First secular marriage held legally in island

A LOCAL couple have become the first to be married legally in the island outside of a church or the Greffe, instead having a ceremony at Jerbourg Hotel.

Cathy and Andy Jones with celebrant Jayne White at Jerbourg Hotel yesterday. The event was the first legal non-church wedding under the new law. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29448418)
Cathy and Andy Jones with celebrant Jayne White at Jerbourg Hotel yesterday. The event was the first legal non-church wedding under the new law. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29448418)

After the law changed to allow marriages to be conducted anywhere in the island, many people planned to take advantage.

Due to lockdown the first ceremony had to be postponed, so it was pure chance that Andy and Cathy Jones’s wedding ended up making history.

Although wedding ceremonies have always been able to take place anywhere, it is only now that they can be given legal status.

Previously a couple who did not want a church ceremony would have had to go the Greffe for the legal part of the wedding and hold a ceremony elsewhere afterwards.

These unofficial ceremonies may have looked like the real thing to the casual bystander, but Whitedove celebrant Jayne White said that now there was a legal requirement, the celebrant had to confirm the couple wished to marry and he or she must declare that they are able to do so.

There is no soap opera element of the celebrant calling for anyone who knows of ‘any just cause or impediment’ to the marriage to come forward, since this would be covered by the published pre-wedding notices, although Mrs White thought that this may still be said in church ceremonies.

The other requirement is that the landowner has given permission for the ceremony and it is ‘solemn and dignified’.

For Mrs White, the Jones’ wedding meant a lot to her.

‘It’s been amazing,’ she said afterwards.

‘It’s something we’ve been hoping for and working towards for the last five or six years.

‘I’m really impressed with the way that the law has been changed here in Guernsey. We have a lot of flexibility and couples can get married anywhere they like because it’s the celebrant who’s licensed, not the venue.’

The couple have been together for five years and Mrs Jones, nee Loveridge, said they had been planning the wedding since January last year.

But they had not expected to be legally married at the hotel and she said they had not been looking forward to having to go to the Greffe for the legalities.

‘We were relieved when the law changed,’ she said.

‘And then we found out we were going to be the first,’ said Mr Jones.

The couple were able to enjoy their ceremony, reception and evening dance at the hotel, although they had initially planned to leave the island for a honeymoon in the Dominican Republic after the reception.

Continuing travel restrictions have put paid to that trip for now, but they will nonetheless enjoy a honeymoon away from Guernsey.

‘We’ll be getting the boat to Herm in the morning,’ said Mr Jones.

Whitedove has a ceremony event on at the Peninsula Hotel on 24/25 April if people would like to find out more about the new law and wedding ceremonies here in Guernsey.

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