Getting Married In Church

Preliminaries to Marriage

Before you can be married in a Church of the Church of England or Church in Wales, you must follow a legal procedure which requires public notice of your intention to be married. For the majority of marriages in a Church of the Church of England or Wales, this is following ecclesiastical preliminaries, which is organised by your local vicar. You do not normally have to visit your local Register Office.  For persons subject to immigration control please refer to Getting Married in the UK.

(Banns or Licence)

If you wish to be married in a church - you will generally be qualified to do so only if you or your partner live in the parish.

However the England Measure 2008 also enables persons to be married in a place of worship with which they have a qualifying connection. You will need to discuss this with the vicar.

Having your banns read in the church is the usual procedure and you or your partner must have lived in the parish in which the church is situated for seven days before you qualify. Arrangements will then be made for banns to be called on three Sundays before the day of your ceremony. (If neither of you live in the parish, then you can still marry in the church, if it is the usual place of worship of one or both of you and you are on the church's electoral roll).

Alternatively, you can obtain a 'common' or 'special' licence. For a 'common' licence, you or your partner must have lived in the parish for fifteen days before making an application for the licence. If successful, the application for the licence can be issued almost immediately. For a 'special' licence there is no residential qualification but you will have to show a real connection with the actual church.

On the day of the ceremony the vicar will marry you and also register the marriage.

For further clarification on Church of England marriage preliminaries, please contact either your local vicar or the Diocesan Registrar at the Truro Diocesan Registry, Malpas Road, Truro TR1 1QH. Telephone 01872-260744.

If for any reason the vicar is unable to call your banns or issue a common licence, but agrees to allow your marriage to be conducted in the church, it will be necessary for you to follow the procedure for civil marriages called 'notice of marriage'. Notice of marriage must be given personally to the superintendent registrar at your local register office in lieu of banns. The vicar will advise you if your legal preliminaries need to be carried out by the local superintendent registrar. If this is the case it is helpful to get a letter from the vicar confirming that banns are not being read but there is agreement for you to marry in the church. Notice of marriage takes the place of banns and there cannot be publication of banns for one party and a notice of marriage for the other party.

Notice of marriage is the completion of official forms before the superintendent registrar in whose district you have the required residential qualification. Normally, the vicar will require that you do not give more than three months' notice from the date of your wedding. Sometimes the vicar will extend this to twelve months prior to the marriage, but you must check this before you see the superintendent registrar.

For a marriage to take place in a Church of the Church of England on the authority of the local superintendent registrar, one of you must have a seven day residential qualification in the parish or ecclesiastical district in which the church (where the marriage is to take place) is situated. The church must also be in the registration district of the superintendent registrar to whom notice is given. However, you may also marry in a church even if you do not live in the parish providing it is the usual place of worship of either both or one of you and that you are on the electoral roll. 

It is a legal requirement that a notice of marriage is given separately by each person to be married. The notices must be given personally to the superintendent registrar of the district where you usually reside. If you live in a different district to the person that you are marrying you must give notice at the Register Office in each district.

Once the notices are given, 28 clear days must elapse before the superintendent can issue the authorities for the marriage.

The marriage may not be solemnised without the consent of the clergyman of the church in which the marriage is to take place or by any person other than a clergyman of the Church of England or Church of Wales.

The superintendent registrar of the district where you give notice will be able to tell you of the fees payable and advise of the documents you will need to produce, such as evidence of your name, age, marital status and nationality.

For further guidance or to contact the Superintendent Registrar, please telephone the Registration Information Service on 0300 1234 181.