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General Information About Marriage in the Church of England

Legal Entitlements
Banns and Common Licences
Superintendent Registrar’s Certificates
Possibility of a Special Licence
Marriage in Church after Divorce


These pages are intended to be of assistance to couples wishing to marry in the Church of England or Church in Wales, and the clergy of those churches.

The information given is for general guidance only and is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law or the Archbishop’s practice.

Couples are encouraged to consult the following website which deals with all aspects of preparing to be married in the Church of England:

Before making plans for a Church of England or Church in Wales wedding, couples should make sure that they will be able to meet the legal requirements for marriage in the church or chapel where they wish to marry.

By law, a marriage can only be conducted after an appropriate preliminary. This is a legal formality which authorises the wedding to take place. In the Church of England and the Church in Wales the normal preliminary is the calling of banns in each party’s parish church.

From 2nd March 2015 the wedding of any non-European national in church must take place after a Certificate has been issued by the civil Superintendent Registrar, unless a Special Marriage Licence has been granted or if special ‘transitional arrangements’ apply (which relevant couples will have been informed of).

Sometimes banns are not appropriate and the couple will need to obtain a Common Marriage Licence from the diocese where the wedding is to take place.

If no other preliminary is possible for a church wedding, a couple may need to apply for the Special Marriage Licence from the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Couples should first discuss the appropriate legal preliminary with the Anglican minister at the church or chapel where they wish to marry, before contacting any other organisation (whether the relevant Diocesan Registry, the relevant civil register office or the Faculty Office) about obtaining a preliminary.