The General Register Office has launched the single electronic marriage register as part of a modernisation of the system for England and Wales.
It said it will save time and money over the current reliance on register books held at each register office, church, chapel and other premises at which weddings can take place.
It will also provide a more secure system, eliminating the need for data to be extracted from hard copies when searching for details of a marriage.
Couples will still be asked to sign a marriage document, the details of which will be added to the register by the priest or registrar. According to a report in Church Times, clergy will still be required to keep a physical record of marriages in line with canon law.
The change is being facilitated by amendments to the regulations in the Marriage Act mark, following consultation with stakeholders such as the Church of England.
It will also correct a historic anomaly to allow for the names of both parents of the couple to be included in the marriage entry and on marriage certificates for the first time, instead of only their fathers’ names.
The Reverend Dr Malcolm Brown, director of mission and public affairs for the Church of England, said: “Changing practices that go back many years is never straightforward, but we believe the new system changes as little as possible in terms of the couple’s experience of their church wedding and that the clergy will find the new regulations become second nature very quickly.”
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