Getting Married in Church
The antiquity, the splendid architecture, and the magical atmosphere of St. Chad's blend together to make a superb venue for weddings. Although Greengate Street is pedestrianised, arrangements can easily be made for wedding cars to gain access, and to drive along Stafford's main street to the doors of the church - quite a spectacle on a Saturday when the town is busy, and people stop and wave as the cars go by. The beauty of the church naturally enhances wedding photography, the couple standing in front of the gorgeous high altar, or at the chancel step, or framed by the west doorwayy with its wealth of romanesque sculptures.
To arrange a wedding at St Chad's it is necessary at present for one of the parties to reside in the parish, or to have an address within the parish at which he or she could possibly reside. By 'parish' we mean the area covered by the Stafford Team Ministry - effectively the northern and eastern parts of the Borough bounded by Sandon Road and Eccleshall Road, and running northwards to include Holmcroft, Tillington, Parkside, and the villages of Marston and Whitgreave. We will gladly advise if there is any query about the residence qualification. The law is shortly to be modified to make it easier for couples to be married in the church of their choice, and further information will be posted on this website. The residence requirement does not apply if one of the parties is a regular worshipper at St Chad's and is on the electoral roll of the parish.
The Marriage Measure 2008 - A Summary
The Marriage Measure 2008 came into force on 01 October 2008.
The new Measure allows people who have a 'qualifying connection' with a church but are not resident in the parish, or on the electoral roll to marry in that church. It clears up the grey area where people had grown up in a parish but moved away for work or study and wished to come back to the parish to marry, and should reduce the need for special licences in this sort of situation.
There is a 'qualifying connection' if a person
- Was baptised in the parish, or
- Had his/her confirmation entered in a church register book of a church or chapel in the parish, (if a combined rite of baptism and confirmation, it is the confirmation, rather than the baptism, that will be the connection), or
- Has at any time had his/her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months, or
- A parent of that person has at any time during that person's lifetime had his/her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months, or
- A parent of that person has at any time during that person's lifetime habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months, or
- A parent or grandparent of that person was married in the parish.
Banns or Licence?
Normally banns of marriage are read in the church on three consecutive Sundays shortly before the wedding. giving legal notice that the couple intend to marry. Where one of the parties resides outside the parish the banns have also to be called in the parish of residence, and a certificate produced before the wedding. There are circumstances in which a Common Licence may be necessary. All this can be explained at the time of the initial enquiry.
Why get married in church?
A marriage service, wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and commitment to your partner. If you choose to get married in church there is an additional dimension - the assurance that God cares about your relationship, and that his resources and strength are available to you. Including God in your marriage doesn't mean that you will avoid all the usual ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to God for help and guidance, and that his love will sustain you. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian Church family.
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God. In the marriage service a couple make a public declaration of lifelong commitment to love each other, come what may. Though in some churches the remarriage of divorced persons is allowed under certain circumstances, the policy at St Chad's is that a divorced person may not marry again in church during the lifetime of a former husband/wife. It is, however, possible to offer the alternative of a Service of Prayer and Dedication after a civil marriage ceremony.
Forms of Marriage Service
We are able to offer the traditional form of service as set out in the Book of Common Prayer, or a modern language service. A full Nuptial Mass is also available for those who wish to receive Holy Communion at the time of their marriage, A wide range of hymns and songs, and other appropriate music is available, and the musical aspects of the service are normally discussed with the church organist and musical director.
How much will it cost?
The legal fees for a marriage cover the publication of banns, certificate of banns (if necessary), the marriage service and a certificate of marriage. These fees are fixed centrally, and they currently (2008) amount to around £280. These fees do not cover any extras you might choose to have for the service, such as organist (£95), choir, flowers, fees for video recording. You will need to check these with the parish priest when you make your enquiry.
The parish priest will meet you in person at an early stage to discuss your plans and guide you through the preparation so that on the day things run as smoothly as possible. We offer a special leaflet on marriage in the Church if England, which gives more detailed information about Christian Marriage.
To learn more click on www.yourchurchwedding.org
Right opposite St Chad's is the Swan Hotel which has been a part of Stafford's history for some 250 years, and a magical venue for wedding receptions. A number of couples who have been married at St Chad's have walked straight over to the 'Swan' for their reception after the service. The Lewis Partnership, which owns the hotel, are patrons of the St Chad's Heritage Project which has done much to raise the profile of our ancient and beautiful church. The management would be glad to discuss your requirements, telephone 01785 258142 For their website please click on www.theswanstafford.co.uk
To contact the priest in charge of St Chad's, Revd. John Davis, please ring 01785 258511