Same sex couples who are not in an existing legal marriage or civil partnership can marry in civil venues and in some religious venues in England and Wales.
You cannot get married in an Anglican Church as a same sex couple. You can get married in other religious buildings if:
- the religious organisation allows same sex weddings to take place
- the premises has been registered for the marriage of same sex couples.
Legal changes in 2014 in England and Wales made the following possible:
- same sex couples can marry in civil ceremonies
- religious organisations that wish to do so can opt in to conduct marriage ceremonies for same sex couples
- religious organisations and their representatives are protected from successful legal challenge, if they do not wish to marry same sex couples
- civil partners can convert their partnership into a marriage, if they wish
- individuals can change their legal gender without having to end their marriage.
The option to form a civil partnership remains a choice for same sex couples.
Conversion from a civil partnership to a marriage
Couples in civil partnership can legally convert to a marriage, if they choose to.
Conversions are possible for couples who registered their civil partnership in England, Wales or overseas in a consulate or armed forces base (where the civil partnership was registered according to the law of England and Wales).
Couples can convert their civil partnership into marriage using a simple ‘one stage’ procedure, or a ‘two stage’ procedure where the conversion into marriage is followed by a ceremony.
The standard one-stage procedure
Couples attend any register office or local registration service point for an appointment with the superintendent registrar. They complete a declaration with details about themselves and their civil partnership, together with evidence of their name, date of birth, address and civil partnership certificate.
The couple and the superintendent registrar sign the declaration. The couple can also opt to say the declaration wording aloud to one another, before signing, if they wish to do so. The conversion into marriage is registered electronically and a marriage certificate issued.
The two-stage procedure
Couples attend any register office or local registration service point for an appointment with the superintendent registrar. They complete a declaration with details about themselves and their civil partnership, together with evidence of name, date of birth, address and their civil partnership certificate.
At this point they state the name of the venue where they wish to sign the conversion declaration. The signing of the declaration, which can be followed by a ceremony, can take place at the same range of venues where a marriage of same sex couples can take place:
- Register Office
- Approved premises
- Religious buildings registered for the marriage of same sex couples
- Premises where a ceremony according to the Jewish faith or the Society of Friends is to immediately follow the conversion.
The declaration is made at the specified venue. This can be followed by a ceremony if the couple wish. The superintendent registrar returns to their office and enters the conversion details electronically. A marriage certificate will be posted to the couple.
Please contact the Register Office if you wish to arrange a conversion. We will be able to give you details of fees and how to proceed further.