Hotels and other venues for weddings are expected to benefit from Government legislation which will extend the hours during which marriage ceremonies can take place.
The new Protection of Freedoms Bill will allow weddings and civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted 24 hours a day in England and Wales. At present, couples can only tie the knot between 8am and 6pm, under rules dating back to the Marriage Act 1836.
It is unknown whether the relaxation in times that a marriage ceremony can take place will extend to church weddings - the Church of England will discuss the matter at the General Synod, which meets twice a year, while the Catholic Church says it will not conduct night-time ceremonies.
However, it is expected there will be a high demand for night-time civil wedding ceremonies, held in hotels and other locations.
Antony Baker, who married his wife Sandy in what was the first civil wedding to be held in a hotel in 1995, is fully supportive of the new legislation. The 16-bedroom Saddleworth Hotel, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, owned by Baker was the location for the wedding, and is still going strong today. Today the hotel hosts around 100 weddings a year in three different locations.
"We are anticipating that there will be a lot of demand for evening weddings - either indoors under candlelight or outside during the summer in our sandstone gazebo," said Baker. "Our ballroom, which can accommodate up to 400 guests, has an antique fireplace and Swarovski crystal lighting and looks spectacular at night. It will particularly appeal to brides-to-be.
"Night-time weddings will allow us to provide something really special for couples - from candlelit ceremonies to fireworks. The only thing that may hold back the service we offer is whether or not registrars are willing to officiate at evening weddings. We don't forsee a problem here in Oldham, where the registrars have always been very good to us."
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs