Licensing your venue
If you would like to hold marriages or civil partnerships at your premises you will need a licence. Licences are valid for 3 years and are processed by the Local Authority.
How to apply to become an approved venue
If you require further information, or clarification, please contact us at Licensing@bedford.gov.uk.
Send the completed declaration, application form, payment and other documents to:
The Proper Officer
Democratic and Registration Services
Bedford Borough Council
Who can complete the application?
The application must be made by the proprietor or a trustee of the premises. If a licence is granted the named applicant will be the holder of the approval. If the application is being made in the name of a company then you must include proof that you are authorised to act on behalf of that company.
What kind of premises can be licensed?
‘Premises’ is defined as a permanent, immovable structure, which has a postal address and will be regularly available to the public. The Guidance Notes (PDF) give some examples of premises which cannot be licensed.
The standard of accommodation provided should be no less than that which is currently provided by the Borough’s Register Office; there must be free, unhindered and open access by the public to the designated room(s) and every effort must be made to ensure that there is easy disabled access; car parking should be available for Registrars’ use; the premises must regularly be available to the public and must not be subject to membership of any club, society, group or other restriction.
Marriages and civil partnerships can only take place in licensed rooms, these must have sufficient space for at least 6 people throughout the ceremony. There must also be a separate suitable room in which the couple can be interviewed (either together or separately) prior to the ceremony.
How many rooms can be included on the licence?
Multiple rooms within the same premises can be included under the same licence and there is no limit to the number of rooms that can be designated, provided each room meets the criteria (please see the guidance notes). We recommend that you licence at least two rooms. You do not need to use all rooms as wedding venues but we encourage venues to have a ‘backup’ room in case the usual room (s) are rendered unusable (eg a leak in the roof).
Once a licence is granted additional rooms cannot be added except by submitting a new application.
As part of the application process you are required to attach evidence that the planning authority is content that the premises may be used for the solemnisation of Marriages and Civil Partnerships. Details of how to make a Lawful Development Certificate or Planning application can be found on our website at planning application forms. We recommend allowing a minimum of 3-6 months in advance of your wedding licence application for a decision, and re-submission if necessary.
Without evidence that the planning authority is content that the premises may be used for the solemnisation of marriages and civil partnerships we cannot issue a licence.
What to include in your application
- Proof that the planning authority is content that the premises may be used for the solemnisation of marriages and civil partnerships; this is usually in the form of a letter.
- 3 copies of a plan of the premises which should show the room (s) you wish to licence, as well as the room (s) that you intend the Registration staff to use for pre-ceremony interviews with the parties to be married. The plan should show all access points.
- A copy of the appropriate fire risk assessment.
- If the premises already have another licence (for example a Premises Licence) you need to provide a copy of this as part of your application.
- Proof of public liability insurance.
- If you are applying for the licence on behalf of a company or organisation you must supply proof that you have authorisation to submit the application on behalf of the company. For example this could be proof that you are a director, owner, trustee, or similar standing authorised to act in this way.
You should complete the Declaration and Application Form, sign the declaration which is attached to this, and pay the application fee. Information on current fees is available on the online payment page.
What happens after the application?
Our Compliance Officers will arrange to visit and inspect the venue to assess its suitability. We may also arrange inspections after a licence is granted.
A public notice will be given in a local newspaper which is distributed free of charge at least once a week in the same area as the proposed venue. Any person may make an objection to the grant of the approval; these must be received by the authority, in writing, within 21 days of the publication of the notice.
If the requirements and conditions are met, and any objections received are resolved or rejected, the licence will be issued for a period of three years, subject to further inspections and may be revoked if the requirements and conditions are not met.
The applicant is then informed, in writing, of the outcome of their application.
Renewing your licence
You can apply to renew your licence up to 12 months (and should do so at least 3 months) prior to its expiry date. The process and fee for renewing a licence is the same as the initial application and if you are granted a further licence this will be for a period of three years and will begin on the day after the previous one expires.
A change of details on an existing licence
The holder of the licence must inform the authority, in writing, of any changes to the details that were included in the application, for example a change of holder, owner, responsible person, room capacity, or any other change. If a new licence needs to be issued (eg in the case of a change of ownership of the venue or holder of the approval) a fee of £37 will be due.