TEL 020 7222 5381 (10.00AM TO 4.00PM WORKING DAYS)

Special Licences & What You Need To Know About Marriage Law

These pages summarise the law relating to preliminaries to Anglican marriage in England and Wales and explain the Archbishop’s practice on the issue of special licences, with some points to note where one of the parties is a foreign national or has been previously married and divorced.

The information given is for general guidance only and is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law or the Archbishop’s practice.

Temporary Information – Special Marriage Licences and Covid-19

Unfortunately, the restrictions on public gatherings and weddings imposed by the Government under its emergency Regulations mean that weddings in churches or secular venues are currently unable legally to take place.   The Government did signal on 11 May that the restrictions on weddings taking place may be eased in June or July provided that the spread of Covid-19 continues to decrease.  During this time, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Marriage Licence is still available to permit weddings to take place but only in very limited circumstances to authorise marriages in a hospital, hospice or at home where one of the couple is terminally ill or a very close relative (ie parent, child or sibling); or where there is another urgent medical or other pressing need for a wedding to take place at a couple’s home (eg NHS staff at high risk of contracting Covid-19 or the imminent overseas deployment of military personnel) rather than be postponed until weddings are possible again, albeit with probable significant restrictions on the number of guests able to be present.

If there is a genuine need for couples to be married before any Government move to remove or ease the current restrictions along the lines of the examples set out above please do contact us at