Getting married at St Stephen’s
Thank you for enquiring about getting married at St Stephen’s South Dulwich.
You have the right to be married at this church if: 1) at least one of you lives within the parochial boundaries of this parish (or is on the Church Electoral Roll of this church); 2) if neither of you is divorced. Under the new 2008 marriage measure you may also marry at St Stephen’s if you have a ‘Qualifying Connection’ with this church. (In short a QC exisits if one of you was baptised or confirmed here, if one of you have ever lived in the parish for six months, if you have ever regularly attended worship here for six months, if your parents lived here or worshipped here during your lifetime or if any of your parents or grandparents were ever married in this church. A special form needs to be filled in to demonstrate such a connection.) Further information on marriage in an Anglican church in England can be found on the Church of England Website http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/
The first thing you need to do is to book the date (and time) of your wedding with the Vicar of this church. From then on your wedding is booked and all details will be filed under that date. Most people book their wedding about one year to six months before the date. It can be done with as little time as five full weeks notice.
After booking your date it is normal procedure to have two meetings with the priest who will be marrying you (one about five or six months before your wedding and the next about one or two months before) after that there will be a rehearsal on one day during the week before your wedding. It is your responsibility to make sure that these meetings happen.
These are due FOUR FULL WEEKS prior to the wedding in a cheque made payable to “St Stephen’s PCC”. Only when the fees are paid in full can we guarantee the booking. The fees should be made payable in two cheques, the £ 100 deposit is returned to you if the wedding starts ‘on time’. All musical fees over and above your payment for the organist are separately charged and paid for by your party.
Most people get married in church after the ‘reading of banns’. It is also possible to get married with different legal preliminary procedures, but this is more expensive and it only normally happens in cases where banns cannot be read. The banns are read in the church at which you are getting married and in the church in the parish of which the other partner lives (if you both live in this parish, then banns only need to be read here). It is very important that for the purposes of the reading of the banns you reside at the addresses which you give when you apply for the reading of banns. The form, which you fill in to apply to have your banns read, is a complicated form and needs to be filled in truthfully. It is filled in both for this church and for any other church you are having your banns read (it is therefore worth you keeping a photocopy of it once you have filled in one!) – It is your responsibility to make sure that you have agreed the calling of banns with the various Vicars concerned. You cannot be married in church without fulfilling the legal preliminaries.
Please make your own plans to provide flowers and church decorations. If you are planning to have the church decorated it is important that your florists or flower arrangers have access to the church at a time the church is open (please arrange this with Gill Burdett at the church office, the church is normally open on Saturdays between 10.30am and 11.30am). It is also recommended to dovetail such arrangements with our church flower organiser Mrs Rita Frost, who also can give very useful advice in this area.
You can choose your music and hymns in consultation with our Director of Music, it is customary to have two or three hymns. You may also like to specify the music to be played at the beginning and the end of the service as well as the music that you want played during the signing of the registers. You can book our church choir or you can arrange for other singers or musicians or you may book the professional singers to perform at your service.
It is normal to have a reading from the Bible, you may want to choose a suitable passage (the priest will assist you). You may like to consider to make the service more personal by choosing a reader from amongst your guests or/and choose an additional reading (which may not have to come from the Bible, but could be a poem or some other suitable passage meaningful for you both).
Order of Service:
You may like to consider arranging for the printing of an ‘order of service’ which will contain words of hymns and a running order of the wedding service so that your guests can be handed this by the ushers as they enter the church. The priest will normally like to have a look at the final proof of this.
The total length of the service is likely to be about 45 to 55 minutes.
Photographs and video:
You may want you can have one designated photographer. In this church such a person will have a lot of freedom to take photographs, even during the service, provided that: 1) he/she identifies himself to the priest ten minutes before the service and they can have a quick discussion and 2) other people refrain from taking photographs during the service. If you are having a video recorded this will involve you in paying additional copyright fees (to church and musicians) and also signing a form which will give the church and musicians control over broadcasting rights.
The Church Hall
If you would like unrestricted access to the hall, toilets and car-park you will need to book the church hall for the duration of your wedding plus 30 minutes either side. This needs to be done in good time via our hall bookings secretary Miss Joan Greenwood 020 8693 8613.
Bookings and practical arrangements:
St Stephens is a busy Church, often hosting more than one wedding on the same day. We also often host events in our hall and evening concerts. We ask couples to bear this in mind when making plans. This means that parking may well be very limited on the day. It also means that any requests for access to the Church prior to the ceremony for Florists, etc will need to be made in writing to Vicar. This will allow us to balance the needs of all those using St Stephens. We would also ask couples to note that when we take a booking we are reserving the Church for a ONE hour period and that wedding parties will need to have moved on to their reception venues and have removed flowers and any equipment in good time so that another wedding can comfortably begin two hours after your own booking.
At St Stephen’s we can only allow strictly biodegradable confetti and this only on the public pavement area away from the church building, a note to this effect must be included in your order of service. The deposit will be retained if extra confetti clearing-up costs are incurred.
You may like the wedding to include a celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion or Mass), this would be especially relevant if either of you is a regular church attender or is used to receiving the sacrament of the Holy Communion. (It makes the service about ten minutes longer.)
Please remember that ‘getting married in a church’ can mean a whole spectrum of events. The main elements are: your promises (the vows), your nuptial blessing, the witnesses, prayers for you and the signing of the registers. It is perfectly possible for you not to have any of the other enhancements (flowers, music, festive clothes, special cars, expensive parties etc). The priest will take your wedding seriously, whatever you decide to do: from (on the one end of the scale) the two of you coming to the church in ordinary clothes with two witnesses to (on the other end of the scale) you organising a huge stage-managed day of celebration.
Relevant names and telephone numbers:
Vicar: Revd Bernhard Schünemann. St Stephen’s Vicarage – 111 College Road – Dulwich – SE21 7HN
Telephone: 020 8693 3797 – fax 020 7117 1320
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.ststephensdulwich.org
Director of Music and organist: Mr Jonathan Turner
Church Office (Gill Burdett, Wednesdays and Fridays 9am to 2pm) 020 8766 7281
Church Flowers: Mrs Rita Frost 020 8670 7720
Weddings verger: Mrs Christiana Olowoodo