Marriage – an introduction
A wedding is one of life's great moments, a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy. St John tells us how Jesus shared in such an occasion at Cana, and gave there a sign of new beginnings as he turned water into wine.
Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship, as his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and in bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses.
On their wedding day the bride and bridegroom face each other, make their promises and receive God's blessing, surrounded by their family and friends who are witnesses of the marriage, and express their support by their presence and their prayers.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”1 Corinthians 13.4-7
Planning your wedding
Because York Minster is not a parish church everyone who marries here has to obtain a Special Marriage Licence. This is clearly explained in our Marriage Policy below. The qualifications for marrying in a parish church are different. If, after reading our policy or speaking with us, it is not possible for you to be married at the Minster you could contact one of our neighbouring churches in York who would be happy to discuss with you how you may be able to be married in one of York’s other historic churches. Our church neighbours in the city are;
You may also like to visit the The Church of England's wedding website which will show you which parish you live in, and the name of your parish church and contact details for your parish priest. And, if you would like to find out which other churches you may also be eligible to marry in, the More Churches to Choose from page explains how family and other connections can be relevant to your choice of wedding venue.
Marriage - York Minster's policy and practise
At York Minster we uphold the traditional teaching of the Church about marriage, that it is a gift of God in creation and a means of grace and that it should always be undertaken as a lifelong commitment. We are delighted to marry all couples who come to us requesting a marriage service providing that they are eligible to be married here. Church of England marriage laws impose clear eligibility criteria that define who is permitted to marry in cathedrals. Every couple wishing to have their marriage solemnized here must obtain a Special Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury. These are issued on his behalf by the Registrar of the Court of Faculties in London.
The Registrar will only issue a Special Licence if the couple has what is referred to in law as a “present and demonstrable connection” with the cathedral in question – in practical terms, this normally means either coming to services at the cathedral on a regular basis over several months, or being one of the cathedral’s current employees. What the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Registrar will be looking for is convincing evidence that the couple has a genuine and substantial, personal and on-going, connection with the cathedral in question, which is so strong that it therefore makes this cathedral the most obvious church in which their marriage service should be held. Our hope and expectation is that couples will continue to worship regularly in the Minster after their wedding for as long as they live in the area.
Every application for a Special Licence must have the cathedral’s support, and all the normal Church of England eligibility rules for having a wedding service held in a church (e.g. neither person has been divorced, etc.) also apply.
The full legal rules, regulations and requirements for getting married in cathedrals by Special Licence can be found on the Court of Faculties’ website here.
Normally weddings will be conducted by one of the Residentiary Canons, the Dean or a member of the Minster clergy. Licensed clergy in good standing with the diocese of York, and clergy from other Christian churches, may sometimes be invited to assist.
Marriage of those who have been divorced
In exceptional circumstances we are prepared to perform a marriage service for a couple when one or both of them are divorced, providing they are able to show a “present and demonstrable connection” with the Minster (as referred to above) and providing that we receive assurance that:
1. The new relationship did not begin before any previous marriage ended.
2. Both parties understand divorce is a breach of God’s will for marriage.
3. Both parties are determined to make the new marriage a lifelong, faithful partnership.
4. There is a mature understanding of why a previous marriage failed and an expression of repentance about past wrongs. (Official papers relating to a divorce will be asked for)
5. Appropriate arrangements have been made for any children of a previous marriage.
6. Where possible, every effort has been made to establish a good relationship with a previous marriage partner.
7. A sufficient amount of time has passed since the breakdown of a previous marriage.
8. The couple are keen to establish their marriage on the foundations of Christian teaching and in the context of regular worship together.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of being married at York Minster please contact Revd Canon Michael Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01904 557211 to arrange a meeting.