The religious wedding ceremony

Planning a religious wedding ceremony? Read on to learn how to plan your walk down the aisle

If we’d like a religious ceremony, where can we get married?

In England and Wales, a religious ceremony can take place in an Anglican church or in any other religious building that is registered for the solemnisation of marriage.

What are the legal requirements?

To get married in the Church of England, you must have your banns read out in church for three Sundays in the three months before your wedding. Banns are announcement of your intention to marry and give people the opportunity to put forward a legal reason why you may not. The banns should be read in your parish church, your groom’s parish church if that is different, as well as the church in which you’re getting married. If you’re over 16 but under 18 you must have written consent and, if you have been divorced you may not be able to marry in church at all. Second marriages are often at the discretion of the religious official.

How do I organise my marriage?

If you would like to marry in the Church of England or Church of Wales, first arrange to speak to the vicar of that church. If the vicar agrees to marry you, he will arrange for the banns to be called and for a common licence to be issued. If you wish to marry in a church that is not the local church for either of you, you will need to be put on the electoral role of that parish. For this to happen, you will be expected to attend church services for six months before going on the roll. In some cases, you can apply for a Special Licence.  For a religious marriage other than in the Church of England, you must also complete preliminaries (ie give notice in your registration district as for a civil ceremony).

What will the ceremony be like?

Your vicar will discuss the various options available. You’ll be able to choose between a traditional language or modern service, and you’re also likely to choose biblical readings, hymns and music for coming in (processional), going out (recessional) and during the signing of the register.

I would like to get married in Scotland. Are the laws the same?

In Scotland, you can also have a civil or religious ceremony. It's also possible to have a legal humanist ceremony. The main difference with a religious ceremony in the the Church of Scotland is that ministers can marry a couple anywhere – so you don’t need to marry in a church if you would prefer to have your ceremony elsewhere. A minister of the Church of Scotland may also conduct the marriage of a divorced person whose former spouse is still alive.

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Useful contacts: 
Church of England www.cofe.anglican.org
Church of Scotland www.churchofscotland.org.uk
Catholic Church www.catholic-ew.org.uk

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