Weddings at St. John’s

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For fees for weddings please refer to the bottom of the About us page on the website.


The happy day

Actually, they're pretty much like weddings at most Anglican churches. We aim to be relaxed and friendly, but with enough formality to mark the occasion as special. The real purpose of this page is to answer some of the questions which are often asked about weddings. The information given here is not complete, but it should give the basic gist of the matter. We've tried to answer all the usually asked questions, but if you have other queries, get in touch via one of the means listed on the about us page.

Legal Stuff

Who can get married at St. John's?

Anyone who resides in the parish has a legal right to be married in their parish church. Only one of the couple need live in the parish. The only exceptions are in the case of someone who has been divorced (and whose former partner is still alive) and in the case of a couple who are related in a way which used to forbid marriage, but is now allowed by law. In these cases, it is left to the minister's discretion.

Recently a new qualification has been introduced, and you can now get married at a church with which you can demonstrate a pastoral connection. This means that you have to fulfil one of these seven requirements:

If one of you:

  1. has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or

  2. was baptised in the parish concerned or

  3. was prepared for confirmation in the parish or

  4. has at any time regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months


That one of your parents, at any time after you were born:

  1. has lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or

  2. has regularly gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months


That one of your parents or grandparents was married in the parish.

You may be asked to provide documentary evidence of some of these.  Please do contact the Rector and discuss it further.  The points above are taken from this page ( and you may find more useful information there.

You can also get married almost anywhere by applying for a Special Licence. These are issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, cost a fair bit of money, and require you to show a convincing reason why you need one.


What does it mean to say I must live in the parish?

This is actually a difficult one. It's better to discuss it in person, since the definitions are complicated, and not at all clear. If you work or study away from home, for instance, it might be that you really can be said to live in the parish, but if you normally live elsewhere, and only visit relatives here from time to time, it's probably fair to say you don't.

What are the procedures for getting married?

First, you have to give reasonable notice. You can't just turn up and get married. It's a bad idea to ring up with your reception, taxis and photographer booked, and assume that the precise time and date you want are available. (It does happen - really!) Certain legal stuff has to be done first.

There are several types of legal preliminaries which can be used. The most common is the calling of banns. This is the public announcement of your intended marriage, which has to be made in the church where you are getting married, and also the church of the parish where each of the couple lives. (That's Church of England, not simply your nearest Pentecostal church or whatever). Banns can also be called on warships and other strange places, but not in Scotland, so if one of you lives north of the border, banns won't work. (Aren't the British legal systems great?) Oh yes, you're OK for banns in Northern Ireland, Wales and Eire. Don't ask me why.... Banns are called on three Sundays in the three months before the wedding, and remain valid for three months.

If there isn't time for banns, or you don't want to go public (for purely honest reasons) you can apply for a common licence. This is issued by an authorised representative of the bishop, and costs more than banns. It is in force as soon as you get it (a couple of days usually) and remains valid for three months. You need one of these if one of you lives in Scotland. On the other hand, Gretna Green is in Scotland....

A Superintendent Registrar's Certificate (without Licence) is the fancy name for a civil registrar's equivalent of a common licence. You need 21 days clear notice between applying for one and getting it. It is not usually needed, but there are some circumstances where it's necessary, such as when one of you lives in Scotland.

Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Licence. We've mentioned this already. If you think you need one, get in touch directly, or follow the Church of England link above to the Archbishop's Faculty Office.

A wedding cannot take place until the minister officiating at the service has seen a certificate of banns from other church(es) where they have had to be called, or has been presented with a valid licence or Superintendent Registrar's Certificate.

When can I get married?

As long as there's time for the legal stuff, whenever you like. Weddings have to take place between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. The actual day and time are technically up to the minister, but in it's really by agreement.

We don't do weddings on a Sunday. Not because it's illegal, and we know some churches do, but because the church is in use all day on Sundays. Some people do find this disappointing, especially since prime reception venues can get booked up quickly for Saturdays. On the other hand, Friday weddings are increasing in popularity, and most guests don't mind taking a long weekend for their nearest and dearest.

Do you marry divorced people?

This is up to the minister. The present one does, but has been known to refuse, for instance when it was pretty obvious that the couple applying had been carrying on during the previous marriage, and showed no signs of remorse. Basically, you need to discuss this in person. There are fairly strict Bishops' guidelines on this, but then, they are guidelines, not laws.

Marriage questions in more detail

There's stuff from horse's mouth in the appropriate section of the Church of England's official website.

Other Fairly Important Stuff.

Do you have bells?

No. Actually, we have two, but they are only attached to the clock. If you want impressive chimes, you'll have to time the service to end at noon.

Do you have a choir?

Yes, their fees for attending a wedding are by arrangement.

And an organ?

We have a traditional pipe organ; if you want it played at your wedding we can help you find an independent organist for the event who will charge for their services separately.

What about flowers?

You have two options here. The cheap and easy one is to ignore flowers. There will almost certainly be some nice ones already in church, and flowers are pretty expensive. Of course, this is a wedding, so not many take this sensible option. The second choice is to do your own, which usually means engaging a professional florist. Thirdly, you could contact our flower arrangers and see whether they can help out.

If you provide your own flowers, we do insist on your leaving some in church for the Sunday service. There simply isn't time for us to redecorate the church after a wedding.

What hymns can we have?

In one of those little-known facts, the choice of music and hymns is technically up to the minister. In practice, it never is, but please do consult before rushing off to have those expensive (amazing how often that word crops up in connection with weddings!) orders of service printed. Some hymns are really out of place at a wedding. These days, everyone seems to want "Jerusalem". Fair enough, but what it has to do with weddings escapes me. Perhaps it's marriage seen as a rugby match. A real no-no, though, is "Dear Lord and Father of mankind." Lovely tune, and quite well-known, but "forgive our foolish ways"? "Re-clothe us in our rightful mind"? Come the service, it's too late for an attack of sanity, and the laughter drowns out the organ.

What happens if someone else wants a wedding on the same day?

They have it at a different time, and with enough time between to allow for all the milling around and photography which goes with the average wedding. We usually put couples in this situation in touch with each other, and they tend to cooperate on flowers and other decorations. If they absolutely can't agree, then the ones to book first get the choice of decor (and miss out on sharing the cost). It is impractical (honestly, we've tried it!) to change flowers etc. between weddings.

Can we use the traditional service?

Most people these days opt for the modern language service, which has the traditional elements, with introduction, vows, prayers etc, but doesn't use "thee" and "thou". If you want an older style, that's fine; there are a couple of such services which can be used. What can't be done is "mixing and matching" between services. The minister is happy to discuss this in detail, and show all the options.

Does the bride have to promise to obey?

Not in the modern service. The option is there for die-hard traditionalists, but most couples choose to start as they mean to go on!

Can we have a video?

Yes, but do make sure that your video person is unobtrusive. Huge lighting scaffolds, and cries of "action!" detract a bit from the service and are definitely not on. Also remember that it's a simple psychological fact that still images remain in the memory longer than moving ones. If you have to make a choice between a stills photographer and a movie-maker, go for the stills.

Can we have a coach and four, pretty girls sprinkling rose petals, kilted pageboys, a lucky chimney sweep, the bride arriving by helicopter, a red carpet, floral garlands over the gate and a dancing bear?

To be honest, we've never done a wedding with a dancing bear, and the helicopter was at another church. We're pretty accommodating at St. John's, though, so we've seen all the rest. One question to consider, though, is whether it's really worth it. You want your special day to be as memorable as possible. But it will be, because it's your wedding. As one of our local take-aways puts it, over-topping a pizza will make it expensive, but not necessarily tastier. In fact, too much razzamatazz can get in the way of what the day is about - and you probably won't notice it yourself, having your minds on more important things, like whether the guests can hear your knees knocking.

Do we have to come to church to hear the banns?

No. On the other hand, it's sensible to come to a service or two, if only to get used to the building. That will help on the Day. It's also a good idea, and polite, to meet the organist, and discuss your choice of music. Getting to know the other people who will be involved in your service can make things all the more memorable, too. And, of course, the real point about getting married in church is that it's a service of Christian worship in which you pray, and make promises in the acknowledged presence of God. Joining with ordinary worship beforehand can make that all the more meaningful, and help you to focus on what you really do believe about the Christian faith which is the context for your wedding.

The Voice of Experience

A tip about approaching marriage in church.


Just relax and enjoy it. It'll work out OK. After all, we're trained professionals here. The reception, though, is nothing to do with us.