Congratulations on your engagement! We wish you well, and hope we can help you plan your wedding and begin married life. We are glad that you are planning a church wedding when so many opt for a civil ceremony. This leaflet aims to give you the information you need about church weddings.
Do ask us if you have any further questions.
The legal background
For centuries the Church of England provided the only way to get married. When other churches and civil registrars were authorised to solemnise marriage the C of E was given special privileges. We deal with the legal aspects, including the preliminary notices (‘banns’), registration and the certificate. Our clergy thus act as marriage registrars in our church. England is divided into church parishes (not the same as local government wards or postal areas). We are one of eight parishes in the CH3 Chester postal area; we only cover the parish of Waverton.
Residence or membership: the entitlement to marry
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You are entitled to be married in St Peter’s if at least one of you lives in our parish. Being on the electoral role also qualifies you for being married here. However, the introduction of the Church of England Marriage Measure (1st October 2008) has made it easier to get married in a church outside the parish you live in. The changes mean an engaged couple are welcome to be married in a parish if just one of the following applies:
- one of them was baptised or prepared for confirmation in the parish;
- one of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more;
- one of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more;
- one of their parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
- one of their parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
- one of their parents or grandparents were married in the parish.
What is a Christian marriage?
Marriage is not just about law. God made us male and female. Marriage is his gift, providing companionship, support and the right context for sexual love and for bringing up children.
In church you make promises before God and witnesses, including lifelong faithfulness and love – not easy things to promise in a world where commitment is unpopular. But these promises reflect God’s love. If we belong to him he will hold on to us in faithfulness for ever. And as you make your vows you are not alone: we will pray for you and be ready to help in any way we can.
What is a church marriage?
The law sets three conditions for marriage in the Church of England:
- You must both be aged 18 or over (16 or over with written parental consent).
- You must not be close relatives (a detailed list of prohibitions is available).
- At least one of you must either live within our parish boundary or be a signed-up member of the church, or meet the criteria for the Marriage Measure.
Can I marry after a divorce?
Church of England rules do not normally allow the marriage in church of a divorced person whose former partner is still alive, though this and other areas of marriage law are being reviewed in certain limited circumstances. The Rector will be willing to talk these issues through with you.
What are ‘banns’?
We have to read banns before we can perform a marriage. On three Sundays we read out in one of our services the legal notice that you intend to marry, giving people the right to object. This must be done in the church where you will marry and in the parish where each of you lives. A fee is payable to each church involved.
When can we get married?
We can perform marriages on most Saturdays, with a maximum of 3 on any one day. Other days may be possible but depending on the availability of a minister and bell-ringers. We cannot offer Sunday weddings, because the church is in use for public worship for much of the day.
How much will it cost?
The basic fees are set each year by parliament, and each local church has to calculate its own extras [please NB, these figures may need to change. Please check with the Rector]. Our 2014 fees are:
Statutory fees set by the CofE are (for 2022):
Certificate of Banns £16
Cheques payable to: St. Peter’s Church Waverton PCC; or St. John’s Church Aldford PCC; or St. Mary the Virgin Bruera PCC.
Extra fees are (as required):
Overheads (verger, heating, etc): £30*
The extras are all to be paid in CASH, please.
*NB At Aldford and Bruera this is the required fee for the verger. (At Waverton it is a voluntary contribution).
1. If you are getting married in a church outside of the parish where you live, you will need the banns read at both your home church and the church where you are getting married. NB the fees should be paid to the two churches separately.
2. The organist fee is the normal RSCM fee.
3. Unfortunately, the churches in the benefice do not cover Performer’s Rights for video recordings; it is therefore your responsibility to acquire a limited manufacture (LM) licence, cost from £15, from PRS for Music – 01323 417711.
4. We do offer the ringing of bells at Waverton and Aldford. This is optional. Just ask and we will arrange it for you.
Fee changes are notified each autumn and normally take effect the following January. The increase is normally in line with the prevailing inflation rate. We do not ask for a deposit. Fees should be paid by at least a fortnight in advance.
How should we prepare for the wedding?
We strongly encourage those marrying in the church to join us regularly in public worship. We are also committed to helping couples to develop the skills that will enable their relationship to last a lifetime. To that end we ask all our couples planning marriage to take part in some simple marriage preparation sessions. During that time we talk through the service, consider relationship skills and dealing with conflict (with the help of a video clip if time) and time for questions. When there are several couples getting married we sometimes meet together. These times are good fun and have been greatly appreciated by couples. Please book the relevant time off work, if necessary, so you are free to attend together. In addition, some time the week before the wedding we organise a walk-through rehearsal in church.
How do I make a booking?
1. Arrange with the Rector to meet to fill in the Banns/Church Application Form The easiest way to do this is simply speak to him after one of the services on a Sunday which are at (9.00am currently not taking place), 10.15am at Waverton; 6.30pm at Bruera; 10:15 at Aldford. You might wish to phone to check where is officiating on a particular Sunday, or you can email him at:
2. Check the requirements of banns, and arrange with other churches to have these read at the appropriate time. It is a legal requirement to show the banns certificate from every church of your residence or membership before the marriage service can be conducted.
3. If you have completed the preparation sessions, roughly a month before, finalise a rehearsal date and settle up the fees.
4. Turn up on the day, and enjoy the celebration of your love and marriage.