Getting married at St Luke's Church
What is Marriage?
People get married because they love each other - but there’s more to it than that! The Church of England wedding service outlines three reasons for marriage: friendship, sex and children. The Christian Church also teaches:
1. Marriage is for life. At the service you promise that your marriage is to last “as long as you both shall live” and “till death do us part”. If you do not intend your marriage to last as long as you are both alive, you cannot honestly be married in any Christian church.
2. Sexual intercourse belongs only inside marriage. At the service you promise “to live according to God’s holy law”, and the bible stresses that the only right place for this deepest act of intimacy is in the committed and secure relationship of marriage. Accordingly, the service does say that living together should only start when people get married.
These points will come over loud and clear at the service, so please think carefully about them before making a firm booking for your wedding. As Christians we believe that when we confess our sins, turn away from them, and trust Jesus for forgiveness, then God forgives us and wipes away our past sins. But we do not believe that God turns a blind eye if we keep quiet, nor does he forgive if we maintain we are in the right. The words of the service reflect the high standard which God sets for his people’s behaviour, and I hope you find this challenging and exciting.
Legal Matters and Banns of Marriage
Because of the historical situation of the Church of England as the established church of the nation, any couple has a legal right to be married in the church building (provided neither of them has been divorced) if one of them lives in the parish. However, if you move outside the parish you lose this right, so please read the note below about moving house.
In church the licence to get married is called “Banns of Marriage”, and it comes in two halves, one for each of you. It means that a formal notice of your wedding has to be read out in church on three Sundays, so that anyone who knows a legal reason why you cannot be married will have a chance to say so. We will arrange the dates of your banns when you book your wedding: we usually suggest the first three Sundays of the month before your wedding. You are not obliged to attend, but most couples like to come and hear them for the three Sundays. The Banns are read at both the 9.30am and the 11.15am services.
If one of you lives outside Eccleshill Parish, you will also have to go to the Church of England Parish Church of the parish where you live, and fill in a form for your banns to be read there as well. Then you must get a certificate that they have been read, and bring it to us at the rehearsal. This is very important, and you cannot be married without it. There is a legal fee at the other church for the banns and the certificate.
If neither of you lives in Eccleshill Parish, you can still be married in St Luke’s Church by joining the Church Electoral Roll. In order to do this you have to attend church services regularly for six months, and then apply for membership. We will also invite you to join us on a course about the Christian Faith. Please ask us if you are thinking about this.
BEFORE EITHER OF YOU MOVES HOUSE YOU MUST TELL US. If you don’t there is a risk that your banns of marriage will not be legally valid, in which case your wedding will automatically be cancelled. If you both move outside the parish you will lose the right to get married at St Luke’s. This is part of the law of England, and there is nothing the local church can do about it if you get caught in this situation.
The Remarriage of Divorcees
The law of England says that clergy are not obliged to marry couples if either has a former marriage partner still alive, and at present the rules of the Church of England (dating from 1957) is that the clergy should not do this. However, the Church of England has agreed more recently (in 1981) that there are circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former partner. At present there is still a debate about what those circumstances might be.
The Church Council of St Luke’s has decided it agrees with the 1981 decision, and that a discussion with the clergy should take place before a decision is made by the church about what service might be offered. Accordingly, after a process of talking to the clergy and consulting the bishop’s representative, it may be possible for us to offer you either:
· a wedding service in church, or
· a service of prayer and dedication in church after a civil marriage, or
· some private prayers in church.
In order to come to a decision about these things, it will be necessary for us to talk with you about what mistakes were made in your previous relationships, and how these affect your life in the present. These discussions will obviously be confidential.
Preparing for Marriage
You have a legal right to be married in church (provided you fulfil the legal requirements above), and therefore the church expresses no view about whether you are doing the right thing or not. It is your responsibility to prepare yourselves for marriage, rather than the Church’s responsibility to prepare you.
However, we would like to help you to get your marriage off to the best start! Accordingly we will be putting on a small number of events and services each year which will focus on marriage and relationships, and we will invite you to these.
We think that marriage can be improved by discussing how the practical details will work, and by communicating hopes and expectations. So here are some questions which we have found it helpful to ask couples to talk about with each other. Please spend some time thinking about them - it isn’t that we want to know your answers, but we want to make sure you know each other’s answers as you look to the future.
|What about hobbies - do you do everything together, or are you happy to pursue different interests?
Who will look after the bills? Have you begun to work out a budget? How do you feel about joint accounts?
Can you tell each other what you really feel about your future in-laws?
How do you solve disagreements or tiffs? Who makes the first move? Is it always the same one of you?
Will you move to a better house and a nicer area when the money and the chance comes?
How will you divide up the cooking and housework between you? How long will you leave the washing-up before doing it? Who will do the ironing?
Why have you chosen a church wedding? In what ways will the Christian faith affect your married life? How will you pass on your faith to your children?
Are there ways in which you want to do things differently from your parents? What do you feel you can learn from the ways they run their relationships?
Have you discussed family planning, and how many children you’d like? Have you faced not having children? Would you adopt? How do you feel about the possibility of having a handicapped child?
Have you worked out the costs of having children? Will you have to have the best and everything new? Who will get up to give the baby a bottle? Who will give up paid work to look after the family?
Are there things you wished you could discuss, but your partner always finds difficult when you bring them up?
Arrangements for the Wedding Service
Booking the Wedding. When you are quite certain that you want to book your wedding, please confirm any provisional dates we may have booked. We will need to see evidence of your identites, and you will need to fill in an application form for the details for the marriage registers.
Marriage Preparation. We will invite you from time to time to events which focus on marriage and relationships, and to meet other couples and think a bit about your married life together.
Rehearsal. This is not absolutely necessary, but most people like to have one. We will fix the date when you book the wedding: usually the Thursday evening before at 6.30pm in church. Anyone who wants to come is welcome. Please bring anyone who is unsure about where to stand or what they have to do. Especially, please bring any young children who are to be bridesmaids or page boys, since they often find a big church takes a bit of getting used to. Please also bring the fees and the banns certificate from the other church.
What it costs. The cost of a wedding goes up on 1st January each year. The fees are listed separately (see below): some are fixed by Act of Parliament, and some are decided by our Parochial Church Council. There are some optional extras which you may consider. Please pay in cash at the rehearsal.
Order of Service. You don’t need to have a printed order of service. If you do decide to have one, please ask us first before you get it printed, so we can make sure the details are correct. The basic order is as follows:
Bridal March - First Hymn - Bible Reading - Address - Marriage Vows - Second Hymn - Prayers - Blessing - Signing of the Registers - Wedding March.
Please note that at Eccleshill we have the Bible Reading and Address before the vows not after them. Please make sure you proof-read the order of service, as a mistake in a hymn often ruins the singing!
Bell. There has only ever been one bell at St Luke’s (in spite of the name of the pub opposite!). You may have it rung for five minutes before and after the service if you wish.
Music. The service doesn’t need music, but most people like to have it. You have the choice (within reason) of music before and after the service, bridal and wedding marches, and two hymns during the service. I recommend that you choose well-known hymns that your families and friends will enjoy singing.
Here is a list of suggestions:
· All things bright and beautiful
· God is our strength and refuge (Tune: Dambusters March)
· Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
· Lord, the light of your love (Shine Jesus Shine)
· Lord may we see your hands and side (Tune: Jerusalem)
· Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us
· Love divine, all loves excelling
· Make me a channel of your peace
· Morning has broken
· O Jesus I have promised
· O perfect love
· Praise my soul the king of heaven
· The Lord’s my shepherd
You may opt to have the choir to sing at your wedding: if you do, they will lead the singing of the hymns and they will sing an anthem or other musical items while you are signing the registers. We do recommend the choir, as we find that the hymns go much better with a good lead.
Confetti. We ask you not to throw confetti in the churchyard, as we find we cannot clear it from the grass. However, you may throw confetti at the lych-gate, where it can be swept up afterwards. Please could you let your guests know about this in advance.
Flowers. There is a rota for church flowers on the communion table, and you may not disturb these flowers once the rota has been agreed. However, you are welcome to place flowers elsewhere in the church. No sellotape or blu-tac on the pew ends please. To make arrangements about flowers please contact the person mentioned on the list of fees.
Photography. You may have one official photographer, who must be neatly and tidily dressed, and may take photographs at these times:
· before the service,
· from the balcony without flash during the hymns,
· at the signing of the registers, and
· during the final procession and after the service.
Please make sure he/she knows about this in advance.
Other members of your family and friends may take photographs before and after the service, but not during it, as we find this causes a lot of distraction. Please let them know in advance.
Videos. Video recording is permitted during the ceremony from the balcony only, and the camera must be silent. We remind you that copyright regulations mean that the video is for personal use only: you cannot make commercial use of it since the words of the service and the music are copyrighted by the various authors and composers.
Car Parking. Cars may be parked on the school playground which is reached from Fagley Lane.
Thank you for reading all this, and please contact us as soon as possible if any questions arise. We will do our best to make your wedding day very special, and we pray for God’s blessing on your marriage as you begin it together.
John Hartley, 15th June 2000