When a wedding takes place in church, something very important is said about a couple’s love for each other and about their life together.
They are saying: “We believe our love for each other is a gift to us from God and we believe that we cannot do without God’s help in the sharing of our lives together and in the keeping of the commitment we make to each other.”
The first thing those who intend to marry will need to do is to decide whether this is how they see it. Some questions that you might ask are:
- Do we want to thank God for his gift of our love for each other?
- Do we want to make our promises to each other before God?
- Do we believe we can only have all the happiness God wills for us if we share our lives with Him?
If you answer YES to these questions then you will want to marry in church and you will be able to do so with integrity.
The church teaches that marriage is a sacrament — an outward and visible sign of a grace from God received internally. By making their promises to each other in church before a priest and their friends and relations, a couple celebrate this sacrament. They give each other wholly and totally to one another, making lifelong promises and exchanging rings. The congregation promise to support them in their life together and pray for them and the priest will bless the wedding in God’s name.
The legal rules relating to church weddings are very different to those governing civil marriages. The clergy are only permitted to marry certain people in the Cathedral and in order to qualify, one of you needs to fall into one of the following categories:
- One of you must be resident in the Cathedral parish (this means that you actually live in the part of Portsmouth the cathedral parish serves — it is not enough that your parents are resident here)
- If one of the parties is in the Navy serving on board ship, then their normal residence must be in the Cathedral parish
- You are a regular worshipper at the Cathedral and a member of the congregation and your name is entered on our Electoral Roll
If you think you fall within one of the above categories, contact the Cathedral Offices for more information about arranging your wedding here. If you do not fall into any of the above criteria then, unfortunately, it will not normally be possible for your wedding to take place in Portsmouth Cathedral. In such circumstances, you need to be in contact with the church in whose parish you live and where you have the right to be married.
In some very particular circumstances, it may be possible for people who do not fall into the normal legal criteria above to be dispensed by the Archbishop of Canterbury from these rules. Such dispensations, known as Archbishop’s Special Licences, are only granted by His Grace when the couple concerned have very strong and longstanding links with the Cathedral which are still maintained.
This might mean that your parents live in the parish or worship here or there is some other significant link. Furthermore, at least one of you must have been baptised. Applications to the Archbishop are a time-consuming process and are not guaranteed to be successful.
Further information on Special Licences may be obtained at facultyoffice.org.uk.