Getting Married at St Marys, Balham

Congratulations on your engagement. We are delighted that you are thinking of getting married in church.

People chose a church wedding for a whole range of reasons, perhaps because of tradition or the attractive building. However the most important reason for getting married in church is that you will be making your wedding vows in the sight of God and asking God to be part of the whole of your married life together.

The Weddings Section of the Church of England Website has some useful suggestions for music, hymns and readings to personalise your wedding service. Often couples opt for traditional favourites such as ‘Here Comes the Bride’ from Wagner’s ‘Lohengrin’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’, played on the organ. However it is equally possible to enter and leave the church to a CD of your favourite music. When choosing hymns it is best to choose popular ones which your guests will be likely to know. You will be able to discuss your ideas when you meet with the Vicar to plan the wedding service.

Before a wedding can take place there are various legal formalities to be completed and there must be time for marriage preparation. This will normally involve the vicar visiting you at your home and then some further meetings to discuss the very important step that you will be taking. For this reason, except in cases of serious illness or other similar emergency, there will need to be a gap of at least three months between first contact and the date of the wedding. Therefore please make sure that you contact the Vicar in good time to make arrangements. To avoid disappointment, please check that the church is available before booking your reception venue.

Legal information

Everyone resident within the parish boundaries has a right to be married at St Marys after appropriate preparation, so long as there is no legal impediment. It is also possible to get married at St Mary’s if you do not live in the parish but are on the Church Electoral Roll. To join the electoral roll you must have been baptised and must have already attended worship at St Marys regularly for at least 6 months.

The law governing the right to get married in the Church of England changed in 2008 to make it easier for you to get married in the church of your choice, provided that you can show a real connection with the parish. Please see the Church of England Website for further details.

There are four possible preliminaries to marriage in the Church of England:

  1. Banns are the easiest and most commonly used method. They involve notice of your forthcoming wedding being read out in both the bride and the groom’s parish churches on three Sundays in the period three months before the wedding. If you live in two different parishes, Banns will have to be called in both parish churches. It is customary for couples to attend church for the calling of their Banns which takes place during the 10.30am Sunday morning service. Attending will help you feel more comfortable with the church surroundings and will hopefully mean that you feel less nervous on the big day.
  2. Marriages can also take place after obtaining a Common Licence. This is a quicker method than Banns but more expensive and involves the parties swearing an affidavit before the Diocesan Registrar or the local Surrogate. The Diocesan Registrar recommends marriage by Licence when one or both parties are not British or EEC citizens (but see under 4 below).
  3. A Special Licence allows people to be married without the usual requirement of living in the parish or belonging to the Electoral Roll. It will usually only be granted if you have a very strong connection with the parish or if there are medical reasons (perhaps a parent who lives in the parish and is too ill to travel) which make a wedding at St Mary’s the best option.
  4. The Bishop of Southwark, on the advice of the Diocesan Registrar, has recently informed all clergy that people who are not British or EEC citizens, do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and are not in the UK on a marriage visa, should obtain a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate from the Register Office in Croydon. There is a fee of £35.00 (2014) per person and the Registrar will need details of your addresses and immigration status. You will almost certainly be required to obtain confirmation from the Home Office that you are eligible to marry and so it is probably advisable to obtain this first. If you think that these regulations may apply to you, you should contact the Vicar to discuss things further.

Marriage after Divorce

At St Mary’s we understand that some marriages fail and we try to help people rebuild their lives in new relationships. There are some circumstances in which marriage in Church after a divorce may be possible. If not, we can usually offer a service of blessing after a civil marriage. If you have been divorced and would like to discuss the possibility of being married a second time in church or having your civil marriage blessed, please contact the Vicar.


As a Church of England Church, St Marys has to charge various Statutory Fees which are laid down by the Central Board of Finance. In addition there are charges for the services of our verger (who sets up the church), organist, flowers (if required), and heating and lighting. There is also an additional fee (payable to the organist) if you have a professional video recording of the service. The total wedding fees must be paid in full no later than one month before the wedding. Details of wedding fees are noted in our fees table.