Civil marriage and civil partnership outdoor ceremonies

Essential information for venues wishing to seek approval for holding civil ceremonies outdoors

  • Civil marriages and civil partnerships will only be celebrated in approved outdoor areas during British summer time (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
  • For venues that already have an outdoor structure licensed, ceremonies can continue to take place at the structure.
  • The outdoor area will only be approved if it forms part of the built premises comprising at least one room.
  • The pre-ceremony interviews will continue to be held in the designated interview room inside the built premises.
  • No food or drink may be sold or permitted to be consumed by persons attending the proceedings a) when gathering for the purposes of the proceedings or b) during the proceedings. Non-alcoholic drinks may be permitted to be consumed prior to the proceedings.
  • The registrars will continue to require a lectern / table and chairs for use during the ceremony.
  • You may wish to consider having a microphone system available for the registrars and couple to use to allow the guests to hear the ceremony.
  • Any other activities taking place in the grounds, within the outdoor areas to be used for guests, are to be kept separate from any ceremony.
  • The decision regarding the suitability of the weather for an outside ceremony will be made no later than one hour prior to the ceremony start time by the responsible person on duty at the venue.
  • The main reasons a ceremony will not take place outdoors will be because of inclement weather or health and safety concerns. Inclement weather can include wet, cold, heat and other extreme conditions. Health and safety considerations include but are not limited to, the safety of electrical equipment, the conditions underfoot and the safety of the registration documents.
  • Should the weather be unsuitable on the day, the venue must have an alternative licensed room or approved dry area set up accordingly, to avoid a delay to the start of the ceremony.
  • Should the alternative licensed room or approved dry area not be set up, the ceremony will still go ahead, but the Surrey Registration Service will not accept responsibility for failure of the venue to comply.
  • The maximum number of guests attending at an outdoor ceremony must not exceed the maximum number of guests permitted in the alternative licensed room or approved dry area.
  • If there is a risk to either the registration staff or the legal documents, the Surrey Registration Service reserve the right to override the venues decision to hold the ceremony outside. Schedules are legal documents and must always be protected from the elements, and registrars have a statutory duty to ensure that this requirement is complied with.
  • These conditions will also apply to any non-statutory ceremonies provided by Surrey County Council.
  • Surrey County Council reserves the right to amend, add to, delete or otherwise change these conditions from time to time, and in this respect the decision of Surrey County Council is final.
  • If you are considering an outdoor area (or an additional outdoor area to one already agreed) you must speak with Surrey County Council licensing team prior to arranging those proceedings to obtain confirmation that the location fulfils the requirement to be seemly and dignified.
  • Any venue wishing to erect a covered structure within an outdoor area to be used for the celebration of civil marriages and the formation of civil partnerships must discuss the proposal with their local planning officer and obtain the relevant planning approval.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, all parties, registration officer(s), the couple and any witnesses who are signing the schedule should be wholly in the approved room or wholly outdoors.
  • The venue is responsible for ensuring that the location of proceedings in the outdoor areas you propose to use meet with existing health and safety requirements.
  • On the day of the ceremony, a suitable notice stating:
    • that the premises have been approved for the proceedings, and
    • the name of the outdoor area and directions to the location at which the proceedings are to take place must be displayed at each public entrance to the premises, and the built premises, for one hour prior to and throughout the proceedings, for example, if you conduct proceedings in the outdoor areas, a notice must be displayed at the public entrances to the built premises as well as at public entrances to the outdoor areas.

Please note: It is the approved premises responsibility to ensure that the use of any outdoor area continues to meet any planning permissions required by the local council.

If you have any questions regarding outdoor areas, please contact us:

The Proper Officer for Registration
Venue Licensing
The Mansion
70 Church Street
Surrey KT22 8DP


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