This page contains the legal requirements for getting married in a Church of England building.

If you have any questions, or would like to make a firm booking, please contact us.

Who can get married in a Church of England church?

Everyone in England lives in a parish and belongs to a parish church. That’s the church you should initially contact for more information about getting married. 

However, since 1 October 2008 it has been possible to marry in a church that has special significance for you as well as in your own parish church. An example might be the parish where one of you grew up or where a parent of one of you lives.

What is the process?

If you qualify to get married at St Lawrence’s Church, the usual process is to have your Banns (a public declaration that you intend to be married) read out in church. You would be most welcome to join the church community for the service and to hear them read. 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 also need to be read in the parish where each of you lives as well as the church in which you are to be married if that is another parish, so you need to contact the vicar of your local church to arrange this. You must have your banns read out in church for three Sundays during the three months before the wedding. This is often done over three consecutive Sundays.

What if one of us is divorced?

There are special guidelines on church marriage if you have been divorced. 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 your Vicar – who 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, the Vicar may be willing to offer you a service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony.

Legal requirements for a Church of England wedding

There are a number of reasons for choosing a particular church building in which to get married. Each comes with legal requirements.

Couples usually wish to marry in a church local to where they live, or where they are regular members attending worship. If one or both is resident in the parish, or one or both is a regular worshipper (for at least 6 months at that church) then the Banns are read (within 3 months of the date of the wedding) at the church where the wedding is to take place, and at any other church in which either the bride or groom is also a resident in that parish.

Sometimes the church of choice is one that has special significance for a couple, even if they don’t live there or are not worshippers there.  Couples would need to demonstrate a straightforward ‘Qualifying Connection’ with the church to enable Banns to be read and the marriage to legally take place. These legal ‘Qualifying Connections’ are:

either the bride or groom:

  • was baptised in the parish; or 
  • had their confirmation entered in a church register book of a church or chapel in the parish; or 
  • has at any time had their usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
  • has at any time habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;

or, a parent of either the bride or groom (within the lifetime of the bride or groom):

  • had their usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
  • habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;

or, a parent or grandparent of either the bride or groom was married in that church.

So are we able to get married at the church of our choice?

Yes, by having your Banns read, if:

  • one or both of you are resident in the parish, or 
  • one or both of you are regular worshippers at the church, or 
  • one or both of you can demonstrate a legal ‘Qualifying Connection’ 

None of those apply to me – can I still get married at your church?

If you do not have a residence in the parish, are not a regular worshipper at the church, and you cannot demonstrate a legal qualifying connection with the church of your choice, then in order for you to qualify to have your wedding there you must attend worship regularly (once a month minimum) for at least 6 months before you book the wedding

Once you have attended for 6 months you may fill in a form which puts you on the list of church members (the Church Electoral Roll) and this membership qualifies you to be married at that church. 

I don’t have any ‘qualifying connections’ and live too far away to be able to attend worship regularly, if at all. What happens next?

If you are not able to satisfy any of the legal requirements (residency, a qualifying connection, or regular attendance in order to go on the Electoral Roll) it will be not be possible for you to marry at the church of your choice.  In this case the vicar will help you to look for a church where you could get married, and help with any arrangements.

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