You’ve just become engaged and now you’re wrapped up in the excitement of planning your wedding. With so many things to think about from the cake to the colour scheme, make sure that you allow time to think about these five important things.
1. Are You Ready for Marriage?
Marriage isn’t something to be rushed into. It’s a serious commitment which should be made with the intention of it lasting.
You need to think about whether you see your long term future with your partner and whether you believe it’s with them that you wish to share life’s challenges. But it’s how a couple deals with different situations and issues such as finances, communication, conflict, parenting, and religion or spiritual beliefs that can have an impact on the likely success or failure of your marriage.
2. Legal Requirements
In England there are certain legal requirements that must be adhered to in order for you to marry and to ensure this is legally recognised.
Your wedding can either be carried out in a religious or a civil ceremony, but in both cases the following requirements must be met:
• The ceremony must be conducted by a person or in the presence of a person authorised to register marriages in the specific district where the ceremony is being held.
• The union must be recorded in the marriage register and signed by both parties, two witnesses and the person who conducted the ceremony (if that person is not authorised to register marriages then the person who is registering the marriage must sign the register).
In England and Wales, there are also regulations as to the location where a wedding can take place.
These allow ceremonies to take place in:
• a register office;
• a premises approved by the local authority such as a hotel;
• any registered religious building (England and Wales only);
• the home of one of the partners if the partner is housebound or detained e.g. prison.
For a more detailed list of locations in which a marriage can take place in the UK, please see the citizen advice website.
In England and Wales if your wedding ceremony takes places outside you must ensure your vows are made and the register signed under a licensed fixed structure. This includes garden gazebos, pavilions and arbours. In Scotland there are no restrictions to getting married outdoors.
3. Marriage, Money and Property
The financial consequences of a divorce are very different to those if you separate but are not married. You should familiarise yourselves and agree to what you will both consider marital or matrimonial property so in the event of a divorce, you both leave the marriage with the property you entered with.
4. Pre-Nuptial Agreements
To help with the prospect of deciphering what is and isn’t matrimonial property, you may want to consider drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement. This would set out how you and your spouse would want to see matters resolved in the event of a divorce. It can help ensure matters are resolved quickly and in a way you both consider fair if the marriage doesn’t work out how you had hoped.
Although pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales, if they are properly prepared they should be upheld if the terms are fair to both parties.
5. Changing your Name After Marriage
It is not a legal requirement for either party to change their surname to that of their partner after marriage. People tend to do this in keeping with tradition, but it isn’t necessary. If you do decide to change your name, you will need to send a letter outlining the change to all the institutions with whom you wish to change your name. They will often require either a copy of your marriage certificate or the original in some cases.
When changing your name on your passport or driving licence, just as you did when you first applied to have them, you’ll need to fill out an application form detailing the changes to your name. More often than not, they will request to see the original marriage certificate. Your bank may also request to see the original marriage certificate.
Before you walk down the aisle, think about all of the above and ensure you really are ready to enter into the institution of marriage for better for worse.
For help and advice with family law, divorce and pre-nuptial matters, contact our expert family solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK for an initial consultation on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we’ll call you back.