- If we have questions, who do we ask?
If you have any questions, the first person to ask is the Benefice Operantions Manager, Elaine de Ridder. (01235 850267; firstname.lastname@example.org). Office hours are currently 9am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday. Elaine will either answer the question, or put you in touch with the person you need to speak to. Also, feel free to be in touch with the priest who will be taking your wedding service.
- When can we get married?
Provided the legalities have been complied with, you can get married in the church building at anytime between 8am and 6pm, on any day of the week. However, you need to check that the church building and the priest are available on the day and at the time you have in mind!
- What are Banns?
Generally, before you can get married, you have to give the world at large notice that this is what you want to do. If you get married in a parish church, this is usually done by Banns. Banns are said in the main Sunday service for three consecutive Sundays, in the parish church where you are being married and also in the parish church where you live, if you happen to live somewhere else. This process is sometimes referred to as having your Banns “called” or “read”. Once your Banns have been read, and no one has objected (ie said that there is a legal reason why you can’t get married), you then have permission to get married at anytime in the next three months.
If you are getting your Banns read in a parish church other than the church where you going to get married, you will need to get in touch with your local vicar in plenty of time (at least a couple of months before your wedding date) and arrange with him/her to have your Banns read. Once your Banns have been read, you will need a piece of paper called a Banns Certificate. You need to give a copy of your Banns Certificate to the priest who is taking your Wedding well BEFORE your wedding, as he/she will not be able to marry you without seeing your Banns Certificate.
You do not have to be present in church when your Banns are read. However, we would recommend being present in church on at least 1 of the 3 Sundays in question, as many couples find that it is a very special occasion.
It is our custom to read the Banns on the first three Sundays in the month two months before the month in which you are getting married.
Very occasionally, a couple does not need to have their Banns read. This is because a different legal procedure is used. This will probably be the case if either of you are not citizens of the UK or another Member State of the European Economic Area, or if either of you lives abroad.
- How long is the service and what can we have in it?
A Wedding service usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour, say 45 minutes on average.
The law sets out the basic framework for the service, giving the structure, and the wording that has to be used for certain parts of the service. However, as long as you comply with the basic structure, there is a very wide freedom to personalise the service. The priest who will be taking you wedding service will be delighted to make suggestions and to advise. The priest has to be happy with the service, but don’t worry, it is very rare for this to cause any difficulties!
Subject to the priest’s approval (and as said above, there’s not usually a problem about this), you can have as few or as many hymns and readings as you want. At least one of the readings needs to be from the Bible. Anyone can do the readings. The priest will give a short sermon, but someone else can give the sermon, with the priest’s permission.
As a rough rule of thumb, two or three hymns, and two or three readings (one of which is from the Bible), is the probably the norm. But it is your service, and you don’t have to follow the norm!
In terms of music, you are not limited to the organ and organist. Hagbourne and Blewbury churches have sound systems which allow the playing of CDs. You are also free to arrange for a soloist to sing during the service, or for a musician or musicians to play an instrumental piece. Again, the priest needs to be happy with what you propose, but this shouldn’t prove a problem.
- What about printing Orders of Service?
Our Operations Manager is very happy to design and print orders of service. We do two versions: a longer booklet containing most of the words of the service, and a shorter booklet, which contains the headings. The shorter booklet is the more popular option.
We charge £1.50 per copy for a black and white cover and £2.00 per copy for a colour cover each with up to 3 page inserts.
If you wish to print your own order of service, that’s absolutely fine. However, you will need to send a draft to the priest who will be taking your Wedding, so that it can be approved.
- What about Ushers?
Ushers simply show people to their seats in the church, and welcome people on behalf of the bride and groom. You do not need to have Ushers, but they can be useful if you have a large wedding.
- How do we arrange the organist and choir?
We are almost always able to arrange an organist for your wedding, and sometimes also a choir (in Blewbury and Hagbourne). Please do let the office know if you require use of the organ and if you need an organist - then, for weddings in Hagbourne, contact Peter Mitchell (01235 850719); for Blewbury and Upton, contact Sharon Phillips (01235 850817); for the Astons and the Moretons, contact the office (01235 850267).
Please be aware that it is sometimes not possible for us to arrange a choir.
It is fine for you to bring in your own organist. However, in this case, we still charge for the organ, as the money goes towards the cost of maintaining the instrument.
- How do we arrange the flowers?
You are welcome to use your own florists. However, we would encourage you to use the church flower arrangers because they understand the requirements for church flowers, and are a lot cheaper than florists! If you use the church flower arrangers, payment should be made directly to church concerned.
Whether you decide to use the church flower arrangers or not, you need to be in contact with the person who organises the flowers in the church where you are getting married.
Hagbourne Lynne Carter 01235 850442
Blewbury "Savages" 01235 850352
Upton Jessie West 01235 851206
Astons Penelope Curtis 01235 850794
North Moreton Mary Greene 01235 813396
South Moreton Sandra Monk 01235 812721
It is customary for flowers to be left in the church for the following Sunday, except in Advent and Lent.
- How do we arrange the Bells?
If you would like bells to be rung, please notify the office and we will try to arrange this. It is normally possible to arrange bell ringers for a wedding, but very occasionally it will not be possible.
Aston Tirrold 6 Bells £120
Blewbury 8 Bells £160
Hagbourne 8 Bells £160
North Moreton 6 Bells £120 (Two new bells will be installed in 2023. The fees will be increased accordingly)
- What facilities are available in the church?
It is good to check with our Administrator, if you have any practical questions about the facilities which our churches provide. Only one church, Hagbourne, has a toilet in the building, although there is easy access to toilet at Blewbury. Our Administrator can also answer questions about access for the disabled, and the availability of parking.
In terms of the numbers of people who can comfortably fit in our churches, Hagbourne can easily seat up to 200; Blewbury, 150; North Moreton, Sou60th Moreton, and Aston Tirrold, 100; Aston Upthorpe, 70; Upton, 50. Numbers in excess of these figures can be accommodated, but it requires a little bit of imagination!
- What are the fees and how do we go about paying them?
Our Administrator will provide you with an invoice approximately six weeks before your wedding. Most of the fees are set nationally each year. Fees should be paid by transfer to CAF account no. 00006301, sort code 40-52-40 or cheque, made payable to The Churn Benefice.
The fees must be paid one month before your wedding day.
Very roughly, the fees for a wedding with everything (organ, bells, etc, if available at the church you are getting married in) will come to between £609 and £945. Our Operations Manager will provide an exact figure for you.