February 6th, 2012

UK marriage laws - places & officiants. Plus entailment laws?

time: 2006/present day

location: United Kingdom (Cornwall specifically)

Situation: I want to finish off my story by marrying my main couple; the bride is working-class, the groom holds a title of nobility (Earldom, if if matters). I've googled UK marriage laws, and apparently a legal civil ceremony can only take place in fairly specific places.

in the words of adviceguide.co.uk, "Local authorities in England and Wales may approve premises other than Register Offices where civil marriages may take place. Applications for approval must be made by the owner or trustee of the building, not the couple.

The premises must be regularly open to members of the public, so private homes are unlikely to be approved, since they are not normally open to the public. Stately homes, hotels and civic buildings are likely to be thought suitable. Approval will not be given for open air venues."


The couple wants to get married at the groom's family estate in Cornwall. It IS a Stately home, but it ISN'T open to the public. So:

a) if the groom applied to register the family estate as an approved venue, what are the chances?

b) the groom's parents married in the late 1960's - could they have legally married on the estate themselves, and would that mean that the estate could be 'grandfathered' as an approved venue?

c) if the estate WAS registered as an approved venue, could they have the actual ceremony on the estate grounds (ie in the garden) even though it's "open air", since it would definitely be considered part of the estate?

d) the groom inherited the title as a seventeen year old; given the title is at least two centuries old, would entailment still apply? To be more specific - would he have inherited title and estate at seventeen outright, or would the estate been held 'in trust' by his mother until he reached twenty-one, or could his mother (who is still in residency, and runs the place) actually be "the owner of the building" as named above, meaning she is the one who would have to make the application?

Also e) since they want a civil ceremony, could they get a friend who has already become a justice of the peace/magistrate (whatever the term is in the UK) to perform the ceremony, or would the friend have to undergo a specific application to become a registered marriage celebrant?


searched: googled 'united kingdom marriage law'; specific sites www.adviceguide.co.uk and weddingservice.co.uk

Thanks in advance!

ETA: Thanks, everyone! Looks like I'm going to have to either write in a quickie registry office wedding beforehand, or make up an OC to serve as the local priest in the estate house chapel.