The Start of Something Special
It is a particular joy to officiate at weddings in St Mary’s in Handsworth in the Parish. This is the only Sacrament (a spiritual gift) that someone who is not a priest can give – a bride and a groom gift the sacrament to each other and the priest is only there to guide them through this and to bless their marriage. The Church of ST Mary has, since the 12th Century, provided a stunning backdrop to this and allows you to begin your marriage in a building that has been prayed in for generations.
The process is simple as the Church of England and its priests are legally the Registrars for marriages.
Eligibility to Marry in the Parish
The first step is to check that you can legally marry in the Parish of Handsworth, St Mary. Everyone who is resident within the Parish Boundary is entitled to have their marriage in their Parish Church.
If you live outside of the Parish, it may be possible to marry in St Mary, but we first have to establish what is known as a Qualifying Connection. Are your parents resident in the Parish? Did your parents or grandparents marry in either Church or were they Baptised there? The priest who conducts the initial interview will want to establish that a valid connection exists before we can agree for the marriage to go ahead.
The Banns are read at the Parish Eucharist on three consecutive Sundays. This is to make public your intention to marry and to allow for any who have a valid and legal objection to your marriage to express this. Your Banns will be read at or just before 11.00am at the Sunday service usually on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays two months before the marriage date.:
It is good if you can be present to hear your Banns called.
If either the bride or the groom is resident in another Parish your Banns must also be called in that Parish. You must arrange to meet with the Parish Priest in that Parish, provide them with the information required, pay the relevant fee and then collect the certificate and return it to me well before the date of your wedding.
It is important that we all get the legal preparation for the wedding correct and so please do make sure you know what you have to do and when.
It is very important that you do not search the internet for what you can do in a wedding service. The Church of England is restricted in what it can and cannot do and there are some things that cannot be changed. The only website you should look at is the official Church of England page on weddings and can be found at http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/more-churches-to-choose-from.aspx#.
The Order of Service we follow in the Parish is quite straightforward:
The Entrance of the Bride – you choose the music for this.
1st Hymn – you choose this.
Introduction to Christian Marriage
The Exchange of Vows
The Declaration of the Marriage
The Blessing of the Marriage
Signing of the Registers – you may choose some music to be played.
Reading – if you want one.
2nd Hymn – you choose this.
3rd Hymn – you choose this
Recessional Music – you choose this.
Please be aware that it usually takes just over a minute for the bride to go from the door to the Chancel step, so the entrance music needs to fit with that timing.
It is possible for the Bridal Party to enter to the 1st hymn and this can give a ‘grander’ entrance.
It is not necessary to have all three hymns – some have two, some have one and others have none at all. Unless there is a compelling reason we will always book the organist for a wedding. The organist is very good at setting the scene while your guests arrive and at playing the music at the entrance and in the service in a way that is much better than simply fading (or even just stopping) a CD. Because the organist is a musical professional and has a contract with the Church, even if you have a friend who can play (and this needs to be agreed with the organist) the fee is still payable to our organist.
If you need help with the selection of the music please discuss this with the clergy and the organist who have a great deal of experience in all sorts of wedding music. You could also have a look at http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/your-wedding/wedding-music.aspx.
There are some extras that you may opt to have, but for these we need to have 8 weeks notice. You can see the cost on the attached list of fees.
Flowers: The Church normally provides the flowers for weddings.
Bells: The bells are in the oldest part of the Church – the 12th Century bell tower. They can be rung on Sunday to call the community to worship and have been rung out to mark important royal and civic occasions and to celebrate weddings. If you would like bell ringers for your wedding please do let us know and we can try to get a team together
We do not do full rehearsals, but will arrange a time for the key participants to come into Church so that they know what they have to do. The Bride and the Groom both take their lead from the priest, who will lead you through the service. In this way you can concentrate on the service rather than worrying about the mechanics of what is happening when. We want you to be able to relax and enjoy this special day.
Because Handsworth is a very busy Parish we cannot guarantee in advance which priest might be available to officiate at your wedding. You will be informed nearer the time of your wedding the priest that will be there. It would normally be the case that you would meet with the priest before the wedding so that you can discuss the service in detail.
You will be invoiced for the fees payable, which will itemise what you have chosen for your wedding. Payment should be made immediately on receipt of this invoice: a bank transfer, a cheque or cash are all acceptable forms of payment.
It is also important that brides arrive at the Church on time. If the bride is late on a day (15 minutes or more) when there are a number of weddings we may not be able to proceed with the wedding at the time you agreed with us.
We have no objection to photographs in Church but do like to meet your official photographer to discuss what will happen. We also have no objection to confetti, but do prefer that it is used outside the Church. Many couples move from the Church to the beautiful Handsworth Park for photographs following the service.
Please do take time to think about being married as well as getting married and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns you may have.
I hope this helps you to plan and prepare for your day.
Fr Bob Stephen