Who can be married in these churches?
The right to be married in Church.
If you are British and have not been married before (or if a previous marriage ended with the death of your spouse) then a man and woman usually have the right to be married in the Church of England. Contrary to popular belief, you to do not have to be a regular church goer, or baptised, although you do have to accept that the form of service used will be a Christian service, authorised by the Church of England. This right is to be married either in the parish church in the place where you live, or in a church with which you have what is called a ‘qualifying connection.’ What this means is outlined below.
If you have been married before and divorced.
If this is the case, then you will need to speak to the Priest-in-Charge, and to the person who you want to take the service (if this is a different priest). A priest has the right to refuse to marry in Church those who have been previously married and divorced, which means that some churches may allow this whilst others do not. In this Benefice, the policy is that we are willing to agree to your marriage in church, subject to a few preliminary enquiries, and to the agreement of the priest who will take the service. You will be given an application form which explains the Church’s position on this issue and asks for some details of your previous marriage. If it is not possible to agree to marry you in Church, it is usually still possible to have a Church Blessing after a civil marriage. The service is very similar to the marriage service.
What if I don’t live in the parish?
There may be many reasons why you choose to be married in a different church to the one nearest to your home. You may do this if you have some connection with the church in which you wish to be married. There are a number of circumstances that would constitute such a connection, which are listed below.
What is a qualifying connection?
You are deemed to have a ‘qualifying connection’ with a parish if one of you:
- was baptised in the parish
- was confirmed or prepared for confirmation in the parish
- now lives or has in the past lived in the parish for at least 6 months
- has habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;
Or if the parent(s) of one of you:
- has regularly attended services there for at least 6 months since you were born
- has lived in the parish for at least 6 months since you were born
- was married in the church – this also applies to the church where your grandparents married.
What if I have no such connection?
Then we can create one! Many of the conditions relate to the past, but the expectation that you attend the church for at least 6 months (and are thereby eligible for membership of the electoral roll of the Church) is one that is about what happens now. Provided you are thinking about this soon enough, we are willing to marry you in one of these churches if you attend worship at least once a month over a period of 6 months. Our service times and places are noted in this pack. Even if you have another connection, we would love to see you in the weeks before your wedding, and it will help you to be familiar with the church building before the big day.
Remember… You are welcome here. The church does not belong to the priest or only to those who attend regular services; it is for everyone – including you. If this talk of conditions and qualifying connections puts you off or is hard to understand, just have a word to the Priest in Charge, who will go through it with you. Contact details: Priest-in-Charge Revd Dr Caroline Currer