An English Church Wedding: Why You Can't Always Choose

Gfeef By Gfeef, 9th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Weddings

You've seen a church you wish to get married in? Be sure to check that you can before you start to plan the big day. English churches have strict rules and it's nt the same as choosing a venue.

The dream meets the rule book

Many girls dream of a beautiful wedding, walking down the long traditional church isle with their soft white or ivory dress flowing behind them. It's a beautiful dream but the reality is not always so simple. Often young couples in love spot picturesque churches and dream of one day being married in such a venue. The reality is that the choice is not always theirs.

Reception venues are found and chosen, they compete between each other, and you take the one that suits your style and needs best. Churches are not like that, they are not companies fighting for you business, nor do you have the option of choosing anywhere you like. Different denominations (types of churches) have different rules, this article will let you know the rules for the Church of England, though don't be surprised if you find similar restrictions apply at other denominations.

Around two thirds of the churches in question are listed buildings, they are beautiful but not always practical to maintain. Be sure to check out both the inside as well as the entrance of your church in advance. Many churches have now replaced the traditional pews with chairs, some no longer have grand isles, and lots of maintenance is always happening so be sure to check your pictures won't have scaffolding in them.

Finding out if you are eligable

There are still some members of clergy that are not comfortable marrying people who have been married before. If you, or your partner, was married in a non-church ceremony then usually they are more open to the possibility than if you were married in a church ceremony. This is because the vows made before God are binding. However, most clergy will take the circumstances of the marriage break down into consideration and be happy to marry you. However, you may not even get to that part of the conversation if you are not eligible to marry in the church you desire.

The whole of England is divided into parishes, the adage is that no blade of grass is not covered. Traditionally, you married in the parish church, because your household was the responsibility of that parish. This still stands. If you live in the parish of the church you want to marry in, then you should be able to marry there. You can check which parish you live in online through The Church of England website.

If your house is not in the parish then check to see if your partners, or either set of parents live in the parish as this also counts. Please note the address must not have changed in the last 6 months. Alternatively, you may have a link to this church from the past, you may have once attended regularly, your parents of grandparents may have married there, or you may have been baptised or confirmed at this church.

Hope for those who can't qualify

If you do not have any of these qualifying factors then you have two choices, the first is to start attending the church. If you attend for 6 months before applying to be married there then the church is likely to agree. Letting the member of clergy know this is your plan is recommended, and finding out if the church is supportive of the idea. Some churches actively encourage this and others discourage the practice.

Secondly you can apply for a special licence from the bishop. The bishop is the next level up in the hierarchy of the church. Generally it is better if this application comes from the vicar who is in-charge of the church you want to marry in. If the bishop will not grant you a licence then you must accept it and look for alternative arrangements.

If you are marrying someone who is not British then you will need a special licence from the bishop too. You will need to produce various papers and have a meeting in the 3 months before the wedding with a legal representative. Usually this is a simple matter but it is worth booking a long time in advance.

The idea of spotting a beautiful little church in the countryside and deciding to get married in it is far from simple. Vicars across the country have the heartbreaking task of having to inform young enthusiastic couples that their choice of church may be a little more limited. The process costs time and money from both sides, the licences and the ceremony both cost and must be planned into the wedding budget. Some foreign nationals, needing visa's to visit the country, need special visas to allow them to marry with, and not all churches are as traditional inside as outside. Doing your research is essential.


Check, Checklist, Church, Clergy, Rule, Rules, Wedding, Wedding Counselling Wedding Planning Checklist, Wedding Planning, Wedding Venue, Weddings

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author avatar Gfeef
a youthworker, a traveller, soon to be a wife, a christian, a girl who is still discovering life

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