Congratulations on your decision to get married. We are delighted if you are planning to come to St Mary’s for your Marriage service. We will do all that we can to make sure that the occasion is a happy and meaningful one for you.
We will also pray that God will bless your marriage making it rich in mutual love, honour and comfort and that you may know his help to fulfil the promises that you will make to one another.
As you look forward to your Wedding Day there are so many things that you need to sort out. If there is anything that you need help with as you think about the service do please ask. We will also do as much as we can to help you think through the bigger issues of what marriage means.
Here are some things you need to know (with lots more information available at the Your Church Wedding site)…
Preparing For Your Wedding
Establishing Your Connection With The Parish
You may apply to be married at St. Mary’s if at least one of you lives in the Parish of Alverstoke (view the list of Streets & Buildings In St. Mary’s Parish), or regularly worships in one of our Churches.
Alternatively you may apply if either of you has one of the following Qualifying Connections with the Parish under the Marriage Measure 2008:
- Was Baptised in the Parish (This does not apply where the Baptism formed part of a combined service of Baptism and confirmation when sponsored by another parish);
- Had his or her Confirmation entered in a Church Register book of a Church or Chapel in the Parish;
- Has at any time had his or her place of residence in the Parish for at least 6 months;
- Has at any time habitually attended public worship in the Parish for at least 6 months.
Or, a Parent of that person has at any time during that person’s lifetime:
- Had his or her usual place of residence in the Parish for at least 6 months;
- Habitually attended public worship in the Parish for at least 6 months.
Or, a Parent or Grandparent of that person was married in the Parish.
In all cases above and in all cases involving Church services – i.e. coming to/going to/attending normal church services, Baptisms, Confirmation or Marriage – this applies only to Church of England services. If you wish to be married in the Parish of Alverstoke for any of the above qualifying reasons an Qualifying Connection Application form is available on request.
If you are not sure whether you qualify, please contact the Parish Office, or visit ‘Vestry Hour’ in the Parish Office on Wednesday between 7.00pm to 8.00pm (Please do not telephone during this time).
Please note that if one of you has been married before then the very first step is to arrange to discuss your hopes for a church wedding with one of the parish clergy. They will be very supportive but cannot make any guarantees about whether or not a remarriage in church is possible until they meet you both together – thank you.
There is a legal requirement that we make sure that there are no objections to your marriage. The usual way to do this is to ‘publish your banns’. This means that your names will be read out at our main Sunday Service for three weeks running on the first three Sundays of the month before your wedding. If one of you lives in another parish, your banns must be published there too. You will need to contact the Vicar there and obtain a certificate from him after their publication. It is important that you bring it to St Mary’s as soon as you have it. The wedding cannot take place without the banns certificate from the other parish, so it is important that this is not overlooked. An ordinary licence, which involves extra cost, is an alternative to having banns published. It achieves the same result as banns and is needed if for example, one partner is living abroad or there is difficulty in calling banns.
At the time of booking your wedding you are asked also to book in for one of our Marriage Preparation sessions in the February or March of your wedding year. This is an essential and invaluable part of the journey with all the practical arrangements and is part of our duty of care in conducting your marriage ceremony. We typically invite you for a Saturday morning session to go over all the practicalities of your marriage celebration ending with our own version of a ‘wedding fair’ with the organist, our flower arrangers, wedding administrators, and ministers. It is relaxed and proves to be very popular, inspirational and fun.
It is always a pleasure for a member of our clergy to officiate at your wedding, but it is important for you to know that due to various parish commitments, it may not be possible for you to choose who conducts the service.
Form Of Service
We use the marriage service contained within Common Worship – the Church of England’s modern service book. For your thinking, a good outline for the service is as follows:
- Entry of the Bride (music of your choice);
- Welcome & Introductory Prayer;
- First Hymn;
- (Optional Reading);
- The Marriage Ceremony (all the legal bits, vows and rings);
- The Blessing of the Marriage;
- Second Hymn;
- Bible Reading;
- Clergy Address;
- The Prayer and Lord’s Prayer;
- The Signing of the Register (during which, if present, choir sing or music of your choice is played);
- Exit (music of your choice).
There is a wide variety of suitable hymns and music to choose from. Two or three hymns may be chosen. It is quite in order for you to choose hymns, but if they are not in either of our hymn books (Common Praise or Songs of Fellowship) you will need to provide copies of the words for the congregation and choir, and music for the Organist. If you want the Organist to play any special music, you will need to provide him with a copy of it a month before the wedding. For a separate fee, a soloist can be engaged to sing during the signing/registration of the marriage by arrangement with the Organist. We encourage the provision of live music for your celebration, please discuss your thoughts with the minister if you should seek a recorded piece of music.
If you need advice or guidance about any aspect of planning the musical content of the service, please contact the Musical Director who will be happy to assist (tel. 023 9252 6255).
You can download a selection of sample pieces of music (23.6MB ZIP file) to help you decide what you might like to use.
We are usually able to provide a team of bellringers for your wedding day but please note that there will not be ringers available for weddings on a weekday.
Readings And Prayers
Apart from music you are also very welcome to choose one or two readings (at least one of which should be from the Bible) for your wedding service, and to discuss the prayers with the person conducting the service. Do please ask if you would like some help with this. Please ensure that any readings not from the Bible are in keeping with this Christian celebration of your marriage.
You do not need to produce your own service sheets, but most couples choose to do so. Do please ask for guidance in this. You will need to provide copies for the choir and clergy as well as your guests!
Some Practical Things
Your rehearsal will be arranged by the Parish Office Administrator (tel. 023 9258 0551), to take place during the week running up to your wedding. Please allow some time for this. The rehearsal will usually take place at 5.00pm, 5.30pm or 6.00pm on Thursday evenings.
We try to make it possible for every couple to have the day for the wedding they first choose and this sometimes means several weddings on one day at intervals of one hour. We guarantee that the service will be dignified and unhurried, but it is important that it starts on time. If the bride is late we still have to finish at the same time in fairness to others.
Photographs are allowed during the service with the agreement of the person conducting the wedding. Please note that Photographers must not cross the front of the church during the wedding service or be obtrusive during the ceremony.
Video And Sound Recordings
A fee is charged for video recordings in church because of the Copyright Act. All video recordings taken must conform to that Act and are only permitted in church when permission has been given and a signed video application form is returned. A form is available from the church office and must be returned to the office not later than twenty-one days before the wedding. Video recordings must be taken only from a position in the side chapel or side aisle and without special lights.
No unofficial or unauthorised video recordings can be permitted within the church. Most professional firms will be aware of these arrangements, but there may be occasions when a video recording is planned as a gift by relatives or friends, so please ensure that everyone connected with your wedding or blessing is aware of these details, to avoid disappointment on the day.
There is always an arrangement of fresh flowers on a pedestal near to the pulpit. These flowers are renewed on a weekly basis for the Sunday services (usually on a Friday or Saturday morning). You may find this acceptable for your wedding. If not you may:
- Have a particular colour scheme which you would like to have incorporated into the existing flowers;
- Have extra flowers arranged for you by St Mary’s Church Flower Guild who provide a full wedding flower service from button holes to bouquets, pew ends to pedestals.
- Choose an external florist who will need to liaise with us accordingly.
Flowers during Advent & Lent: Please note that during Advent (four weeks before Christmas) and Lent (six weeks before Easter), there are no flowers in the church. If you choose wedding flowers at these times you must ensure they are removed before Sunday – thank you.
We want to do our utmost to accommodate your wedding flowers for the big day. It is therefore necessary for any extra flowers to be in place before the first wedding of the day commences. It will not be possible for you to remove major arrangements from the church before the end of the last wedding of the day. An arrangement on a pedestal must also always remain by the pulpit for our Sunday service (except Advent & Lent).
It is best to have two ushers in church for 30 minutes before the service to guide guests on your behalf and give out hymn books or service sheets. After the service they should collect any books left in the pews and any belongings guests may have left; especially cameras and bags!
Two witnesses are needed to sign the registers. Any two adults present at the service may sign.
These fall into two categories. Statutory fees which must always be paid and fees which are only charged for extra facilities such as organ, choir, bells etc. If all these extras are arranged there are about twenty people involved. We do our best to provide up to twelve junior choristers for the choir and six or eight ringers for the bells.
The fees for weddings are reviewed annually every January. Fees should be paid in full after the 10.00am service on one of the Sundays when your banns are published. You can confirm fees at the Marriage Preparation morning.
Having arranged your wedding ceremony, you may be thinking about where to hold the reception. St Mary’s Parish Centre is available to hire, with the following advantages:
- Convenient to church;
- Spacious hall for up to 120 persons;
- Separate lounge;
- Large garden with ample space for marquee.
The facilities can be seen and bookings made at the office in the Parish Centre, open 9.30 to 12.00 noon, Monday to Friday; tel. 023 9258 1550. See our Building page for further details about our buildings for hire.
We hope and pray you will have a wonderful wedding and that you’ll know God to be with you in all your preparations.