A million marriages could be invalid because of blunders made by the Church of England, reports The Daily Mail.
Church of England lawyers revealed that the vicars who married two million people used the wrong form of words, which would invalidate a million marriages. This could see a boom in couples booking a wedding reception venue in a bid to hold another ceremony that is valid in the eyes of the law.
The technical error involved the wording of the banns, which should be read out in church three times in the weeks preceding a wedding. They ask whether anyone knows of any good reason why the marriage should not be allowed, and under the Marriage Act of 1949 they must be read in a certain way.
The law states that the congregation must be asked: “If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony …”
However, the church implemented a new prayer book in the 1980s, which included a new marriage service and a new form of wording the banns which asks if anyone knows a “reason in law” to stop a marriage.
This means that any service conducted under the form as prescribed by the new prayer book is unlawful, and invalid.
This has many implications, aside from allowing couples to annul their marriage if they’re considering divorce. It would invalidate any prenuptial agreements because they are only valid when a marriage is.
However, on a much brighter note, it could encourage the majority of couples to renew their vows in a ceremony that adheres to the law. A second ceremony doesn’t have to be as lavish or as expensive as the first to be legally binding.