Marriage in the UK

Read more about the Laws governing marriage in the UK here


  • The four countries of the UK are ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse. Furthermore, no culture, no community, and no religion is a discrete watertight monolith. Communities, cultures, and religions are continually evolving and changing, in response to local, and global politics and economic concerns.

  • It is perfectly possible for a person to simultaneously belong to more than one community. For instance, a person with one parent who is ethnically Indian and is a Muslim by faith, and another parent who is ethnically white European and Greek Orthodox by faith. We can belong to multi-racial political communities, and communities of global solidarity, like millions who have come together out of their concern for climate change: similarly, the British melting pot has various combinations.

  • A person may choose a community of ideas that has no links with his or her ethnic origin, or the faith, social class, or gender that he or she is born into. Furthermore, as often happens, the young from any community, race, religion, or social class may not believe in the social, religious, or cultural values held by their parents, and in some cases may wish to reject them outright.

  • In any society, but particularly in a culturally, religiously, socially, ethnically diverse society such as the UK, it is important to understand that when it comes to everyday life and life cycle rites of passage, such as marriage, individuals and communities can choose different rites and rituals when they get married. They can even get documents that sanction their marriage under Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or Parsi diktat, or have a social ceremony in the company of friends, where they pledge themselves to each other. Nevertheless, those marriages are NOT recognised by the law and in the courts in the UK.

  • For a marriage to be recognised by the law and in the courts it is necessary to have proof of marriage, which is a certificate of registration of a marriage before a recognised registrar.

  • Even a marriage where a valid certificate of registration exists can be set aside; it can be declared 'null' or 'void' if there is a lack of proof that both or one party lacked proof of two of the three pillars that uphold a marriage that is binding in the eyes of the law:
  • 1. CAPACITY
  • 2. CONSENT
  • 3. A VALID CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION

    The absence of the proof of valid capacity or consent could be proof that the marriage is a forced marriage. Read below: about capacity and consent, the two of the three pillars of a binding marriage in the UK.

    Read more about forced marriage here
  • 1. What does capacity mean?

    For a person to have the capacity to get married, two conditions must be met:
    (i) a person getting married must not have any learning difficulties or handicap which stands in the way of him or her understanding what it means to get married.
    (ii) a person must be at least 18 years old to say ‘yes’ or give consent to a marriage.
    but there is a loophole in the law whereby a parent or a guardian can give consent on behalf of a child who is over 16 but under 18.

    A marriage of someone aged 16-18 years old is a Child Marriage.

    There is a campaign to stop child marriage. The Commission supports this initiative. The right to choose a life partner should never be taken away from a person

    You can read our blog post here

    2. What does consent mean?


    (i) Consent to a marriage is when one partner is asked if he or she agrees to marry a named person, and answers, ‘Yes,’ or ‘I do.’
    (ii) Nevertheless, simply saying ‘Yes’, or ‘I do’ is not proof of a marriage.
    (iii) A marriage must take place before witnesses


    3. Registration

    (i) For a marriage to be recognised in the UK, it must be registered, and a certificate of registration must be issued by the registrar’s office.
    (ii) This does not mean that people cannot have their marriage ceremonies, rituals and blessings under their religious laws. Nevertheless, unless the marriage is registered by a recognised registrar, if a person wishes to prove that he or she is married, they must have a certificate of registration of the marriage.

    Read the testimonies of people who did not wish to get married but were forced into a marriage.
    - Sameem Ali
    - Payzee Mahmod

    For more information on the UK Law on Marriage and Forced Marriage, click here