Planning the ceremony

Couples usually meet with the pastor conducting the service beforehand to plan the ceremony and to discuss the meaning of marriage and love. The meeting also ensures that there are no legal hindrances. The details of the order of service are agreed, and the required paperwork is completed. 

Shortly before the service, there is usually a rehearsal, involving the best man, bridesmaids and others who have a role in the ceremony.

The pastor should be notified of the choice of surname before the ceremony. The couple may choose to share one of their surnames, or both may keep their original surnames. A spouse's birth surname may continue to be used before a shared surname. It should be noted that the chosen surname is the name that any children of the marriage will have.

It should also be decided if an announcement will be made at public worship and published in church notices. This allows the parish to pray for the couple. Names can be announced at the service on the Sunday after a certificate of no impediment has been issued, or on the Sunday after the wedding.

The music for the ceremony is agreed with the cantor. The couple's wishes are discussed, and the cantor will often have some good suggestions. The choice of music should reflect the religious nature of the ceremony.

The verger will be able to introduce the couple to any local practices, show them the building, and discuss decorations and customs. 

Good to know

The ceremony usually takes place in a church or chapel, but it can also be conducted at home, the reception venue or another suitable place.

A church wedding can be a very simple affair: all that is required are a priest, the couple and two witnesses. If the couple wishes, the ceremony can be conducted at the parish office, with church employees acting as witnesses.

The choice of venue for a wedding should take into account the sanctity of worship and the special character of the ceremony. The couple may furnish their chosen venue with an altar covered with a white cloth and with candles, some flowers and a crucifix. In front of the altar there may be a place to kneel, as there would be in a church. 

To book a church, the vicar's office of the relevant parish should be contacted. The date and time of a wedding can be affected by other scheduled events and weddings. It is therefore wise to allow plenty of time when booking a venue, especially if the wedding is to take place in the spring or the summer.  As a rule, parishes give priority to their own members in allocating venues and dates.