The Bible often uses the metaphor of marriage to talk about the relationship between God and his people. In fact, one of the most frequently used images for heaven is that of a marriage feast, when God’s people will be brought to perfect union with him. The Church of England marriage service describes marriage as ‘a gift of God in creation’, and talks about three purposes for marriage:
It is given, that as man and woman grow together in love and trust,
they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind,
as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.
The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of bodily union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life,
in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love.
The Church calls marriage a sacrament because it has long recognised that in the unconditional commitment and faithfulness of the partners in marriage to each other, something of the love and faithfulness of God is made visible. So marriage is both a joyous and a serious undertaking. If you’re wondering if you can get married at St Bene’t’s, some of the information below may help, or please get in touch with the vicar, who will be happy to hear from you.
Who can get married at St Bene’t’s?
- If you live in the parish (you can check which parish you live in on the website A Church Near You);
- If you are on the electoral roll of the parish (this is a bit like the church membership list. It is different from the register of electors). You can come onto the church’s electoral roll if you are baptized and have been worshipping here regularly for six months;
- If you have some other qualifying connection. This may include:
- You, or a close member of your family, have worshipped here regularly in the past;
- You were baptized here;
- Your parents or grandparents were married here;
- You or your parents have lived in the parish in the past
Do I have to be baptized to get married in a Church of England church?
No: if you qualify to marry here (see above) then it is not essential that you or your partner is baptized. However, the priest officiating at the service will want to talk to you about faith and the spiritual side of marriage, and it is often a good time to explore your own faith.
I’m divorced: can I get remarried in church?
We recognise that sometimes things go wrong, irreparably, in relationships. And we also believe in a God who forgives and gives new life. So in most cases we are happy to offer remarriage after divorce, although the priest officiating at the service will want to talk through with you what happened in the previous marriage.
I’m marrying my same-sex partner. Can that happen in the church?
I’m entering into a Civil Partnership: can that be blessed?
The Church of England doesn’t currently allow for the marriage of same sex couples or for the blessing of civil partnerships. But it is possible to have a service that includes prayer and thanksgiving. If you and your partner would like to talk to one of the clergy about that, please get in touch.
I don’t meet any of the above qualifications but still want to get married at St Bene’t’s. Can I?
In such instances, contact the vicar, who will be pleased to talk to you about what’s possible.
Are there any fees?
Some fees are mandatory associated with every wedding at St Bene’t’s, such as those set by the Church of Enbland for the publication of banns and the marriage service itself . Others are optional, set by the Parochial Church Council, and depend on whether you want ‘extras’, such as heating, an organist, or bell-ringing. The costs are:
- Publication of banns: £29.
- Marriage service: £441
- Heating: £50.
- Organist: £150.
- Change-ringing (bells): £180.
I have a friend/relative who is ordained. Can they take the service?
We will be happy to discuss involvement of other clergy in the service, although one of the St Bene’t’s clergy will also want to be involved. Please note that, as Church of England clergy also act as registrars for weddings in churches, ministers of other churches and denominations cannot officiate at marriages – though there are other ways in which they can be involved in the service.
Can I pick whatever date I want to get married?
We will try to be as flexible as possible over dates and times, although this depends very much on what else is going on in church. In particular, during Lent (the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter), marriages would not normally take place.