Marriage – frequently asked questions
Banns are the usual legal preliminary to a church wedding. They are an announcement of your intention to marry and an opportunity for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. Banns are read out in the main Sunday service in the parish where each of you lives as well as the church in which you are to be married, if that is in another parish.
The Banns are called on three (usually but not necessarily consecutive) Sundays during the twelve weeks before the wedding.
If you are a regular worshipper in a church outside the parish in which you live, it is usually possible to be married there. If you are not a regular worshipper, why not start attending? You will normally be expected to attend services for at least six months before becoming eligible to be married in a church other than your parish church.If you want to get married in a parish where neither of you resides or is a regular worshipper, you will need to talk to the parish priest. Couples can apply for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Licence, if one of them has a genuine and long-standing connection with the Church in which they wish to marry. To apply or find out more contact The Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT tel: 020 7222 5381.
Yes! Remember that the wedding ceremony in church has a distinctively Christian character and assumes that you accept the Christian understanding of marriage.
Marriage is for life, but it is a sad fact that some marriages do fail. There are some circumstances in which a divorced person may marry again in church. If you are considering a church wedding and have been divorced, you should discuss this with your parish priest. (See more about what we believe about families and relationships.)
The legal fees for a marriage cover the publication of the banns, the marriage service and a certificate of marriage. There will be additional fees for a choir, organist, bell-ringers, permission to make a video recording etc. Check with your parish priest.
Most marriages are entered into confidently, assuming that they will last, but a very high proportion end in the tragedy of separation and divorce. Your marriage may have to last many years until death parts you, so it makes sense, however well you know one another, to think through your future relationship as man and wife. Most churches will therefore invite you to participate in preparation for your life together.
Yes. The minister will discuss with you the arrangements for the service and help you decide on appropriate music and readings. You may wish to involve family or friends in the service: e.g. in doing a reading or playing a musical instrument.
You will need to ask permission from the parish priest and some parishes have a policy that does not allow video to be taken. There may be a fee. Copyright issues also arise.
The minister will want to run through the service with you and others who are taking part so that everyone knows what to expect. The rehearsal will usually take place in church during the few days before the service.
The day and time of the service is decided in consultation with your minister, taking account of the regular pattern of church services. For example, if you wanted to marry on a Sunday, it would have to be at a time other than the normal Sunday services and when the minister is available. By custom, weddings tend not to take place during Lent, the church season covering the six weeks before Easter.
Yes. Ask your parish priest or minister about this. There are no legal preliminaries necessary.
Banns are not possible in these circumstances, so a Common Licence will be required. Your minister will help you to apply for this.
If one of the parties is a national of a country outside Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the EU or USA, it would be wise to obtain from the relevant embassy or consulate a letter saying that the marriage will be recognised there. The marriage should be by Common Licence and not by banns.