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Wedding: Frequently asked questions

Frequently-asked Questions 

What do Christians believe about marriage?
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 marriage we can try to follow his model by loving each other in a self-sacrificial way, putting our partner’s needs before our own.

The marriage ceremony gives you a new legal status as husband and wife.

Christians believe that marriage offers the right place for the fulfilment of our sexuality and a stable and secure environment for bringing up children. 

What are the legal requirements?
If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parents’ consent to marry.

There are circumstances where some form of licence, such as a common licence or special licence, is more appropriate. Please speak to the Vicar if you have questions about specific legal requirements.

Provided the church is available, couples can choose to get married in:

  • their local parish

  • the parish where they were baptised and/or confirmed

  • a parish they have lived in for 6 months or more (at any time during their lives)

  • a parish they have attended worship in for at least six months

  • the parish where their parents lived or worshipped(during the child's lifetime)

  • the parish where parents or grandparents were married.

Couples can apply for a Special Licence in order to be married at a church with which they have some special connection not included in the list above.

To find out more contact:

The Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT

020 7222 5381


NB There are special guidelines on church marriage if you have been divorced. (See below)

I’m not baptised. I don’t go to church. Can I still get married in church?
In 2008 the General Synod approved steps to widen the wedding regulations to make it easier for couples to get married in a church that has special meaning to them.

But if you are not a regular worshipper why not start attending? It will help to get to know the people in the church where you want to be married and you will be most welcome.

We’ve decided to get married abroad, but we would like a church blessing. Is that possible?
There is no reason why you shouldn’t do this. Please talk to the Vicar about the possibilities There is a service of prayer and dedication after a civil ceremony and this can be adapted. There are no legal requirements for such a service. 

What happens if one of us lives abroad?
Marriage by Common Licence can take place on the basis of one of the couple living in the parish or regularly attending the church without any action being necessary where the other party lives.  Your vicar will know how to apply for a Common Licence. However, because most clergy or churches like to offer marriage preparation, they like to see you both.

What happens if one of us is a foreign national?
If one of you is a national of a country outside Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the EU or the USA.
The Church has a responsibility to conduct marriages which will be recognised in the country the bride or groom comes from. This is done for the couple’s benefit not just for bureaucracy.  Therefore, the Faculty Office strongly recommends that these marriages should be undertaken by Common Licence rather than Banns.

In some circumstance a couple will be asked to obtain from the relevant embassy (or consulate) a letter confirming that their marriage will be legally recognised. 

I am / my fiancé(e) is divorced. Can we still get married in church?
The Church of England believes that marriage is for life, but also recognises that sadly, some marriages do fail.

Having been divorced does not necessarily prevent you getting married here.

The Church of England also offers a service of prayer and dedication (following a civil ceremony) which some couples choose in such circumstances.

For helpful advice, talk things through with the Vicar and visit www.yourchurchwedding.org or www.cofe.anglican.org/info/papers/mcad/mcad.pdf 

I’m Church of England (Anglican) My fiancé(e) isn’t. Does that matter?
People of all denominations have a right to be married in their parish church. So it doesn’t matter from the Church of England’s perspective. If one of you is a Roman Catholic and you want the Roman Catholic Church to recognise your marriage, you will need to ask for permission to marry someone who is not a Roman Catholic. There is usually no difficulty about this, as long as the Roman Catholic partner is willing to give the undertaking that he or she will do all he or she can within the unity of the (marriage) partnership to have the children baptised and brought up in the Catholic faith.

Visit: www.interchurchfamilies.org.uk  for more helpful information.

Why do we need marriage preparation?
You have probably invested a lot of time planning your wedding.  The day is important but we pray your marriage will last for the rest of your life. However much you think you know each other, you are still two separate individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, hopes and fears.

We ask couples getting married at St Peter’s (Hale) and St Elizabeth’s (Ashley) to join us for ‘Looking at Marriage’, a day of preparation in the months before their wedding. The minister conducting your wedding will also spend time with you and arrange a rehearsal. 

How much will it cost?
The legal fees for a marriage cover the publication of the banns, the marriage service and a certificate of marriage. These fees are fixed centrally but do not cover any extras you may wish to have for the service, such as an organist, fees for video recording and so on.  Please contact St Peter's Parish Office on 0161 928 3374 for details of current fees for weddings.

Can we be involved in planning the service?
Of course - it’s your wedding! Talk to the clergy person conducting your wedding about anything you want to know in order to help you plan the service together.

You can find lots of ideas for music and readings for your wedding and to find out more about getting married in the Church of England visit www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents and click on ‘weddings’ or go to www.yourchurchwedding.org

To help you prepare, 'Growing Together? A guide for couples getting married' and 'Making the Most of Weddings' (with information about all kinds of topics including environmentally-friendly weddings and weddings on a budget) are both available from Church House Publishing.

Visit your local bookshop or go to www.chpublishing.co.uk