The contents of this page provide general advice in relation to getting married and marriage ceremonies.
Engagements are mainly for cultural reasons and have limited status. However, they can be used for example, in immigration law as evidence of intent to marry.
The Wedding Guide website gives information about the etiquette of getting engaged.
Marriage and Civil Partnership
According to the law, a man and a woman may marry or become civil partners if they are both 18 years or over (16 years or 17 years with parental consent) and are legally free to do so (either single, widowed or divorced) and are not related in certain proscribed ways to their partner.
Where to get married
A marriage can take place in a number of venues such as a church, synagogue, register office or licensed approved venue like a hotel or country house. A Civil Partnership can take place in a religious building licensed for the purpose, a register office or an approved venue.
For further information on approved venues, visit Norfolk County Council's page on Marriage and Civil Partnerships
To marry in a church usually either you or your partner must live in the parish in which the church is situated.
Legally, a marriage has to take place between 8am and 6pm. Marriages cannot take place on Christmas Day or Good Friday.
The Banns are a church service announcement that you intend to marry, they are called on three consecutive Sundays and generally you would be expected to attend. If you are marrying in a church outside of the area you live in the Banns need to be called at your local church as well as the church that is to hold your wedding ceremony.
Marriage vows and hymns
At a church wedding the couples can choose from three different sets of marriage vows, each differing from the other with varying degrees of 'bridal obedience'.
The vows are found as below:
- The Book of Common Prayer 1662 - Uses old English for the vows and includes the promise of the bride to obey her husband.
- The Book of Common Prayer 1928 - Uses modern English with no reference to bridal obedience
- The Alternative Service 1980 - Allows the couple to choose for themselves on the matter of obedience.
There are usually 3 hymns sung at a church wedding, the first on the arrival of the bride, one after the marriage ceremony and another after the blessing.
Your minister is likely to advise on suitable hymns. If you would like some insight as to which ones are available, the Confetti website may help you choose.
If the bride takes her husband's name there are a number of organisations she must notify of the name change. They include (where applicable):
- Banks and Building Societies
- Benefits Agency
- Council Tax
- Credit and Store Card
- Finance Companies
- Inland Revenue
- Insurance Companies
- Loan Companies
- Mail Order Catalogues
- Motoring Organisations
- Passport Office
- Pension Company
- Premium Bond Office
- Professional Bodies
Last updated: 04 February 2014