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Want your friend to conduct your marriage ceremony? It’s not all black and white

By Andrea Petrou on August 27th, 2009 0 comments yet. Be the First

stressed bride.jpgWe’ve all seen the episode of Friends, where Joey is asked by Monica and Chandler to carry out the marriage ceremony on their big day.

This is of course followed by scenes of Joey getting online and signing up for a package to become a legally ordained minister.

Last week I was going to write up a feature giving you some advice on how this could be done over here.

After all some couples would love to get their friends involved like this on their big day, well as long as the mate in question could string together a nice ceremony message, and not stick to Joey’s three words of “loving and giving and receiving.”

Funny for a sitcom but not so thrilling if you have to listen to that on your real wedding day.

And now for the serious message.

Researching for online packages to get a friend ordained over here proved fruitless.

There were countless American packages offered by church groups, legal firms and even wedding gift shops, all claiming to be 100% legal.

All you have to do is hand over your credit card number, put in some personal details and Bob’s your uncle, you’re a monk (well sort of) without having to go through the years of celibacy and teachings.

Sound too good to be true, well unfortunately it is. Yes there these American packages say they are legal for UK use, but I got a little bit concerned when I couldn’t see UK sites offering the same things, so I called up a few people to get to the bottom of it.

Georgina Solomou, a solicitor at Charles Ross told me: “The only people that have the power and authority in the UK to marry a couple legally is a registrar.”

She said this was because they were part of the General Registry Office. This Government department oversees UK marriage certificates, which are a legal requirement for a valid marriage.

“You’re marriage will be void if you do not have one of these,” she added.

She also pointed out that religious ceremonies without a registrar wouldn’t count.

I also spoke to the General Registry Office, who confirmed Georgina’s points. Stan Rogers, a spokesman for the Government department said: “A marriage is not legal unless a registrar is present. You can’t have a friend do this over here.”

He said anyone paying for a US package in the UK would only be able to conduct American weddings for American citizens (yes I know what you were thinking).

So although it may seem easy to get a friend ordained for your big day, it’s not.

If (and I’m sure you do) want your marriage to be legal then stick to procedure.

Your friend can always say a few nice words at the reception, as long as “giving and receiving and loving” don’t come into the equation.

Now I’m currently waiting to find out if there are alternatives to this, and we’ll hopefully be speaking to a bride who is getting married with another friend presiding. I’ll give you updates as soon as possible.

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