Congratulations on your engagement. We are delighted that you are thinking of getting married in church with us.
People choose a church wedding for a whole range of reasons; perhaps because of tradition or the beauty of the building. However, the most important reason for being married in a church is that you will be making your vows in the sight of God and asking God to be part of your life together.
The Weddings’ Section of the Church of England Website has some useful suggestions for music, hymns and readings to personalise your service. You will be able to discuss your ideas when you meet with the Vicar to plan this. There is a great amount of flexibility in planning the ceremony, including whether it is in traditional language or more modern.
Before a wedding can take place there are various legal formalities to be completed and there must be time for marriage preparation. This will normally involve you visiting the vicarage at some stage to discuss the very important step that you will be taking. For this reason, except in cases of serious illness or other similar emergency, there will need to be a gap of at least three months between first contact and the date of the wedding. Therefore, please make sure that you contact the Vicar in good time to make arrangements. To avoid disappointment, please check that the church is available before booking your reception venue. Our Parish Administrator, Sandra, will be able to book you into the church’s diary.
If you would like to consider getting married at St. James, the best thing to do would be to come along to a service on a Sunday and to see the church for yourself and introduce yourself to a member of the clergy. You can book a meeting at the vicarage with the Vicar at any time, by telephoning the parish office or the vicarage. The process and fees will be explained at an initial meeting with the vicar, or with Sandra.
Having Your Banns Read
Are you planning to get married in a Church of England parish? Then you need to have your banns read on three consecutive Sundays, no more than three months before your wedding day.
What to do?
- Make sure you live in the parish (see the boundary).
- Contact the parish office for a banns form (e-mail or phone).
- Fill in the form and return it together with cheque for the required fees.
- You will receive a letter confirming when your banns will be read.
- Come to church on one or all three of the occasions your banns are read.
- Collect your banns certificate after the third time of asking.
- Give the certificate to the officiating clergy person before your wedding.
We understand that some marriages fail and we try to help people to rebuild their lives in new relationships. There are some circumstances in which marriage in Church after a divorce is possible. If not, we can usually offer a service of blessing after a civil marriage. If you have been divorced and would like to discuss the possibility of being married in church again or having your civil marriage blessed, please contact the Vicar.
Experience has shown that this is a positive and healing process and most who wish to be remarried in church are able to do so.
Everyone resident within the parish boundaries can be married at St James after appropriate preparation, so long as there is no legal impediment. It is also possible to get married at St James if you do not live in the parish but are on our church’s electoral roll. To join the electoral roll you must have been baptised and must have already attended worship regularly for at least 6 months. Please bear in mind that we have to pay about £400 a year for any person entered on the electoral roll.
The law governing the right to be married in the Church of England is evolving. This will make it easier for you to get married in the church of your choice, provided that you can show a real connection with the parish. Please see the Church of England Website for further details.
There are four possible preliminaries to marriage in the Church of England:
- Marriage after banns is the most commonly used method. This involves notice of your forthcoming wedding being read out in both the bride and the groom’s parish churches on three Sundays in the three months preceding the wedding. If you live in two different parishes, banns need to be called in both parish churches. It is customary for couples to attend church for the calling of their banns which takes place during the 09.45 am Sunday morning communion at St James. Attending will help you to feel more comfortable with the church surroundings and will hopefully mean that you feel less nervous on the big day.
- Marriages can also take place after obtaining a Common Licence. This is a quicker method than banns but more expensive and involves both of you swearing an affidavit before the Diocesan Registrar or the local Surrogate. The Diocesan Registrar recommends marriage by Licence when one or both parties are not British or EU citizens (but see under 4 below).
- A Special Licence allows people to be married without the usual requirements of living in the parish or belonging to the Electoral Roll. It will usually only be granted if you have a very strong connection with the parish or if there are medical reasons (perhaps a parent who lives in the parish and is too ill to travel) which make a wedding at St James the best option.
- The Bishop of Southwark, on the advice of the Diocesan Registrar, has recently informed all clergy that people who are not British or EU citizens, who do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and are not in the UK on a marriage visa, should obtain a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate from the Register Office in Kingston. The Registrar will need details of your addresses and immigration status. You will very likely be required to obtain confirmation from the Home Office that you are eligible to marry and so it is highly advisable to obtain this first. If you think that these regulations may apply to you, you should contact the Vicar to discuss things further.