Mothers of brides and grooms will now be included alongside fathers on marriage certificates in England and Wales for the first time. 

These changes to The Marriage Act follow a years-long campaign by cross-party MPs to modernise marriage registration.

Marriages will also now be recorded electronically, rather than written in a registry book, as part of the biggest changes to the system since 1837. The new single electronic register went live on Tuesday (4th May 2021).

The new electronic system will replace couples signing a register book. There are currently around 84,000 register books held at register offices, in churches and chapels, and at registered religious premises.

The government has said the creation of a single electronic register will speed up the process and remove the need for any details to be extracted from hard copies. The changes have been made in consultation with the Church of England.

Ian Kennerley, co-founding partner and in-house family law barrister at Silk Family Law commented:

“These changes have been in the pipeline for many years, and now rightly reflect modern gender equality values in our society.

“The move to electronic recording of marriages also mirrors trends we have seen in the wider family legal system, accelerated over the past year during the pandemic, with both courts and legal services now fully set up to work online as well as in person.”

The Marriage Act changes bring England and Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where couples are already asked to give the names of both parents on marriage documentation. The same applies for those entering a civil partnership.


Cover photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash.