The marriage registration system in England and Wales has been reformed to remove an 184-year-old gender bias.
From this week, the names of both parents are being included on marriage certificates, instead of just the father’s. The change comes as a new electronic marriage registration system is introduced in England and Wales in order to simplify the process.
Previously, marriages were recorded by couples signing a registry book at the wedding venue. Those details were then added to an electronic register at a later date, creating room for error.
The government called this week’s reform “the biggest changes to the marriage registration system since 1837”.
Sharing his own experience of how the previous system needlessly erased the role of mothers, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster said: “When Hazel and I got married in 2017, my dad and Hazel’s mum shared the day with us, but sadly my mum and Hazel’s dad could not be with us, both having passed away beforehand.
“Whilst Hazel’s dad could still be part of the day by being listed on our marriage certificate, one was missing – my mum. These changes bring the registration process into the 21st century and means no parent will be missing on their child’s wedding day.”
The news was welcomed by writer and campaigner Caroline Criado Perez, creator of the Invisible Women newsletter, who wrote on Twitter: “I’m so delighted by this. I’ve always said I wouldn’t get married until mothers are included on marriage certificates. It sat so wrong with me to willingly take part in the erasure of women. Anyway, the wedding’s on.”
The change brings marriage registration in England and Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the names of both parents are already included.
At present, weddings with up to 15 guests are permitted in England, with receptions allowed as long as they take the form of a sit-down meal in an outdoor space. From 17th May, the rules could be loosened to allow up to 30 guests.
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