Covid 19 – Changes to Wedding Services
Following the new annoucement from the governement and the Church of England, weddings cannot currently be held as all churches have been instructed to close.
Once restrictions are lifted, we will be able to discuss wedding bookings. If you have any questions, please call the Church Office.
Updated 25th March 2020
Congratulations if you are planning to get married! We look forward to helping you organise your wedding. We believe that marriage is really important, both you and the wider community and we are delighted you are considering a church wedding.
Scroll down to the bottom for a list of downloadable information and resources. Read on for general information about getting married at St Michael Smarden or All Saints Biddenden.
TO BOOK YOUR WEDDING
- Phone the Rector Alex Bienfait (01580 291454) to arrange a meeting. It’s essential to do this first if either member of a couple have been married before.
- Do a preliminary check of the availability of Smarden Church and Biddenden church checking our Church Diary page. Remember to avoid disappointment, it is also important to check with us, before making other bookings such as a reception venue.
- Download a marriage application form (see download list below). Send it 36 High Street, Biddenden, TN27 8AH. We will acknowledge and confirm your application and arrange a meeting, if we have not already met you. (If you have have been married before, we do need to interview you first, before we can confirm the wedding – see further details below)
CAN I CHOOSE ANY DAY TO GET MARRIED
Yes in principle you can choose any day of the week to get married, between the hours of 8am and 6pm. There are however some practical and religious restrictions:
- Sundays: Yes it’s possible. But bear in mind that clergy, choir, organist and bell ringers will all have taken part in services in the morning, so that the earliest practical time for any Sunday wedding is 3pm.
- Christmas and Easter: The weeks leading up to Christmas and Easter are very busy, as well as being of special religious significance. We therefore do not take bookings the week preceding, either, Christmas Day or Easter Day.
- Advent and Lent: The four weeks leading up to Christmas, called Advent, and the six weeks leading up to Easter, called Lent are periods of special religious preparation. To mark this symbolically, we do not have flowers in church. Please discuss this further with Alex Bienfait.
- Fridays: Fridays are a non-working day for Alex Bienfait (Rector). This means that if you particularly want a Friday wedding, we often need to arrange another minister to take the service.
NATIONALITY AND IDENTITY CHECKS:
As of 2015 we have a legal duty to check, and retain copies of the identy and nationality of all couples. Prior to your wedding you will need to provide:
- A valid UK passport
- Proof of address, Bank statement or utility bill proofing the address of both parities.
If you are not able to provide this, there are other identity documents you can supply, but you will need to discuss this with Alex Bienfait (Rector).
If either party of a couple has a non UK passport you should contact Alex Bienfait (Rector). Alex will guide you through the steps you will need to take, to get clearance to be married in the UK.
CAN I GET MARRIED IN SMARDEN OR BIDDENDEN CHURCHES?
You have a legal right to get married in one of these churches if:
- you live in the parish, or
- you are a member of Smarden or Biddenden church, ie on the official membership list. This is known as the Electoral Roll. You qualify to join the roll if you are baptised and have worshipped at the church regularly – that is once a month – in that church for at least six months.
In addition you can get married in either Smarden Church and Biddenden church if you can show a a special connection with either parish. You qualify with any one of the following connections:
One member of the couple has:
- Been Baptised in the parish
- Been prepared for confirmation in the parish
- Regularly attended services in the parish for a period of at least 6 months
- Lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months
- Parents or grandparents who were married in the parish
- One of your parents living in the parish, or your parents have lived during your lifetime for more than 6 months in the parish.
I want to get married in Smarden or Biddenden but none of my connections seem to apply?
If you none of the connections above appear to apply, and you have a special reason for being married here, please contact Alex Bienfait (Rector) to discuss. There are other options, for instance we may be able to arrange a Special Licence.
I’ve been married before? Can divorcees re-marry in church?
Yes we offer re-marriage for divorcees, but you need to arrange a meeting with the Alex Bienfait (Rector) to discuss your individual circumstances. The Church of England requires us to assess each case individually. We can not offer re-marriage of a relationship which has been the cause of the breakup of a previous marriage.
Wedding preparation conference
An important part of your preparation, is for you to join us at our Wedding Preparation Conference. The next Wedding preparation conference is set for 8th February 2020, at Smarden Charter Hall. During this morning we go through the marriage service text, we describe the hymn and reading options available, as well as giving you some fun exercises designed to support you in your future married life.
If you move house before the wedding
You must our Parish Administrator know your new address straight away. If you have moved into a different parish you will need to ask the new parish to read your banns, and you may need to inform the parish where you lived previously that you no longer need their help. If there is not enough time to rearrange the banns you may need to get a Common Licence instead. It is better to avoid doing this at the last minute if at all possible.
How much will it cost to get married in church?
Please check the link to our weddings fees page, link below. All our fees are charged in accordance with the Statutory fees of the Church of England.
Only bio-degradable flower petals can be thrown in the churchyard.
Quick links and downloads:
- Further notes and practical information on getting married in Smarden and Biddenden;
- The Church of England wedding service text;
- A sample wedding service sheet;
- Summary of Bible readings suitable for weddings;
- Suggested hymns and music for weddings;
- Rehearsal check-list;
- Wedding Fees – Smarden – 2020
- Wedding Fees – Biddenden – 2020
- Wedding Marriage Application Form
- Wedding Banns only Marriage Banns Application Form
- Notes for Wedding photographers: Photograhers guidance notes
- Link to Church of England website for Weddings: Church guidance on Weddings
Last updated: May 2018