Weddings at St James
Why get married in Church?
You can get married pretty much anywhere these days, from the local registry office to a beach in the Canary islands. But Christian weddings happen in churches, and the majority of Christian weddings in the UK happen in the Church of England.
But you don't have to "sign up" as a Christian to feel there's something about a church that makes it a special place to get married in. It could be because it's a place of prayer, where people have worshipped God, often for centuries. It could be because there's something in those ancient words "for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part" that nothing else can touch. It could be because of the centuries of wisdom the Church has built up about the meaning of marriage. It could be that, for whatever reason, your wedding won't feel right unless it has been blessed by God in a Church.
There are all sorts of reasons for getting married in Church. We would love to talk with you about them.
Why get married in this church: St James The Great, East Malling?
We love marrying people at this church: around fifteen to twenty couples a year get married here. We are blessed with a church that's both beautiful and full of history. It may be that your family members were married here in the past, and that makes your wedding extra special if you too are choosing to marry here.
While it's a great occasion of joy, it's also something to be taken seriously, and most couples work with us on preparations, not just for the wedding but the years of marriage that lie ahead. We will talk with you about how to take that forward.
Who can be married here?
This is a parish church and anyone resident in this parish can get married here. If you both have British passports, the legal way to make sure your marriage is "public" is to announce it at the main parish church service on at least three Sundays prior to your marriage: this is called "Banns" and is a great tradition that goes back hundreds of years in the Church of England. Hearing your "Banns" read out is a curiously exciting part of the run-up to your wedding.
If you don't live in the parish, but come to the Church regularly, you can still get married with "Banns". If you don' live in the parish or come to Church regularly (and why not? We're very friendly!), then we will offer you advice accordingly. But please come and speak to us first at our Parish Office.
New Laws: However, thousands of couples dreaming of a church wedding now have more churches to choose from, following the introduction of the Church of England Marriage Measure on October 1st 2008. The changes mean an engaged couple 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.
(All of these refer to Church of England services)
This is all good news and I do hope that many more folk will begin to consider a Church Marriage as a serious option. I have tried to encourage people to think seriously about Church Marriages in all of my Parishes but we are now more able to meet the varying needs of engaged couples.
What if one of us is divorced?
We believe marriage is for life. At the same time, we recognise that sadly some marriages do fail. We also recognise that some of the most successful marriages are those where one or other partner has already been married and divorced, and in our church we do marry people who have previously been divorced.
While we aren't interested in a witch hunt about who was responsible for the break-up of a previous marriage, we do expect to have a frank discussion in the course of booking your wedding.
For the booking of weddings or simply to make an enquiry, please telephone, write or e-mail us.