get married?
Couples will be free to marry almost anywhere they like under proposals for the biggest shake-up of civil weddings since they were introduced in 1837.

After a two year consultation, the government is expected to suggest it is no longer the venue which is licensed, but the celebrant conducting the marriage ceremony.

The changes - which apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland - would clear the way for weddings to be held in venues like a private home, garden, mountain top or beach, providing they are deemed safe by the celebrant.

At present ceremonies can only be held in a church, registry office or specially licensed venue.

Where would you choose to get married? Have you or anyone you know got married in strange or bizarre places? Or are you strictly the church or registry office-going type?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Everyone will start competing to see who can get married in the best place

Laura D/J, England
I will be getting married in our church with the blessing of God (as it should be). Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Lovely, let's all get married on a beach somewhere sunny. Lovely memories but what good are those memories when everyone gets divorced these days and then wants to forget those lovely memories as soon as possible. God is the only one who joins two people in marriage. Everyone will start competing to see who can get married in the best place, then marriage really won't mean anything, it will just be a competition.
Laura D/J, England

Living in Bristol at the time of our wedding, we were very pleased with the registry office. It is an old friary and looks absolutely fabulous.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

I'd like to get married on the moon. That way none of the in-laws will be there..
Tom, UK

A place where two rivers meet, having their sources in different countries but moving forward together until they reach the sea.
Rhys Jaggar, England

I got married just over 15 months ago in a beautiful country house hotel in Yorkshire. As neither my husband or I are religious, plus the fact that his family are C of E and mine are Catholics, we wanted to have a ceremony that meant something to us and did not feel like we were just "going through the motions". Due to the fact that we chose every element of our wedding service, from the actual vows right through to the readings, we had a truly special service that meant a great deal to us. Personally I think that allowing people to get married where they want to get married, rather than being forced down a road that they do not necessarily want to take, will make marriage both more popular and more meaningful to the couple who are making their vows.
Vicki Hockey, England

A Church of Scotland minister is able to marry anywhere.

David, Scotland
Interesting discussion. In Scotland, a church of Scotland minister is able to marry anywhere. I should know, I am one! I have conducted weddings in Castles, the great outdoors, indoors and even in a church. Few of the people I have married are "religious", but we have been able to find common ground. And ministers in Scotland can't charge a fee either, so its free! It's not a civil ceremony, but it is Civil!
David, Scotland

As a gay men in a relationship for almost 7 years we would like the right to marry, full stop.
Gary Sanderson, UK

I got married in Las Vegas. It was wonderful! Everything was arranged for us, there was absolutely no stress of hassle whatsoever. Some members of our family came with us and then we had a big party when we got home. I think it was far more memorable that getting married at home - plus we had fabulous weather guaranteed!
Julia DeBattista, Wales

Half way up the side of a mountain. That way, which ever way you choose to go you either find:

1) It's all downhill from here


2) Its all an uphill struggle


3) You end up going round in circles, finishing up where you started.

Yup - that about sums up marriage to me (Only kidding honey!) :o)
Lee, England

I am getting married in my childhood church, which I have strong spiritual ties to, and wouldn't change that for a second. I certainly wouldn't use the new legislation to get married somewhere 'more attractive' - if that bothered me, I wouldn't be getting married in the ugliest church in my parish!
Lucy Steer, UK

As a society which predominantly doesn't go to church, isn't it somewhat hypocritical for folk who don't go to church regularly to suddenly want to be married in one? There are millions of people in this country who don't follow Christianity - a fact which has been reported in the news only recently. These new proposals make good sense, and will possibly even boost the marriage statistics. Many friends of mine aren't married because they don't want to marry either in church or in a registry office - this is the answer to many people's dilemmas, I imagine
Julie Jones, Wales

Proper preparation for a life together will make a marriage, not some fancy, trendy location

Mike, Perth, Australia
Having been happily married for fifteen years (and counting) I have to say that it's not where you tie the knot that's important, it's what you use to tie it with and how well you tie it. Proper preparation for a life together will make a marriage, not some fancy, trendy location.
Mike, Perth, Australia

The fun and love that comes with a traditional Indian (Asian) wedding is second to none. If I do get married, it would be in India with relatives and friends - traditional style.
Rohit Lakhani, USA/Hawaii (Indian Ethnicity)

Anywhere tropical, warm, and away from the hassle of city life - a few close friends and family - perfect
Emma, New Zealand

We have been married for 11 years. It makes sense to marry where you both want for the reasons which you agree than to suit families. It is not them that have to weather the storms. We ran away to Mauritius before it became fashionable. We would do the same again and upset our families. Our love is the most important thing. It means more than someone else's opinion. Marry for love and nothing else.
K Matthews, USA

I think the move towards new innovative weddings is great. It always struck me as bizarre that friends who never set foot in church normally should wish their union cemented by religious mumbo-jumbo. Even more bizarre that they would spend thousands on providing everyone with rubber chicken and warm Liebfraumilch in some anonymous banqueting suite afterwards. My wife and I drove across the desert to Las Vegas in an open topped Chevvy and were married in a chapel in front of six friends who flew in, and "Elvis", who gave the bride away. Afterwards we had a Roman banquet at Caesar's Palace. It was truly one of the great days of our lives, full of meaning, and free of stress.
Paul McDonnell, Australia (Brit)

The old town square, Prague, Czech Republic. There are several churches surrounding the square. Early in the morning when tourists have not yet invaded.
Ian, Moldova

This is all really bizarre. It sounds nice to get married in all these exotic locations, but I wonder whether permitting this to happen is a comment on the fact that marriage is now seen exclusively in terms of personal fulfilment rather than as a public commitment and the framework for rearing children. Also recognition that God is our creator and therefore the inventor of marriage. Marriage isn't just a nice hobby, however enjoyable it may be for those whose marriages survive these days in the face of all our anti-marriage and anti-family legislation.
Anon, UK

Without commitment, it doesn't matter how special the circumstances under which one gets married

Marten King, USA
I'm amazed that the law in Britain has been so restrictive. One hears all the time about weddings being held everywhere from hot air balloons to parachuting to very ordinary ceremonies. My wife and I were married in a tiny church in a tiny town in Canada with only the minister, his wife, daughter and a 94 year old lady from across the street as witnesses.

Commitment is the key to staying married. Once the infatuation wears off and life gets into a routine, people start getting on each other's nerves. Without commitment, it doesn't matter how special the circumstances under which one gets married.
Marten King, USA

In Church, with God's blessing. Which is what I did, ten years ago. Never regretted it for an instant.
Catherine, UK

Anyone can get married at my church for less than £200

Rev John Musson, UK
I'm vicar of a church that's nearly 950 years old. Anyone living here can get married at my church for less than £200 - a small fraction of the rest of the costs a couple normally incur - and at the moment, it tends to be only the churches that offer preparation for marriage - which is much more important than the wedding venue!
Rev John Musson, UK

Il Gesu, the Jesuit church in Rome. For my money, the most beautiful building in Christendom.
Gifford Maxim, Chicago, USA

That place in Wales where the Prisoner TV show was filmed.
Robert del Valle, USA

The moon.
Polly Mathers, USA

I think it's be a brilliant development and one which I hope will eventually reach Ireland!!
Beirn, Ireland

Why bother with any of the expense in the first place. I believe that everyone gets married with the best intentions thinking it will be forever. But two out of three marriages fail, so what's the point. Surely we should be looking at the law in conjunction with cohabitation - at least this would give everyone, whether heterosexual or straight, the same rights as married couples. If we are going to revamp the marriage system let's look at it from the aspect of the couple instead.
Danny, UK

Since four out of five cohabitations fail perhaps Danny is out to increase his chances of staying together and get married! Where? Tropical beach would do nicely.
Jon, UK

Delighted to see the UK is catching up with NZ. We were married on a beach in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. One son was married by a lovely lake, and another in an old garden. They had so much meaning and left wonderful memories in every case.
David Griffith-Jones, New Zealand

My friends were married during sunset in the Bahamas while we were on holiday. I think I would love to have that type of ceremony as well. The vicar even wore sunglasses.

Location wouldn't matter, as long as I have my family members (even my extended family) all around me.
Guru S., USA

My wife is Canadian and we got married in Canada on a boat in Georgian Bay , Lake Huron. It was very good.
Drew, UK/Canada

Canada already lets you get married wherever you want. That's why my wife and I decided to get married there, at the top of Whistler mountain in the snow. What a fantastic view we had!
Ian, USA (UK expat)

My fiance and I are getting married in a few weeks, in a beautiful art deco hotel on an island in South Devon. We would have chosen to be married outside if it had been possible but are happy with our choice given that when we booked it, the ceremony had to be in a licensed venue! I think it's a lovely idea to allow couples to be married wherever they like - some of us prefer to be out in the fresh air and the open spaces for special occasions. And there's no restriction on the number of guests either!
Kerry Davis, England

Why get married at all if it a civil arrangement -marriage is about having God join you together

Carolyn Booth , England
I believe that when you get married it is for love and to have the blessing of God upon your life. Why get married at all if it a civil arrangement -marriage is about having God join you together, otherwise you are the same -a couple and then a couple with rings and a certificate! With Godly marriage you are a couple joined together in Holy Matrimony. I think it's time we look at getting married, wherever it may be, with God in mind!
Carolyn Booth , England

My wife and I got married in a registry office, with a public ceremony in her parent's garden. But it's not the location that really needs reform. We're not religious enough to want a priest, mullah or rabbi to marry us; but neither do we particularly value the ministry of the state, acting through the London Borough of Hackney. As lawyers, we'd have loved to have been married by a judge, as they do in the USA - but why not let friends officiate?
David T, UK

I'd get married anywhere if someone would finally ask me!
Kate, San Francisco, USA

This isn't a very new idea is it - didn't Adam and Eve get married in a garden?
Rob, England

I agree with the earlier comment ... "preparation for marriage - which is much more important than the wedding venue!" So let's let the couple decide where to get married, AND lets make it easy for them to get lots of help in preparing for marriage, including from the church.
Dan Harrison, Canada

We got married in Fiji, on the beach of a small island, just before sunset. We were barefoot and the guests were our two witnesses and the other guests on the island. The minister was officially Methodist, but said he would do us a civil ceremony or a ceremony in any religious denomination that we wanted - so we chose a pretty standard 'til death us do part' service. We then had round the world air tickets to celebrate with friends and family in the US, UK and Australia. For me this was the perfect wedding.
Cathy, USA (ex UK)

Santa was the minister and an elf was the ring-bearer

Mark Lowery, UK
I got married in a Santa's Grotto-themed wedding chapel in Las Vegas on Christmas day 1996. Naturally Santa was the minister and an elf was the ring-bearer. The good fairy played "Here Comes the Bride" on the organ. It was all very funny and tacky and we had the marriage blessed in our Mormon church on our return to the UK. We are still together and have three children.
Mark Lowery, UK

It's great to make it so much easier to get married where people want, but now it's also time to remove the remnants of religious discrimination against same sex couples, so that we can get married too.
Jane and Liz, UK

I'm getting married in May in our local church (that is, local to us, not to my parents) because we believe in the religious significance of marriage ... although it will be very informal! I think people should be able to get married where they like, whether it's a civil or religious ceremony. I read about a couple of volcano-watchers in the States who got married on a fresh lava-flow, which was covered up a couple of hours later by more lava and sealed forever. I thought that was brilliant!
Lynne, England, UK

The best thing about these proposals is that it reduces the cost of a wedding - money saved will go towards my family home and the bar bills. I'll be looking for a handy woodland glade and a good weather forecast.
Richard N, UK

I would love to get married on the pitch of Ipswich Town but the other half hates football so that is out. It would be nice though to take the family and a few close friends and have it somewhere like Disneyland in Florida - with nice weather, special surroundings. We're not religious so we will definitely not be having a church wedding.
Dave, UK

The penalty spot at York City Football Club

Jake, York, England
My girlfriend's father is manager of York City Football Club, and we hope to get married on the penalty spot at the home ground.
Jake, York, England

My Scottish partner and I both work on the railways and we would love to have our ceremony on one of the famous railways bridges in the UK.
Sheryl, England

We had a beautiful open-air ceremony under an oak tree in a picturesque woodland, attended by almost 100 guests. We then had the inconvenience of going to our grotty local registry office to have it done legally. This change is most welcome and long overdue.
Andy, UK

My wife and I were married in Kenya under the Thompson Holidays in Paradise scheme. We would both recommend it. It saved the hassle of deciding where in the UK we got married as our relatives live so far apart.
Andrew, UK

I'm an old romantic at heart. However being gay it is difficult for my partner and I to cement any vows. I think instead of letting straight people marry wherever they want they should let Fernandez and I tie the knot anywhere at all.
Paul Bryan, Yorkshire

My girlfriend and I are running away to the Seychelles to get married. We are not telling anyone at all - especially our parents. They would be a pain with respect to guest lists, venues and so on.

I know a couple who were married in a Tibetan monastery. Twelve years and two children later, the British Home Office declared the marriage invalid

Chris B, England
I know an English couple who travelled to the Himalayas and were married in a Tibetan monastery. Twelve years and two children later, the British Home Office declared the marriage invalid and refused to recognise it. This was quite handy as it recently saved them the trouble of getting a divorce. So if I wanted to plan for all future contingencies, I'd get married in a Tibetan mountain-top monastery.
Chris B, England

My fiancé and I are having trouble finding an affordable civil venue where we can be married in September. We can't be married in our parish church because we've both been married before. I grew up in the US and my sister had her lovely wedding in a family member's home. This change to the law will be too late for us but hopefully it will open the way for more couples to marry because it will lower the cost if they marry where they like.
Melinda Rice, UK

I'm all in favour of people being able to marry wherever they like and have whatever sort of ceremony they like but I must admit I can't actually see why they'd want to. One's garden, or somewhere like that, maybe I can see that but a mountain-top? Why?
Jenny Radcliffe, UK

That's an interesting law that I wasn't aware of. I live in the United States but more than anything I would like to be married outdoors, by a minister, in the highlands of Scotland.
Gwen, USA

Getting married outdoors by a minister in the highlands of Scotland must be a popular theme among Americans! I attended the wedding of two Americans that was held in the open air, on a hill, on a Scottish island - and it was cold and very windy!
Laura Wright, Scotland

We eloped to a registry office in the company of two good friends on our way to the airport for our honeymoon. I think it would be really lovely to be married at home though, in the garden on a lovely summer's day.
Christine, UK

I fully expect to get married wherever I am told to.
Chris, UK

I got married in May 2001 in a Catholic church, as my wife and I are Catholics. I was not very particular about getting married in a church, but I didn't want to hurt the members of my family and my wife's family by marrying somewhere else. Marriages can be held anywhere as long as it is convenient for friends, relatives and others to attend the ceremony.
Albert P'Rayan, India

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See also:

28 Oct 01 | Wales
Couple to re-enact wedding
14 Aug 01 | UK
High-fliers take vows
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