In which our bride-to-be sheepishly enters her parish church for the first time in six years to ask if she can get married.
Some time before we got engaged, we’d talked about what kind of wedding we wanted, and one thing we agreed on was that it would take place in a church. I should stress that some of my favourite wedding ceremonies have not taken place in a church – including at Islington Town Hall, on the beach at Camber Sands, and in a courtyard outside a tiny ancient chapel in Majorca. We’d just envisaged a church wedding for ourselves.
The only problem was that we hadn’t actually been regular churchgoers in quite a number of years – with exceptions for Christmas, Easter, funerals, christenings – and yes, weddings.
So it was with no small degree of trepidation, the first Sunday after our engagement, that we turned up at our local church – a beautiful Victorian building hidden away between modern blocks of flats.
it was with no small degree of trepidation that we turned up at our local parish church the first Sunday after our engagement
We needn’t have worried. The congregation was small but very welcoming. The vicar was energetic and engaging, and asked us to call out our names by way of introduction. At the end, we sang happy birthday to a baby named Freya, who had just turned one.
We were invited to stay for coffee afterwards, at which point I (slightly awkwardly) broached the subject of our marriage with the vicar. No time like the present, right? He seemed slightly surprised, but pleased, and we made an appointment to meet in a fortnight’s time.
He warned us that we would need to double check that we actually lived within the parish (this is easy to do by entering your postcode at https://www.achurchnearyou.com/) If we had wanted to get married in a church outside our parish, we’d have had to have been regular attendees for at least six months. Exceptions are made for your parents’ local church, the church in which they got married, or the church in which you were christened.
A couple of weeks later, there were a few formalities to complete: we each had to give our full names, addresses, occupations and the ages we would be on our proposed wedding day. We also agreed on dates for the reading of the banns (the public announcement of the forthcoming marriage, typically over three consecutive weekends, at which any members of the congregation are able to object if they wish.)
A couple of weeks later, there were formalities to complete
We were also presented with the costs, which came to around £500 for the service, marriage certificate and church utilities, with optional extras for bell-ringers and an organist. We were told that these could be paid nearer the time, even as late as the rehearsal the day before.
We discussed other things too, things that had been forgotten in the whirl of celebration: our decision to be together, our future, and what it meant to us to get married in a church. The vicar also (gently) recommended The Marriage Preparation Course, which a few of my friends had taken, and found useful.
Now with a date, a church, and a celebrant all confirmed, it’s starting to feel a little more real. Which is lucky: despite my best efforts, time resolutely refuses to stand still…
Days remaining: 143
Looking for an alternative licensed venue? Here are a few suggestions:
For city romance: The Pergola on Hampstead Heath in London
For getting back to nature: The Papermill in Kent
For breathtaking beach views: Polhawn Fort in Cornwall
For grandeur and history: Mansfield Traquair in Edinburgh
Where are you getting married? Share your venue recommendations with us by email or over on social media using the links below. And read all about ceremony options on our app, via iTunes and Google Play.