What legal arrangements are necessary and what do we have to do?
The most usual way of satisfying the legal requirements before marriage is to arrange for the reading of the ‘Banns of Marriage’. This is the reading, in church, of the announcement of your wedding.
When are the Banns read and do I have to be present?
This takes place at three Sunday services before the wedding. There is no legal requirement to be present but many couples find it a special moment to come together at least once to the church in which they are shortly to be married. In the Bro Famau Group we will normally read the banns on the first three Sundays of the month before the month in which the wedding takes place. If, however, you would like to be present but cannot attend on any of the usual dates please speak to the priest who is going to marry you and they will arrange for another Sunday or Sundays – legally the banns have to be read within the three months before the wedding.
If one or both of you lives in another parish you will need to arrange with that parish for banns to be read there too. You will need to contact the priest in charge or parish office to arrange this. Once the banns have been read you will need to collect a certificate from that parish which confirms that the banns have been read. That certificate then needs to be handed or sent to the priest conducting your wedding in order to allow him/her to proceed!
Do we need to contact the local registration office or registrar?
No, ceremonies in ‘Anglican’ churches such as the Church in Wales, are generally covered by the arrangements outlined above. The ‘Marriage Certificate’ which you will keep is issued by the priest at the end of the wedding ceremony.
Why do some people get married in church by ‘licence’ rather than the reading of banns?
Although the considerable majority of our weddings are undertaken after the reading of banns there are certain circumstances where a licence is needed, for example if one of you lives elsewhere in the world in a country which does not have a system for the reading of banns. The priest or other person receiving your wedding booking will be able to discuss the relevant circumstances if necessary.
Do we need to produce an ‘Order of Service’ and how do we do this?
You do not have to have an order of service printed but most couples do. The minimum requirements are for it to include a general outline of the service, and the words to any hymns or songs which are to be sung. The priest conducting the service will talk with you about this.
How many Orders of Service should we have printed?
This is one of the most common problems at a wedding! You need to estimate how many people there are likely to be attending the service and supply one for each of them. Sometimes couples decide to try to share one between two but remember that the Priest needs one, as do the organist and yourselves, and of course a wedding is a public service and you never know who might want to turn up to support you!
Can we chose our vows or change the service in any way?
A marriage service in church is governed by law and has to follow a set pattern. There is, however, flexibility. A church wedding is a ‘sacrament’ – an outward sign of the grace of God at work. The marriage ceremony in church has been worked out, and adapted to suit circumstances, for many years. The priest marrying you will be able to give you a full text of the service, and explain any permitted variations. As well as any variations you can choose music, and the readings. If you would like anything else but are not sure if it is permitted please do ask – we like to say ‘yes’ much more than we say ‘no’!
The vows (the formal promises at the heart of the service) which you take are the same for both of you. Do take some time to go through the vows with one another, and to explore together what they do and will mean in the future.
I, (name), take you (name),
to be my husband/wife,
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,
as long as we both shall live,
according to the will and purpose of God.
In the presence of God I make this vow.
At the giving and receiving of ring(s) this is said…
(Name), I give you this ring
as a sign of the love and faithfulness between us.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How many Bible readings do we need and can we have other readings?
There needs to be at least one Bible reading from the New Testament in the Bible – see the separate file with sample readings. You can, if you wish, choose an additional one or two readings (bear in mind that more than three readings in a service can make it feel quite ‘wordy’). The person conducting the service will need to approve your choice to make sure they are compatible with the ceremony – but we hardly ever say ‘no’!
Do we have to provide an organist or is one provided?
The church normally provides an organist and the charge is included in the fee table. If you know someone who you would particularly like to play the organ, for example a friend or relative, please let us know. In such cases we will ask you to make your own financial arrangements with the organist. Most ‘guest’ organists like to have an opportunity to practice on the particular organ before they come to the service. We can arrange for them to do this.
Is any other music allowed?
If you want to include music as well as, or instead of, the organ, there are several options.
Particularly at Cilcain, Gwernaffield, and Llanferres it is possible to use the main church sound system – where either an MP3 or CD player is directly linked into the main speaker system. We do charge for this – see fee table. Any music will need to be checked with the priest conducting the service but the general rule is that as long as it is not in any way offensive or otherwise unsuitable it will be OK (and we do realize that most wedding couples do not choose anything unsuitable).
The opportunities to include extra music are mainly as the bride, or bride and groom enter the church, during the signing of the registers (which can take about ten minutes), and as the bride and groom leave). During the signing of the registers you may have some particularly favourite recorded songs or music which you would like played. Alternatively the organist will simply be able to play some quiet background music.
Sometimes people have friends or family, or know of others, who can play music in the service. Recent weddings have included harpists, pianists, singers, and choirs. You will want your musicians to be compatible with the overall mood of the special occasion but we believe that God gives the gift of music to many different styles of musician so, if your best friends are a rock band, they are likely to be just as welcome!
Can I ask a guest choir to sing?
At Gwernaffield there is a small choir which, if available, will be happy to sing (see fee table) at your wedding. You are welcome to invite a guest choir subject to agreement about detailed arrangements with the priest conducting the service. (Although it is worth saying that it is often difficult to find a choir). All our churches at present have in place traditional wooden ‘choir pews’. Traditional church choirs sing from the choir pews which face each other across the top part of the church. If there are more choristers than the number of seats, or if a choir is used to singing in a different configuration there needs to be a discussion about how this might be accommodated. Again, we try to facilitate what you would like, so please ask.
What about flowers at the wedding?
At most times of the year there are flowers in place near the altar (most churches have a ‘flower free’ period during Lent (the weeks leading up to Easter), and Advent (the weeks leading up to Christmas), but other than at these times you may wish simply to have the church flowers in place as usual.
You may of course wish to provide additional flowers yourself. You can do this by placing flowers on pedestals near the altar or near the chancel steps (the place where most of the ceremony takes place), and/or in the church porch. Sometimes people ask to place flowers on the altar and a small bouquet is permitted if not placed centrally on the altar. ‘Pew-end’ decorations can be attractive but must not be fixed by pins or staples. During Lent and Advent you are welcome to bring in flowers for the wedding service.
It is important for us to know whether you intend to leave flowers in place after the service or whether you want to take them with you – either is acceptable as long as we know in advance.
When will I be able to arrange for flowers to be delivered and arranged?
Access to all the churches is available either during the normal hours they are open in any case (generally at least 10.00 am to 4.00 pm). Outside these hours we can arrange for access by key – please consult with the priest conducting the wedding.
What if there is more than one wedding in the church on the same day?
Occasionally more than one wedding takes place at the same church on the same day. In the event of this happening you can either agree to share flowers with the other couple or, if you prefer to have your own personal arrangements, then you will be asked to provide some help (perhaps a couple of ushers for example) to either move the flowers into place before and/or after your ceremony. Any arrangements about other matters will need to be discussed with the priest,
Who will conduct my wedding and can I choose?
The availability of a particular priest to conduct your wedding will depend on a variety of circumstances. The majority of weddings in our group of churches are conducted by either the Rector/Vicar, the Revd Adrian Copping, or by the Curate, the Revd Phil Bettinson (who may be leaving us in mid 2014). Conducting wedding services is a real joy for most priests and, where one of us particularly knows a couple or gets to know them, then we like to try to ensure that person conducts the wedding. Circumstances such as the priest’s holidays, illness and other commitments might of course mean that alternative arrangements have to be made – most often by calling in a priest from nearby parishes. We try to let you know as soon as possible who it will be who conducts your wedding.
Can I have a wedding in either Welsh or English language?
The Church in Wales is a bi-lingual church and the Marriage Service is fully available in both languages. Some people like to have a service in one language with some readings or hymns in the other language. Please let us know which language/languages you would like your service conducted in. We will try to let you have the best possible wedding and we are happy to ask for help from other churches if that is needed.
What do we need to do about the ‘witnesses’
The wedding certificates are signed by the couple, the priest, and two witnesses. The law requires that the witnesses must be 18 years of age or over, have actually witnessed the ceremony, and are sober! Many couples choose the best man and chief bridesmaid but two parents (one of the bridegroom, one of the bride) are another popular choice. It is entirely up to you.
Do we have the opportunity for a ‘rehearsal’?
Our experience is that it is helpful to have the chance to run through the ceremony beforehand. You will be invited to have a ‘wedding rehearsal’ and to arrange a date with the priest. This generally seems to work best a few days before the wedding, but can be arranged at other times if that is more helpful. Obviously bride and bridegroom need to be there, and it is helpful to have at least one of the bridesmaids if you are having bridesmaids, the best man, and (if you are being ‘given away’ or ‘brought to be married’) the person who is doing this.
The principal purpose of the Wedding rehearsal is for you, the couple, to be comfortable with where you are going to be standing at the wedding, the words you are going to be asked to say, and so on (you will not be asked to memorise anything by the way!). Wedding rehearsals are scheduled to last a maximum of one hour, so if you want to involve detailed arrangements with, for example, any guest musicians then this may need to be at another time
What do we need to consider about timing?
There are often people involved with your wedding – the Vicar, organist, verger, bellringer, even guests for example! – who may have other commitments following the ceremony and in the Bro Famau Group of Churches, it is not entirely unusual for there to be more than one wedding on one day.
The time you book your wedding for is the time that you should be at the church door and ready to begin the wedding service. If you are arranging for a photographer to meet you as you arrive at the church gate you will probably need to arrive about ten minutes before the scheduled start time. The question of arrival time is becoming a serious problem at some churches and some are imposing charges for late arrivals. We do not want to do this but please make your plans so that you will be at the church on time. If you arrive significantly late we cannot guarantee that the ceremony can take place that day.
Couples often ask about how long the service is. This depends on the number of hymns or songs, readings and so on but generally services last around 40 minutes or so. If you are arranging timing in terms of the church bit and the reception bit, and if you are having photos outside the church after the wedding service, you will probably need to allow at least half an hour between leaving the church and leaving for the reception.
What car parking is available?
All our five churches are in villages where there are only limited or no designated public car parks. There are, however, also very few or no parking restrictions along the adjacent and nearby lanes and roads! At Cilcain Church there is a very small church car park (space for maximum of 8 cars). If anyone in your wedding party has particular need of parking space there we can reserve up to 3 spaces if you contact us at least several days in advance. Please be aware that local businesses can be badly affected by the arrival of a large number of cars and many of our local businesses are small but form an important part of village life. The Druid Inn at Llanferres is immediately next to the church and has experienced wedding guests using their car park without permission with the result that nearly their entire lunchtime trade has been lost. Please do not park in the premises of pubs and other facilities without seeking permission of the owner first. It would be helpful if you would include parking information in any details you send to wedding guests. Also, and this may be rather obvious, but please do not park immediately in front of the church entrance as this makes it difficult for wedding cars and other essential vehicles to park themselves.
Can people bring and throw confetti?
Most confetti nowadays is bio-degradable and we encourage that. You are welcome to use confetti outside the church, preferably in the ‘traditional’ way which is at the gate as you leave (this makes it easier for us to clear up afterwards, as if confetti is used at the church door and the wind is in the wrong direction we get a church full of confetti!)
Will there be a collection during the service?
No, but in keeping with the tradition of our churches (as many other churches) there will be a collecting plate by the door of the church for anyone who wishes to make a donation towards the ongoing ministry and mission of the church.
When do the fees have to be paid?
Please see the separate table of fees. Fees are revised annually, normally in January, so if you have booked your wedding some time in advance you will need to check the latest fees before paying.
One month before the wedding please, preferably by cheque, or by cash – cheques please payable as follows….
Llanferres – ‘Llanferres Parish Church 2’;
Nannerch – ‘Churchwardens of Nannerch’;
Rhydymwyn – ‘Vicar and Churchwardens, St John’s Church, Rhydymwyn’; Gwernaffield – ‘Gwernaffield Parish Church’;
Cilcain – ‘Churchwardens of Cilcain Parish Church’.
What if I have other questions?
Contact the Priest who is conducting the service, or the Rector/Vicar – they will be happy to answer questions in person, by phone, or email.