The Marriage and Registration Acts allow four ways of authorising a marriage in the Church of England.
These are by:
- Bishop’s Common Licence
- Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate
- Archbishop’s Licence
This can all seem very confusing but don’t worry! We will help you every step of the way and, in any case, the majority of couples are married by Banns, which is also the most straightforward.
In order to be married by Banns the law stipulates that either or both of the couple:
- are resident within the legal boundaries of the Parish or are on the electoral roll of the Parish
- or have a qualifying connection with the Parish
If you would like to know which parish you live in then visit the Parish Finder website and put your postcode into the search box.
If your marriage is to be authorised by Banns then they need to be ‘called’.
Calling of your Banns
This involves reading out your intention to be married in church and provides the opportunity for anyone who knows a legal reason why you should not marry to declare it to the minister.
We must “call” your banns on three occasions during one of our Sunday worship services. This normally takes place two months prior to your wedding date on the first three Sundays of the month at our 10.30am service at St James’ Church. Please inform us if you worship regularly at one of our other Sunday services and we will call your banns at that service as well.
Please note that banns must also be called in any other parish in which either the Bride or Groom resides or is on the Electoral Roll. While we try to be as helpful as we can, it is not possible for us to organise this for you and so you are responsible for organising banns to be read in all other churches. What we can do is point you in the right direction!
You will need to:
- contact your local Parish Church and complete an application form for Banns of Marriage
- Collect a Banns of Marriage Certificate from those churches once your banns have been read. A charge will be made by that church.
- Send this Banns of Marriage Certificate to us immediately.
Legally we cannot marry you until we receive this certificate, so it is really important that you organise this well in advance of your wedding, but again we will explain all this to you and give you the information that you need.
Legally, a person has a qualifying connection with the parish of St James and Emmanuel if that person:
- Was baptised in the parish
- Had his/her confirmation entered in the church register book of the churches in the Parish
- Has at any time had his or her usual place of residence in the Parish for at least 6 months, or
- Has at any time habitually attended public worship in the Parish for at least 6 months
Or if a parent of the person has at any time during that person’s lifetime:
- Had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months, or
- Habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months
Or if a parent or grandparent of that person was married in the Parish.
If you don’t think you have a qualifying connection but would like to get married with us, then do not panic! Because we ask people to attend church services as part of their marriage preparation it is possible to establish a qualifying connection with St James and Emmanuel as you prepare to marry.
If you need more information on qualifying connections then please email the Parish Office.
Next: Preparing for marriage