She’s been one of the most talked about members of the Royal Family in a generation and now, as her eldest daughter prepares to wed, Fergie could make headlines all over again. And it’s nothing to do with the hat she picks for the big day. Sarah, Duchess of York could claim her very own place in royal wedding history as the first mother of the bride to be recorded on the marriage certificate.
Princess Beatrice and her partner, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, announced their engagement this week and said they planned to wed in 2020. Although they haven’t said where they will say ‘I do’ just yet, St. George’s Chapel in Windsor is a hot favourite and the pair are widely expected to get married in a Church of England ceremony. And by the time they say ‘I do’, major changes in the way the church records marriages could well have taken effect.
It will be one of the biggest shake ups in marriage law in over a century. At the moment, all marriage certificates issued in England and Wales record details of the bride and groom’s father – their name and their occupation. Mums don’t get a look in. The rules were formulated in the time of Queen Victoria and they’ve changed very little since. Until now.
This year, the law was altered to allow opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships (CPs) which were introduced in 2005 for same sex couples before legal changes almost a decade later permitted gay couples to marry in England and Wales. The legal record of a CP is called a schedule and it has always included details for the couple’s mothers as well as fathers. Now that CPs will be available to all, it’s been decided that marriage records should change too. And that’s where Fergie comes in.
The Church of England is currently getting ready for the alterations which will see marriage registers and certificates replaced with schedules which will be completed before the wedding then signed by the couple contracting marriage, their nominated witnesses and the officiating ministers on the day of the ceremony. Following the wedding, it will then be the couple’s responsibility to lodge the schedule with their local register office within a set time period (possibly as short as seven days after their marriage). Once that has happened, they will be issued with a marriage certificate. And that piece of paper will contain details for both the mother and the father of the bride and groom.
It’s a welcome change and a strike for equality. And it could well be Fergie who brings the House of Windsor into the 21st century. Yes, the hat will no doubt get everyone talking but the lasting legacy for this mother of the bride is her very own place in royal wedding history.