In order for it to be declared a legal marriage it is imperative that certain conditions are met. This article takes a look at the various legalities that are currently in place and will let you know whether you're in the clear, or in for heartache.
How Old Do You Need to Be?
Age-wise, the minimum age for it to be declared a legal marriage in the UK is 16. No legal consent is required in Scotland (hence the popularity of marriages at Gretna Green), but elsewhere in the UK if you are under 18 (20 in Jersey) written parental or guardian consent (consent in person in Guernsey and Jersey is required.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding this, you local Register Office will be able to advise accordingly and should be your first port of call.
Can Cousins Marry?
Contrary to popular belief, cousins can indeed marry, but marriages between many other blood relatives, step relatives and in-laws are forbidden. The list of these ‘Forbidden Degrees of Relationship' is understandably quite long, but for those considering marrying a relative, no matter how distant, it is essential you take a look to ensure yours will be declared a legal marriage.
UK Male Forbidden Degrees of Relationship
In order for it to be classified as a legal marriage, men aren't allowed to marry their:
Mother, step-mother, mother-in-law, adoptive mother, former step-mother, former mother-in-law or former adoptive mother.
Daughter, step-daughter, daughter-in-law, adoptive daughter, former step-daughter, former daughter-in-law or former adoptive daughter.
Sister, step-sister or half-sister.
Grandmother or step-grandmother.
Granddaughter or step-granddaughter.
Grandsons wife, Aunt or Niece.
In Scotland, in order for it to be classified as a legal marriage, men are also forbidden from marrying their great-grandmother or great-granddaughter.
UK Female Forbidden Degrees of Relationship
In order for it to be classified as a legal marriage, women are not allowed to marry:
Their father, step-father, father-in-law, adoptive father, former step-father, former father-in-law or former adoptive father.
Their son, step-son, son-in-law, adoptve son, former step-son, former son-in-law or former adoptive son.
Their brother, step-brother or half-brother.
Their grandfather or step-grandfather.
Their grandson or step-grandson.
Uncle or Nephew.
In Scotland, in order for it to be classified as a legal marriage, men are also forbidden from marrying their great-grandfather or great-grandson.
There may be certain additions and exceptions to the above legal marriage regulations, so if you do have any concerns, we'd strongly suggest you contact your local Register Office for clarification.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.