What is marriage all about?

The marriage ceremony is a public declaration of your love for each other and a statement of your commitment to an ongoing relationship. It will give you a new legal status as husband and wife and a new stability within which your relationship can grow and flourish.

If you choose to get married in a church you are also saying that you want God to be a part of your relationship. The bible is full of references to love and Christians believe that the love you have for each other is a reflection of God’s love for all his people on earth.

Including God in your marriage doesn’t mean that you will necessarily avoid all the ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to him for help and guidance and that his love will sustain you in the years to come. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian church family to rely on.

Marriage where there has been divorce. It is possible under certain circumstances to be married in church if one or both of you have been married before and your previous spouses are still living. This will be handled on an individual basis following a meeting with the vicar. Proof of divorce will be necessary.

Legal Residential requirements. In order to be married at Westoning church one of you must reside in the parish (Westoning) during the period when your Banns of marriage are called. This is usually 21 days within a three month period before your wedding day.

If neither of you lives in Westoning then you will have to enquire about joining the Church Electoral Roll. This requires that you attend worship (services) at Westoning church for a minimum period of 6 months before your name(s) are entered on the Roll, thus giving you a legal right to be married here. If one of you lives in another parish, your Banns will have to be called in your local Church of England church in addition to Westoning. In cases where there has been an application from couples involving divorce, there is no legal right to apply for entry on the Roll until the vicar has agreed to a marriage.

New Qualifying connection. The law has been changed to permit marriage in another parish with which you can demonstrate a qualifying connection, as follows:

· I was baptised in the parish (by a Church of England service/form of baptism)

· I have been confirmed (by a Church of England service) and my confirmation is entered in a register belonging to a church or chapel in the parish

· my parent or grandparent was married in the parish by a Church of England service

· I have had my usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months*

· my parent has had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months during my lifetime*

· I have habitually attended public worship at Church of England services in the parish for at least 6 months**

· my parent has habitually attended public worship at Church of England services in the parish for at least 6 months during my lifetime**

*This can apply whether or not you or your parent(s) are still resident in the parish.

** This can apply whether or not you or your parent(s) are still attending worship in the parish.

What to do next. Your first step is to contact the vicar (details below). You will be asked a couple of questions about whether one or both of you live in Westoning and if one or both of you has ever been married before. If everything is satisfactory, then you can make an appointment to complete an application for marriage which will also book a date and time for you. Further information, including an indication of the fees, will be given to you at this appointment and any other questions you may have, answered. A preparation course will be arranged in the year of your wedding and dates fixed for the calling of Banns and a rehearsal. You will also be given individual guidance as you prepare for your marriage.

Church Blessings. Where a civil marriage has taken place it is also possible to come to church for a service of blessing. You will be asked to provide proof of your marriage. This service is also subject to fees. Further details from the vicar (see details below).

Thanksgiving & Anniversaries. More couples are seeking a way to celebrate their marriages and want to do this in church. Renewal of vows or a particular anniversary are appropriate occasions to bring together your family and friends to celebrate your love for each other and to ask for God’s continued blessing on you both.

Peter Little on 01525 714064 or Philip Steer 01525 862357



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