What is happening regarding celebrants being able to carry out legal marriages in England and Wales?

weddings Oct 13, 2021
Married couple smiling showing off wedding rings
A Message from Stuart Morris – Founder of International College of Professional Celebrants.
“I have discovered that it is very likely that celebrants will not be able to apply for/obtain a licence at individual level and instead will need to be/become part of an accredited and licensed body. It was explained to me that through changes in the law, regulations will be introduced, and it is very likely that individuals will have to undergo a licensing process aimed at ensuring adequate standards as well as fitness and propriety of each celebrant. I was therefore wondering if, as part of your plans, you are looking to establish ICPC as a future licensed organisation that will facilitate the licensing process for celebrants that have trained with the College and meet the required standards. I think that for anyone wishing to pursue this vocation seriously, this is and will increasingly be a very important consideration to make (one that may soon become a critical factor) when selecting where to train. Any further colour you may have on this very specific point would be very helpful for me.”
ICPC aims to be one of the first organisations to enable its members to perform legal marriages. We’re also working on being able to offer our Scottish members the ability to perform legal marriages in Scotland before the law is changed, because the regulations are a little bit different there. Having said that, we still have to wait for the government to make the necessary time available in parliament on what the legislation might look like. Once the Law Commission publishes its final recommendations then it will be time for us all to lobby our MPs.
At that point ICPC will be championing the membership to work together to accomplish this.

I’m a founding member and on the board of the Wedding Celebrancy Commission. Just last week Professor Russell Sandberg and I were discussing how we can encourage the government to make progress. Russell has written extensively on the need for reform and even published a book recently called ‘Religion and Marriage Law: The Need for Reform’ which isn’t exactly a Sunday afternoon read, but is a fascinating look at how British marriage law has been largely defined by religious views of 200 years ago and really needs to change.

Once the law has changed and we know what the requirements are, ICPC will provide training for our members to enable them to meet the requirements and become registered. Because of our role with the Wedding Celebrancy Commission it is highly likely that we will play a large role in defining these requirements.
There are bits of marriage law in England and Wales that are contradictory! For example, if a couple have a ceremony that is not legal, but both of them believe that it is legal, then the state will recognise the marriage as valid. Also, because I am “ordained” by an online church in the USA (The Church of Dudeism is actually a thing), I can take a British couple to the United States and perform a legal marriage. When they return to the UK the state will recognise that they are legally married. Just because I filled a form online to become ordained.
I really hope that this has allayed any concerns you have and that you thoroughly enjoy your training as you embark on this wonderful journey into the Celebrancy profession.