Getting married outdoors or at home could be legalised in England and Wales under new proposals

The proposal would also see weddings led by non-religious belief organisations, such as humanists and independent celebrants.

Due to the difficulties posed by COVID-19 and the possibility that future emergencies may pose similar challenges, the commission proposed remote weddings as an option, even when the couple are physically separate.

Family law commissioner Professor Nick Hopkins said the current regulations in the Marriage Act 1836 are outdated and out of step with the more modern takes of Scotland, Ireland and the Channel Islands.

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“A couple’s wedding day is one of the most important events in their lives, yet the 19th century laws are not fit for purpose and stop many couples having a wedding that is meaningful and personal to them,” Prof Hopkins said.

“Our proposals would give couples the freedom to choose the wedding venue they want and a ceremony that is meaningful for them. By doing so, we hope to make the laws that govern weddings reflect the wishes and needs of today’s society.”

Other proposed changes would see the removal of “unnecessary red tape”, such as allowing couples to give notice of their intent to marry online or by post instead of only in person.

Prescribed words would be scrapped to give couples “greater freedom” and civil ceremonies would be allowed to include religious elements, such as hymns and readings.

Unlike their English and Welsh counterparts, Scottish weddings can essentially take place anywhere, including ancient castles and remote islands.

Any official celebrant can marry a couple as opposed to a minister of religion or a registrar.

Northern Ireland also does not have location restrictions for the ceremonies, but civil weddings can only happen in approved venues.

This is not the commission’s first attempt at a marriage law overhaul.

In 2015, it put forward similar proposals to the UK government, which was rejected in a letter by Dominic Raab MP, then justice secretary.

Mr Raab cited “significant pressure” facing the family justice system as reasons he felt it was “not the time” to consider reforming marriage law.

In a statement, the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC MP said: “We want couples from all walks of life to be able to marry and celebrate their love for each other in a way that is meaningful to them.

“That is why we asked the Law Commission to look at the laws around weddings to ensure they better reflect modern society, and we look forward to the outcome of this important consultation.”

The public consultation is open until 3 December and the report is due to be published late next year.