Banns for forthcoming weddings


Lisa Moncur, Diocesan Registrar, has written directly to all clergy advising that when a church reopens for Sunday services, banns for forthcoming weddings should be read in the usual way as required by law.

The advice is as follows: 

When a church reopens for Sunday services banns for forthcoming weddings should be read in the usual way as required by law. This means banns must be read three times in the parish(es) where the couple live and in the parish where they’re to marry. These should be read at the principal service on a Sunday for three weeks in the three-month period prior to the wedding. The banns do not need to be read on consecutive Sundays.

Where there has been a Section 23 Direction made pursuant to the Marriage Act 1949 applying to a joint benefice and one of the churches where banns must be read is not opening for public worship on a Sunday but another church in the same joint benefice is open for worship then banns can be read in that parish church instead. This only applies where there has been a S23 Direction. The Diocesan Registrar keeps a register of joint benefices where Section 23 Directions have been made and enquires can be made to if there is any uncertainty.

If banns cannot be read as required, then the couple will require a common licence before they can lawfully marry. This is the case if the couple have a qualifying connection to the parish where they are to marry. If there is no qualifying connection a special licence will be required from the Faculty Office in Westminster. If one of the couple isn’t a British or EEA citizen (or Swiss or Norwegian) a Superintendent’s Licence will be required from the civil registry office

There is a very high demand for common licences currently and a common licence should only be pursued where banns cannot be read because of the coronavirus restrictions or where a common licence would be required irrespective of the coronavirus situation.

New bookings for weddings should be encouraged for a date after banns can be sufficiently read in all the relevant parish churches wherever possible.

Application forms for a common licence can be obtained from a marriage surrogate, a list of surrogates can be found here. The fee for a common licence is £200, but there is a reduce fee of £100 where the common licence is required because of the coronavirus restrictions. The clergyperson marrying the couple must ensure the forms are completed and scanned with all supporting documents and sent to the couple’s chosen surrogate before the couple meet with the surrogate to process the application. The couple will need to take all original documents with them to the meeting with the surrogate.

Please refer all enquires to a marriage surrogate, the Diocesan Registrar or Clerk to the Registry

Page last updated: 26th June 2020 7:24 PM