Getting Married at Christ Church
Before a wedding can take place there are various legal formalities to be completed and there must be time for marriage preparation. This will normally involve meeting with the vicar to discuss the very important step that you will be taking. For this reason, except in cases of serious illness or other similar emergency, there will need to be a gap of at least three months between first contact and the date of the wedding. Therefore please make sure that you contact the Vicar in good time to make arrangements. To avoid disappointment, please check that the church is available before booking your reception venue.
Everyone resident within the parish boundaries has a right to be married to a partner of the opposite sex at Christ Church after appropriate preparation, so long as there is no legal impediment. It is also possible to get married at Christ Church if you do not live in the parish but are on the church Electoral Roll. To join the electoral roll you must have been baptised and must have already attended worship at Christ Church regularly for at least 6 months.
The law governing the right to get married in the Church of England changed on 1st October 2008. This makes it easier for you to get married in the church of your choice, even if you don’t live in the parish or attend regularly, provided that you can show a real connection with the parish. Please see section on the ‘Marriage Measure’ on the Church of England Website for further details.
There are four possible preliminaries to marriage in the Church of England:
Banns are the easiest and most commonly used method. They involve notice of your forthcoming wedding being read out in both the bride and the groom’s parish churches on three Sundays in the period three months before the wedding. If you live in two different parishes, Banns will have to be called in both parish churches. It is customary for couples to attend church for the calling of their Banns which takes place during the 10am Sunday morning service. Attending will help you feel more comfortable with the church surroundings and will hopefully mean that you feel less nervous on the big day.
Marriages can also take place after obtaining a Common Licence. This is a quicker method than Banns but more expensive and involves the parties swearing an affidavit before the Diocesan Registrar or the local Surrogate. The Diocesan Registrar recommends marriage by Licence when one or both parties is/are not British or EU citizens (but see under iv below).
A Special Licence allows people to be married without the usual requirement of living in the parish or belonging to the Electoral Roll. It will usually only be granted if you have a very strong connection with the parish or if there are medical reasons (perhaps a parent who lives in the parish and is too ill to travel) which make a wedding at Christ Church the best option.
The Bishop of Southwark, on the advice of the Diocesan Registrar, has informed all clergy that people who are not British or EU citizens, do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and are not in the UK on a marriage visa, should obtain a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate from the Register Office in Woolwich. There is a fee of £30 per person and the Registrar will need details of your addresses and immigration status. You will almost certainly be required to obtain confirmation from the Home Office that you are eligible to marry and so it is probably advisable to obtain this first. If you think that these regulations may apply to you, you should contact the Vicar to discuss things further.
Marriage after Divorce
At Christ Church we understand that some marriages fail and we try to help people rebuild their lives in new relationships. There are some circumstances in which marriage in Church after a divorce may be possible. If not, we can usually offer a service of blessing after a civil marriage. If you have been divorced and would like to discuss the possibility of being married a second time in church or having your civil marriage blessed, please come to Parish Office on the first Saturday of each month (with the exception of January and August) between 9.30 and 11am.
Civil Partnerships & Same Sex Marriage
Unfortunately, the Church of England does not conduct Civil Partnership Ceremonies or Same Sex Marriages but individual churches can conduct a service of thanksgiving after a ceremony. Please, contact Mtr Ariadne if you would like to discuss your plans.
As a Church of England Church, Christ Church has to charge various Statutory Fees which are laid down by the Central Board of Finance. In addition there are charges for the services of our warden (who sets up the church), organist, flowers and heating (if necessary). There is also an additional fee if you have a video recording of the service, because of copyright laws. We ask couples to pay a non-returnable deposit of £100 when booking their wedding. This will be deducted from the total wedding fees which must be paid in full before the reading of the banns.
For details of fees, please use the link to open the Christ Church Wedding Booklet.
Preparing your marriage service
You can book a date for your marriage service by coming to Parish Office on the first Saturday of the month (between 9.30 and 11am). A few months before the service, Mtr Ariadne will contact you to arrange a meeting to plan the service. To prepare for this meeting, you could have a look at the Church of England website. Under the life events section, you will find a section on weddings. Here you will find information and suggestions for readings and hymns. You don't have to choose one of those readings or hymns, but you may be able to get some ideas from the website. You may also like to think about a non-Biblical reading that you may want to use in the service.
PLEASE NOTE: If you live outside the Parish you will also need to have Banns read in the Parish Church of the Parish or Parishes in which you and your fiancé live. Fees must be paid either by cheque or cash at least one month before the wedding (cheque payable to Christ Church PCC).