Congratulations! You have taken the decision to marry and spend the rest of your lives together; this is one of the most exciting, positive and terrifying steps any couple can make. And now you are faced with a first decision – where do you want to get married?
A marriage ceremony is a very special occasion; a decision to marry in church and make your vows to each other before God is not one to be taken lightly. There are many questions to consider, so this web page is only a starting point (the information relates to weddings at St. John’s; other C of E churches/ Christian denominations will have their own policies).
We probably won’t be able to help with choosing your wedding dress, advising you on where to hold the reception or offering suggestions for honeymoon destinations but then you wouldn’t expect us to! Here, though, are some of the things you need to consider and how the church can help. Do though feel free to contact us directly: the people at St Johns are here to help and guide you through this ‘once in a lifetime’ event so that it will provide a solid foundation for the rest of your lives together.
Do I live in the right area to get married at St. John’s?
Under current law, we are allowed to marry anyone who either lives in the parish of North Holmwood, and/or is a regular worshipper at St. John’s (i.e. comes to church at least once a month) or has a “qualifying connection” with the parish. If you live outside our parish boundary but worship here regularly, you need to join our Electoral Roll; we’d advise you on how to go about this. To find out whether or not you live in the parish, check the Parish Street List.
I’m already living with my partner; do you marry people ‘living together’?
Yes; we’d be delighted that you are showing your commitment to your relationship by taking this step – your wedding service would celebrate all the years shared to date, and ask God’s blessing on those to come.
One/both of us is divorced, what’s your policy on marrying divorced people?
We do see marriage as a life long commitment, and we encourage couples going through difficulties do their utmost to work through them. However, we also recognise that there are some circumstances where marriages have to end in divorce. Accordingly, we are prepared to consider marrying previously divorced people in certain situations: we would need to discuss these with you face to face. There is also the option to Bless a Civil Marriage if that is more appropriate.
Do I need to join the church beforehand? How often should I come?
By choosing to marry in a church you are already indicating that you see your marriage as rather far more than a legal ceremony or social event! You are preparing to sign up, so to speak, to a Christian understanding of marriage – whereby you are asking God to bless your relationship and walk alongside you in the years ahead. Few people would wish to make such an undertaking lightly, or to make promises to a God who seems out of reach. As a church, we are there to help you explore where God fits in.
So we expect all couples preparing for marriage to worship at St John’s at least once a month between fixing the wedding date and the Big Day itself. Many couples opt for the informal Family Eucharist (10 am – first Sunday of the month). Some go on to become longer term members of the church.
As part of your preparation, you might also like to consider joining one of our Christian Enquiry courses to help you explore your faith in a relaxed atmosphere.
We hope that coming to church would give you three benefits: physically you would feel at home in the building, emotionally you would feel among friends, and spiritually you would understand better the Christian faith at the heart of your wedding service.
WEDDING NUTS AND BOLTS
When’s the best month to get married?
Entirely up to you! We could arrange services for most times of the year; the only ‘no go’ areas being Holy Week (the week before Easter), Easter and Christmas – but then you probably wouldn’t get a reception venue for these dates anyway! Bear in mind though that dates in May are the most popular, and that it can be difficult to arrange for a choir during summer holidays.
Which days/times are available?
You can marry at any time between 8 am and 6 pm. Most weddings take place on Saturdays; although other days are possible. Also, bear in mind that, if you want to get married during the week, it may not be possible to have the church choir because most of those people work for a living! We don’t generally conduct weddings on Sunday for obvious reasons!
Do you have a number of weddings on the same day?
No. Once you’ve booked a day, it is yours. We never have two weddings on the same day; so you have our total attention and all the time you need.
Do we book the church first or the reception?
Difficult! The best solution is to have two or three possible dates provisionally booked with the reception venue, and then talk to us. We will agree a date and time for you ‘in pencil’ and then agree it formally as soon as you have arranged the reception.
What is meant by ‘Church Banns’?
Most couples who marry at St. John’s get married after the calling of legal ‘banns’. This is simply the name given to the formal notification of your impending wedding: the banns are read in the course of the main Sunday 10 am service. By law, you need to have banns called in either
- in the church in which you are getting married,
- in the parish(es) in which either of you lives or
- in any church to which either of you ‘belongs’
In most cases, couples wanting to marry at our church already live in our parish (i.e. North Holmwood), so only (1) applies.
How much does it cost to get married at St. John’s?
Our fees come into two categories: compulsory fees and optional extras.
- The compulsory fees cover all the essentials, such as the minister’s fee, preparation sessions, our own church banns, legal paperwork, wedding rehearsal and the service itself – and in 2017 these compulsory fees total £456.
- The optional extras include an organist, a choir, heating during winter, and an in-house florist to handle flower arrangements inside the church. Each has their own fee, but as a guideline the 2017 fee for ‘all extras’ would be £280 + an agreed budget for flowers.
All fees (compulsory and optional) are reviewed annually.
So how do I start the ball rolling?
The best way is to come to a Sunday morning 10 am service and say ‘hello’. Then telephone the Vicar and arrange an initial meeting. This will be the first of three or four preparation sessions, leading up to the wedding rehearsal and the Big Day! In the meantime, we’ll look forward to seeing you regularly at St. John’s and getting to know you.
By the time the day comes, we hope you’ll be saying ‘We’re getting married in a place that matters to us, among people who care for us, and with the support of the God who loves us’.
- There is a special Church of England website that has much of the legal detail including reading of the banns, the Church’s view on divorcees, marriage outside your own Parish, fees and many other issues as well as lots of ideas for your own service.
- The musical content of your wedding is very much down to personal choice and discussion but, to get you started, here are some suggestions.
- If you want to think about flowers and would like some ideas and an indication of cost, we have a page with some suggestions and a gallery of examples.
When your wedding is over; when you have returned from your honeymoon and have begun your new life together, please consider sending us some of your recollections of the day and, maybe, even a photograph or two that we can put on the website as a help for future couples. You can use the email icon on any page. You can send photographs in any electronic format or you can send prints which will be returned the next day.
If you want to send prints, use the email icon to ask for a postal address and don’t forget to include a return address if you want them back!