Premises are licensed in accordance with the Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 (as amended by Regulations 2011). Licences are issued in accordance with guidelines issued by the General Register Office and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council these guidance notes are available for download by using the related link.
Requirements for approval
- The premises must be a seemly and dignified venue for the proceedings
- The premises must be regularly available to the public for the solemnization of marriages or the formation of civil partnerships.
- The premises must meet the required fire precautions and other health and safety provisions
- The premises must not be of a religious nature
- The room or rooms that are approved must be identifiable as a distinct part of the premises.
The terms and conditions for granting a licence are that:
- The holder of the approval must ensure that there is at all times an individual with responsibility for ensuring compliance with the licence conditions.
- The responsible person or, in his/her absence, an appropriately qualified deputy, shall be available on the premises for a minimum of one hour prior to each ceremony and throughout each ceremony.
- The holder must notify the Local Authority:
- Of his/her name and address immediately upon becoming the holder of an approval.
- Of the name, address and qualification of the responsible person immediately upon the appointment of a new responsible person.
- The holder must also notify the Local Authority immediately of any change to any of the following:
- The layout of the premises, as shown in the plan submitted with the approved application, or in the use of the premises.
- The name or full postal address of the approved premises.
- The description of the room or rooms in which ceremonies are to be undertaken.
- The name or address of the holder of the approval.
- The name, address or qualification of the responsible person.
- The approved premises must be available at all reasonable times for inspection by the Local Authority.
- A suitable notice stating that the premises have been approved as a venue for marriage in pursuance of Section 26(1)(bb) of the Marriage Act 1949 and for the formation of civil partnerships under section 6(3A)(a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and identifying and giving directions to the room in which a ceremony is to take place must be displayed at each public entrance to the premises for one hour prior to the ceremony and throughout the ceremony.
- No food or drink may be sold or consumed in the room in which a marriage or civil partnership ceremony takes place for one hour prior to that ceremony or during that ceremony.
- All ceremonies must take place in a room which was identified as one to be used as such on the plan submitted with the approved application.
- The room in which a ceremony takes place must be separate from any other activity on the premises at the time of the ceremony.
- The arrangements for and content of each ceremony must meet with the prior approval of the Superintendent Registrar of the district or the registration authority of the area in which the approved premises are situated.
- Any ceremonies conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature. In particular the ceremony 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 other religious chants.
- Include any form of worship.
The ceremony may include readings, songs or music that contain incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context. For this purpose any material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the ceremony shall be treated as forming part of the ceremony.
- Public access to any ceremony in approved premises must be permitted without charge.
- Any reference to the approval of premises on any sign or notice, or on any stationery or publication, or within any advertisement may state that the premises have been approved by the council as a venue for marriage in pursuance of Section 26(1)(bb) of the 1949 Marriage Act and the registration of civil partnerships under section 6(3A) (a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 but shall not state or imply any recommendation of the premises or its facilities by the council, the Registrar General or any of the officers or employees of either of them.
- If a change of name to the approved premises occurs after the issue of the certificate for marriage or the civil partnership document but before the ceremony, the former name of the approved premises as recorded in the certificate for marriage or the civil partnership document shall remain valid for its duration for the purpose of the ceremony.
Standard conditions of approval
- There must be adequate access to the marriage/civil partnership room for disabled persons.
- A separate private room must be available to enable registration staff to question the parties to the marriage/civil partnership confidentially prior to the marriage ceremony/civil partnership registration.
- Toilet facilities commensurate with the capacity of the marriage/civil partnership room must be available.
- The seating and seating capacity of the marriage/civil partnership room must comply with any requirements of the Council.
- Reserved car parking must be made available at the premises for the Superintendent Registrar/Civil Partnership Registrar, Additional Registrar and a car being used by the couple.
- Any voice amplification system or system for the playing of recorded music shall be under the control of registration staff during the course of wedding ceremonies/civil partnership registrations.
- The Council may from time to time impose conditions as to fire prevention, means of escape in case of fire, and general health and safety, which shall form part of these general conditions.
- Adequate furniture and lighting shall be available to the satisfaction of the Council in all parts of the premises to be used in connection with wedding ceremonies/civil partnership registrations.
- A free telephone should be available to enable registration staff to make official calls.
- Neither registration staff nor the Council shall have any responsibility whatsoever with regard to any contravention of the right of copyright or performance in respect of readings or music used at marriage ceremonies/civil partnership registrations.
- During the marriage ceremony/civil partnership registration the maximum number of people permitted in the room is not exceeded.
Renewal, revocation or review of licence
- The holder may apply for the renewal of an approval when the current approval has not more than 12 months before it is due to expire. An application for renewal made in this period will extend the current approval until the application has been finally dealt with. A renewal will run from the expiry date of the current approval.
- The Local Authority may revoke an approval if it is satisfied, after considering any representations from the holder, that the use or structure of the premises has changed so that any of the standard or local requirements cannot be met or the holder has failed to comply with one or more of the standard or local conditions attached to the approval.
- The Registrar General may direct the Local Authority to revoke an approval if, in his opinion and after considering any representations from the holder, there have been breaches of the law relating to marriage or Civil Partnership registrations on the approved premises.
- When an approval has been revoked the regulations require the former holder to notify any couples who had arranged a ceremony on the premises.
- An applicant may seek a review by the Local Authority of its decision to refuse to grant an approval, to attach local conditions, to refuse to renew an approval or to revoke an approval.
- The review must be carried out by a different officer, committee or sub-committee than that which made the decision which is being appealed against. The review panel may confirm the decision, rescind it or vary it with the imposition of fresh or further conditions.
- The Local Authority may charge an additional fee for a review of its decision to refuse to grant an approval, to attach local conditions or to refuse to renew an approval.
- A direction by the Registrar General to revoke an approval is not subject to review by the Local Authority.
- Details of approved premises will be held for public inspection by the Local Authority. These details will be copied to the Superintendent Registrar of the district in which the premises are situated and to the Registrar General who will periodically circulate the details to all superintendent registrars.
Procedure for approval
An application form together with the required fee should be submitted to the local authority
A mutually convenient date will then be made for the premises to be inspected to ensure compliance with fire, other health and safety issues and building regulations
An advert will also be placed in the local newspaper for a period of three weeks to allow public consultation on the application
On receipt of no objections and satisfactory reports the licence will then be issued within a timescale of 12 weeks.