HOW DO WE ARRANGE A WEDDING AT ST NICHOLAS’ OR ST MARY'S CHURCH?
If you want to get married at St Nicholas’ or St Mary’s church, you should contact the church office for the dates of wedding vestry sessions which will usually be between 7:00 PM and 7:45 PM on specific Thursday evenings at the St Nicholas’ Centre (70 Church Road, next door to the church). If at all possible, both of you should attend together so that you can discuss the arrangements that you hope to make.
We might be able to let you know about date availability over the ‘phone, but usually you need to come in person to book a wedding and sign the forms. If for any reason we are unable to hold vestries, or you are not available on Thursdays, we will give you the contact details of our minister, verger or wedding secretary who will take forward the booking.
WHAT SHOULD WE BRING WITH US?
You should each bring with you some proof of your name, age and nationality with your photo on (preferably a valid passport), together with a current utility bill or bills showing your names and current address/es.
There are some forms which you will both need to fill in and sign. We will take you through the eligibility criteria so we will need to see your decree absolute if you are divorced and your previous spouse’s death certificate if you are widowed. We will also ask you for a deposit of £50 to confirm the booking.
WHO CAN GET MARRIED AT OUR CHURCHES?
St Nicholas’ and St Mary’s churches form a joint Anglican and Methodist ministry. Weddings at St Nicholas’ church will be Anglican weddings but weddings at St Mary’s can be either Anglican or Methodist. If you would like to be married in a Methodist wedding, you can discuss this with our clergy when you come to vestry hour. The rest of this document gives you information on Anglican weddings.
You must both be at least 16 years old. (If either of you is under 18 you will need consent from a parent or a magistrate.)
If one of you lives in the Parish of Halewood, or you have your name on the Parish Electoral Roll, or you have some other genuine connection with the church, you are entitled to get married at St Nicholas’ or St Mary’s. (In order to have your name on the church’s electoral roll, you must be a regular worshipper at St Nicholas’ or St Mary’s, if you live outside the parish.) You will need to have your banns read in the parish prior to the wedding (we will organise this).
If one of you lives in another parish, you will need to arrange to have your banns read in that parish too. Please make sure this is done in good time: we suggest you approach the other church as soon as possible, and at least three months before the date of the wedding. (Even if you are a member of another church or denomination, you still need to have your banns read in the Church of England church in the parish where you live.)
In some cases, a Licence or Certificate may have to be issued. A fee is payable for this, and there are conditions which you must meet. We will explain this further when you come in to see us if it applies.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE DIVORCED?
If either of you has previously been married, and has a partner who is still living, you will need to discuss this with the clergy at the initial meeting. We have a policy that we follow in all cases, and we are happy to discuss this with you. Please be aware that in most cases a second meeting will be required.
As an alternative to a church wedding, we can also offer a Service of Blessing, following marriage in a register office.
WHEN CAN WE GET MARRIED?
PLEASE DON’T CONFIRM ANY ARRANGEMENTS FOR A RECEPTION OR ANYTHING ELSE UNTIL YOU HAVE SPOKEN WITH US!
We will do our best to find a date and time to suit you, but please bear in mind that some dates may get booked up well in advance, and certain dates are not available for other reasons. Weddings are usually on a Saturday, but other days especially Fridays are also quite common. (on days other than Saturdays, it may be more difficult for us to find singers and bell-ringers as these people are all volunteers and may have other commitments.)
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
When you book your wedding we will ask you for a deposit of £50. You can pay the remaining amount in instalments if this is helpful. We will keep a record of each payment you make, but you will also need to keep a running total so that you know how much is outstanding. We can take cash or cheque, or you can pay by bank transfer, or by card payments at wedding vestries.
The total cost will depend on what choices you make—about music and bells, for example. The fees [link to document]for the current year are on our website.
Please remember that if you are booking well in advance, the costs may have gone up by the time the service takes place—they usually increase on the 1st January each year. You will need to pay the fees that will be in force on your wedding day.
Fees must be paid in full two months before the service takes place. We will not arrange the pre-wedding interview if there is money still outstanding.
If the cost of a wedding in church is likely to be a real problem for you, or you find you are struggling to meet the payments or complete them in time, please speak to us—we will do our best to help.
WHAT ABOUT THE SERVICE?
We normally use a contemporary form of service and can let you have a copy to look at, including options for alternative wording. We can also let you have some suggestions about where to look for hymns and music generally, and readings.
Some couples have a sheet printed with the order of service and hymns on. You don’t have to do this, but if you want to, please let us know so that we can help you plan it. We can let you have a sample sheet to work from. You can usually leave the details until the home interview, but it is useful if you can think about what you would want in advance and whether you want a friend or relative to do a reading.
We will need to know if you are going to exchange rings, or if the bride only is to have a ring. The bride will also need to decide if she is going to promise to ‘obey’ as well as ‘love and cherish’ her husband.
We have an organist who plays for weddings at St Nicholas’ and a pianist at St Mary’s. St Mary’s does not have an organ but its piano can be played on an organ setting. If you decide to ask someone else to play at your wedding, you can do so, but you need to tell us as soon as you can. If someone else is to play we recommend that they arrange to come in to church before the day to familiarise themselves with the organ/piano or to look at the church layout if they are playing any other instrument. St Nicholas’ and St Mary’s also have a singing group available for weddings.
Although there is a charge for the organist and the singing group, we do encourage you to book at least the organist. Music is an integral part of weddings, and the organist not only plays at the beginning and end of the wedding, and for any hymns, but also provides music at other parts of the service such as the signing of the register. You may also want to consider booking the singing group to assist with the hymn singing, unless your families and friends are used to singing hymns. Couples usually choose up to three hymns—two is the most common.
If you really do not want to book an organist or pianist, you can have recorded music at your wedding. You can either provide this yourselves on a memory stick (we will need to have this in advance to check it on our system) or we may be able to download the music for you ourselves.
Please be aware that the responsibility for music at your wedding lies with the member of the clergy taking the service: it is up to the minister to decide if your choices are appropriate for the occasion.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS
We are happy for you to arrange to have the service photographed and videoed. When a video camera is used to record a service you should be aware that because of copyright and licensing issues, we charge a fee for the use of video recording equipment. This applies even if the video equipment is to be used by a friend or family member.
Most professional photographers and video firms are familiar with shooting church weddings, but we would suggest that you make sure that your photographer is aware that they must not be too intrusive when photographing the service. Please ask them to introduce themselves to the verger when they arrive on the day, so that they can speak to the minister taking the service. We can advise where they may stand to take the best pictures without getting in the way of the service. They are also welcome to attend the wedding rehearsal.
We ask the congregation not to take pictures or use video cameras during the service.
The church will not usually be decorated with flowers unless you make arrangements for this. Please note that during Lent (the weeks before Easter) we do not have flowers in church. If you wish to have them for your wedding, this is permissible on the day but you will need to take them away afterwards. You may wish to arrange to book a professional florist and if so, you will need to liaise with the verger for them to have access to the church. If you want to have flowers in church for your wedding but do not want to employ a professional, we may be able to assist – you should discuss this when we come to interview you at home. If there are other weddings on the same day as yours you will also have to liaise with the other couple(s) as it may not be possible to change the flowers between weddings, but it may mean that you can split the cost! If you choose to have the pew-ends decorated, you must make sure that no damage is done to the pews (drawing pins and blu tack are not allowed). You should discuss with the verger whether to take away your pew-ends and flowers after the service, or leave them in church.
ON THE DAY
We ask the groom and the best man to be in church 30 minutes before the start of the service. If you have ushers, they should also come early as they will need to give out orders of service or hymn books and seat the guests. The bridesmaids and the bride should arrive 10 minutes before the service, to allow for photographs etc., and for the service to start on time. Please ensure that your photographer is aware of this and co-operates with the verger and minister on timing.
Please be aware that if a wedding is late starting, it may be necessary to shorten the service (e.g. by leaving out one or more hymns) so that we end on time—particularly if there are other services on the same day.
We do not allow confetti to be thrown inside the church, in the porch, on the path from the road to the church door or in the churchyard. This is because even if it is supposed to be biodegradable, once it has been rained on and gets blown back into church it is very messy. Please ensure that your guests and photographer are aware of this and find another location for throwing confetti—e.g. at the reception!
We ask that all phones are switched off when you are in church—for obvious reasons.
We have some car parking space at St Nicholas’ church, but it is limited. The car park at St Mary’s is larger. Please let your guests know what the options are, and suggest that they leave enough time to find a space elsewhere and walk to church, if necessary. We ask all church users to park safely and not to block the pavements or access. Please show consideration to our neighbours and other road users, and bear in mind that both churches are on bus routes so access for this must be maintained. If you are planning to have a coach, minibus or similar for guests, please let us know in advance as they will need to arrange with us where to park.
Your banns will be read on three Sundays at the main morning service at Nicholas’ or St Mary’s, as appropriate. We will let you know at the appropriate time when the banns will be read. We would suggest that you come to church on at least one occasion when your banns are being read, so that you have the pleasure of hearing them and know that they have been done. When you come to church for this, please make yourself known to one of the wardens or clergy. Remember that you may also have to arrange to have banns read in other churches if you do not live in the parish, and you will need to provide us with the banns certificate a month before the wedding.
This will usually take place in the month leading up to your wedding unless you want it to happen sooner. The interview can take place in your own home or you can come to us, if you prefer. We will talk about all aspects of the service, including music and hymns. Don’t worry if you don’t have it all sorted out before the interview—we can always offer advice! We will also check that all the formalities such as banns and payments have been completed.
This will usually take place on one evening in the week before the wedding. It can proceed with just the bride and groom present, but we would suggest that you also invite the best man, ushers, bridesmaids and the person who is bringing the bride to be married – what used to be called giving the bride away (usually her father or another relative). Legally, you need to have two witnesses who sign the marriage records as well as you, and it is helpful if they attend the rehearsal too. If you have asked anyone to do a reading at the service, they may also wish to attend to practise. Don’t worry though if anyone cannot attend as the rehearsal can still go ahead.
Sometimes it is helpful for the people doing the flowers or photographs to come to church at this point too, especially if they are not familiar with the church.
If you have had your own Order of Service printed, please bring this to the rehearsal if possible.
WHO WILL TAKE THE SERVICE?
Weddings at St Nicholas’ and St Mary’s are usually taken by our Team Rector, or our Team Vicar if the Rector is not available.
THE MARRIAGE DOCUMENTS
The procedure for registering marriages in England changed on 4 May 2021. The main change you will notice is that we now have to ask for slightly more information (for example, you can ask for any or all of your parents to be named on your marriage documentation, not just your father) and you will not receive your legal marriage certificate at the wedding. Instead, during the service you, your witnesses and the minister will sign a form which we will then deliver to the local Registry Office, which will then send you your legal marriage certificate.
WHAT IF WE NEED TO POSTPONE, CHANGE OR CANCEL THE WEDDING, OR ALTER OUR ARRANGEMENTS?
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
If, for any reason, you change your plans, please let us know. We will need you to confirm any changes in person at a wedding vestry or in writing (eg using a pre-notified email address). In the event of a cancellation, any fees you have paid will be refunded (apart from the deposit, if your banns have been read). In that case, we would still wish to see you in person if possible, but we appreciate that you may prefer to write.
If your address or telephone numbers change, please let us know.
If we are not able to contact you we may assume that the wedding is cancelled!
Ring the parish office on 0151 487 9965. Also, do come to church and introduce yourselves to the clergy and wardens. If you are not familiar with St Nicholas’ or St Mary’s, the best way to get a feel for the church is to attend a service—you will be very welcome!
We hope that all your plans go well, and that your wedding day will be the special and important occasion that you hope and are planning for.