Getting Married in the UK

Like many brides, you will probably want your marriage ceremony to take place at a place you feel would give you that day to remember. The location may well be a recognized religious building or a licensed place such as a castle, stately home, hotel.

There is a distinction between marrying in a church and at a licensed place which we will deal with later but at present we will be concerned with various religious establishments. Church of England and Church of Wales Marriages.

All marriages in these premises are governed by the Marriage Act 1949. The first thing you need to do is to have an idea of a date and as soon as you decide you should make an appointment to see your parish priest to enable you to have an initial discussion and to see which dates are available at the church of your choice.

In England the church chosen for the ceremony will have a few stipulations. As the established church, the Church of England , gives an absolute right to British Citizens to get married in the parish church where they are resident or in a church where a couple are qualified.

Couple can now be qualified to be married in a parish church through any of the following.
1) One of them was baptized or prepared for confirmation in the parish.
2) One of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more.
3) One of their parents has ever lived in the parish for more than six months during the life of the child.
4) One of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more.
5) One of the parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or during the life of the child.
6) Either of their parents or grandparents were married in the parish.

To get married in either the Church of England or the Church of Wales you do not need to be a person who attends church regular.

You do not need to have been baptised as both churches will welcome you to give your solemn promises in front of family and friends but also in the sight and hearing of God and through the church you will receive God’s blessing to the union.

There are four ways of getting marriage within the rules of the Church of England and these are by publication of banns, by common licence, by special licence issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury and by authority of a superintendent registrar’s certificate without licence.

However as you are going to be planning well ahead, we will deal only with the publication of banns, which is the usual format.

Publication of Banns

This is a way of announcing your forthcoming marriage and it means that your announcement will be read aloud during a church service. Do not fret, it is not you who will be doing the reading although you will be expected to attend on at least one of the three occasions when the banns are being read, or ‘published’. The banns will be read on three consecutive Sundays preceding the ceremony.

The congregation is invited to make any objections should they have any.
This is equivalent to the civil method of publishing the marriage notice for 21 days at the registrars office.

If the couple live in different parishes or are getting married in a parish other than that they are registered then the banns need to be published in both parishes. The church not holding the ceremony will issue a certificate declaring that the banns had been read in that parish and this certificate needs to be provided to the officiating minister before the ceremony can proceed.

The marriage needs to go ahead within three months of the final reading of the banns and if not the banns will need to be read again.
There is no law preventing a marriage from taking place on a Sunday.

Most priests will refuse to take marriages during Lent and sometimes during Advent. Lent is the period leading up to Easter and Advent is the 24 days leading to Christmas Day.

Marriage of Divorcees.

A minister of the Church of England is a registrar and as such he is allowed by law to take a marriage service where one of the persons is divorced. The problem arises when a divorced person wants to remarry whilst the previous spouse is still living.

Each case will be taken on its merits and they will need to have discussions as to the reasons for the divorce. But in most cases the priest has to follow his bishop’s policy of not allowing divorced people to remarry in their church whilst the former spouse is still alive.

You can contact the inquiry office for the Church of England on 0207 898 1000

Or go to their website at

When you attend a superintendent registrar or a church minister to make the arrangements for your marriage you will need to have certain documents available for inspection. You will need proof of identity such as your passport and/or birth certificate. If married before then a decree absolute or is a widow or widower the death certificate of former spouse.

Also you will need written consent to the marriage a parent if you are under the age of 18 years. If any of these documents are in a foreign language then you will need to provide a certified translation of If either party is not a UK citizen then they will have to produce their passport and travel documents to prove their residency requirements.

Other Useful Sites

Pole Stars – offers and develops activities and classes aimed at the hen market.