Jesus said, “But at the beginning…God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” [Mark 10:6-9]

Christian marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to people, and we want to do everything we can to make not only your wedding day but also your marriage, very special.

Under United Kingdom law there are some legal requirements that have to be dealt with before we can marry you, and we hope that the information on this page will guide you through them, help you in your planning, and explain everything you need to do to arrange a marriage in one of our churches. 

Note, if you are just visiting this page to arrange for banns to be read for a wedding in another parish, you can go straight to the banns of marriage topic below.

Arranging a church wedding is a multi-stage process

1) Start by getting in touch!
The best place to start is by speaking to our Wedding Coordinator (nb if you wish to marry at St James Welland, please contact Mary Purser . They will guide you through some of the initial stages, including finding a person to take the wedding and which church you’ll be eligible to marry in (we call this a “Qualifying Connection.” Please don’t reserve a reception date until you’ve agreed on a service date with us though, as we can’t guarantee to have clergy available to take the service.

>> 1a) Application form for a wedding or for the reading of Banns of Marriage
To get the ball rolling on booking a wedding or reading Banns of Marriage, you’ll need to fill in one of these two application forms.

Either form can be completed online by clicking the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the form, after you’ve completed all the compulsory fields. Alternatively, save the file to your desktop and send it as an attachment (or you could print it and post it to us if you really want to – contact our Wedding Coordinator (or Mary Purser if you wish to marry at St James, Welland).

Please note that this application form is not a wedding booking. We cannot confirm dates and times until you have spoken to our clergy team, so please don’t book your reception venue yet! If you haven’t already spoken to our wedding coordinator, now is the time to get in touch!

  • Application form for marrying in one of our churches.  (Note, please don’t open the form in your browser. Instead, save to your computer by right-clicking the link and choosing “Save Link As”. Then in the document on your computer, save it, and email it to If you do not already have Adobe Reader, you may need to install it – it’s free, just click here!)

If you are marrying elsewhere but live locally and need us to read banns of marriage in one of our churches, please use this form:

  • Application form for marrying SOMEWHERE ELSE.  (Note, please don’t open the form in your browser. Instead, save to your computer by right-clicking the link and choosing “Save Link As”. Then in the document on your computer, save it, and email it to If you do not already have Adobe Reader, you may need to install it – it’s free, just click here!)

Please contact our Wedding Coordinator about fees payable for the reading of banns. We cannot read your banns until the banns fee has been paid.

2) Establish a qualifying connection to see if you can marry in one of our churches
Under UK law you have a right to marry in the parish church where you live if:

      • You are UK citizen
      • You are a citizen of the European Economic Area
      • You aren’t a citizen of the UK or the European Economic Area (we have to use a different process here, called a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate).

However, sometimes you may not wish to marry in the parish in which you live – for example – it may be that you worship regularly or have a family connection to another church. We call this a Qualifying Connection.

You have a Qualifying Connection to a Church if YOU:

      • have at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months (We would need to see some proof of this, eg an old utility bill).
      • were baptised (Christened) there (A baptism certificate would be proof, or you could pay for a search of the church baptism records).
      • were confirmed there (and the confirmation was recorded in the Register of Confirmations at that church).
      • have at any time regularly attended normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months.

You can also have a qualifying connection through your PARENTS, if :

      • after you were born, they lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months (We would need to see some proof of this, eg an old utility bill).
      • after you were born, they regularly attended normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months.
      • they were married in the parish.

You can even have a qualifying connection through your GRANDPARENTS, if:

      • they were married in the parish.

However, if you do not already have a qualifying connection through any of these routes, there is still time to create one! Simply attend your chosen church’s usual Sunday service at least once a month for six consecutive months. It’s important not to leave this until six months before the wedding date – you need to time for the banns to be read also – a process we cannot begin until the qualifying connection has been established.

To find which of our church buildings you have a right in law to marry in, enter your postcode into the search box on the parish-finder website.

3) The dull but important legal stuff

Dull… but important!

For a wedding to take place, certain legal checks have to happen to make sure we can legally marry you – these are called “legal preliminaries.” We’ll help you with these to make the process as straight-forward as possible.

  • If you are a UK or European Economic Area national, the main legal preliminary to the marriage is the reading of the banns of marriage in church. This is the simplest, cheapest way.
  • If you either of you are UK citizens residing overseas, but one of you has a qualifying connection to the parish you wish to marry in, we use a slightly more complicated legal preliminary called a Common Marriage Licence.  This is more expensive than Banns, typically around £200.
  • If you are a UK or European Economic Area national and have a qualifying connection to a parish, but there is not the time to read the banns, then we again use a Common Marriage Licence. This is more expensive than Banns, typically around £200.
  • If one or both of you is a national of a country outside the European Economic Area, the marriage can only take place using a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate (SRC). You can read more about that here.
  • If you have a qualifying connection with a parish but are not able to satisfy any of the other requirements, we may still be able to marry you using a Special Marriage Licence. Please do not make any plans for the wedding until we are confident a Special Marriage Licence can be obtained.

How do I start the ball rolling on this?

If you haven’t already contacted our wedding coordinator please get in touch. They’ll work with the person taking the ceremony to guide you through the process. Note if you wish to marry at St James, Welland, please contact Mary Purser.

>> 3a) What are banns of marriage?

Banns are an announcement in church of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. If you were marrying in a registry office, they are the equivalent of the public notice that would be placed there announcing your marriage.

As well as being a legal requirement, your banns readings are special public occasions when people in church hear of your intention to marry. It’s an exciting and happy time, so you’re welcome to invite your family and friends to hear your banns too if you’d like. We’ll usually take a moment to pray for you after the banns are read.

How do I know where banns will need to be read?

Banns are always read in the church in which a marriage is to take place. If you both live in that parish and are marrying at the parish church, banns will only need to be read there.

If one or both of you live outside of the parish in which the marriage is to take place, banns will also need to be read in your home parish(es). This means banns may need to be read in up to three different churches, on three (usually) consecutive Sundays, in the three months leading up to the wedding.

You can find out where you’ll need to get your banns read by visiting A Church Near You . Type your postcode(s) into the search box, and the website will list the name of your parish church, and contact details for its vicar. You can use these details to get in touch with them and arrange for banns to be read.

What happens after banns are read?

If you are marrying in your parish church and are both residents in the parish, then after we read your banns, there’s nothing more to do, except pay a small fee for the reading of the banns (2018 price £29).

If you need banns reading elsewhere as well, they will also charge you a slightly higher fee and provide a certificate to prove banns have been read. You must give this certificate to the vicar taking the marriage ceremony, before the wedding. The wedding cannot take place without the certificate.

I’m marrying in one of your churches, how do I get banns read?

We’ll do this as part of the overall marriage process – the first step is to contact our Hope Church Family administrator.

I’m marrying somewhere else, and only need banns reading

Please contact our Wedding Coordinator to make arrangements. The form you’ll need to complete is at section 1a) above.

>> 3b) Can I get married at Strensham Church even though it's redundant?

Possibly…but it’s complicated and costly.

Although still part of our family of churches, St John the Baptist, Strensham is now a “redundant” church, and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. This means holding a wedding there is more complicated and costly than if you were marrying in one of our other churches. It’s also worth mentioning that there is no heating in the building, and the lighting is poor.

To marry at Strensham you will need to apply for and get an Archbishop’s Special Licence from the Faculty Office. These are only granted under very specific circumstances and to those demonstrating not only a standard qualifying connection but a long-standing link to the church family (for example regular attendance there before it closed). Whilst we’ll help you with the application process we cannot guarantee you’ll get the Special Licence.

You will also need the agreement of the Churches Conservation Trust. They are usually happy to hire their building out, but they will charge a fee for this, which will be added to other wedding and Special Licence fees.

4) Setting a time and date for the wedding

Choosing a wedding date and time

Most couples have an idea of when and where they’d like to get married. When you first contact us, let us know the details and we’ll do what we can to help you out. However we can’t guarantee that the church or a priest will be available on that date, so please do not book a reception venue until we have agreed the time and date with you.

After you’ve contacted us we’ll see if the building and a priest are available on that date, and arrange for them to contact you to make further plans. We’ll also give you an application form at this point – so you can tell us all the information we need to complete the legal side of the wedding (registers, certificate etc). Please bring this form and your passports to the first meeting with the priest.

Some guidelines for choosing a day and time

  • A wedding can take place on any day of the week, but the law requires that it must take place between 8am and 6pm. The service is always a public ceremony, so we cannot close or lock the door!
  • Easter and Christmas are really busy times in the church calendar, and ideally, we’d prefer not to do weddings at this time, as we won’t be able to give you the full attention your service deserves. It’s also unlikely you’ll be able to decorate the church for your service at Easter or Christmas as they tend to already be decorated at this time.


5) Planning the ceremony

Let’s Make it Personal

Many couples like to make wedding ceremonies very personal, and the priest taking the service will work with you and try to accommodate your wishes. They will also put you in touch with people who can organise an organist for music and bellringers. Please note this may incur additional costs on top of the standard wedding fee.

As well as helping you plan aspects of the service, the priest will also talk you through the promises and vows you are taking in the wedding service. We strongly encourage you to think long and hard about these promises and to come and do our marriage preparation course to help you keep them!

The Service

In a typical wedding service, the service starts with a piece of music as the bride arrives and ends with another piece as the couple departs. These can either be played on the organ, or via a CD.

During the service, we’ll often have 2-3 hymns. We tend to suggest no more than three, otherwise, they start to take over the service, though if you are desperate for more, please talk it through with the priest taking the service.

The service will consist of a number of different items:

  • the marriage (The signing of the registers often happens in a separate room, and can take 5-10 minutes, so you may want to organise some entertainment for your guests while this happens.)
  • A Bible reading followed by a short sermon
  • Sometimes couples like to have a poem or other readings
  • some prayers,
  • a final blessing, after which the couple leave the church.

The order in which these items happen will vary depending on which clergy take the service, and they’ll be happy to talk this through with you.

Please can you throw confetti only outdoors, and not on graveled areas!

An Order of Service

Most couples produce a printed order of service, which typically includes the hymns and various other details. Please talk this through with the priest taking the service, and let them see it before you send it to the printers!

You can download a sample order of service here, which will give you an idea of what to include.

For help choosing wedding hymns and for lots of other information to help you plan the service, visit the Your Church Wedding website.

Photography at the wedding

Everyone wants to have a photographic record of their big day, and we want to help you as much as we can with this, as long as the photographer remains discrete. Each of our clergy team has their own preferences about photography, and it’s best to chat with them about their personal “photographer dos and don’ts” before the wedding. It might be helpful to arrange for the photographer to come to the rehearsal to meet the minister beforehand.

There are some helpful thoughts about church wedding photography here.

Video at a wedding

Taking video at a wedding is complicated because of the way copyright laws protects the performing rights of musicians and other artists. Any service which includes music, poetry or other creative works that are in copyright should not be recorded without first obtaining the permission of the copyright owners. This is likely to increase the cost of your wedding, so please discuss the situation with the minister when you are planning the service.

For more information on taking videos at weddings, click here.

6) Come on our marriage preparation day
Wedding Preparation Day, in St James’ Church, Welland

We usually hold a marriage preparation day once a year, and invite all couples marrying that year to it. We strongly recommend you cancel all your other plans for that day and come and join us for it! The course is extremely helpful in understanding what Christian marriage is, and in preparing you for some of the pitfalls and hurdles to come. Over the years we’ve been running the course we’ve had many people on it, and their feedback is that the event is a helpful and enjoyable part of their wedding preparation.

We’ll let you have details of the course as soon as they become available.

7) What does it all cost?

Why do we charge fees for weddings?

Church of England church buildings receive no funds from the government. All funds for maintenance, repairs, and development work, along with any wages paid to staff, are raised locally by a relatively small pool of volunteers. Wedding fees help us to maintain the buildings, and also contribute to “central costs” – typically the cost of clergy. Most of our churches will also take up a retiring collection after the service to help towards the cost of maintaining our presence in the village. If you value what the church does for the community, please encourage your guests to be generous!

What are the wedding fees?

Fees are made up of some compulsory parts, and some optional extra.

The Compulsory elements are set nationally by the Church of England. You can download the current full table of fees here, but the main details are listed below:

  • Marriage Service in church (£441 in 2018)
  • Reading of banns (£29 in 2018) plus £14 (2018) for a certificate if necessary. Please note that if you may need to have banns read in more than one place. A fee is payable for each location.
  • Alternative legal preliminaries. If you aren’t marrying by banns, these are more costly.
  • Verger (typically £40). The verger is responsible for opening the church for you, ensuring heating and lighting are set right, and resolving any difficulties that arise on the day.

The Optional Elements are:

  • Bells (Price varies depending on what you ask them to do).
  • Organist (Typically £85).
  • Choir (Price varies depending on the size of choir. Note choirs are not available in all our churches).

The priest conducting the service can put you in touch with the local Church Wardens who will advise on the likely costs of the optional elements.

When and How do I pay?

We ask for fees to be paid in advance of the ceremony. Most of our churches will invoice you for the correct amount in the run-up to the wedding, and provide details of how to pay as part of this.

We prefer payment by cheque or bank transfer to cash!

8) The wedding rehearsal
A wedding is a solemn, serious occasion. It can also be rather scary – especially if you aren’t one for speaking in public.

To help you get over any nerves, and to run through things like how the bridal party will enter the church, we like to do a full run through of the service a couple of nights before the wedding. As well as bride and groom it is helpful if the best man, chief bridesmaid and whoever is giving away the bride are present. Feel free to bring along anyone else too – though the more people present, the longer it tends to take.

If any of your music is being played from CD, please bring the CDs along too, so we can test them.

9) The Wedding Day

Congratulations for making it this far!

By now you’ll know all that’s going to happen in the ceremony, all the fees are paid, and the legal stuff resolved…so the wedding can happen. But a couple of things can still go wrong at this stage:

  • Doubts – should I be marrying them? The day of the wedding is not the time to express this thought for the first time! If you’d like to talk this through with us, we’d be happy to meet you without your fiancee to help you think through the full implications of marriage. Again we recommend our Marriage Preparation Course!
  • “I object” – There’s a tiny possibility someone may object to the wedding during the service. The only legitimate reason someone may have for doing this is if there is a legal reason the wedding cannot take place – for example the groom is already married to someone else. Reasons such as “She doesn’t love him”, whilst emotionally powerful, are not sufficient grounds on which to stop the wedding. If an objection happens, we’ll take you all to one side and talk it through before deciding what to do.
  • Please don’t be late– There’s a fun tradition of brides being late for the ceremony. A few minutes to keep the groom guessing isn’t a problem, but an hour could be a real problem – especially on days when we have more than one wedding. We reserve the right to shorten ceremonies and omit parts of the service if this happens.
  • Alcohol / Drugs – The priest is responsible for ensuring that the bride and broom consent to the wedding. If we think either of you are incapable of consenting to the marriage, we may have to postpone the ceremony!

If we can help you in any way before or after the big day, please get in touch.

We suggest the following timings for the ceremony.

  • 1 hour before ceremony: Ushers and Order of service to arrive
  • At least 30 minutes before the ceremony: Groom and best man to arrive
  • 5 minutes before the ceremony: Bridal party
  • In her own time (but see above!): the bride


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