Getting Married in Church
It is of course an incredibly special occasion to be married in one of our very beautiful churches in the way that thousands of people have been married over the centuries. However, these days it is not an automatic decision to do so and couples need to think very carefully as to whether they do want to get married in church at all. The church itself has standard rates for weddings throughout the country and (as these have to fit all budgets) church weddings are not expensive, but there is more to a church wedding than just a pretty occasion.
We always say to couples booking in ‘are you sure that you want to get married in a church?’ This is because the Church is not just a venue for the ceremony. We in the church care about the happiness and longevity of the whole marriage and not just about the wedding day itself. We want the couple’s whole lives together to be a success and not just the ceremony.
Thus we will ask a couple quite searching questions about their relationship which would be impertinent if we were just a wedding venue. When a couple are married in a church they are married before God and they become ‘one flesh’. In the form of the service the Anglican liturgy says ‘Those whom God has joined let no-one put asunder!’ A marriage is for keeps; for life. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. For this reason we encourage couples to attend some kind of Marriage Preparation before they get married – there are courses all over the country (one very good course is run by Relationship Central see Relationship Central).
We sometimes hold a Marriage Preparation Day which we do expect all couples getting married in our Parish to attend. There are also a series of meetings to be held with the minister before the couple get married.
If you have been married before and your former spouse is still living, the question of whether you can get married in church is not at all straightforward and it is very important not to make any assumptions that this will be possible in Itchen Valley Parish. Please read the following pamphlet produced by the Church of England which sheds some more light on this very sensitive issue.
Couples who are not regular worshippers in our parish sometimes ask if they need to arrange for a vicar to conduct the wedding itself. We in the clergy team in Itchen Valley Parish are keen to conduct all the weddings that take place in the Parish ourselves if we are able to. So it’s best not to assume that it will be possible for a clergyman or woman from outside the parish to conduct your wedding in Itchen Valley, except in very exceptional circumstances.
Please also don’t book a date for your reception and then hope/expect that the church and/or clergy will be available – it is best to check clergy and church availability before making any firm decisions on reception venue or anything else!
Above Flowers by Penelope Kellie’s team
We have four churches in the Itchen Valley of differing sizes and that comfortably seat different amounts of people:
St Mary’s, Easton – 120 people
St John’s, Itchen Abbas – 120 people
St Swithun’s, Martyr Worthy – 120 people
St Mary’s, Avington – 80 people
Most of these churches have flexible seating which enables more people to be added so it is worth discussing this in more detail before you make a decision.
We can help with a number of aspects of your wedding to make it the really special day that you want it to be – we can provide an organist if you wish, bell ringers and also flower arrangers (in some of our churches) – so do ask us about these before you make these arrangements.
Please note that if you wish to use your own organist, it is custom and practice for the Parish organist to charge a fee also.
What entitles you to get married in the Itchen Valley?
So what entitles you to get married in Itchen Valley, if you want to do so? Not everyone can do so. The legal requirement is that you have to have a ‘qualifying connection’ with the parish and this is achieved for any person if:
(a) that person was baptised in that parish (unless the baptism took place in a combined rite which included baptism and confirmation) or is a person whose confirmation has been entered in the register book of confirmation for any church or chapel in that parish;
(b) that person has at any time had his or her usual place of residence in that parish for a period of not less than six months;
(c) that person has at any time habitually attended public worship in that parish for a period of not less than six months (but please see below);
(d) a parent of that person has during the lifetime of that person had his or her usual place of residence in that parish for a period of not less than six months;
(e) a parent of that person has during the lifetime of that person habitually attended public worship in that parish for a period of not less than six months (but please see below); or
(f) a parent or grandparent of that person has been married in that parish.
For those coming from far afield, without any other geographical connection, the requirement to attend habitually for six months is very onerous – many of our parishioners attend habitually every Sunday! We would not be able to agree to the booking until you have attended the church for six months. This generally does not work for couples who need to have a confirmed church for a wedding a long time before that. We do expect you both to register each Sunday that you attend. This may mean in most cases that it makes more sense to get married in the parish church where you actually live.
It is also worth pointing out that these requirements are not just some kind of discretion (which can just be waived by the vicar), we have been advised that if a priest knowingly and wilfully conducted a wedding based on a qualifying connection that he or she knew did not exist he or she would be guilty of an offence under the Marriage Act 1949 (a custodial sentence) and if a couple knowingly and wilfully entered into a marriage based on a connection which they knew was invalid the marriage would be void! So we have to take this very seriously indeed!
However, we do understand that there is something very special about getting married in the Itchen Valley. And the sight of couples posing for photographs outside our historic buildings is enjoyable for all in our communities, as it takes us back to our own wedding days. If you do want to get married in Itchen Valley and think that you qualify geographically, then please do contact our Parish Administrator, Beccy Clark on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01962 779845.
Establishing your Identity and Nationality
Please also note that we are now required to establish your identity and nationality. We will need to see original copies of the following documents for each of you:
(1) your passports; and
(2) one of the following
(a) utility bill dated no more than three months before the date on which notice of marriage is given;
(b) bank or building society statement or passbook dated no more than one month before the date on which notice of marriage is given;
(c) council tax bill dated no more than 12 months before the date on which notice of marriage is given;
(d) mortgage statement dated no more than 12 months before the date on which notice of marriage is given;
(e) current residential tenancy agreement;
(f) valid driving licence in the name of the person giving notice of marriage.
Please do not send these but please bring them with you to the first meeting with the minister who will be marrying you.
Wedding Fees 2022
Wedding Fees are, in general, set nationally and are revised annually (the charge which we will raise will reflect those national increases)
Banns reading £32
Banns Certificate £15
Organist & Video £200
Sound system (Easton only) POA
Bells (Easton & Avington) £180
Heating (Oct-April) £50
Car Parking £100 (Easton); £65 (Martyr Worthy)