Dear Wedding Enquirers,
Congratulations on your decision to get married.
We are glad that you would like your wedding to be conducted in one of the six, beautiful churches of the Hambleden Valley. Please read the following so that we can help you through the processes involved.
Weddings in the Church of England are governed by both Civil and Canon Law, and so we have to be sure that certain procedures are followed as we respond to your request.
First: we have to ascertain whether and how you might be eligible for a wedding in that particular parish. For this, there are now the following Qualifying Criteria, of which you will need to meet at least one:
1) One or both of you lives, or has lived in the parish for at least six months, or:
2) Your parents live, or have lived in the parish for at least six months;
3) One or both of you has been a regular worshipper in the parish for at least six months, or:
4) Your parents have worshipped in the parish for at least six months;
5) One or both of you was baptised or prepared for confirmation in the parish;
6) Your parents or grandparents were married in the parish.
If you do not already meet one or more of these criteria, we would welcome you to attend worship in the Hambleden Valley Churches in order to qualify; but you will have to complete at least six months’ regular attendance (of at least one worship service per month), prior to the calling of your banns of marriage. You will be given an attendance-log sheet, which must be signed by the churchwarden or one of the sidespeople at the church, and returned to us just prior to the calling of your banns. Calling the banns may take over a month, and must also be read in the parish church(es) where you live. If you want to know which your parish church is, go to www.achurchnearyou.com and search using your postcode.
For details of services taking place, for
attendance or banns,
However, if there is no impediment, but you cannot qualify in any of the above ways, it may be possible to obtain a Common Licence for the wedding from the Diocese of Oxford (the fee is in the order of £200).
Whichever way you may qualify, there needs to be a brief interview with the Rector or Associate Priest, at which we will need to see Birth Certificates, Driving Licences/Passports and Recent Utility Bills.
If either of you has had a divorce, its circumstances and effects must be discussed in confidence, and the decree absolute must be seen as well. There are pastoral criteria for allowing remarriage.
PLEASE NOTE: If either of you does not have E.U. nationality/passport, the wedding can only take place after qualifying criteria have been established, and then you must obtain either a Special Licence, or a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate, which could take a further 70 days.
We are very conscious that a wedding takes a huge amount of planning and organisation, not least in preparing for the Church service itself. We have decades of experience here, and we look forward to working with you in those preparations, and are happy to answer your enquiries.
For this purpose, we organise two or more Wedding Preparation Days each year, and you will be sent an invitation to one of them. We cannot compel people to attend, but these events are designed to help you to be completely ready for your wedding ceremony, and to guide you in your married life thereafter.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL ARRANGEMENTS AT THIS STAGE ARE PROVISIONAL ON THE NECESSARY CRITERIA BEING MET AND THERE BEING NO IMPEDIMENT BEING FOUND IN CIVIL OR CANON LAW.
To find out more about our availability, and how to proceed, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a long-established, tried and tested Order of Service that we use in the Hambleden Valley, which gives flexibility for your personal choices, and focuses on the Marriage Vows and Declarations, which are both legally binding, and spiritually profound.
It has an elegant simplicity that allows you, and your family and friends, to relax and enjoy the ceremony; so we keep to this order rather than any of the variations you may see elsewhere. We present it to you at this stage to prevent any confusion in your early planning and preparation:
# Bridal Procession Priest leads Bride and Escort from door to Chancel Appropriate music
Welcome Priest greets everyone informally and gives helpful notices
Introduction Formal words of welcome and opening prayer
# First Hymn Couple, Attendants and congregation all standing
Preface Reminders of the spiritual and personal importance of this event
Declarations Your free and solemn intentions to marry
Vows You promise lifelong commitment
Giving of Rings One or two – blessed, given and received
Proclamation Priest declares you to be husband and wife
Blessing First prayer and blessing of the newly-weds
[# If you would like three hymns, the second should go here.]
Collect A prayer to gather our thoughts
Readings Non-scripture if desired (to be see before please), then Scripture
Sermon A brief word of Christian wisdom and encouragement
# Second [or Third] Hymn Priest leads Couple to Sanctuary Step
Final Prayers For the Couple in their new life together
Lord’s Prayer Usually the ‘Traditional’ version
Final Blessing From before the Altar for Couple and Congregation
Signing of Register In appropriate part of Church, while music plays
# Recession Couple leads Bridal Party out of Chancel Appropriate music
Most couples like to design and produce their own keepsake order of service, and the order above is a good guide for the interior layout. For simplicity’s sake, the side-headings in bold are sufficient to mark the progress of the service; # simply marks where your approved choice of hymn or music is made, which should be detailed; the full lyrics of your chosen hymns can be included* as might the Lord’s Prayer. Approved non- and Scripture readings should be referenced and their readers named.
PLEASE NOTE: RECORDED MUSIC CANNOT BE PLAYED IN THE VALLEY CHURCHES’ SERVICES.
Our organist will play appropriate music – old and new – if provided with the music.
[* Beware: copyrights for the words of Morning Has Broken and Make Me a Channel of Your Peace are unobtainable to the public, so they would have to be sung from published hymnbooks.]