Banns of marriage

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Where a church is reopening to the public for Sunday services, wedding banns can be read at the service even if the number of congregants has to be limited to comply with coronavirus restrictions relating to safe distancing.

Banns must be read at the church where the wedding is to take place and at the church(es) where the couple resides. If one of these churches isn’t opening, so that banns cannot be read at all the required church services, a common marriage licence will be required. Before reading banns for a couple please check that the other churches where banns must be read are also able to read banns.

The fee for a common licence application is reduced for weddings where banns cannot be read because of the coronavirus restrictions. The reduced fee is £100. Applications for a common licence received with a surrogate after 31 August will be subject to the standard fee of £200.

Wherever possible, new weddings should be booked and cancelled weddings should be rebooked after a date when banns can be read in all the relevant churches to keep the number of common licence to manageable number.

The application forms for a common licence can be found below. The parish where the couple is to marry should complete these forms with the couple and take scans of the relevant ID documents. The parish should email scans of the forms and ID to the couple’s chosen surrogate, a list of surrogates is attached. The surrogate will be able to provide bank details for payment of the fee and will arrange a meeting to check original documents and to hear an affidavit.

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 an S23 Direction. The Diocesan Registrar keeps a register of joint benefices where Section 23 Directions have been made and enquires can be made to lisa.moncur@chester.anglican.org if there is any uncertainty.

Marriage licence application forms 

Particulars of application for a Common Licence - ML1
(otherwise known as a Bishop’s Licence) to marry in the Church of England.

Particulars of Qualifying Connection - ML2
Form for completion by a person who wishes to apply for a Common Licence to marry in a parish by virtue of a qualifying connection with the parish under the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008.


Page last updated: 14th July 2020 11:14 AM