If you want to get married in one of our seven parish churches, you may be surprised to learn that it’s pretty easy! Because it is a legal ceremony, there are some boundaries as to where you can get married but there may be more options than you had first thought possible.
The rule that most people tend to know is that you can always get married in the parish church in the place where you live. If you live in Ryarsh, for example, you can get married in Ryarsh.
However, there are more options for you. The next piece of good news is that because our seven parishes are in a Team Ministry, we have sought special permission from the Bishop of Rochester to enable you to marry in any one of the seven parishes, provided you have a connection to one of them. It’s called a ‘Benefice Entitlement to Marry’.
So for example, if you live in Ryarsh, you can get married in Ryarsh if you like, but you also now have the right to get married in Addington, Birling, Leybourne, Offham, Trottiscliffe or West Malling!
However, we know that you might like to get married in one of our churches even though you don’t live in any of our seven parishes. The church may have special significance for you through family or other connections, it may just suit you practically because of its size or location, or because you’ve fallen in love with its history and beauty.
So if either of you or your partner can show any one of the following seven connections with any one of our seven parish churches, then you are also eligible to get married in any one of those churches.
If one of you was:
- baptised in Addington, Birling, Leybourne, Offham, Ryarsh, Trottiscliffe or West Malling, or
- prepared for confirmation in one of our seven churches, or
- has at any time lived in one of our seven parishes for a period of at least six months, or
- has at any time regularly gone to normal church services in one of our seven churches for a period of at least six months;
or if you can show that one of your parents, at any time after you were born:
- has lived in one of our seven parishes for a period of at least six months, or
- has regularly gone to normal church services in one of our seven churches for a period of at least six months;
or if you can show that your parents or any of your grandparents:
- was married in Addington, Birling, Leybourne, Offham, Ryarsh, Trottiscliffe or West Malling.
If one or more of those criteria apply to one or both of you, then you can definitely get married here.
Even if you can’t demonstrate any one of those seven connections to any of our seven churches, and you don’t live in any of our seven parishse, then do not despair just yet.
It is possible to marry in a church if you attend that church regularly for a period of six months. So if you don’t have a qualifying connection yet, you could start attending your preferred church at least once a month for a period of at least six months and build up a connection that way.
Finally, if that’s not possible for you, it still may be possible for you to marry in the church you want to get married in by applying for a special or common licence. Talk to our Clergy team well in advance to discuss that option as special arrangements will need to be made.
Special and common licences
If you want to get married in one of our parishes, but cannot satisfy any of the ‘qualifying connections’ to a church that are set out above, you may need to apply for a Special Licence. If you genuinely feel you have a connection with this church, we should be able to help you in applying.
There is a fee for such a licence of around £250 that’s paid to the Church authorities, but please check for the latest price when you contact us. It’s also worth being aware that while we want to help you find a way to marry here, Special Licences are not automatically granted by the Church authorities. Be sure to plan well in advance. Up to 18 months in advance of your wedding is recommended.
If your marriage is taking place too soon for Banns to be read, or one of the people marrying is a foreign national, then a Common Licence application will be necessary for you. It is granted in the name of the Bishop of Rochester as our parishes are in the Bishop of Rochester’s diocese, and the Bishop has discretion whether or not to grant it. In order to obtain such a Licence, one of you must have had his or her usual residence within this parish during fifteen days immediately preceding the application, or must have had his or her usual place of worship at the church.
Common Licences can only be granted for marriage to take place within the Diocese, and are only valid for three months. Again, there is a special fee for a Common Licence. Please ask for prices when you speak to us.