Everyone resident within the parish boundaries has a right to be married at St Stephen’s after appropriate preparation, so long as there is no legal impediment. It is also possible to get married at St Stephen’s if you do not live in the parish but are on the church Electoral Roll. To join the electoral roll you must have been baptised and must have already attended worship at St Stephen’s regularly for at least 6 months.
The law governing the right to get married in the Church of England changed on 1st October 2008. This makes it easier for you to get married in the church of your choice, even if you don’t live in the parish or attend regularly, provided that you can show a real connection with the parish. Please see section on the ‘Marriage Measure’ on the Church of England Website for further details.
There are four possible preliminaries to marriage in the Church of England:
i) Banns are the easiest and most commonly used method. They involve notice of your forthcoming wedding being read out in both the bride and the groom’s parish churches on three Sundays in the period three months before the wedding. If you lives in two different parishes, Banns will have to becalled in both parish churches. It is customary for couples to attend church for the calling of their Banns which takes place during the 10am Sunday morning service. Attending will help you feel more comfortable with the church surroundings and will hopefully mean that you feel less nervous on the big day. Click here to download and complete a Banns Application Form.
ii) Marriages can also take place after obtaining a Common Licence. This is a quicker method than Banns but more expensive and involves the parties swearing an affidavit before the Diocesan Registrar or the local Surrogate.The Diocesan Registrar recommends marriage by Licence when one or both parties are not British or EU citizens (but see under iv below).
iii) A Special Licence allows people to be married without the usual requirement of living in the parish or belonging to the Electoral Roll. It will usually only be granted if you have a very strong connection with the parish or if there are medical reasons (perhaps a parent who lives in the parish and is too ill to travel) which make a wedding at St Stephen’s the best option.
iv) The Bishop of Southwark, on the advice of the Diocesan Registrar, has recently informed all clergy that people who are not British or EU citizens, do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and are not in the UK on a marriage visa, should obtain a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate from the Register Office in Croydon. There is a fee of £30 per person and the Registrar will need details of your addresses and immigration status. You will almost certainly be required to obtain confirmation from the Home Office that you are eligible to marry and so it is probably advisable to obtain this first. If you think that these regulations may apply to you, you should contact the Vicar to discuss things further.