Ceremony: Church of England
The Church of England
British citizens can marry a member of the opposite sex in the Church of England or Church in Wales parish church where they are resident, or where one of the couple is on the church’s electoral roll (this is different from the local register of electors). The bride and groom need not necessarily be regular churchgoers or be baptised. The law currently prevents the Church of England and Church in Wales from offering same-sex weddings.
The marriage ceremony would traditionally take place in the bride’s parish church. If the chosen church is not in the local parish of either the bride or groom, then it must be the usual place of worship for one of them and they must be listed on the church’s electoral roll.
To qualify for enrolment, at least one partner must have regularly attended that church for a minimum period of six months, and the person must be a baptised member of the Church of England. If there is a special connection with a church which is not their parish church, it may be possible to apply for an Archbishop’s Special Licence.
The couple should contact the parish priest at an early stage when looking to book the church. The priest will usually want to meet them to discuss arrangements and possible dates and times, and may even offer marriage preparation sessions. It is usual to run through the intended hymns, readings and any other requests – such as saying vows without his or her prompting – with the priest. The wedding may take place on a Sunday, but this is rare. It is common practice for ministers to refuse to conduct marriages during Lent and often during Advent.
A church service lasts around 45 minutes and follows a set formula. The music, hymns and readings are chosen by the couple. The service is in either modern (Common Worship) or traditional wording (the Book of Common Prayer); this is the priest’s decision and the couple do not normally have a choice.