Marriage Questions and Answers
Marriage in the Church of England
If you've chosen a church wedding, we would love to help you create a service which is meaningful and personal to you.
A book that may help you in preparing for both the big day and your future together is available from Church House Publishing: 'Growing Together? A guide for couples getting married'
Click on the question below to find our answers.
- What do Christians believe about marriage?
- Where can I get married?
- I’m not baptised. I don’t go to church. Can I still get married in church?
- How do I book the church?
- What if I want to be married in a different church?
- I heard that you can get married in any church you want to now. Is this true?
- We’ve decided to get married abroad but we would like a church blessing. Is that possible?
- I’m divorced. Can I still get married in church?
- I’m Church of England and he’s a Catholic. Does that matter?
- Why do we need marriage preparation?
- What are the legal requirements?
- How much will it cost?
- Can we be involved in planning the service?
- Should we have one or two rings?
- Can I marry in any other colour than white?
- Can we have a video recording of the service?
- Do you have rehearsals?
- What about flowers in church?
- May we marry on a Sunday?
- What happens if one of us lives abroad?
- What happens if one of us is a foreign national?
A/ 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.
A/ Everyone lives in a parish and belongs to a parish church. That’s the church you should contact for more information about getting married.
A/ Yes! If you live in the parish of the church you want to marry in.
He or she will probably wish to meet with you in person to discuss your plans.
A/ If you are a regular worshipper in that church, it is usually possible to be married there. Just speak to the minister.
If you are not a regular worshipper why not start attending? You will normally be expected to attend services for some time before becoming eligible to be married there.
The Church of England is exploring ways of making it easier for couples to get married in a church outside their parish. An example might be the parish you grew up in or where your parents live.However at the moment, if you want to get married in a church that is not your parish church you will need to talk to the minister there (see previous question)
If there is a good reason, couples can apply for a Special Licence. To apply or find out more contact The Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT tel: 020 7222 5381
A/ There is no reason why you shouldn’t do this, provided you have first discussed this with Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann. There is a service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony and this can be adapted. There are no legal requirements or set fees.
The Church of England believes that marriage is for life. But it recognises that sadly, some marriages do fail. In exceptional circumstances, the Church accepts that a divorced person may marry again.
Speak to Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann. He or she will want to talk to you frankly about your past and your hopes for the future. Even if it is not possible to do your wedding, they may be willing to offer you service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony.
Marriage in church after divorce, is available or can be ordered from Church House Bookshop, tel: 020 7898 1300
A/ People of all denominations have a right to be married in their parish church (provided they have not been married before). So it doesn’t matter from the Church of England’s perspective.
You have probably invested a lot of time planning your wedding. The day is important but your marriage should last for the rest of your life. However much you think you know each other, you are still two separate individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, hopes and fears. We offer an opportunity to talk through these issues, sometimes as a group with other couples or just on your own as a couple.
A/ The normal preliminary to getting married in the Church of England is by banns. If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parents’ consent to marry. There are circumstances where some form of licence, such as a common licence or special licence, is more appropriate. Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann will discuss with you what you need to do.
There are special guidelines on church marriage if you have been divorced (See question above).
Q/ How much will it cost?
A/ The legal fees for a marriage cover the publication of the banns, the marriage service and a certificate of marriage. These fees are fixed centrally and will be between £170-£250. These fees do not cover any extras you may wish to have for the service, such as a choir, organist, bell-ringers, special lighting, fees for video recording and so on. Check with your parish priest.
A/ Yes. You can choose to have a modern language service or one in more traditional language including the Book of Common Prayer service.
Q/ Should we have one or two rings?
A/ A wedding ring is a symbol of unending love and faithfulness, and of the commitment you are making to each other. It is entirely up to you whether you have one ring or two.
Q/ Can we have a video recording of the service?
A/ You will need to ask permission from Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann and there will be a fee. Permission is not required to record the authorised words of the service but bear in mind there may be copyright issues if you're recording a person's performance (eg a professional organist) or using copyright hymns or readings. Further information is available at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/downloads/litcopy.rtf under Video and Audio Recordings
A/ The Church Flower Group can do these for you at a reasonable charge and the flower arranger will be happy to discuss what you want. You can also do your own or engage your own florist.
A /Although you have the right to get married in a church, the time of the service is decided by negotiation with Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann. It must be between 8am and 6pm and not clash with other services. Therefore you could get married on a Sunday provided it was not at a time of the normal Sunday services and Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann were willing to do it.
A/ Marriage by Common Licence can take place on the basis of one of the couple living in the parish or regularly attending the church without any action being necessary where the other party lives. Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann will know how to apply for a Common Licence (see above if it is a particular country). However, because we like to offer marriage preparation, Rev'd Karl Carpani or Rev'd Canon Penny Avann like to see you both.
A/ If one is a national of a country outside Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the EU or USA The Church has a responsibility to conduct marriages which will be recognised in the country the bride or groom comes from. This is done for the couple’s benefit not just for bureaucracy. Therefore, the Faculty Office strongly recommends that these marriages should be done by Common Licence rather than banns and we ask the person to obtain from the relevant embassy or consulate a letter saying their marriage will be recognised.