There is a general right to be married in your local parish church and/or in a parish where your name is on the electoral roll for that church. Couples also now have the right to be married in a particular parish church if they can show that they have certain "qualifying connections" with that parish. These qualifying connections include connections arising through baptism/worship and also certain defined family connections.

For a marriage to take place in a church one of the following legal requirements must be carried out:

  • The calling of Banns; Or
  • Issue of a Common Licence by the Bishop; Or
  • Issue of a Special Licence by the Archbishop; Or
  • Issue of a Superintendent Registrar’s certificate.

A priest has a discretion to remarry in church those who have previously been married.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 does not extend to marriage in church between same sex couples.

Electronic registers:-

From 4 May 2021, a new system for registering marriages electronically will be introduced. The government will be rolling out training materials and instructions for clergy ahead of the implementation date.

Marriages of EEA nationals from July 2021 onwards:-

From 1 July 2021, any Church of England wedding where either or both of the parties are non-UK/Irish nationals and who do not have Settled Status (or Pre-Settled Status) will only be able to take place on the authority of an Superintendent Registrar's Certificate  (or a Special Licence). It will be illegal for such a wedding to take place after the calling of Banns or by Common Marriage Licence (unless the banns have been started or the Common Licence has been arranged before 1 July 2021).

Clergy will therefore be required to check that couples are either UK or Irish nationals (ideally by seeing a current passport) or that any other national has Settled Status before agreeing to call Banns of Marriage. Surrogates will need to carry out similar checks before a Common Licence may be granted.

Further guidance from the Home Office (June2021) for clergy may be found here: Home Office Guidance for Clergy (June 2021)

Minimum Age for Marriage:-

On 27 February 2023 the minimum age at which a person may marry or enter into a civil partnership will rise to 18 - see Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022. The old exceptions which applied (e.g. where parental consent has been granted) will no longer apply. Clergy will need to bear this in mind when checking the age of couples.