Church or Registry office?.
For the most part, marriages in Northern Ireland normally take place in a Church or at the Registry Office. The Registry Office is usually in the local Council building, and it is here that a short formal legal procedure is carried out. Your family and friends attend as they would in church, but there is no religious ceremony. The whole procedure normally lasts 10-15 minutes.
Getting Married In St Patricks Church.
Choosing to get married in church, rather than in a Registry Office, not only offers the Bride and Groom, (in the case of St. Patrick's/St Andrew’s), a beautiful setting, but also the ,opportunity to acknowledge God's gift of marriage. It allows you to involve God in your 'Big Day", and if you are Christian, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to bear witness to Him through the Service. In the Service we seek God's blessing and guidance for you is you begin a new life together in the community as husband and wife. A church Service is a joyful occasion with lots of colour, music and ceremony. (Be Inspired!. Watch Finaly & Gillian's St Patrick's 2012 Mini Wedding Movie Opposite ).
Whose Idea Was It?
Marriage was God's idea, not ours! The Bible understands marriage as based upon God's creation of the human race. It says: "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them: male and female." (Genesis 1.27) Then God said " It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a helper as his partner therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis .18, 24) The marriage Service in the Church of Ireland refers to this basic foundation.
Who is it for?
Marriage is for couples wishing to live together. Christians believe that this is God's plan for intimate stable relationships. In marriage two individuals become one. They give themselves to each other. Your partner accepts your gift, taking you willingly with no conditions.
Marriage is for men and women. Christians believe that God created marriage to be entered into by one man and one woman for life. For this purpose, God made us biologically compatible.
Marriage is not just something for couples - it concerns their families as well. The wedding ceremony symbolically notes the coming together of two separate families by having them walk into the Vestry to sign the Register as two separate families, and then sending them back out as one!
Marriage is for children. For Christians, marriage is the right place to begin a family, and a special place created by God for the nurture of children. The family is part of God's structure for society,acting like a glue holding communities together.
Marriage is also for God. Your faithful commitment to each other in marriage is glorifying to God. He rejoices in your happiness and delights in your enjoyment of one another. In the western world where God's standards are not as important as they once were, Christian marriage is a real witness to God's purposes.
Marriage is for society. Without God's `order" society would quickly disintegrate. Part of his "order" includes marriage. This is part of God's contribution towards stability and unity in the world. Anything that contributes towards the breakdown of family life will ultimately lead to a less secure world.
Marriage & the Law.
Marriage is a legal contract entered into willingly by two people. It is governed by new legislation called "The Marriage (Northern Ireland) 2003" which came into effect in Northern Ireland on 2004. In the past the church has acted as a local registrar issuing marriage licences and maintaining public records of weddings. All this changed in January 2004.
What Does This Mean For You?
1. Although churches are no longer involved in the licensing process, still very much involved in the "Big Day" and the preparations leading up to it. In some ways it has been a positive move releasing the church to focus upon the spirit significance of the wedding and the preparation of the couple.
2. As a marriage is a legal contract, some of the church ceremony fulfils a legal function. In the service the following are required by law: * That you give your consent to marry one another. * That you publicly declare that there is no legal impediment to getting married. * That the Minister asks the members of the congregation whether * know any reason why you should not marry!. * That you both formally take each other in marriage. * That you are officially declared husband and wife.
3. Notice for all marriages must be given in writing by both parties to registrar of the district where the marriage is to take place. In your case that will most likely be the Council Offices, Coleraine. Click the following link to visit:
Coleraine Council: www.colerainebc.gov.uk
4. You must give at least 28 days clear notice to the Registrar before the date of your marriage. You can however apply for your marriage up to one year before the date.
5. You will have to bring a "Marriage Notice" to the Minister who will perform your ceremony. He has to sign this to show his willingness to perform the ceremony.
6. The Minister will only be able to marry you if you give him a "Marriage Schedule". This is the proof that you have been granted permission by the Registrar to proceed with your wedding. The Registrar will give the "Marriage Schedule" to you. You will able to collect the Marriage Schedule no earlier than 28 days before your marriage.
7. Immediately after the Wedding Ceremony you must sign the Marriage Schedule, along with the Minister and two other witnesses. The other witnesses are usually your Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid. Witnesses must be over 16 years of age.
8. After the wedding ceremony you have just three days to return the Marriage Schedule to the Registrar. It need not be returned by you personally, but make sure that the person you ask to return it is reliable!.
9. If you want a copy of the Marriage Schedule, under the new legislation the church will no longer be able to supply you with one. Please ask the Registrar for one.
The wedding ceremony in the church is the single most important part of your Wedding Day! Naturally we would say that - wouldn't we?! But it is true - because at that point, you publicly submit yourself to God's plan for marriage in general and his plan for your marriage in particular. It's a serious commitment.
There are a number of different elements to the service. Some of these are required by the Law, some by the Church. These form the framework for you to add those things that help make your service unique to you. It's important that you take time to plan carefully what goes into your service, so that it expresses your individuality and God's place in your lives. The Minister will help you with this.
What should I have In the Service?
This contains two elements... (1) The things I want to add. and (2) The things already there.
THE THINGS I WANT TO ADD
MUSIC: Music is a traditional part of the Christian's response to God. We use it to worship and praise God. Music is a very fitting way of praising God and for celebrating his gift of marriage. You should give some thought to the following :
HYMNS: * Usually there are two or three hymns. * If you are having three hymns, it is normal for the second hymn to be based upon a Psalm. The organist can help you with this. * Hymns can be modern or old, or a mixture. Your choice of hymns will determine whether you want an Organist or a Praise Team. * Choose hymns that the people coming to your wedding can sing! Silence can be deafening! * Choose hymns that glorify God.
WEDDING MARCHES: Traditionally music is played as the Bride and her Father walk up the aisle at the beginning of the service and as the Bride and Groom walk back down the aisle after the service. Normally the organist plays this, but it is possible to use a string quartet, music group or even a CD at these points. Whatever music you choose for the beginning and end of the service, it should be agreed with the Minister and appropriate to a church setting. As a general rule of thumb, do not use CDs with lyrics! Don't use music that will encourage you to gallop up the aisle!! The Bride looks so much better when she glides!!
SIGNING THE REGISTER: While you and the rest of the Bridal Party are in the vestry signing the registers, the congregation will be sitting twiddling their thumbs! Usually at this point there is a musical insertion of some sort! This might be a singer, the organist, the music group, or a special ensemble (e.g. flute and harp etc.) It's up to you, but once again, whatever you choose it has to be in keeping with a church setting.
READINGS: The Minister will choose the Bible readings and use them as the basis of his talk. If you have a Bible reading you particularly like then talk to the Minister about it. Sometimes it is possible to have a family member or friend read the passage at the service. Readings to consider might include the following: 1 Corinthians 13 Ephesians 3.14-21 Ephesians 5.21-33 Romans 12.1,2,9-13 Colossians 3.12-17 Matthew 7.21, 24-27 Mark 10.6-12 John 2.1-11 Genesis 1.26-28, 31 Genesis 2.18-24
THE THINGS ALREADY THERE! :THE SERVICE DIVIDES ROUGHLY INTO THREE PARTS:
PART ONE: The first portion of the service takes place at the chancel steps. These are the steps leading up to where the choir normally sits on a Sunday. This is a very important part of the service. It sets the scene for everything else that will follow. After the bridal procession and opening hymn, there is a fairly long explanation, setting out God's reasons for marriage. This is followed by a reading from God's Word, and a short talk, often based upon the reading. It means that right from the beginning of the service you are seeking to involve God, and saying that God's presence at your wedding is important. As you listen to His word, remember that you have come to God's House, so expect to hear from Him!
PART TWO: The legal aspects of the service follow at this point. The minister begins by solemnly warning the Bride and Groom of the serious step they are about to take. He asks the congregation if they know any reason why you should not be married. (Hopefully they remain silent!!) He then asks you if you are aware of any reason why you should not marry. You then are guided through the process of making a binding contract before God and the congregation. This process involves you giving your consent to each other, making your vows, and exchanging wedding rings as tokens of your commitment, and as symbols of God's unending love. Just before you make your vows to one another, the Bride will be "given away". The Bride's Father usually does this. The purpose of it is to remind the couple of God's plan, namely that they are leaving their parents' home to make a home of their own. It is healthy for everyone, parents and children, to recognise the changing nature of their relationships. The Minister reminds the congregation that marriage is God's plan and that no one should be party in weakening or spoiling it. The couple is then pronounced husband and wife and kneel for prayer.
PART THREE: This is conducted at the sanctuary steps. The Bride and Groom kneel, and prayers, seeking God's blessing and guidance in their new lives together, are said. After a hymn is sung the Service is almost over. However, there are still a few legal formalities to complete in the vestry, as the Bride and Groom along with their witnesses, (usually the Best Man and Bridesmaid) sign the registers. The Bride and Groom then walk back down the aisle and eventually on to their reception.
Reading & Talk
Legal Requirements (e.g. "giving away" consent & vows)
Hymn or Psalm
The rehearsal is an important part of your preparation. This normally takes places a day or two before the service. It gives you the opportunity to see what is going to happen on the "Big Day" and allows you to do some fine-tuning of the service with the Minister. It is important that as many of the bridal party as possible attend. It will help "calm the nerves"!! and leave everybody knowing what they have to do and when!
THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE SHOULD ATTEND THE REHEARSAL: (if they form part of your Bridal Party:
Matron of Honour
(An usher might be useful, but not absolutely essential at the rehearsal).
YOU SHOULD ALSO BRING WITH YOU THE FOLLOWING:
* A copy of your printed wedding service.
* The Schedule of Marriage if you have not already given it to the Minister.
* Fees. Fees should be placed in separate envelopes and given to the officiating Minister.
LAST MINUTE CHURCH CHECK UP
Have I brought my "Marriage Notice" to the Minister to sign?
He must sign this to tell the Registrar that he is willing to conduct the ceremony.
Have I got my "Schedule of Marriage" and brought that to the Minister?
The Minister cannot marry you without this, even if you have everything else organised and arrive at the church for the service. It is crucial that you bring this to the Minister at your rehearsal.
Have I arranged a rehearsal with the Minister?
This is normally the same week as your wedding. Choose a day when all or most of your bridal party can be there. A few days before the wedding is normal.
Have I arranged my music with the Organist or Worship Director and booked them in for the day?
The music is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. If your wedding is during the summer or at other times of the year when people tend to go on holiday you will need to contact the Organist or Worship Director ASAP!
Have I checked with the Minister about a video/photography?
During the service we do not allow photography in the church except by the official photographer. We also allow a professional to video the ceremony. The photographer and video operator should talk to the Minister on the day.
Have I arranged with the Sexton to open the church for the flower arranger?
Have I booked my flower arranger?
The main floral displays may have candles mounted in them if desired, but candles should not be placed anywhere else in the church.
Have I changed my name in my passport if need be?
The Minister may be required to sign a form!
Have I discussed any special arrangements that might be required for some of my guests i.e. if they are disabled?
We might need to "unlock" some chairs to provide better access for those who require space for a wheelchair.
Have I collected my orders of service from the printer and given one to the Minister?
The minister will clearly discuss any fees with you and the various options available. Such as.....
Use of the Church: To cover the use of the facilities.
Sexton's Fees. He will prepare the church for your wedding and clear up afterwards (Sweep up the confetti!) He will also ensure that the church is opened for your flower arranger and for the rehearsal.
Clergy Fees. You will normally meet the clergy on several occasions as you prepare for your wedding day. They will advise you about the contents of your service, arrange and conduct your rehearsal, conduct the ceremony. They may also be involved in your marriage preparation classes.
Organist: The Organist will help you choose your music, and play on the day.
Praise Team: If you decide to have a more contemporary feel to the worship at your wedding the Praise Team can provide a variety of music including: A quartet, Keyboard, saxophone, clarinet, flute, drums Harp etc
Bell Ringers: Depending on the day and the time it is sometimes possible to have a Bell Ringing Team involved in your wedding to ring the bells as you enter and leave.
With effect for weddings arranged after 1st June 2014:
Payment of musicians to be arranged directly with the organist/worship director as appropriate.
After talking through your plans with the clergy, you should book the various people required for your wedding.
HAVE A HAPPY DAY! CONTACT US
St Patricks & St Andrews,
The Parish Centre'
50 Brook Street, Coleraine,
Tel: 028 7034 4213