If you have a venue which you think would be suitable for holding marriages and civil partnerships, apply to be a licensed venue by following the steps on this page.
The application process takes approximately 4 to 8 weeks once we have received your completed application and payment.
Your venue must meet the following standard requirements:
- Be a seemly and dignified venue for ceremonies and civil partnerships (in relation to its primary use, situation, construction and state of repair)
- Regularly available to the public for ceremony and civil partnership use
- Have fire precautions in place (required by us (the council), as we consult with the fire and rescue service), and other reasonable provision for the health and safety of your employees and members of the public
- The room or rooms where ceremonies and civil partnerships will be held must be identifiable by description as a distinct part of the premises (if approved)
Venues not eligible for a licence
We don't give licences to the following types of venue:
- Religious premises (premises which are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes). A building that is certified for public worship would fall into this category, as would a chapel in a stately home or hospice, but a building in which a religious group meets occasionally might be suitable, if other criteria are met.
- Register office (this doesn't apply to venues in which a register office is situated, provided the room which is subject to approval is not the same room as the room which is the register office).
What we look for when considering your venue for weddings and civil partnerships
We use the following guidance from the Registrar General when we consider the suitability of your venue:
- The laws relating to ‘approved premises’ (also known as licenced venues) are intended to allow marriages and civil partnerships to take place regularly in hotels, stately homes, civic halls and similar venues, without compromising the fundamental principles of English law and Parliament’s intention to maintain the seriousness of the occasion.
- 'Premises' is defined in Regulation 2(1) as a permanently immovable structure comprising of at least a room, or any boat, or other vessel which is permanently moored. Venues outside of this definition, such as an open air, a tent, marquee or other temporary structure and most forms of transport, are not eligible for a licence.
- Venues must be seemly and dignified, and take place in an identifiable and distinct part of the venue. If the primary use of the venue degrades ceremony or civil partnership proceedings or brings them into disrepute, the venue would not be suitable.
- Once a licence is granted, we expect the venue to be made available regularly for ceremony or civil partnership proceedings.
- Owners or occupiers of licenced venues will not be able to refuse to host either marriages or civil partnerships on the grounds of sexual orientation (although this may not apply to venues owned or controlled by a religious organisation). The owners or occupiers, should they wish to, are able to refuse to host civil partnerships, providing they fall under the exceptions set out in Schedule 23 to the Equalities Act 2010.
- A private house is unlikely to be approved for a licence, as it isn't typically a venue which is regularly available for use by the public.
When you apply for a licence, you will need to provide the following things:
- A copy of the plans of your venue, clearly showing the marriage room or rooms (a clear sketch plan will do if architectural plans are not available)
- An up to date fire risk assessment for the venue
- A valid copy of your public entertainment licence (if you have one)
- Application fee
The application fee is £2000 which is non-returnable and the licence is valid for three years. Applications for renewal can be made from 12 months prior to the expiry date of the licence.
If you are the owner or trustee of the venue, you can apply for a venue licence. If you are applying on behalf of a limited company, you will need to provide the names and addresses of all the directors.
You can also email your risk assessment and plan separately to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your venue licence is approved, you must adhere to the following conditions:
- Provide parking facilities for our Superintendent Registrar's staff attending the proceedings (if possible)
- Provide a private room for our Superintendent Registrar's staff to conduct an interview with the couple prior to the proceedings
- Any proceedings conducted in your venue shall not be religious in nature. More specifically, the proceedings shall not:
- include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or from sacred religious texts
- be led by a minister of religion or other religious leader
- involve a religious ritual or series of rituals
- include hymns or religious chants
- include any form of worship