We want to get married in church!
Our pastor conducting a wedding in 1992So, What is a wedding?
Weddings or marriages have taken place since the very beginnings of civilisation. In the simplest form a marriage is a promise made by two people to live, love and work together as a family unit, for an unlimited period of time, or until one or the other dies. The 'wedding' usually means the ceremony of making that promise. In the very earliest times a wedding was not 'registered' as it is today. Nowhere was a written record of the marriage kept, mainly because written records really did not exist for anything except the most important events. In these pre-written history times, weddings were still just as important, but the only way they were 'recorded' was in the memories of the families. A party would be held, rather like the reception today, and all the members of both families would be invited. It would then be difficult to deny the promises made to your spouse as they were made before all of your and your spouses families. The wedding would be a joyous party atmosphere, and the speeches and promises made as part of this.  When Jesus changed water into wine it was at a wedding like this, at Cana in Galilee. Read it for yourself at John 2 :1 - 11. Jesus (and everybody else of that time) would be completely familiar with this sort of wedding.
It is only in later times that a separate 'wedding' and 'reception' party would be held.
In many countries the church was the only administration, civil or ecclesial. It was'nt until about 500 years after medieval times that civil centres of government started to appear and in some countries it occurred much later then this. For the wealthy, with big houses and castles, they were married at home for want of a better description. The church owned the only 'public' buildings in most areas. So the church was the only place to get married - there was nowhere else. The church would keep records of everyone who was born, died or was married in the parish, or area of its administration. Then later again, governments started to permit 'civil' weddings (that is deliberately Non-Religious wedding ceremonies). In many countries these civil services were held in government offices, and, as there was usually an official whose job it was to record births deaths and marriages in the area (called a Registrar) so these were held in the 'Registry Office'. Couples could get married in a church, or the registry office, but nowhere else.

Since the second war, 1939 - 45, countries have advanced the places where marriages may be performed, and tropical beaches, castles and large hotels can now be venues for the wedding ceremony and the reception party afterwards or both. These are usually civil weddings, that is to say non-religious ceremonies, but not always so.

It is important to remember that the laws for weddings vary between the countries of the world, and that in each country there are very often regional variations and differences in law concerning church weddings and civil weddings. We cannot give you advice regarding the laws of marriage in your country or area. However, the best advice we can give you is to find out for yourselves from your local church, Minister of Religion or government department. Being a Christian website, we recommend that you find a church or minister that will marry you, and that you go that extra distance and embrace the extra significance of a church wedding. Civil and non-religious weddings are just as valid, of course, but we feel that there is another dimension to being married in church; a dimension which might not be apparent to you now, but will become more important to you as your marriage ages. Besides, the priest or minister will be a source of good advice in the first instance (don't worry that you are not regulars to church, or 'the religious type').

First things first
The very first requirement to getting married is to find someone to marry! Not just anybody, this person must be very special. We can't help you here, short of advising you that this really is the most important aspect. A marriage is about the relationship, and about the people. There is a whole industry of wedding providers etc, and all they are interested in is one day (which you will pay for, of course). Limosines, top-hats, suits and dresses may make a day to remember, but if you've not got a strong relationship, it might be making a big day you would rather forget.

How do you choose the right person?
There is no easy answer to this. Nor is there a simple list of do's and don'ts. My personal advice to people in this goes like this: No matter how much you feel you love someone, do not let your heart make this decision. Your head should do this, and do it logically. Make a list if necessary of good points and bad. Write everything on that list in the appropriate column. Then discuss fully with your partner the list you have written, and openly and honestly discuss what is on it and between you work through each and every point. Ask your partner to make a list too, about you. Give it as much time as needed, months if necessary. But all the time, you need to remember that, rather than just finding the right person YOU need to be the right partner for whoever that turns out to be. It does not end there. This is a continuous process which starts now and continues through every day for the rest of your lives. It is incredibly hard work, but the rewards for a marriage which always grows and always evolves are amazing. You'll need to ask God through prayer to help you. But I would say that would'nt I? The marriage is not a 'Big Day' of ceremony and celebration. It is everyday afterwards (and leading up to it too!). Have a big day by all means if that is what you wish. Try however, to keep it in perspective.

Types of Marriage
The laws of marriage vary from country to country. This next section is about United Kingdom rules (other countries are listed below):-
Banns  This is an old English word which means 'summon' or 'proclaim'.  The Banns is an announcement, made publicly on three successive weeks before the wedding. Then anyone who knows of a reason why the named parties may not marry can say so and if the reason is valid, the marriage cannot take place. In England, the Church of England is the 'National Church', that is it is the 'official' church. This gives it a special legal status and one area that this shows is in marriages. The Church of England can issue its own licences, and can marry without licences at all, via Banns. (Certain Roman Catholic dioceses can do this too, I believe, as a dispensation has been given to them to allow marriage by banns).
Licence  Numerically, most marriages happen by licence. The licence is a certificate which gives permission for the marriage ceremony to take place. In order to get a licence, those marrying need to prove who they are, and show that they are not prohibited from marrying. For example if previously married, proof that the previous marriage has been dissolved will need to be shown. The registrar will establish that the parties are not closely related, that they are marrying freely (that is to say not being forced), that they are the right age, and so on. Notices will be placed available for public inspection announcing the intended marriage so that objections can be raised if necessary. When this procedure is completed, a certificate will be issued, giving permission for the marriage to take place. The Church of England can issue its own licences (or marry by banns) but other churches (eg Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist etc etc) will require the couple to get a licence from the registrar. The wedding can then take place in a registered building which will be the church building, and before a registered person, which will be the minister. Nearly every church is a registered building and has at least one registered person, but there is occasionally one which is not. In Scotland, the registrar issues a licence, and the officiant has to either be an approved person, or apply for approval for that individual wedding. The officiant will be given a certificate proving that they are approved, or are approved for that particular wedding. Civil weddings are by licence and the registered place is either a registry office, or registered hotel, castle or other venue. In this case the registered person is authorised by the district registrar.
Blessing  Where the religious service does not confer the legal status of marriage it is considered a blessing, that is a blessing of a marriage already solmnized. The officiant will still need to satisfy him or herself of the details because otherwise the officiant might be blessing something he or she does not agree with or believe in, which would be hypocritical. There are in certain circumstances, advantages to having a small informal legal wedding, rather like a formality, and then holding a ceremony in a manner and at a time to suit. This method also allows the ceremony (legally a blessing) to happen anywhere, even in a non-registered place.

Same sex Marriages
This has been a thorny issue for many, Christian and secular alike. I'm only a simple guy so I look at it like this: If I sin, I'm responsible; no-one else. Also, if I please God, I did it - no one else. In other words we are all responsible for our own salvation. If you believe that same sex unions are wrong that is good; I'll support your position to the uttermost (because your salvation is your response to God). Similarly, if you believe that same sex unions are right that is good;
I'll support your position to the uttermost (because your salvation is your response to God). Some fundamentalists will see that as a fudge: but I'm a Liberal (a Liberal Catholic as it happens) and I know that you are responsible for your own salvation. My (nor others) opinions do not come into this: your relationship matters are between you and God. So to quote John Wesley (founder of Methodism): 'Even if I do not agree with you, if your heart is right, give me your right hand... [to shake it]'.
Some countries (UK, some states in America etc) recognise same sex partnerships. Many Churches (and nations) do too, even though many do not. If this section applies to you do your research in our Directory of Denominations as there are many sympathetic churches today, and see our
Links to Independant Ministers who take Weddings, below. Even if Civil Partnerships or Same Sex Marriages are not recognised in your country, many independant church ministers will hold services of blessing. Click Here to send an email.

Marriage in other Countries.

There have been numerous couples who have gone to an exotic location to be married and have found to their surprise that the marriage has not been recognised, or certified or registered when they come home. Check carefully what the arrangements are before committing to marry in a country where you do not have citizenship. If you need help, or have had this problem, our pastors will help you: click here.

Glossary of Marriage terms

Banns                            The official announcement or pronouncement of the intention to get married
Common Licence
Special Licence
Specific Words            These are legally defined words which MUST be said in the service.
Legal Declarations        The promises, required by law, that the couple make to each other, and to witnesses.
Solemnisation                The legal ceremony, religious or non-religious, where the legal promises are made.
Rings                                Traditionally the visible sign of being married (although not necessary).
Marriage Certificate        The legal document which displays the details of the marriage.

Links to Independant Ministers who take Weddings/Same sex unions

Our own pastors will be happy to hold services of marriage or blessing or unions. We also have many contacts in independant churches worldwide: contact us with the country of marriage.