Tying the knot in church

What you can expect at your wedding ceremony

While many faiths are practised in Britain today, each with its own special traditions, statistics show that more than one in four marriages in England still takes place within the Church of England.

Church weddings
Church weddings

You have a choice of authorised Anglican marriage services, which include:

  • The 1662 Book of Common Prayer version with its old-style language

  • The Series One Service

  • The New Order of Common Worship

  • Whatever you go for, there is usually some room for manoeuvre on declarations such as the bride promising to ‘obey’ the groom.

Details of the choices of services, prayers and a full draft of the ceremony can be found at www.cofe.anglican.org/worship.

Generally, you’ll follow a format something like this:

  • Welcome and introduction by the minister

  • First hymn

  • The minister addresses the congregation to ask if anyone knows of any reason why the couple may not marry

  • Declarations – you’ll be asked to promise that you will love, comfort, honour and protect each other, to which each of you answers “I will”

  • Exchange of vows, containing the section:
“To have and to hold,
From this day forward
For better, for worse
For richer, for poorer
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
‘Til death us do part”

  • Blessing of the ring/s, after which the groom or both of you says the words: “I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage...”

  • Second hymn (if you are having three)

  • The readings<

  • The minister's address

  • Registration of the marriage/signing the register

  • Prayers and communion (if you are having full communion). This is where you may have to decide whether to recite the traditional or updated Lord's prayer (ie will you forgive those who ‘trespass against us' or ‘sin against us')

  • Third hymn

  • Recessional as the couple walk back down the aisle

If you’re having a Roman Catholic wedding, the format’s usually similar to a Church of England service, particularly the Anglican or ‘high church' ceremonies. The main difference is whether or not to have a full mass. If you are having one, it’ll usually be conducted after the marriage and registration, along with the prayers.


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