Your Wedding

Are you planning to get married? Congratulations!  We’d like to help and support you, whatever stage you’re at with your planning.
There are some things about marrying in church that are unique and special. It’s your wedding. Let us help you make it personal, meaningful, spiritual, beautiful.

You could check if the Abbey is free now by looking at our online calendar

To ensure the marriage complies with both UK Civil and Church law, there are certain aspects of a church wedding that must be fulfilled.
Changes to marriage legislation
Although new same sex marriage legislation is now in force, it remains the case that it is not legally possible for same sex couples to marry in the Church of England.
Reading of Banns
Most Church of England marriages will require banns to be published before the wedding can take place. Read more about what’s special and important about banns.
If there is not enough notice given for the banns to be read before the marriage is due to take place, or in the case of the marriage of people whose nationality is not British, or if one or both of you do not live in England, it is recommended that the Licence procedure be used rather than banns. This is especially recommended if there is any doubt as to the legal requirements of the home country of a non-British person for recognition of an English Church marriage.
You must be old enough
If you are under 18 years old you will need your parents’ consent to marry and by law you can not be married in the UK until you are 16.
Time of wedding
To be legal the wedding must take place between 8am and 6pm on any day.
Guidelines for divorcees
There are special guidelines on marriage in the church if you are divorced. There may well be a way forward, but you will need to talk your Vicar about your situation to explore the possibilities for you. Read more about it here.
There are some circumstances in which you may need a Special Licence, Common Licence or a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate to marry in church. Your Vicar will let you know if these apply to you.
Marrying outside your parish
We would really like you to be able to be married in the Abbey. However, we are only able to marry those who have a legal entitlement. This means that you should live in the village of Dorchester-on-Thames or in one of the parishes of the Dorchester Team, be on the Church Electoral Roll because you worship regularly at the Abbey, or have another clear connection with the Abbey. The Rector will always do her best to help and advise about the best way to go about arranging your wedding here.
We want to make your wedding personal and memorable for you. Churches are special places and there are some things about a church wedding that you just can’t get anywhere else.

A church wedding will add a spiritual dimension to your marriage. The ceremony includes God and looks to him for help and guidance. God’s blessing is the main attraction for many couples, whatever their beliefs.
You can make amazing vows, or promises, in a church. You can only make vows this big in a church. These vows, made in public, will help you to stay together and grow together. God and your church are there for you to help you keep your vows.
The Vicar has a very particular role to play in your wedding. They can blend ancient tradition and modern experience to reflect your story. Because of the relationship with the Vicar, your wedding can be made personal, memorable, meaningful and beautiful.
In Church it’s marriage in the eyes of God, which makes the commitment a bit stronger, I mean not in yourselves, it doesn’t change your feelings, but for some reason it puts that cloud over you– not a nasty cloud, a different cloud. It’s more than legal. It’s different – it’s proper.

Church buildings offer outstanding beauty. Dorchester Abbey makes a stunning wedding venue, and is a Grade 1 listed building.
Our Abbey offers centuries of history. Imagine all the couples who have married here, some of whom may well be your family. You can feel you’re becoming part of history itself, the bigger plan, by marrying in the same place as your relatives. We know these sorts of connections can make your day even more special.

For some people, a church simply seems like the proper place to get married. Churches can be described as ‘peaceful’, ‘serene’, or having an atmosphere that makes marrying there a particularly special experience.

1. Call the Rector
Let the Rector know your good news as soon as you can and the three of you can fix a time to discuss what happens next. The Abbey is often booked 2 years in advance so set a date as soon as you can! You can check if the Abbey is free using our online calendar and contact the parish office to make a provisional booking here.

2. Space to think
Before your wedding, the Rector may invite you to an event to help prepare you for married life together. It’s a no-obligation invitation, but one that many couples appreciate. It provides time and space to think about the vows and the difference they will make.

3. Banns
Banns are announcements in the Abbey of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. On these occasions, everyone in the Abbey will also be praying for you. It can be very special and moving, so go along if you can.

4. Rehearsal
Near your wedding day, perhaps a day or two before, you will usually have the opportunity to rehearse the ceremony with those who are involved.

5. The Big Day
The Rector will do all she can to make the day a personal, meaningful and spiritual experience for you and your guests.

6. First Anniversary and beyond
Dorchester Abbey will always be there for you throughout your marriage if you need it. Even if your local church is not the place where you married, they would be delighted to mark your first anniversary by praying for you both. All you have to do is ask.