current affairs

Why mothers should be on marriage certificates

I’ll level with you. When I first read about this debate online, I had absolutely no idea that mother’s names weren’t allowed to be included on marriage certificates.

I’ll level with you. When I first read about this debate online, I had absolutely no idea that mother’s names weren’t allowed to be included on marriage certificates. This is probably because I’ve never been married, but also mostly because there are some things that just seem to go over my head.

Needless to say, I was surprised to find out that only fathers and their professions are included on marriage certificates, and seeing as the debate has become so big, I decided to do some digging. As a complete novice to this whole debacle, let’s walk through this hand in hand.


After doing my research, I was even more surprised to discover that this law is purely based on tradition. After all, this has been the normal practice since marriage certificates first came into place, as far back as the Middle Ages, so I assumed it must be for good reason.

But even now, in the 21st century, there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable excuse for missing mothers except that’s what’s always been done. Marriage certificates today closely resemble those of the Victorian era, when the tradition was for a male to pass guardianship of his daughter to another male.

This was perfectly plausible then, but makes little to no sense now, when mothers play an equally vital role in caring for their children as any father. In fact, in 2012, over 6.7 million households were run by single mums, yet marriage certificates remain staggeringly out of date.

No excuse

The most interesing thing about tracking this debate, is that nobody seems to be able to come up with a reason for keeping marriage certificates as they are.

A spokesperson for the Home Office commented on the ‘historic’ requirement of putting fathers on certificates, and that changing this would mean changing long standing legislation, but that argument holds no weight in this day and age.

Quite simply, mothers raise us, care for us, inspire us and teach us, and so should be allowed to be legally documented on our marriage certificates. Of course, it is important to acknowledge that some people don’t speak to their mothers, but the same can be said for fathers.

In the end, it’s all about choice, and we should have that choice.

There are other very legitimate reasons for including mothers on marriage certificates. Many historians have joined the campaign by pointing out the significance of recording parental details for the future, and how useful it would be for tracking family trees.

The system today is so inflexible that it would prevent societies in the future from being able to understand the true structures of our families. After all, the majority of us would include our mothers as an integral part of our family, and would hate to think they may be forgotten in the future?


The Home Office is in the midst of reviewing changes to the legislation, although they did not seem keen to consider altering a system that is so old. Nevertheless, it is clear that having mothers missing from marriage certificates is simply a misleading representation of society today, and can damage one of the most important days in anyone’s life.

You can sign the petition here or join in the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #MothersonMarriageCerts. With enough pressure, the goverment may be persuaded to make a change that should have been made years ago. With the legalisation of gay marriage, we’ve proven that this country is ready to move forward in more ways than one.

Surely this can only be the next step in making Britain a more positive and intelligent place to live.

What do you think about this debate? Have your say in the comments section below.