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24 OCT 2008

Church of England relaxes church wedding rules

The Church of England has relaxed its rules to allow couples with a connection with a church to be married there without having to regularly worship there, live in the parish or apply for a special license.

The new Anglican Church law, Church of England Marriage Measure, came into force on 1 October 2008.

The change in the law comes as the popularity for civil weddings in hotels, stately homes and other privately owned locations continues to grow after a change in the law 13 years ago allowed marriages to take place outside registry offices.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show civil ceremonies have outnumbered religious services for 14 years, and that in 2006 two-thirds of weddings were civil.

Engaged couples can now be married in Anglican parish churches, but not cathedrals, if they meet just one of the following criteria:

  • 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.

The Bishop of Reading, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: Getting married in church just got easier. People who are serious about getting married naturally want a marriage ceremony and a setting which is equally serious.

"Now it will be easier to provide it. Golf clubs and country houses, you have been warned!"

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