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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35053
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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A civil marriage is not allowed if a Religious ceremony has

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A civil marriage is not allowed if a Religious ceremony has already taken place i.e. the Civil ceremony MUST take place before the religious ceremony for the marriage to be valid even though the religious ceremony is not recognised in law. However, a Civil marriage ceremony can legally take place before or after a humanist marriage service. Why is this distinction allowed
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Why would the Registrar be involve din the Hindu ceremony?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The registrar is not directly involved in the Hindu ceremony. However, according to the Registrars dept a Civil Service must take place before a Religious ceremony.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I should have added "if the marriage is to be legal and valid" However, the same is not true for a Humanist marriage

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

If it would be any help I can send you a Word Document I sent to the Policy Director which outlines some of my concerns regarding the requirement to have the Civil Ceremony before a Religious Ceremony

Given that the Hindu ceremony has no legal force whatsoever it cannot effect the validity or otherwise of a subsequent marriage .
On that basis do please attach the letter that you have received saying that it may not happen
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear Clare - I do not appear to be able to attach documents (only images !!) in this format. If you send me a note to my hotmail account "*****@******.***" or let me have your email address I will happily send you what I have.

1. An email from Superintendent Registrars - saying NO

2. My email to Stuart Cella, Policy Manager, Civil Registration Directorate

3. His initial response

4. Information from the Humanist Society with letter from the General Registrars dept confirming that a Humanist service CAN take place before a Civil wedding !!

Mr Cella confirmed in a voicemail msg to me that it is Section 46 of the Marriage Act Statute (1949) which says that the Civil ceremony must take place before the Religious Ceremony but I cover that point in my response to him

For clarity
You are aware that the Hindu Ceremony has no legal force?
Why is the Registrar involved in this at all?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ceremony at Froyle Park

Bartlett, Jane (*****@******.***)


To: '*****@******.***' Cc: Sahota, Mandi


Dear Mr Gough

Thank you for your time this morning. This email is to confirm the position and policy of Hampshire Registration Service.

At an approved venue within Hampshire a civil marriage ceremony must take place before any religious ceremony/blessing .

If the governing body for Registration Services in England and Wales, The General Register Office, change the policy then Hampshire Registration will comply with any such directive.

Yours sincerely

Jane Bartlett

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The document I sent to Mr Cela


Current position

Only a marriage service conducted under the provisions of the Marriage Act 1949 can be regarded as Legal and valid. All other services (religious or otherwise) are not considered as valid and legal and the participants of such a non-legal marriage are not afforded the protection and rights offered to the participants of a Legal and valid marriage.

The Registrars Service have decreed that where a marriage is to take place with a religious (or other) service then the Civil Marriage must take place first. I understand that the Marriage Act (1949) Section 46 is considered as justification for this position.

The Marriage Act (1949) Section 46

Civil Ceremony marriage followed by religious ceremony:

(1)If the parties to a marriage desire to add the religious ceremony ordained or used by the church or persuasion of which they are members, they may present themselves, after giving notice of their intention so to do, to the clergyman or minister of the church or persuasion of which they are members, and the clergyman or minister, upon the production of a certificate of their marriage before the superintendent registrar and upon the payment of the customary fees (if any), may, if he sees fit, read or celebrate in the church or chapel of which he is the regular minister the marriage service of the church or persuasion to which he belongs or nominate some other minister to do so.

This section provides permission for the couple to undertake a religious ceremony additional to the civil ceremony. Please note – the religious ceremony is not a marriage as classified under the Marriage Act C.76. There is no time period stated and most importantly it does not state that the religious ceremony (which again I reiterate is not a marriage) cannot take place before the civil ceremony.

(2)Nothing in the reading or celebration of a marriage service under this section shall supersede or invalidate any marriage previously, and the reading or celebration shall not be entered as a marriage in any marriage register book kept under Part IV of this Act.

Not applicable as already stated above, the Hindu ceremony is not a marriage.

(3)No person who is not entitled to solemnize marriages according to the rites of the Church of England shall by virtue of this section be entitled to read or celebrate the marriage service in any church or chapel of the Church of England.

Again, not application as the Hindu ceremony is not classified as a marriage.

To clarify, according to the Marriage Act 1949 a marriage takes place when:

1. Takes place in a registered building/approved premises

2. Takes place at the registrar's office

3. Before a registrar

4. Takes place in a church

Therefore, under the legislation in England & Wales the Hindu ceremony is not classified as a marriage and will not invalidate the civil ceremony if it takes place before.

Additionally, the Marriage Act (1949) allows for a valid and legal marriage where the Civil Service is conducted by a minister of the Church of England, The Jewish Faith or the Mormon faith. These Services appear to be considered as “Integrated”. Other specific faith services can be approved by the Registrars Department to conduct a valid and legal marriage.


The insistence that a Civil Marriage MUST take place before any additional service (religious or otherwise) means that where the religious service take place first the participants are refused permission to legalise their marriage and are thus denied the protection that a legal marriage would offer them (and their children)

This must be a denial of their human rights and specifically will be:

- Breach of Article 5 “Right to Liberty

- Breach of Article 12 “Right to Marry


In an “integrated” service, it is normal for the Religious service to take place before the Civil proceedings. This seems to be considered as acceptable because the service is considered as “integrated”. However as neither of the combined services recognises the other, the only “integration” appears to be that both services are performed in front of approved persons (ie the person approved by the Registrars Department and the Religious Minister) and before the same witnesses.

Where a marriage has been dissolved via a legal Divorce, both parties are free to re-marry in a Registrars Office. Note that the Catholic Church does not recognise a Legal Divorce and thus considers the parties to be married in the eyes of the church before the second Legal Marriage. Until recently, the Church of England took the same approach.

Recent legislation has approved “Partnership” arrangements between same sex partners and further legislation has now approved Legal and Valid Marriages between same sex partners. Further, partners who have previously taken part in a Same Sex Partnership service have been allowed to take part is a Same Sex Legal Marriage Service.

Suggested Solution for approval of the Marriage of Chantelle Gough and Kayur Patel in Hampshire

This marriage should be considered as INTEGRATED for the following reasons:

  1. The Civil marriage will be performed by an approved person- ‘Registrar’

  2. The persons being married in both ceremonies are the same

  3. The witnesses will be the same at both ceremonies

  4. The congregation will essentially be the same at both ceremonies (where venue size permits)

  5. Both ceremonies will be conducted on the same day

  6. Both ceremonies will be conducted in the same venue

Therefore it should be permissible for the Religious Service to take place before the Civil Service.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The Registrar is involved because they are refusing approval to have the Hindu Ceremony in the morning with the Civil Ceremony in the afternoon. It is not practicable to now switch the ceremonys. Their only other offer was to come early in the morning to conduct a Civil Ceremony and to return in the pm to conduct a "Renewal of Vows" in front of the assembled guests. By the way they also want an additional £400 for this service (its not the money that irritates but the stupidity of the situation. Their position can not be right

Note - I have a letter from the registrars Dept saying it is OK to have a Humanist wedding before the Civil Ceremony. I could paste that to you if you wish

Why are they involved in the issue at all - what is done in the morning is nothing to do with them?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

They claim that they must observe the legal statutes and they claim that the Marriage Statute (1949) requires that the Civil Ceremony must take place before a Religious Ceremony

I think what I mean is - why were they told about the party in the morning 9which is essentially what it is)
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I admire your approach !! The venue chosen (Froyle Park) is recently approved to hold Civil Ceremonies. The Registrar tells me that part of the approval process is that Civil Ceremonies must take place before Religious. As a consequence I assume that the venue felt obliged to inform the Wedding Planner that she would have to change the order of the ceremonies.The wedding planner asked Hampshire Registrars if this was necessary. They confirmed it was.

However, it begs the question - if it is necessary to have the Civil Ceremony first and it actually takes place 2nd then what would be the status of the married couple if they have not complied with the statutes of the Marriage Act 1949 ??

There is no basis on which the fact that the Civil Ceremony takes place after the Religious Ceremony invalidates the marriage.
Many Muslims who have had a religious Nikah ceremony (Muslim marriage) subsequently marry and the marriage is legal.
If the Hindu Ceremony was taking place elsewhere then there would be no problem, equally if your daughter decided to have the Civil Ceremony another time that would also be fine. Unfortunately you cannot force the venue to go against the ruling of the Registrar
Please ask if you need further details
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Claire - sorry for the delay - I was away for a few days (Stag do for eldest daughters future husband - yes - I have 2 daughters getting married within 7 weeks of each other !!) I have now sent of the rating Thank you

Wow that is an expensive option (mine got married last year!)