The red tape of weddings – what you need to know about contracts, paperwork, and insurance

The red tape of weddings. Getting married is a legal process and while the focus is on you enjoying your special day your way, there is some red tape you need to get through to ensure your marriage is legally recognised.

Laws are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so this blog post is written from an England and Welsh perspective. While the general principles are the same, do check on a local level about the particular laws and restrictions that might apply to you if you’re getting married in those areas, or indeed travelling abroad for the wedding.

The marriage licence

You simply cannot get married without this piece of paper, so you should arrange to have this in place as soon as possible. This alerts your registrar, or individual getting you married that you have the legal right to be wed to one another, that you’re:

  • Over the age of 18 (or have parental consent if over 16)
  • Neither of you are married to anyone else
  • You’re not closely related to one another
  • You have a visa if one of you is a foreign national

Some venues and officials won’t allow you to book a date without seeing your licence first, so put it at the top of your list.

Finances and contracts

Weddings are expensive and you’re likely to be parting with some large sums of money to pay for it all, which means two things: contracts need to be signed and payment plans kept to.

Most suppliers will accept payment plans to cover the cost (although there may be added interest to look out for). This helps you to pay off the cost over a longer period and avoid maxing out your overdraft and credit cards! Make sure you double check the payment plan, what you have to pay and when before agreeing to it.

Whether you have a payment plan or not, you will need to sign a contract with each supplier and business involved with your wedding. This is to protect you and them by ensuring you’re both clear on what you’re getting, how much it’ll cost, information around cancellation/postponement, etc. It’s often necessary to ensure your insurance is valid (and theirs!)

Wedding insurance

Should you get wedding insurance?

Can you afford the financial hit if things go wrong? That’s my usual response, and after Covid-19 and the effect it’s had on the wedding industry, I would suggest that even if you can afford it, get insurance anyway.

Did you know that if a guest has an accident at your wedding, you might be legally liable for it? Yeah, many couples aren’t aware of that. While it hopefully, won’t happen, make sure you’re covered with a good insurance policy just in case.

Insurance gives you peace of mind and some companies can even help you source alternative suppliers if things go wrong in that direction, so it is worth the additional expense in most cases.

Supplier insurance

Do make sure that your suppliers are fully insured before signing any contracts or paying any deposits.

In most cases, insurance isn’t needed but in those few occasions when things do go wrong, you need to know that they can compensate you. Some forms of insurance are a legal requirement (such as your venue having public liability insurance in case a guest has an accident while there) so don’t be afraid to ask to see certificates of insurance, etc. Most business owners are happy to share these with you.

Travel documents

Going abroad for your honeymoon (which will include the EU after December 2020)? Make sure that you have the relevant travel documents in place and in date for the duration of your holiday.

This means passports, visas, and other travel documents that might be needed for certain countries.

Once you have them, make sure you put them somewhere secure (and memorable) so you’re not anxiously searching for them when you should be getting excited for your wedding!

Have a contingency plan in place

The red tape of weddings. Sometimes things do go wrong and it’s no one’s fault. While insurance can pick up the cost, if things happen on the day you need to know what to do there and then. Plan through any eventualities with all of your suppliers and have a written document that’s easy to access on the day. Again, it’s that added peace of mind that even if something does go wrong, it won’t ruin your special day.