Weddings in a Parish Church
Thank you for your enquiry about getting married in St. Laurence Church, Falmer. I am delighted that you are considering a church wedding.
I am sure you will appreciate that holding a wedding in a secular venue (a Civil Wedding conducted by a Registrar) is very different from holding a wedding in a parish church where it will be a religious ceremony, conducted according to the rites of the Church of England.
The Church of England is the only religious organization in Great Britain that is legally obliged to marry anyone who so desires in their local parish church. In recent years the legislation has been relaxed to enable individuals who have some connection to a particular church to be married there, at the discretion of the local parish priest.
The following details the conditions that you would need to satisfy to enable you to be married in St. Laurence Church, Falmer.
Have either of you been married before and has that marriage ended in divorce? Generally it is not possible to marry in the Church of England if either partner is a divorcee, but under some circumstances it might still be possible. If this is the case then we need to discuss this further.
Is either of you a foreign national? If the answer is yes then it might not be possible for the wedding to go ahead depending on the particular circumstance.
In the past it was only possible to marry in the parish church in which one of you lived. However, a recent change in the law has made it easier to marry in another church under what is called a qualifying condition. In order to decide whether or not you can marry in the parish church at Falmer you will need to satisfy at least one of the following conditions:
Do either of you live in the parish of Stanmer with Falmer?
Have either of you at any time lived in the parish of Stanmer with Falmer for a period of at least 6 months (this would include students living in halls of residence at Sussex University or the Halls of residence at the Falmer site of the University of Brighton)? If the answer to this is yes you would need to be able to provide documentary evidence.
Have either of you regularly attended worship at Falmer Church for a period of at least 6 months?
Were either of you prepared for baptism or confirmation in the parish of Stanmer with Falmer?
Were any of your parents or grandparents married in Falmer Church?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, and you can provide documentary evidence for this, then it will be possible for you to marry in Falmer Church. Sadly, if the answer to all of them is no then I am afraid that it would not be possible for you to marry at Falmer Church at the present time, unless you first attended worship here for a period of at least 6 months.
With best wishes
Revd. Dr Colin Lawlor