The law governing how, and where, couples can get married in the Bailiwick is set to be updated and the Policy & Resources Committee has launched a public consultation to receive community feedback.
The review of the Marriage Law could see restrictions relaxed and more modern and unique services conducted including the prospect of outdoor ceremonies and celebrants used in the future.
As one of its priorities under the Policy & Resource Plan, the Committee wants to simplify the procedures and formalities of how to marry, while ensuring that the changes are inclusive and reflective of the needs of a modern society. The need for reform was identified as part of the work exploring Union Civile and, the resulting introduction of Same Sex Marriage, in 2017.
The procedures setting out how couples can be married are set out in the Marriage Law, 1919. The principal law has been added to and changed over time, but there has been no significant reform of the Law in many years and P&R said it has become over complicated in some areas.
This review is separate to the targeted consultation the Committee has undertaken in the last two weeks, where it asked islanders who have had a marriage dissolved in Guernsey; either through divorce or annulment, or who have separated, to contribute to potential changes to the Matrimonial Causes, (Guernsey), (1939) Law.
Deputy Jane Stephens, Policy & Resources Committee member, said: "The current Marriage Law was written almost 100 years ago and, while it has been updated over time, it remains restrictive and in our view out of keeping with the needs and expectations of a modern community. The changes we are looking at will affect how marriages are arranged and conducted in the Bailiwick, including wider options for venues and outdoor locations, times, who can carry out a ceremony and the notice and residency periods. The consultation document sets out the details of the sorts of changes being considered.
"We are keen to receive the views of as many members of the public as possible,"she said, "so I would encourage people to complete the consultation document to help inform the review."
Pictured: Lorraine Lane (The Wedding Fairy)
Lorraine Lane - who is also known as The Wedding Fairy - is a qualified wedding planner in Guernsey, who also runs In Any Event, based on Braye Road. She said that she has already been contacted as part of the consultation as have any others who work in the industry.
"I think people should be allowed to get married outside and we are missing out in Guernsey as a destination for weddings as there are so many great beaches and venues like Castle Cornet that could be used."
Whilst agreeing that there should be changes Ms Lane said that some restrictions should remain: "Like most in the industry I don't believe in total de-regulation because you will risk people getting married is silly places, but people should be able to legally marry at home, on beaches or certain venues."
Ms Lane also said that Guernsey was missing out due to the length of time people need to be resident for: "A lot of people are put off getting married here due to the time they need to wait, weddings are big business and Guernsey is missing out due to this regulation. Even Alderney and Sark allow less time so I really hope this changes."
Ms Lane has been doing weddings for over 12 years and petitioned for the laws to change over 10 years ago: "I am so pleased things are starting to change and it is good this consultation is happening, people can now also get married at the Greffe some Saturdays now too, which is a real leap forwards."
Members of the public can access the public consultation HERE. The consultation will close on 13 July 2018.
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