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GETTING MARRIED IN THE UK PART 2: Religious ceremonies.

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

It's always exciting to receive enquiries from couples outside the UK who are considering getting married here. This post is to ensure if you want to plan a fabulous UK wedding, that you take the legalities, processes (and their associated costs) into consideration., this particular post follows Part 1 and deals with religious ceremonies.

Who is allowed to marry in the UK?

Firstly you must meet the minimum age requirement, in the UK foreign nationals must be 18 years of age, if you are younger, you must get written permission from your parents or guardians. You can be single, divorced, or widowed. However, you must be able to produce your divorce documents or a death certificate for your deceased spouse. Transgender individuals can marry as their chosen gender only if they have a birth certificate showing that gender.

Giving notice of your intention to Marry in the UK

IF you haven't read up on Civil marriages , please see my post here . Even though you are considering a religious wedding in the UK you will still need to follow the processes outlined here. You have to come to the UK in person to give notice to the registrar in your chosen district, you’ll sign a legal statement at your local register office saying you intend to get married or form a civil partnership. You will need to have stayed in the area/district for 7 days prior to giving notice , pay the administrative fee and be able to give proof of this ( hotel booking etc) The other documentation you must present :passport, proof of UK residency during notice period, proof of residency in Home country (driver's licence, bill ) documents pertaining to divorce or widow status as above, entry visa (if applicable) and passport sized photos. You will also be asked to give details of the final venue for your ceremony. After a period of about 28 days (extended if Registrar wishes to do further checks) you are free to hold your ceremony, this can be anywhere and not necessarily where you gave notice but the civil ceremony must be held within 12 months of ‘giving notice’.

ByChenai wedding editorial photographed by Charlotte Nicols Photography

How to organise a Religious Ceremony in the UK

Couples still need to give notice of their intention to marry however the manner in which this is done depends on the chosen church. As with civil ceremonies, the venue needs to be a registered religious building such as a church or chapel. You can currently legally marry in the UK by having a Church of England, Church in Wales, Roman Catholic, Jewish or Quaker ceremony.

Planning a Church of England wedding in the UK: There are some conditions to be met but broadly speaking , you can ask to marry in any parish where you have a connection as long as the vicar approves. You are also able to marry in a church that isn’t your local parish if you have a certain kind of connection to it, such as family ties, you were baptised there, you regularly attended services there for at least six months, or your parents were married there.

-For a Church of England ceremony, you must announce your intention to marry through the reading of banns in the three/four months leading up to the day.

-If you haven’t given enough notice for banns to be read, you may need a Special Licence, Common Licence or a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate, which you can apply for via your vicar.

-In general, if you’re getting married with the Church of England, there is no need to give notice at the register office as well.

Planning a Catholic Wedding in the UK: your local pastor or bishop may need to give permission for you to marry in another parish, and the priest of the parish you wish to marry in will be able to let you know if he has any attendance requirements (for example, attending services regularly for 6 weeks) . For a Roman Catholic wedding, you need to follow the steps for giving notice at the registry office as if it were a civil ceremony . You must also consider the below

-You will also need to have banns read in church during the three months prior to your wedding date.

- You must be confirmed if you aren’t already

- You must attend pre-marriage preparation courses if your priest asks you to.

- If one of you isn’t Catholic, the priest of your parish will apply to the bishop for permission (if partner is baptized) or for dispensation (if not baptized).

- You might also need to provide proof of connection to the church, such as your parents’ marriage certificate.

- You will need a baptism certificate dated within six month prior to the wedding (get in touch with the church where you were baptised if you need a new copy), a confirmation certificate, a letter of freedom, and proof of ID.

- You will also need to provide the priest the documents from the registry office after the notice period has ended.

There are restrictions around timing on the religious calendar so it is worth asking your Priest, Vicar or Rabbi for the particulars. The key is to make your enquiries well ahead of time when you intend to marry unlike a civil marriage, I'd advise that if you are set on the UK for a religious marriage you enquire as soon as you decide , giving at least 6 -9 months

What to do next?

Hire a wedding planner ...obviously. Seriously, planning a wedding in your home country is stressful enough without having to deal with the time differences and idiosyncrasies of wedding planning in a different country. The benefit of working with ByChenai is the network of trusted suppliers I have in my little white book , I can step in with venue finding and sourcing the best suppliers who will be the right fit for the kind of celebration you want. Get in touch , I'd be happy to help!

* Please ensure you visit the Home Office website here for detailed information relative to your specific circumstances re Visas etc


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Photography Credits: Tom Weller Photography. Sophie Lake Weddings, Rachel Takes Pictures, Joasis Photography, Amy Saunders Photo, Rob Dodsworth Photo, Jenni MCord