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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 02:26 GMT
Civil wedding rules 'to be relaxed'
Tying the knot on London's Millennium Wheel
Marrying in unusual venues would become easier
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 for marriage, but the person conducting the 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.

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

Under the new arrangement the person conducting the wedding - known as a 'celebrant' - would be responsible for ensuring the chosen venue was safe, appropriate and open to the public.

That would rule out more eccentric options like tying the knot while sky-diving or bungee-jumping, but allow much greater freedom in general.

The proposals are expected to be contained in a white paper to be consulted in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

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The BBC's James Westhead
"Government proposals are expected to make it easy to stage wacky weddings"
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