This page is designed to try to help answer some of the bigger questions surrounding a wedding, or the blessing of wedding, at St Lawrence’s, but the most important thing we can encourage you to do is to contact us at the earliest opportunity.
Can I be married at St Lawrence’s?
What if I have been married before?
Renewal of Vows
How do I book?
What if I or my partner are not Church of England?
What does it cost?
Preparing for Marriage
It is of course a pre-requisite that neither you nor your fiancé(e) are already still married, nor are in a Civil Partnership!
There are legal restrictions on where you can be married – and most of these are not church rules, but are laid out by the State because a marriage is also a legal contract. Put simply (but not in legal language), there are two main ways of fulfilling the required legal preliminary to being married – either Banns must be called, or a Licence must be obtained.
To be married at St Lawrence’s by Banns:-
– At least one of you must live within the parish boundaries. We will tell you where these are when you first enquire about getting married.
– At least one of you must be on our church electoral (membership) roll. To join it, you must first worship with us regularly for at least six months prior to Banns being called.
– You have a “qualifying connection” as defined by the Marriage Act which came into force on October 1st 2008. This means that you were baptised or confirmed in the parish, or that you or your parents have lived here for at least 6 months or worshipped regularly here for 6 months at some point, or that your parents or grandparents were married here. Evidence will be required to support these qualifications, or you may be required to make a sworn statement.
See below for more details about how Banns are called.
If you can’t meet any of the 3 criteria, you may be able to be married by licence, which costs more and is more complicated to arrange. Licences are only granted under certain conditions. You will need to contact us to discuss this.
Additionally, they may be other restrictions if you have been married previously, and your former partner is still alive.
If your former partner has died, there is usually no problem. Otherwise, under certain circumstances we will conduct marriages of those who have been divorced and whose former partner is still alive.
However, the issue of re-marriage is a complex and delicate one, affecting not only you but also the wider community, especially the members of your first family, so we will need to talk carefully to you both about this. The final decision rests with the Diocesan Bishop, having had a conversation with the parish priest.
Some priests, if they feel unable to conduct the marriage of a couple in church because of a previous divorce, will offer instead to conduct a wedding blessing (a service of prayer and dedication after a civil marriage).
We are very happy to conduct wedding blessings for many reasons – for example, if you have had a civil wedding and would like the blessing of the church.
If either of you is divorced, we would apply the same criteria when making the decision whether to agree to the blessing as we would if you were to be married here.
This is available to couples, for example on the occasion of a special anniversary. Please contact the Vicar to discuss this further.
Please contact us to arrange a time when you can come to book the wedding. This interview will normally take place at the Vicarage.
‘Calling the Banns’ is a legal requirement if you are to be married in the Church of England. For three Sundays, the minister leading the main service will read out your names and announce that you are planning to get married. This gives people in the local community a chance to object if they know of a reason why you cannot legally marry. (If you marry in a registry office, your names would be displayed for 3 weeks before the wedding for the same reason.)
We will read your Banns typically at the main service (usually 9:45am) on the first three Sundays of the month before the wedding. We will discuss with you the dates of the banns. You don’t have to be in church to hear them, although a lot of couples like to be there.
If one of you lives in another parish, you must have your banns read there as well. You can find out which is your parish church on the website “A Church Near You” , by entering your postcode and then clicking on the map where you live. Banns must be read during the three months before the wedding. Please contact the other church in good time so that they can arrange this. When the Banns have been called in the other church, they will give you a certificate which you must bring to us. We cannot marry you if we have not seen this certificate.
If your partner is, for example, a Roman Catholic or a Methodist, or of another faith, their Banns must still be read in their local CHURCH OF ENGLAND church. This is a purely legal requirement. If you would like a minister from another denomination to take part in the ceremony, we will be happy to discuss this. For legal reasons, however, a Church of England minister must conduct the exchange of vows.
Wedding fees are made up of a number of charges.
There are fees paid for the main Wedding or Blessing service; there are separate charges for the organist, choir, bells etc.
We will give you details of the fees when you book the wedding, but they do go up slightly on 1st January each year. Here is our current fees table.
When you book your wedding, the priest will normally expect to meet with you prior to the marriage:
– To cover all the legal issues, fees, and discuss basic questions about what can/cannot happen;
– Putting the Service together (lots of options – and of course music, readings and hymns);
– The Rehearsal (typically during the week before the event)
In addition you will be invited to a one-day Marriage Preparation course, called “Growing Together”. This is run jointly by a group of churches in the Sevenoaks area. Attendance at this course is not compulsory, but we strongly advise you to take up the opportunity if you can. Even if you have been together for some time already, it will help you to think about your relationship. The day will be very relaxed and informal, and you will meet with other couples preparing for marriage, so you will be able to share your experiences together and encourage one another.
A wedding is not just a personal celebration; it is also a legal ceremony, marking a change in your legal status. Because of this, there are rules made by the government about how the service is conducted; by whom, where, and what is said within it.
However, within those limits we can work with you to plan a service which will be special for you. Ultimately the form the service takes is at the discretion of the priest who conducts it, but we like to be flexible and we really look forward to hearing your ideas and helping you plan. For example, the law says that you can’t write your own vows, but you can write your own prayers, choose readings or poems, and choose the music. So, don’t be afraid to ask if there is something special you would like.
Please see the Church of England Weddings Project website for suggestions regarding the service, appropriate readings, hymns and music.
Please contact the Vicar. Our main Sunday service is at 9:45am. We would love to see you there as you prepare for your wedding. Children are always welcome.