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Reading of banns

Most Church of England marriages require banns to be read out in church before the wedding can take place.

Here's your essential guide to what's special and important about banns.

  • Banns are an announcement in church of your intention to marry and a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. 
  • Banns are an ancient legal tradition and have been read out every week in churches across the land for millions of couples, over many centuries.
  • After your forthcoming marriage is announced, the congregation may be invited to pray for you both. It can be quite special and moving to hear this, so do go along if you can.
  • Banns need to be read in the parish where each of you lives as well as the church in which you are to be married, if that is somewhere else.
  • You must have your banns read out in church for three Sundays during the three months before the wedding. This is often done over three consecutive Sundays but does not have to be.
  • As well as being a legal requirement, your banns readings are special public occasions when people in church hear of your intention to marry. It’s an exciting and happy time, so you’re welcome to invite your family and friends to hear your banns too, if you’d like. 
  • If there is not enough notice given for the banns to be read before the marriage is due to take place, or in the case of the marriage of people whose nationality is not British, or if one or both of you do not live in England, the Common Licence procedure needs to be used rather than banns. (This procedure also provides an opportunity to address any doubt there may be as to the legal requirements of the home country of a non-British person regarding the recognition of an English Church marriage.)

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