Massive changes have been made to the marriage registration system in England and Wales to accurately reflect modern British society.
For the first time in England and Wales, marriage certificates will include the names of the mother and father of the couple. Previously, only the details of the father, or step-father, were officially recorded. The two countries will finally join Scotland and Northern Ireland, as they have already been asking couples to declare the names of both their parents for marriage certificates and civil partnerships.
An outdated process
It has been several years since ministers have been advocating for this change, stating that the current process is archaic. In 2018, the Home Office declared their support for the bill, saying that the decision would ‘correct a historic anomaly.’ Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
A marriage is not just a major event for the couple but also in the life of any parent—and it is only right that all parents have the opportunity to have their names included on marriage certificates.
The current legislation which only allows for fathers' names is completely outdated and does not reflect modern Britain.
Omitting the mother’s name from the document is not the only aspect of the process that is outdated. Until this year, marriages were recorded through a register book that was manually signed by couples, and there are around 84,000 of them. Now, the decision has been made to digitalise the whole system. The government has created a single electronic marriage register to increase security and save money. According to Tory MP Tim Loughton, it will also ‘make the system more secure and efficient, and it will make it simpler to amend the content of the marriage entry, both now and in the future.’
All these changes were introduced after consultation with the Church of England. Reverend Dr. Malcolm Brown from the institution said:
Changing practices that go back many years is never straightforward, but we believe the new system changes as little as possible in terms of the couple's experience of their church wedding.