If you’re considering a Church of England wedding then you’re going to want to know what happens, before your wedding day. As a religious wedding service that needs to be carried out in a church, there is a set procedure that will need to be followed.

This means you’ll have less say in what can be altered, but, you’ll be able to enjoy a deeply spiritual, and surprisingly beautiful wedding service.

The Planning Stage

Getting married in the Church of England means preparing for it as soon as you’re engaged, assuming the engagement is not going to be exceptionally long. 

The first thing you’ll have to understand and verify is that you legally qualify for a church wedding. This means you’re over 18 years or over 16 with parental consent. You also need to have a connection to the church you wish to have your wedding in. It is possible to be connected with almost any church in England, but you’ll need to check with your local vicar.

Your wedding church is only allowed to carry out wedding ceremonies between 8 am and 6 pm, although this can be done on any day of the week.

It is also more difficult to get married for a second time in the Church of England, if you’re divorced you’ll need to speak to the vicar about the best way forward.

Finally, it is highly likely that your wedding church will want to publish the Banns, these are a notice to everyone that your wedding is going to take place, allowing people to protest, if relevant.

The wedding banns will need to be published 3-4 months before the wedding happens.

You will also need to prove your nationality and potentially prove your connection to the church; via utility bills or a marriage certificate for your parents; assuming they had the same wedding church.

It is also likely that your church will need you to attend marriage preparation meetings. These will run for 6-8 weeks before your wedding and will help you to prepare for the wedding day and your life together as a married couple.

These are generally conducted as group sessions with 3-4 couples learning and sharing, it should help to provide a good foundation for your marriage.

The Church Of England Wedding

Selecting a wedding church shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll be able to get married in the church that looks after the parish you live in, providing you’ve lived there for several months. You can also select another church in England to be your wedding church, providing you have a connection to it.

The church is a great backdrop to arrive at, there is something special about getting married in a church. It’s normal for the bride to have a few moments outside after arriving before coming into the church. The entrance music will start to play and you’ll enter with or without bridesmaids, father of the bride, etc. The choice is yours.

You can choose your entrance music but it must be in keeping with the religious theme of your wedding church.

Once inside the vicar will welcome everyone to the wedding ceremony and remind them of what a joyous occasion it is. You’ll then sing a church hymn and the vicar will talk about the sanctity of marriage and God’s vision for it.

You can then move onto saying your vows. Before you can start your wedding guests must be asked if anyone knows a reason for you not to be married. If anyone speaks the church is duty bound to investigate further. It may seem like a funny joke but it could really backfire!

You can then hear the wedding vows and respond with ‘I will’. The congregation will also be asked to support you in your marriage and within the church.

Most Church of England services will continue with the vows before the vicar gives a short talk or does a bible reading. It is possible that your wedding church will do this the other way around.

You can then exchange your rings and the vicar, as the head of the church, will bless the wedding church and you, effectively confirming you are man and wife.

In line with the Church of England practices, there will then be a Bible reading or two. You may be able to have your own reading introduced at this point or simply get one of your guests to do the bible reading.

You’ll then need to sign the official register. This will be within the wedding church although the exact location of the register will vary from church to church. Music is usually played while you do the signing. Again, this will need to be in keeping with the Church of England guidelines.

To wrap things up the vicar will say some final prayers and everyone in the church should share the Lords Prayer. It’s common in the church of England for a final blessing to be said and the last hymn.

You can then leave your wedding church to your chosen music and start your new life as husband and wife!

It’s customary to leave the wedding church in a set fashion, the bride and groom are followed by the best man and chief bridesmaid, the parents of the couple then follow and then the guests are allowed to file out.

You can now start taking photos and throwing confetti.

Final Thoughts

There is something special about a wedding church and the fact that it is likely to be there for all time, allowing you to revisit whenever you want.

A church ceremony does tend to be longer than a non-religious ceremony but, it also seems more official, perhaps encouraging couples to take the vows seriously, you’re committing to spending the rest of your life together, that’s a commitment that should be taken seriously.

The church of England wedding is a great way to tell the world how serious you are about each other, even if you’re not a regular church visitor. It still feels unique, special, and often the right thing to do.

Also, check our guide on traditional wedding vows.


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