Marriage - Wedding FAQS

  Are we allowed to marry?  

If my religion or parents don’t give permission? In the UK the law allows you to marry a person of your choice, so long as you are not closely related, whatever your religions may be, just so long as you are both over 18 in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. 16 is the minimum age of marriage with parental permission, although this is not required in Scotland. In some traditions parental approval would be expected for a religious marriage ceremony to take place. Sometimes there is a difference between the law of the land and religious law about the permissibility of an interfaith marriage (for example over Muslim women marrying non-Muslims). This may mean that it’s more difficult to have a religious wedding ceremony, but it doesn’t prevent you having a legal marriage through a civil or other recognised ceremony. If your family oppose your relationship it may be that you and they could use some support.

If one of us is divorced? You cannot marry if either of you is still married to anyone else. If you are divorced the registrar will need to see the decree absolute document when you give notice of your marriage.
You may not be able to have a religious wedding in some religions, if one of you has a previous spouse still alive.

If either of us does not have citizenship? If you are not a British or EU citizen but can show the registrar that you already have the right to reside in the UK (eg you have indefinite leave to remain, diplomatic status or similar) you are allowed to marry in the UK. If you are subject to immigration control then you need a certificate of approval beforehand. Visit the Immigration and Nationality Department link to find out whether you are subject to immigration control and what documentation you would need to give notice of marriage. If you have been granted entry clearance expressly for the purpose of marriage in the UK from a British consulate or embassy in your home country, you should have a visa in your passport/travel document to show to the registrar when you give notice of your marriage.

If you or the person you wish to marry are subject to immigration control, you can only give notice of marriage at designated register offices which you must attend together. There are 76 designated register offices in England and Wales. For Scottish offices, see and for Northern Irish ones see

  What options do we have for a wedding ceremony?  

You can have a civil or a religious ceremony, or you can have a civil marriage followed by a religious blessing. These are some of your options:

• A religious wedding ceremony according to the rites of one religion only.
• A ceremony according to the rites of one faith, followed by one of the other faith. Only one of these can be the legal wedding, the other will be a ‘blessing’.
• A ceremony which follows the religion of one partner, but which includes prayers, readings, rituals and music from the tradition of the other partner.
• A wedding that is conducted by ministers from both religions. (In the Church of England, certain parts of the service must be taken by the Anglican priest as registrar).
• A civil marriage followed by a religious blessing service, which could be taken by a minister of either faith, an interfaith minister or a friend or relative.
Certain options may not be available to you as a mixed-faith couple. For example, a synagogue wedding can only happen if both partners are Jewish – this is the secular law rather than any rule drawn up by rabbis. Most Muslim authorities would not agree to perform a Nikah (Muslim marriage rite) for a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim, unless he converts.

Because some couples find that the atmosphere or décor of religious buildings or the words used in religious ceremonies make them uncomfortable, they may decide to have a civil ceremony followed by a religious blessing. This can be in any suitable venue, even outdoors, and has definite advantages if you want the vows and blessings to reflect your own values and traditions. A religious minister may be willing to help you plan and conduct your service of blessing, or you could ask an interfaith minister. An interfaith ceremony may be more suited to couples who have no strong attachment to any particular religious tradition. As a blessing service has no legal status, there are no special rules governing what you do. It can be led by a friend or relative if you decide not to have a minister.

Remember that ministers of religion may have very different attitudes to interfaith marriage. If you want a religious ceremony, and the first minister you approach is unhelpful, you may need to ask around to find someone more pastorally sympathetic.

  What will our wedding involve?  

There’s a huge variety of tradition and custom around weddings, and even within faiths there can be local and family variations. When it’s an interfaith wedding working out what is important to you both, and to your families will involve time and thought. Weddings involve planning and interfaith weddings all the more so. There are plenty of ways of being creative and including traditions that matter to both of you, whether it’s in how you both dress, or in the forms of hospitality offered to guests. When it comes to the core of the wedding there is a theme common to all traditions which is the exchange of vows or a statement of your agreement to your union which may be symbolised and recognised in different ways. Whatever different traditions and doctrines are involved this point marks your union as a couple.

If you have a religious ceremony, make sure in advance that you, your families and the minister conducting the marriage ceremony understand and agree about what you are going to say and do. It has been known on occasion for an unprepared bride or groom to find themselves being asked immediately before the ceremony either to make a profession of faith, or to sign an affidavit concerning something that had not been discussed beforehand. It is difficult to refuse when the hotel is booked and the wedding breakfast is already waiting, but it is also not how you want your life together to start.
A rehearsal ahead of time is one way to make sure everything has been thought through.

You also need to decide on the size of the wedding. A few interfaith couples marry secretly before announcing it to their family and friends, some have a small wedding with just a few guests, but some have an ornate ceremony – or even two – followed by a large party, skilfully combining elements from both their cultures.

For parents the marriage ceremony can be an ordeal, or it can be the beginnings of a reconciliation if properly handled. Sometimes two ceremonies are the kindest way.
Weddings can be an opportunity to start building bridges that need to be built between families and to draw a line under any disagreement about whether or not this marriage should happen. But remember there is a lot of emotion associated with weddings for everyone, not just the happy couple. Even if the difficulties have not yet been resolved, it is just a day, and hopefully in the years ahead there will be plenty of time for everyone to get used to each other. Some couples promise themselves a great occasion for their tenth, twentieth or twenty-fifth anniversary, just to show they’ve made it!

What you do for your reception is a matter of personal preference, but make sure that whoever is catering for it understands any food rules, or sensitivities about the serving of alcohol. It may be possible to hire Kosher or Halal caterers at some venues; if this is important to you, discuss it with the venue. The Inter Faith Network has useful suggestions for catering at interfaith gatherings.

  Can we have a wedding ceremony that reflects both of our faiths?  
  There are certain words laid down by law which have to be included in a marriage ceremony, and other words may be added. But you are not allowed to include religious readings or music in a civil wedding, so any religious elements would need to be before or after the registrar performing the legal marriage. If you have a ceremony in one faith tradition you may find that the minister is willing to allow elements like readings, rituals or music from the other tradition. A few faith leaders are willing to cooperate with colleagues of other faiths in a single ceremony. It’s best to talk to the minister about this. Interfaith ministers may be able to put together an occasion that draws on your requirements. For some couples it works best to have two separate ceremonies, to do both traditions to the full.