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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

What is the difference between marriage and civil partnership?

I was asked this week whether I delivered ceremonies for civil partnerships as well as marriages…. of course I do, I replied! Every ceremony I create is completely bespoke and unique to you, so why wouldn’t I? But it did get me thinking about civil partnerships and how things have changed in the last six months..

You might recall that up until 31 December 2019, civil partnerships were only available to same-sex couples – it wasn’t even an option for a mixed sex couple. But following much lobbying and leading to a high profile campaign that went to the Supreme Court, mixed sex couples in England and Wales now have the choice between entering marriage and a civil partnership.

So why would folk want this? The reasons are varied: some couples aren’t comfortable with marriage as a tradition, but want the same legal rights as a married couple in respect of pension rights, house ownership, inheritance issues and making ‘next of kin’ decisions in hospital. Some think it offers a more modern approach, with a focus on equality and mutual respect. Some don’t like the fact that a marriage certificate bears only the couple’s fathers’ names, whereas civil partnerships require the names of all parents. Some don’t want to be husband and wife, but are more comfortable with the term partners. I like the way Amy describes it in this article:

The language around a civil partnership suits us and this feels like a completely modern and new way that is separate from the historical institution of marriage.

And other key differences include that it’s not compulsory to have a ceremony with the standard legal vows to form a civil partnership; you just have to sign the civil partnership document, which many couples like for its simplicity. You give notice to your local register office, then after the 29 days’ notice period has lapsed, as partners you will sign the document to register your civil partnership with two witnesses and a registrar present. And then once you are ‘civilly partnered’, you might choose to have a knees-up, perhaps even preceded by a celebrant ceremony!

Whatever the reason for choosing a civil partnership, it undoubtedly provides added security and inheritance, property and pension rights to the 3 million couples currently cohabiting in the UK, without having to get married. And, most importantly, it gives couples choice and equality – both of which were previously lacking.

If you want to chat through a ceremony to celebrate your civil partnership – do drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you!

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