Civil marriage

marriage performed, recorded, and recognized by a government official

A civil marriage is a marriage that is recognized by a government official. It can either be a religious ceremony or it can be secular. The definition and practice varies greatly between countries.

A civil marriage in 19th century Switzerland (Albert Anker, 1887)

United Kingdom change

At present the law allows same-sex marriages as well as man/woman marriages, and both religious and civil settings are possible.

England and Wales change

In 1753 an Act of Parliament required all marriages to be done in a religious place. Church of England churches, Quakers meeting places and synagogues were examples of appropriate places.

Scotland change

The Act of 1753 did not apply in Scotland. Marriages were, of course, done in churches. But actually it was enough for a couple to state their commitment in front of witnesses. A registrar would record the marriage. This was a type of common law marriage.