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Marriage Law News

December 2012

Publication of banns of marriage: Changes to the law of the publication of banns of marriage came into effect on 19 December 2012. This relates to the wording used and the service(s) at which banns may be published:

1.  The Measure provides statutory authority for the use of the form of words for the publication of banns contained in Common Worship: Pastoral Services (as an optional alternative to the form of words contained in the Book of Common Prayer)

2.  The Measure requires that the publishing of Banns (on three Sundays, as at present) must be at the ‘principal service’ (rather than, as at present, at ‘morning service’). There is an optional provision that they may additionally be published at any other service on those three Sundays.


Please note that the recent change in the law relates to the ‘time of publication’ on a particular Sunday. The law on the ‘dates of publication’ remains unchanged. Banns are to be published on three Sundays preceding the marriage but there is no requirement that these must be three successive Sundays.

The Church of England Legal Office has provided a more detailed briefing setting out the changes, which can be found here.

October 2012

IPS Clergy Newsletter: The third edition of the Identity & Passport Service (IPS)’s Clergy Newsletter is available to download here together with the latest version of the Guidance for the Clergy on marriage registration etc.

Hours of Solemnization of Marriage: The Legal Office of the Archbishops’ Council has provided updated guidance on the repeal of section 4 of the Marriage Act 1949. The repeal does not change the legal position in relation to marriages according to the Rites of the Church of England. A Church of England marriage may still be solemnized only between 8.00am and 6.00pm. This is a legal requirement of the Church of England’s Canons (Canon B 35.3).  The only exception to this is where a Special Licence has been granted, as this can theoretically authorise a marriage at any time of day or night. However, a Special Licence will only permit marriage outside the usual hours when medical necessity dictates this.

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