Bishops north and south herald new dawn for church weddings – more marriages ahead for Church of England as new law launches today
The Bishop of Reading, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, is holding a special wedding breakfast today with a gospel choir singing wedding favourites and brides- and grooms-to-be at St Laurence’s Church, Reading, to celebrate the launch of the Church of England Marriage Measure, and showcase the accompanying wedding planning resource www.yourchurchwedding.org, while the Bishop of Bradford, Rt Revd David James, is talking about why marriage is good for you in an advertising feature in the Yorkshire Post Newspaper.
Also today 120 Berkshire vicars are gathering at Greyfriars Church, Reading, to learn about the changes the new law will bring - part of a nationwide legal refresher across the Church of England. They will learn of a new survey conducted by confetti.co.uk which shows that more people would choose a church wedding if they knew they could have one, and of other findings illustrating that 53 per cent of the general population think that church weddings ‘feel more proper’.
The Bishop of Reading, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: “Getting married in church just got easier. People who are serious about getting married naturally want a marriage ceremony and a setting which is equally serious.
“Only the church provides this; but until now it has been difficult to get married in church unless it is in the parish where you live or where you regularly worship.
“But from today those who have a connection with the church can be married in the church where they have that connection. This is good news. Loads of people want something only the church can offer: God’s blessing on their marriage. Now it will be easier to provide it. Golf clubs and country houses, you have been warned!”
As part of an advertising feature in the Yorkshire Post, the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd David James, the father of four daughters, says: "There's plenty of evidence to say that a good marriage is more likely to keep you healthy, wealthy and wise. Bradford newly-weds tell us marriage has made them happier and their relationship stronger. Independent experts agree that marriage helps keep you together, and makes for better sex and better health.
"Add to that the fact that marriage protects you legally and financially, is the best context for bringing up children, and makes for a healthier society altogether, well, I make that seven heavenly reasons to get married. And getting married in church can add the extra special dimension."
The launch of the Marriage Measure accompanies new research from Confetti.co.uk showing that more people would choose a church wedding if they knew they could have one:
Most people believe that the Church of England offers flexibility within wedding plans: two-thirds of respondents believe there’s room for the personal touch in a church wedding.
In addition, over half disagree that a church wedding is too expensive, and most are continuing with their plans despite the credit crunch.
The online survey also discovered that two-thirds of respondents expected their marrying vicar to be helpful, friendly and understanding.
From this day forward, thanks to the Marriage Measure becoming law, engaged couples are welcome to be married in church in a parish if just one of these applies:
one of them was baptised or prepared for confirmation in the parish;
one of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more;
one of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more;
one of their parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
one of their parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
their parents or grandparents were married in the parish.
(The changes apply to Church of England services, and do not apply to cathedrals)