But within Europe, England, Scotland and Wales are different. People may opt for either a civil wedding or a religious one and both are legal. Whereas on mainland Europe, a religious wedding may be seen as an extra without legal status in Britain this is not so.
A couple can currently legally marry in England and Wales by having a Church of England (or the disestablished Church in Wales in Wales), Roman Catholic, Jewish or Quaker ceremony. Signing the register at the place of worship after the ceremony has the same legal force as a civil wedding. For all other religious bodies, the majority of Christian places of worship and their ministers are registered to perform a legal marriage but for those that are not a civil ceremony may be needed as well in order for the couple to be legally married.
As ever, Scotland is different. A religious wedding is legal – under the same conditions as in England and Wales and no civil ceremony is required – but a so-called “schedule” must be obtained from the local registrar. This document is signed by the celebrant after the wedding and must be returned to the registrar within three days of the ceremony. As in England and Wales, a religious ceremony is legal without any need for a civil wedding.
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