Weddings Fact Sheet
Why get married in church?
A marriage service, wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and commitment to your partner. If you choose to get married in church, there is an added dimension – the assurance that God cares about your relationship and that his resources and strength are available to help you. Including God in your marriage doesn’t mean that you will avoid all the usual ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to God for help and guidance and that his love will sustain you. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian Church family.
What do Christians believe about marriage?
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God. In the marriage ceremony, a couple make a public declaration of lifelong commitment to love each other, come what may. The Bible compares married love with the love Jesus has for his followers, the Church family . He expressed his love by being prepared to sacrifice himself, even to die for the people he loved. This is amazing, unconditional love. In marriage we can try to follow his example by loving our partner in a self-sacrificial way, putting their needs before our own. In marriage each partner should help the other to become the best that they are capable of being.
The marriage ceremony gives you a new legal status as husband and wife and a new stability within which your relationship can flourish and grow. Christians believe that marriage offers the right place for the fulfilment of our sexuality and that it provides a stable and secure environment for bringing up children.
What help are we given as we prepare for marriage?
Getting married is an important decision to make. The marriage service states that ‘No one should enter into marriage lightly or selfishly but reverently and responsibly in the sight of almighty God.’ At St. Francis you will be expected to attend marriage preparation classes at which you will look at the marriage service, plan your own marriage service and explore your own expectations of marriage.
Where can I get married?
You are entitled to be married in the church of the Church of England parish where you or your fiancé are resident. If you are a regular worshipping member at a church in another parish and you are on the Electoral Roll at that Church, it is usually possible to be married there if you wish.
In certain circumstances you can apply for a Special Licence. The parish priest will explain this to you.
How do I book the church?
As soon as you have decided you would like to get married in church, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our parish priest or one of our Churchwardens will happily discuss any arrangements with you and check to see whether the church is free on your preferred date and time. It is unwise to book a hall for the wedding reception if you do not know whether the church is available on the day that you want.
What are the legal requirements?
You must have your banns read out in Church on three consecutive Sundays during the three months before the wedding. Banns are an announcement of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. Banns need to be read in the parish where each of you live as well as at the Church in which you are to be married if that is in another parish.
You must be single or widowed.
If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parents’ consent to marry.
What if one of us is divorced?
The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life. It also recognises that, sadly, some marriages do fail. The Church accepts that, in exceptional circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.
A parish priest will be willing to conduct such a marriage at St. Francis Church in certain circumstances. You must make an appointment to speak to them before you plan anything. They will want to talk to you frankly about the past, your hopes for the future and your understanding of marriage.
How much will it cost?
The legal fees for a marriage cover the publication of the banns, certificate of banns (if necessary), the marriage service and a certificate of marriage. These fees are available from our parish priest. There are additional fees for the verger, organist, lighting and flowers.
Where a couple are getting married in the Church of another parish the fee for the Calling of Banns with a certificate is £34.
Can I choose what kind of service I want?
You can choose to include particular readings or poems in the service. There are usually one or more readings from the Bible or other suitable material in the service. The parish priest will help you select the most appropriate. There are also some prayers which are used during the service. You may like to have a friend or family member leading the prayers and/or reading your selected reading(s).
If you have friends or family members you would like to involve in the service, for example by leading the prayers or reading a bible passage or playing a musical instrument, please discuss this with our parish priest at an early stage of planning your wedding.
Which hymns and songs can I have?
Our parish priest can advise on suitable hymns and songs, as well as music for coming in, going out and during the signing of the registers.
If you want to set out the words and/or music on a printed service sheet, you need to comply with the copyright laws. Speak to your priest about this.
Should we have one or two rings?
A wedding ring is a symbol of unending love and faithfulness, and of the commitment you are making to each other. It is your choice whether you have one ring or two.
Can we have a video recording of the service?
You will need to ask permission from the priest in charge. This is normally agreed subject to the video being for private use, i.e. not for use in any commercial purposes.
Our thanks to St. Hilda’s Church, Ashford, whose fact sheet we have adapted.
Flowers at a recent wedding at St. Francis of Assisi Isleworth.