New York and the UAE have made Zoom weddings legal - but is it the same in the UK?

Among the many things to have been disrupted and put on hold in the last year due to the pandemic, restrictions on weddings have caused serious distress for couples who’d planned to tie the knot in 2020.

For most of the past year, ceremonies have been able to go ahead, although with limited numbers of guests in attendance, meaning many couples were not able to have the wedding they’d envisaged.

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While some opted for slimmed-down ceremonies, or have decided to hold off until normalcy returns, there are those who have considered other, more inventive ways to get hitched during the pandemic.

Taking weddings online

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in April that he had signed an Executive Order which would allow New York residents to apply for and obtain their marriage licences online, as well as authorising officials to perform ceremonies via video conference.

And New Yorkers aren’t alone. Couples in Colorado can also apply for marriage licences online, and a county in Ohio allows the same in certain circumstances, such as when one of the betrothed is a health worker.

These alternative arrangements aren’t just being made in the US. In the United Arab Emirates, changes have been made to laws to allow people in the country to get married online, whether they’re citizens or residents.

So is this option open to couples here in the UK?

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Can couples get married online in the UK?

Marriage laws in the UK mean it is not currently possible for couples to get married online.

This is because it is not possible to apply online for a marriage licence, nor would a ceremony which was conducted online via a video conferencing service like Zoom be legally valid.

While this means that the legal aspect of marriage cannot be fulfilled with an online ceremony, couples who get married officially in accordance with the guidelines have still, in many cases, opted to hold ‘virtual receptions’ with guests logging in from their homes.

It is likely that a remote marriage which takes place in another country would be legal in the UK, so long as the legal requirements for marriage had been met in the country where the marriage was officially registered.

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