Why get married in church?
A marriage service,
wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and commitment to
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.
Preparing for the service: frequently asked
Q| Where can I get married?
A| Thanks to new rules, you've now got more choice about which church to
you want to marry in Holy Trinity or St. Paul’s, visit
www.achurchnearyou.com to find out
if you live within the boundaries of our Parishes. (Under a
special permission from the Bishop of Durham if you live in
either parish you can choose which of the two churches you
would like to get married in)
However, under new rules you are now allowed under certain
circumstances to marry in a different church either because
it has special significance for you through family or some
other special connections. An engaged couple can now do just
that if either of you can show just one of the following
seven connections with the parish.
That one of you:
baptised in the parish concerned or
prepared for confirmation in the parish or
any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6
or has at
any time regularly gone to normal church services in the
parish church for a period of at least 6 months or
one of your parents, at any time after you were born:
one of your parents or grandparents:
cases involving church services - i.e. going to normal
church services, baptism, confirmation or marriage - this
applies only to Church of England services. Even if you
cannot demonstrate any of the above connections, we want to
help you explore whether it may still be possible for you to
marry either of our churches.
Come along to our “Office Hour” at Holy Trinity Church,
Pelton any Wednesday Evening between 6.00pm and 7.00pm and
someone will be available to discuss the options open to
you, or if you would prefer you can contact one of Clergy
who will be happy to talk with you.
Q| How do I book the church?
A| As soon as you have decided you would like to get married in church,
get in touch with us to see whether the church is
free on your preferred date. (A deposit of £50.00 is required to make a
Q| What are the legal requirements?
A| The normal preliminary to getting married in the Church of England is
by banns. 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 but does not have to be. 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 lives as well as at the
church in which you are to be married if that is another parish. There
are circumstances where some form of licence, such as a common licence
or special licence, is more appropriate. Depending on your particular
circumstances we will let you know what you need to do.
If you are under the age of eighteen, you must
have your parents’ consent to marry.
There are special guidelines on church marriage
if you have been divorced: see the separate question on this issue.
Q| How much will it cost?
A| 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 fixed centrally and the latest
figures are available
Q| Can I choose what kind of service I
A| You can choose to have a
modern language service
or one in
more traditional language
including the Book of Common Prayer service. Talk over the options with
one of the clergy. There are usually one or more readings from the
Bible in the service - we can help you select the most
appropriate. There will also be some prayers, which you may help to
choose, or you may write your own. You may also decide to have someone
other than the minister leading the prayers.
The minister will give a brief talk or
If you have friends or family members you would
like to involve in the service, for example by doing a reading or
playing a musical instrument, discuss this with us at an
early stage of your planning.
Q| Which hymns and songs can I have?
A| We can help you think about hymns for the service or the church organist can
offer advice on suitable
hymns and songs, as well as music for coming in, going out and during
the signing of the register. If you want to set out the words and/or
music on a printed service sheet, you will need to comply with the
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
A| Yes although there is a fee of £50.00 to obtain a "Copyright
Q| What if one of us is divorced?
A| The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life. It also
recognizes that, sadly, some marriages do fail and, if this should
happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The Church accepts
that, in some circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in
church during the lifetime of a former spouse.
If one or both
of you have bee married previously one of the clergy will want to talk
to you frankly about the past, your hopes for the future and your
understanding of marriage. As a first step you will need to fill
in a form which is available from the Vicar or can be downloaded from
the following link and the form includes some words of explanation . (Marriage in church after divorce) If it is not possible for your
proposed marriage to take place in church, we will let you know what
other alternatives are open to you, such as a Service of Prayer and Dedication
after a civil ceremony.
What do Christians believe about
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. He expressed his love by being prepared to
sacrifice himself, even to die for the people he loved. This is amazing,
unconditional love. Jesus never said 'I love you, but …'. In our
marriages we can try to follow his model by loving our partners in a
self-sacrificial way, putting their needs before our own.
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.
The Marriage service
Beginning the service
Traditionally, the bride and groom enter the
church separately - the groom first with the best man, and the bride at
the time set for the start of the service, on the arm of her father or
another relative or friend (it does not need to be a man). However, the
bride may enter alone if she wishes, or the couple may enter together.
The minister will welcome the congregation.
Your family and friends have an important role to play as witnesses and
supporters of your marriage.
The minister will read an introduction
explaining what Christians believe about marriage. He or she will also
ask, as the law requires, if anyone knows any reason why the marriage
may not lawfully take place.
You will be asked to promise before God, your
friends and your families, that you will love, comfort, honour and
protect your partner and be faithful to them as long as you both shall
The minister will also ask the congregation to
declare that they will support and uphold your marriage.
Turning to each other, the bride and groom take
each other’s right hand and make vows:
'to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part'
The couple then exchange a ring or rings as a
'sign of their marriage' and a reminder of the vows:
'With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'
The minister will then declare that you are now
husband and wife. The minister does not 'marry you'; you marry each
other. The minister just directs you in this and then tells everyone
that you have done it properly.
In the prayers God’s blessing and help is asked
for you. There may be a prayer for the gift of children, but every
couple will have their own feelings about this, so it's best to discuss
the details with your minister. You may wish to help choose the prayers
or to write your own.
Readings and talk or sermon
It is usual to have one or more readings (one
of which should be from the Bible) and the minister will generally give
a talk or sermon.
Signing of the register
After you have exchanged your vows, the bride,
groom and two witnesses must sign the register. This is a legal
requirement and the minister will give you a copy of the marriage
A wedding is one day - a marriage is a
You have probably already spent many hours
planning your wedding. There are so many things to think about - the
dress, the cake, whom to invite, the honeymoon. All of these are
important, but the wedding is just one day, while marriage should last
for the rest of your lives.
Alongside the wedding preparations it is also
important to spend time as a couple talking through your expectations of
marriage. However much you think you have in common, you are still two
separate individuals with different backgrounds, personalities,
experiences, hopes and fears. The minister who is taking your service
will probably want to spend some time with you talking through these
Churches sometimes offer marriage preparation,
perhaps as part of a group with other couples. This gives you an
opportunity to think through possible areas of difficulty and how you
will handle them as a couple.
Topics might include:
- Coping with conflict
- In-laws and family issues
We hope that you have a wonderful wedding day
and that it will mark the beginning of a long and very happy marriage.
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2004