Banns are an old fashioned way of finding out whether there are any objections to your marriage. They date from the time when everyone in a community knew about everyone else, and when they all went to church on Sunday. Nevertheless, they are still a legal requirement before you can be married in the Church of England, except where a special licence is obtained
The newer version of the wording is as follows:
I publish the banns of marriage between
Timothy Smith of St John’s, Hove and
Jane Jones of St Andrew’s, Stoke of Trent.
This is the first/ second/ third time of asking.
If any of you know any reason in law why they may not marry each other, you are to declare it.
A prayer is then offered for those whose banns have been read.
Where they have to be read.
Banns must be read in the place – or places – where you live, and in the place where you are to be married. In this Benefice, we do not have a service every Sunday in each church, so they are read at least once in the actual church where you will be married and twice in that or another church of the Benefice, depending on the dates.
This can mean that three sets if Banns are required. It is your responsibility to approach the vicar/s of the church/es where you live to arrange for him or her to read the banns there. A certificate will be given to you (for a fee) and this must be given to the priest taking your wedding before you can be married. We can help you to identify your nearest church and the contact details for the vicar if you wish – alternatively look on the Church of England website (www.cofe.anglican.org) and insert your postcode into ‘a church near you’.
How often and when they are read.
Banns must be read three times at the main Sunday service within 3 months of your wedding. The Sundays do not have to be consecutive, and it is usually wise to leave a week or so between the last reading of the banns and the actual wedding date. Banns in the place where you live are often read a bit sooner so that the certificate is ready for collection.
Do I have to be there?
No, but many couples like to be. We will tell you when and where they will be read and if you wish to be present, you will be most welcome. But the banns are valid whether you attend or not. They are often read at the start of a service, so don’t be late!