Getting married in church just got easier

To herald the new Marriage Measure which became law on October 1st The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev David Jennings, braved the crowds at the UK Wedding Show in Liverpool over the weekend (September 27 and 28 2008).

To herald the new Marriage Measure which became law on October 1st The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev David Jennings, braved the crowds at the UK Wedding Show in Liverpool over the weekend (September 27 and 28 2008).

St George's Hall was bustling with excitement as brides-to-be shuffled through crowded aisles, some with grooms, bridesmaids and parents in tow. Standards were extremely high. Exhibitors displayed their wares in considerable style. All manner of optional trimmings were on offer from cakes and flowers to special lighting for the big day.

Tucked in one corner of it all was the good old Church of England. For the first time a team of high-octane 'vicars' braved the Liverpool Wedding Show and were overwhelmed with enquiries. Some couples had already booked their wedding in church, some were undecided and some were desperate for a church wedding. Most were looking for answers to their questions.

Diocesan Communications Officer Val Hill explained: "The team of clergy at the show were absolutely superb. I am delighted with their contribution. There were some pretty complex legal questions to wrestle with along with one or two tearful brides in need of advice. Clergy handed out quality resources, sweets, smiles and lots of reassurance. During the course of the weekend over 300 visitors approached the Church of England stand and were given relevant literature."

Team Work
The Wedding Show Team included The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev David Jennings, Rev Trevor Latham, Rev Ian Gallagher, Rev Colin Pope, Rev Jacqueline Stober, Rev Jan Harney, Rev Jeremy Fagan and Diocesan Communications Officer Val Hill. Over the weekend the team:

• Counted 365 significant conversations.
• Gave out 130 quality Keepsake folders each including nine leaflets.
• Gave out around 300 copies of 'Hymns and Readings' booklet. • Gave out around 200 copies of 'Thinking about a Church Wedding?' booklet.
• Gave out around 100 'Non-biblical Readings' booklet.
• Gave out 79 varied leaflets including 38 'Getting Married Abroad' leaflets.
• Gave out 300 packs of Swizzles Love Hearts and
• Three hugs (well ok that bit was between themselves).


'Virtual Vicar' The Rev Jan Harney added: "The UK Wedding Shows staff were enormously helpful as it was the first time the Diocese of Liverpool had exhibited. I feel sure that our prime corner position contributed to the success of the weekend. Fellow exhibitors were friendly and welcoming. A special thanks go to our 'competitors' at the Register Office stand! They shared their considerable expertise freely with us and even sent us some 'customers'."

Wedding Resources
The Church of England has just launched a new dedicated website www.yourchurchwedding.org, which is packed with resources, information and ideas to help plan a wedding. Rev Jan Harney has a blog and answers questions at www.newlyweds.co.uk.

New Marriage Measure
Currently 54,000 weddings a year are celebrated throughout 16,000 C of E Churches in England. Under the old law a couple had the right to marry at the church in the parish (a church district) where one or both of them live. To marry in any other church used to require a special licence or six months of regular church attendance followed by entry on the church electoral roll. Now that the new Marriage Measure has become law couples 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; or
• one of them has ever lived in the parish for six months or more; or
• one of them has at any time regularly attended public worship in the parish for six months or more; or
• one of their parents has lived in the parish for six months or more in their child’s lifetime;
or • one of their parents has regularly attended public worship there for six months or more in their child’s lifetime; or
• Their parents or grandparents were married in the parish.


Note for Clergy: The New Marriage Measure will be explained further at a training day on Canon Law for ministry being led by Rev Irene Cowell on October 9 at Sefton Parish Church from 10.30am-3.30pm.

For more information please contact Life Long Learning on 0151 705 2120.