The first thing you have to decide is why do you want to marry in church. Is it on
religious grounds? Do you feel that you want to be married in the eyes of God, or is it part
of a trend? If you are not religious or do not believe in God it would
probably be more
respectful not to have a church service at all but rather a blessing after a civil wedding.
Whichever church you choose to marry in it is wise to contact the church as far in advance
as possible to check that they are willing to marry you and that the date is available.
Bear in mind when setting a budget for your wedding that most churches will charge a fee
for marrying you, typically two or three hundred Pounds to cover the cost of the bells,
organist, choir etc.
Over the period of time leading up to your wedding you will have to
consider an order of service which the church you choose will assist you
with. Most churches
will suggest that you have a rehearsal a few weeks before the wedding so everyone involved
in the actual ceremony knows how to perform their part.
The Anglican Wedding
The church service is both a religious and civil procedure. You will have to arrange a meeting with the vicar of the parish to get his consent.
You may choose the area you wish to marry in, however you will have to explain why you feel you have the right to marry in that particular parish
- parents married there, you lived in the village when you were
young etc. The vicar will help you through all the required form filling and registrations.
I would strongly recommend you arrange the dates well in advance as the church has many religious events in its calendar and may have restrictions at certain times of the year.
Prior to the day itself you will need to get together with the vicar to discuss arrangements.
He will help you through the choice of hymns and readings and give you a indication on guest list size for the particular church.
It is not unusual to have a couple of rehearsals for all involved prior to the day. The vicar can also help with service sheets (remember to print enough for all the guests, plus a few extra) and
with organising the choir and organist if available.
The costs are usually paid by the groom prior to the service, this includes the service, vicar, choir and organist. Most grooms leave this to the Best Man.
||The Bride and her father, or whoever has been chosen
to give her away, walk down the aisle to join the Groom and Best Man, usually accompanied
by the wedding march - your choice.
||The vicar will give a short introduction followed
by asking if anyone knows of any reason why the marriage should not take place.
||The vicar asks who is giving the bride away. The
bride's father places her right hand in the vicar's hand, then steps back to his place in
the first pew.
||The marriage vows are taken, first by the groom then
by the bride.
||The Best Man places the rings on the bible and the
vicar blesses them.
||The groom places the ring on his
bride's finger. The
bride will place the ring on the groom's finger. (optional)
||The vicar pronounces the happy
couple man and wife (religiously
married but not legally until the register is signed) followed by "You may kiss the
||The vicar will deliver a short sermon with a few
hymns and the couple may receive Holy Communion if arranged.
||The couple and their witnesses sign the registry
while music is played.
||The happy couple make their way
out of the church in procession with the attendants following.
The Roman Catholic Wedding
The Catholic Church has strict rules on marriages and the issue of divorce. They still on the whole have not accepted re-marriage or divorcees. You can re-marry within the Catholic faith only if your first marriage has not been recognised by the church and this will need to be discussed with the priest.
If you are intending to marry in a Catholic church there are a few rules you must adhere to.
Firstly you or your partner must be Roman Catholic, next the priest will ask you a few questions regarding your religious outlook, leading to keeping the faith within your marriage and bringing up your children as Catholics.
I would at this point strongly recommend you arrange the dates well in advance as the Catholic church has many religious events in its calendar and may place restrictions at certain times of the year.
Prior to the day itself you will need to get together with the priest to discuss arrangements. He will help you through the choice of hymns and readings and give you an indication on guest list size for the particular church.
It is not unusual to have a couple of rehearsals for all involved.
The service can be broken into two parts, the marriage itself, which is a religious uniting of husband and wife, but also includes the legal and civil aspects. The second part is usually performed when both are practising Catholics, this is the Mass where both receive Communion.
In mixed marriages the Mass is omitted but the service remains the same.
||The Bride and her father, or
whoever has been chosen to give her away, walk down the aisle to join the Groom and Best Man, usually accompanied
by the wedding march (the choice is yours).
||The priest will give a short introduction followed
by some readings from the Bible. The readings are chosen by the couple and are read by
someone of their choice.
||A chosen hymn is sung followed by another reading
||The priest will now read a chosen gospel followed by
||The exchanging of vows religiously then civil.
||Blessing of the rings and the couple.
||Prayers are read.
||Mass is taken with another Blessing and Communion.
||The couple and their witnesses sign the registry
while hymns/music is played.
||The happy couple make their way out of the church.
Token Of Thanks
The church does not usually charge a fee for the priest's time, which does include some legal paperwork on your behalf, but a small donation £80 - £100 in an envelope is usually given to the priest at the end of the service by the bride's father. The flowers used to decorate the church are left as a token of thanks.
Don't forget to invite the priest to your reception.
The Civil Wedding
There are several reasons to having a civil wedding the main one being that you have no religious inclination at all.
The registrar can only refuse to carry out a wedding on legal grounds.
First decide on the date, then if it will be in a registry office or a licensed venue.
One thing to remember is that more couples are opting for civil weddings these days so make sure to book as soon as possible.
Check with the registrar what information and documents (birth certificates) are required to give notice of marriage, they will only accept originals not photocopies. Both of you will have to go in person to register and pay the registration fee.
If you are getting married in a civil venue you will need to discuss with the registrar possible choices of music,
how many guests are allowed and what arrangements there are for photographs
e.g. an area set aside in the grounds.
Remember, you can make this as formal or as casual as you like, full wedding dress, smart suit or casual, there
are no set rules.
The registrar will have arranged several weddings for that day so please make sure all guests arrive
ten minutes or so before the service.
Some offices have a IN and an OUT door so that one wedding does not clash with another. Some ask for the guests to wait outside until called for.
The service is the same for all locations; the registrar will ask to see the bride and groom beforehand to confirm various details then the guests will be invited in and the service will begin.
You will be asked to confirm that you are both legally allowed to get married, the exchange of vows and rings (optional) takes place. Congratulations! You are now married. You are asked to check the register before signing, then finally the witnesses also sign.
Wedding laws have changed which means that you can marry in the district of your choice. Notice must be given to your local district and the one you will marry in.
It would be advisable to contact your local registry office as soon as you can to find out how much notice you will need to give, especially if you are marrying between May and September, the most popular time of year.
Weddings at Licensed Venues
About two thousand venues ranging from stately homes to hotels now offer couples the
chance to marry within their premises, providing the venue holds the correct licence which
must be up to date. We have set out a list county by county from information which is
freely available from the government.
Each venue has to periodically renew its licence so make a telephone call to check that those of your choice are still licensed before
you make any firm plans.
To make the service more personal to the bride and groom, couples can compose their own vows, providing they conform to the minimal legal
Many couples are moving towards civil weddings rather than
church weddings, however they do seem to be hanging on to
the blessing part of the service.
The blessing itself does not need to be religious in any way
and does not need to be held in a church. Many couples have
blessing carried out on board ship when they are on
honeymoon or outside in the grounds where the reception is
being held. Most couples feel that it softens and adds
warmth to a civil wedding by adding the blessing , this is
more a spiritual thing and a showing of commitment to each
other rather than anything legal and binding.
religion marriages the blessing is a good way of getting round what
could be a difficult problem by having the ceremony carried
out in one religion and the blessing in the other.
As a blessing is not required by law and is more a
preference you can tailor it to suit yourself. It is used
to confirm your commitment to each other.
Some like to read
prayers and sing hymns to give it a religious feel, others
play music that has a special meaning to them both (their
There is no set protocol to the ceremony, you are now
husband and wife and as such you arrive together. The
blessing can be as large or as small as you want, some
couples make it a private affair with sometimes just
themselves and no guests.
One couple I know, who are very
keen walkers, arranged to have a blessing at the end of
their honeymoon. We, the guests, all turned up in Lynton,
Devon at the start of a 3 mile walk along the river. The
couple and guests proceeded along the walk till we arrived
at the point for the blessing. The vicar arrived by car
and carried out the service (a hymn and a statement of
commitment) all in the most picturesque setting you could
I must admit I had my doubts about a non church
blessing however to my surprise the blessing had a very
strong feeling to it. I think the setting was perfect and
definitely added to the whole feeling of the ceremony.
then went on to a small reception where they had laid on
Arranging a blessing You should talk to the official who will be carrying out the
blessing. Some couples add the blessing as part of a civil
wedding and you will need to talk to the registrar about
this to explain exactly what you want how best to achieve
Blessings can be useful when you have a limited guest list
for the actual civil wedding or budget for the reception. By
having a blessing at a bigger venue at a later date you can
invite all the guests you want so that they don't feel left
out, with maybe a few drinks afterwards.