These notes have been prepared to help people who are considering getting married in church. Further information can be found at the excellent Church of England Marriage Website - at this link.
At the heart of every Church wedding service stands a couple who love each other and who wish to make a loving commitment in the presence of God. Weddings do not need to be big, elaborate or expensive occasions. The Church does not have a dress code for brides or grooms and there is no obligation to have a lavish reception or to make a photographic record. The love and sincerity of the couple and the support of family and friends are the crucial ingredients in a wedding service.
Who can get married in our churches?
Anyone who is legally entitled to get married. That means:
- Neither party is already married or in a civil partnership.
- The couple are not directly related to each other.
- Both partners are above 18 years of age. (or 16 if parents give their consent).
- The partners are of different sexes. (On its own initiative, the Government did not legalise same sex marriage in Anglican Churches when it legalised same sex marriage in 2014).
Under the recent Marriage Measure, which came into force on October 1st 2008, an engaged couple are welcome to be married in any of our churches in the parish if any of the following apply:
- One of them lives in the parish;
- One of them was baptised in the parish or whose name appears in the Confirmation book of the parish;
- One of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more;
- One of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more;
- One of their parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
- One of their parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
- Their parents or grandparents were married in the parish;
- They have a genuine proven connection with the parish.
What if I have been divorced?
The Church does marry people, either or both of whom may have been divorced, depending on individual circumstances.
Marriage vows before God are made for life but we recognise that sometimes there are circumstances that make it impossible to continue so do come and talk.
On What Days can I get married?
Generally you can be married any day of the week provided it is between 9am and 6pm. We do not book weddings in for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
There are three churches in the parish, in which one can I be married?
You can choose, but be aware that St Michael’s Wilsford seats about 70 people, St Andrew’s Durnford about 140, and All Saints’ Woodford about 200.
Who will take my marriage?
This will normally be the Vicar or an Assistant Priest.
What is the wedding service like?
God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.
Wedding services are beautiful and moving occasions at which family and friends gather to surround the couple with their prayers and support. In preparing the service the priest and couple will always have these aims uppermost in their minds.
There are lots of traditions which apply to church weddings but couples should appreciate that most of these are options which they may or may not like to have. All that is needed for a wedding service is that the legal conditions be complied with and that the vows are exchanged in the hearing of two witnesses and the priest, and that at least one ring is given. When all this has happened the register is signed and a certificate is given.
In addition to this there are prayers and music. The bride often has the support of bridesmaids and is traditionally escorted by her father or another relative. The groom usually has a best man to support him and look after the rings. He generally sits on the right hand side of the church while he waits for the bride to arrive.
Many of the trappings of a church wedding are options, a matter of taste or what you feel is appropriate. Weddings in church can be very simple. Sometimes it is the really small ones which are the most moving because they are so intimate and personal.
The Order of Service is set by the Church of England. After the bride has arrived everyone is welcomed and the first hymn is sung. The priest then reads the introduction to the service in which the Church’s view of marriage is presented. The declarations are made. In these the couple commit to marry, and the family and friends agree to support them in their new life together.
After this there is a reading from the Bible and a short address. After another hymn the couple make their marriage vows and the rings are exchanged. The couple are then declared to be married and their marriage is blessed. If you would like to have extra readings and music during the signing of the registers you may. If you have special connections with a musician you are welcome to have them perform, and an ordained friend or relative is welcome to take part in the service.
All this is decided when you talk about the service with the Vicar.
What about costs?
The basic cost to each couple for a church wedding is at the moment in the region of £600, which includes bell ringers and organist. You pay this in good time before your ceremony. Cheques should be made payable to the Parish of the Woodford Valley with Archers Gate.
There is no collection during the wedding service but we leave a plate at the door. We hope you will encourage your guests to support us by making a donation.
What about a rehearsal?
We normally have a rehearsal the evening before the ceremony (but other times are possible). It is useful to have there: the couple, the bride’s father, the best man, any bridesmaids, an usher and anyone who is going to read.
How long does the service last?
Approximately 40 minutes.
You may want to talk about flowers. You may want to do these yourself or employ florists. You may be happy to have the flowers that would normally be in church anyway. In any case you should talk to those in charge of flower arranging after you have first talked with the Vicar.
All Saints: Mary Wilson
St Andrews': Sally Templer
St Michael': Sarah Coate
We have a team of dedicated bell-ringers who can ring at St Andrew’s and All Saints’. There are no bells at St Michael’s. You can ask for the bells when you first see the Vicar, however, whilst we do our best we cannot guarantee bell-ringers will be available, particularly during the working day or during August.
The Vicar will assist you in the choice of music and make sure you have an organist. If you wish to have a friend or relative to play the organ, this must be with our agreement and the agreement of the organist. The fees (embedded in the £400) must still be paid.
At least one reading must be from the Bible (we will help you in that choice). Poems or other readings may be included with our agreement. A friend or relative is welcome to read.
There is no problem with confetti providing it is fully biodegradable.
Facilities for guests
There is plenty of car parking at all three churches but we do need to know your needs as at St Michael’s and St Andrew’s we need to organise the opening of privately owned fields for the use of your guests.
There are toilet facilities at All Saints’ and St Andrew’s but not at St Michael’s.
Wheelchair access is possible at all three churches.
There is a loop system on the North Side of All Saints’ for those who need it.
Order of service
You will need to organise this. Many people do their own on a computer these days. There is a definite order in which the service is laid out. We will help you with that. You will have examples to look at.
A Wedding without costing the Earth
Caring for our environment is taken very seriously by the Church and we would urge you to plan a fantastic day in the most environmentally friendly way you can. The Church of England website has details of this - at this link. There is too an excellent site called ethical weddings - at this link and a government green wedding site too - here.
In particular you may like to think about ensuring you use conflict free diamonds and Fairtrade gold for your wedding rings.
What do I do first?
Telephone the Vicar the Rev. Mike Perry (01722 782310). He will arrange a time to meet you, and it will all flow from there. We will do our best to meet your preferred date. All legal paper-work will be done at the first meeting.
Before you can marry in an Anglican church there needs to be a legal preliminary, which essentially asks the wider community whether you can marry. This may be by Banns (when your marriage is announced in church) through a church marriage licence or through a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate. Mike the Vicar will advise you on what the appropriate preliminary will be depending on your circumstance. In particular, he will advise you on who else you need to contact to arrange these preliminaries.