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Services of Marriage

Services of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage (‘Blessing’)

Thanksgiving for Marriage (‘Renewal of Vows’)


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A marriage service, wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and commitment to your partner.

A service in church brings an added dimension - the assurance that God cares about your relationship and that his resources and strength are available to help you. Including God in your marriage doesn’t mean that you will avoid all the usual ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to God for help and guidance and that his love will sustain you. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian Church family.

This page gives a basic guide to some of the important issues. However, it is not possible here to give full legal information relating to marriages and in the case of doubt you must take appropriate advice.

What are the differences between the services?

1. A Church of England Service of Marriage is a legally recognised ceremony in which single men and women are joined in marriage. The form of service is important and governed by law. After declaring their ability and desire to marry, the couple exchange solemn vows and give and receive ring(s). The priest declares them to be married and the service concludes with prayers and blessings. There are important legal preliminaries to a ceremony of marriage, which must be observed carefully.

2.  A Service of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage is sometimes known as the Blessing of a Civil Marriage. This service can follow immediately after a civil marriage (e.g. in a Register Office) for couples in circumstances where it would not be possible to have a church wedding. Alternatively, couples who have been married for some time may wish to dedicate their life together to God. The couple begin the service as married people, and there is no giving of rings, though a prayer over the rings is offered. In the dedication the couple resolve to be faithful to each other and pray that in offering themselves to God that they may grow in unity, love and peace. The priest prays for God to bless the marriage which has already taken place.

3. The Service of Thanksgiving for Marriage may be used to celebrate an anniversary, or in the renewed commitment following a time of difficulty in a marriage. The form of service is flexible and often includes the renewal of wedding vows, in which the couple recall and reaffirm the commitment they made on their wedding day.


What is the situation for marriage after a divorce?

The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life. It also recognises that, sadly, some marriages do fail and, if this should happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The current policy guidelines of the Church of England regarding the re-marriage of divorcees are for the decision to rest with the conscience of the priest. Currently, the clergy of S. Margaret, Hollinwood &  S. Chad, Limeside are unable to conduct such a marriage in church – exercising their right to hold fast to the teachings of the Church of God as they understand the teachings of Christ to be binding.

If it is not possible for your proposed marriage to take place in church, the priest may consider other alternatives with you. If you have any questions, please contact us

Am I entitled to be married in Church?

You are entitled to be married in the church of the Church of England parish where one or other of you lives. If either of you live in the parish S. Margaret, Hollinwood &  S. Chad, Limeside, you can choose to marry at S. Margaret’s Church, Chapel Road, HOLLINWOOD, Oldham.

If neither of you lives in the parish of S. Margaret, Hollinwood &  S. Chad, Limeside, you will have to go on the electoral roll of the parish: you will be expected to attend the church services for six months to qualify for going on the roll. In certain circumstances you can apply for a Special Licence.

You don’t have to be baptised to be married in Church, but an understanding of the Christian faith is important if the service is to be meaningful for you. The Parish of S. Margaret, Hollinwood & S. Chad, Limeside offers an obligatory Marriage Preparation Course.

Can I have a Church Wedding at another venue?
At the moment, if you wish for a priest to conduct your wedding, then you can only have a Church of England wedding in a parish church or some other place of worship - normally one licensed by the Bishop. It is not normally possible to have your church wedding in other venues, for instance in a hotel. It is, however, possible to have a service of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage.

How do I book the Church?
As soon as you have decided you would like to get married in church, get in touch with the Clergy (0161 681 4541). We will help you with the first stages of making the booking and let you know which priest in the parish will be conducting your marriage preparation and your wedding.

The priest  conducting  your marriage  will wish to meet with you in person to discuss your plans and for the Marriage Preparation.

What are the legal requirements?
Banns are the normal legal preliminary for a marriage service. You must have your banns read out in church on three consecutive Sundays during the three months before the wedding. Banns are an announcement of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place.

Banns need to be read in the parish where each of you lives as well as at the church in which you are to be married.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the correct information for calling the banns is given to the priest of the appropriate parish churches in good time.

Banns are not required for Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage or Thanksgiving for Marriage.

If you are under the age of eighteen, you must have your parents’ consent to marry.

How much will our wedding cost?
The amount charged depends on the options you choose. Every January, a new fees table is published which shows all the options. Current prices are available from the clergy. To secure your booking, we ask for a £50 non-returnable deposit.

Who will be the minister at our wedding?
Normally, one of the parish clergy will officiate. The minister will want to meet with you to get to know you and to help you in planning your service.

In the first instance, please contact the Clergy on 0161 681 4541

 or by post The Vicarage, Chapel Road, HOLLINWOOD, Oldham. OL8 4QQ

Are resources available online?
If you have access to the internet, you’ll find a wealth of online resources about weddings. You might like to look at the Church of England website: Press the button 'Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals' on the tool bar.