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Getting married in the church of England
Guidelines for florists
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Gallery of wedding flower arrangements
Some pictures of a wedding at Seal

GETTING MARRIED 
AT ST PETER AND ST PAUL, SEAL
 

Preparing for a wedding is not simple - you probably don't need me to tell you that!
There are many questions to be asked and decisions to be made and there will probably be times when the whole business seems overwhelming. You will probably have moments when you wonder whether you are ready for this commitment and whether you are making the right move. I am always happy to listen if you want to talk - please contact me  if I can help.
 However, alongside this important emotional preparation,there will be all sorts of practical and legal matters which you need to think about. I hope that this webpage may answer some of  your questions.  There is a printable version of this information here.
 
CONTENTS

Can I be married at Seal?
What if I have been married before?
Criteria for agreeing to marriage after divorce
Wedding Blessings
Same-sex marriage and civil partnership celebrations
How do I book a wedding?
Banns
What if my partner isn't Church of England?
When can we get married?
Paying for the wedding
Planning the service
More information and links


CAN I BE MARRIED AT SEAL?

This is the first question you must ask. There are legal restrictions on where you can get married. Most of these are not church rules, but are laid out by the state.

You qualify to get married at Seal if:

Either
Or Or
If you can’t meet these criteria, you may be able to be married by  “Special licence”, which is granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury . However this licence costs more and is more complicated to arrange. Licences are only granted under certain conditions. You will need to contact me to discuss this.

When you come to see me to book the wedding you will need to bring proof of identity and nationality. A passport is ideal, but if you don't have one, please contact me so we can discuss other forms of id. There are new regulations covering the marriages of people who are of nationalities outside the EEC, and it may take longer to arrange these weddings, so please leave time for this.


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WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN MARRIED BEFORE?

Under certain circumstances I will conduct marriages of those who have been divorced.
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 I will need to talk carefully to you both about this. The final decision rests with me.
The process I will follow is this;

Anything you say to me will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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WEDDING BLESSINGS

Some priests, if they feel unable to conduct the marriage of a couple in church because of a previous divorce, will offer to conduct a wedding blessing ( a service of prayer and dedication after a civil marriage) instead. I am not normally willing to do this - if I feel I cannot marry you, I am unlikely to feel that I can offer you a "blessing" either.

However I am very happy to conduct wedding blessings for other reasons - for example, if
you want to renew your vows on a special anniversary or if you have been married overseas and want a ceremony in this country so that your friends and family can celebrate with you. If either of you is divorced, I would apply the same criteria when making the decision whether to agree to the blessing as I would if you were to be married here.  You can find out more about these criteria here.


SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATIONS

At the moment Church of England priests are not allowed by law to conduct same-sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies. However it is quite legal for us to offer services of prayer and thanksgiving following a same-sex marriage or civil partnership, and I am very happy to talk to you about this if you would like to explore the possibility. Please get in contact with me to discuss it further.



HOW DO I BOOK A WEDDING?

Please contact me to arrange a time when you can come to book the wedding. This interview will normally take place at the Vicarage.
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BANNS

Calling the banns' is a legal requirement if you are to be married in the Church of England. I read out your names on three Sundays 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 three weeks before the wedding for the same reason).

I will read your banns, at the beginning of the 10am service, on the first three Sundays of the month before the wedding. I will tell 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 for which a fee is payable to them, which you must bring to us. We cannot marry you if we have not seen this certificate.
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WHAT IF MY PARTNER ISN'T CHURCH OF ENGLAND?

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, I will be happy to discuss this.  For legal reasons, however, a Church of England minister must conduct the exchange of vows.
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WHEN CAN WE GET MARRIED?
The most popular day of the week for weddings is Saturday, but weddings can take place on weekdays too (except Tuesday, which is the parish priest's day off). We will not normally be able to provide a choir or bell-ringers for weekday weddings as most of the choir and ringers will be at work. It can also be more difficult to find an organist on a weekday, though usually possible. We will only do weddings on a Sunday if there are very exceptional pastoral reasons (for example, a serious illness of bride, groom or close family necessitating a wedding at short notice). We cannot do weddings in the week before Christmas or Easter, because there is so much else happening at these very important times in the Church's year. Nor will we do weddings in the week immediately after Christmas and Easter, since clergy, choir and others who might need to be involved need to have time to rest and take a break after these very busy times.

Weddings can only legally take place between 8am and 6pm, so it is not possible to do evening weddings.


PAYING FOR THE WEDDING

Wedding fees are made up of a number of charges.
There are fees paid for the priest and charges for the organist, choir, bells etc.
I will give you details of the fees when you book the wedding. Wedding fees for 2013 are here.
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PLANNING THE SERVICE

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 I 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 I like to be flexible and I will enjoy 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.

There are two different types of service which I can use. One uses modern words and the other uses older traditional words for the vows.
Whichever service you choose will last about 40 minutes, and will contain not only the legal exchange of vows, but also a Bible reading, prayers, a blessing, a short address and the signing of the registers.

After you have booked, I will want to see you about three months before the wedding to discuss the service with you, fix a rehearsal, and make sure that everything is in order.
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MORE INFORMATION

You can download the following printable documents from the links below:
Wedding booklet - a guide to getting married at Seal.
Guidelines for florists
Rules for wedding photographers

If you have any questions, please contact:

The Revd. Anne Le Bas, The Vicarage, Seal, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 0AR
Tel. 01732 762955

Our Sunday services are at  10am and 6.30pm - the morning service is our main service, with a congregation of about 50-60 and refreshments afterwards. The evening services are small and quiet, usually with just a handful present - a peaceful end to the day. We would love to see you there as you prepare for your wedding. Children are always welcome, and there are various activities on offer for them
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WEBSITES
Getting married in the Church of England

The Church of England’s official website.

The Faculty Office. This site has information about applying for special licences.

Copyright advice. Copying words of hymns , for a service sheet, for example.(the church has a copyright licence to cover this, but please check that the hymns you want are covered.)
Video recording licence (A professional video recording company will probably have this, but if you are using an amateur it is your responsibility to make sure any recording you make - especially of music used in church and at the reception - is legal.)

For general advice this site is usually fairly reliable and sensible.

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