Getting Married at Christ Church
We receive a number of requests each year from couples who would like to be married at Christ Church, and are delighted to explore possibilities in the hope that we can mutually agree that our church is suitable for such an important occasion in their life.
We provide an information booklet to give couples some understanding of our local church, the United Reformed Church in general, and what it means to be married in a Christian Church, and the possible content of the marriage service, some of which is included on this Web site.
Normally, couples reside within Clacton-on-Sea or its surrounding area, or have been brought up in the area and have most of their relatives living locally. Where the couple live outside the 'CO' (i.e. Colchester) Postal District, residency requirements may have to be undertaken through consultation with the Registrar in Colchester.
The minister of our church, Rev'd Chris Wood, or their representative, will interview the couple, so that we might mutually agree that it is appropriate for the wedding to take place at our church. It must be appreciated from the outset that the wedding ceremony is both a Christian service and a legal contract, and in the latter we act as an agent to the Registrar at Colchester Registry Office. A marriage license is issued by the church at the end of the ceremony.
The church has appointed 'Authorised Persons' to act on behalf of the Registrar, and who will be responsible to ensure that all legal requirements have been fulfilled both beforehand and on the day, and to complete the Marriage Register and Marriage license.
Weddings can take place in our church on any day of the week, including Sunday's -the only restrictions being a legal requirement (the law states that no wedding can take place after 6.00pm), and the availability of the church officers, although we have to ensure that your wedding will not clash with other activities that are happening within the building.
We advise you allow one hour in church (includes the brides photos; the wedding ceremony; the signing of the register; and official photographs in church) and up to three hours between the start of the wedding and the commencement of the formal part of the reception. We also allow two hours between weddings to give plenty of time for photographs outside the church.
For anyone wanting to discuss the possibility of getting married at Christ Church, we advise ringing the minister in the first instance and seeking an appointment (01255) 224598. Chris Wood (Rev'd) Peter Woolfe Minister Church Secretary
Things You Should Bear in Mind:
Various personal details will need to be recorded right up to the day of your wedding. This will include your name and address (the place you will each be resident at for the eight days prior to registering your marriage); occupations, ages; and your fathers name and occupation.
These will be kept on file, but the details will only be used for the purpose intended (as per Christ Church URC Data Protection Policy - a copy can be made available on request)
Prior to your wedding you must see the registrar at STANWELL STREET, COLCHESTER, CO2 7DL, [Tel: 01206 572926], and obtain certificates authorizing us to conduct the marriage. Please telephone in advance for an appointment, and identify what documents you will need to take with you (including proof of address). It is advisable that you take a S.A.E. (B5 or A4 size) to save you returning to the Registrars to pick up the certificate.
The Registrar in Colchester is responsible for the 'Posting of the Bans' - i.e. publicly displaying your intention to be married and allowing anyone to object on legal grounds. This process takes place over two weeks following your interview with the Registrar.
The certificates may be obtained up to twelve months beforehand, and preferably no later than four weeks before your wedding [legal requirement now about 2 weeks]. You must note that without the certificates the wedding cannot take place. It is recommended that the certificates is handed over to the Church as soon as possible, so that these can be placed in our safe.
The church appoints 'Authorised Persons' to act on behalf of the Registrar in Colchester, and are responsible for ensuring that all legal procedures have been followed, and for issuing the Marriage License
You will require TWO witnesses to sign the register after you are married. These would normally be required to be over 18 years of age. We will require their FULL names in advance, please.
The church can accommodate approximately 160 people comfortably downstairs - with some overflow seating in the balcony (up to 40).
This can be made available about 3 months beforehand, and gives information on the different services available, as well as a list of suitable hymns and readings. Should you wish to involve someone in the service (scripture reading; poetry; singing; playing an instrument etc) then we are more that happy to discuss possibilities.
We see music and hymns as an essential part of the Christian nature of the ceremony, and either the minister or organist will make themselves available to discuss possibilities with regard to what music might be played as your guests arrive, the choice of music for the entrance of the bride, suitable hymns, and music for when you leave the church.
The organist is available after a morning service, but would require advance notice should you be seeking her advice. The organist is also happy to play a choice of music during the signing of the register (15 minutes), although, if you prefer, we are happy to accommodate the playing of a tape or CD playing during this part of the ceremony as long as we believe the music chosen is in keeping with the occasion. We have a C.D. available on request that includes most pieces of organ music that is suitable for a wedding.
Printed Orders of Service
Should you be printing your own Orders of Service, could you please agree the draft with the minister prior to printing to agree wording. Should hymns be printed, again the copyright license needs to be shown [CCL 302769]. Alternatively, we will provide a printed Order of Service (A4 folded) an example of which can be provided on request
Photographs &: Video
An official photographer or member of the family / friend can take photographs during the ceremony and after the signing of the register. The appointed person will need to meet with the minister prior to the service (no later than 20 minutes beforehand) to agree what photos can be taken, from what position and when. They must function in a way as to be as discrete as possible and not be a distraction to the minister, members of family and friends, or others taking part in the ceremony. Whilst we seek to be as flexible and accommodating as possible, it must be understood by all parties that the minister's decision in these matters is binding.
This also applies to a video recording - because of copyright regulations, our license allows for ONLY ONE recording. The video can be either a 'family video' or a professional recording, but the location will need to be agreed in advance. Please note the church organist may insist on a supplementary fee to that quoted to acknowledge the recording of their professional talent.
If you require to use our license, you need to note certain conditions:
i) Our license permits for up to 25 copies being produced but not for public sale.
ii) On each label you need to print the license number [CCL 302769].
One of the things you will need to decide, is what flowers (if any) you would like in the church.
There are options:
i) to accept whatever flowers are in church for the particular weekend of your wedding;
ii) to invite someone you know to offer a flower arrangement;
ii) to make a donation to the church for the cost of flowers and our volunteer will create an arrangement guided by yourself on type of flowers and colours. Currently they advise £75 for the cost of flowers (this may vary according to time of year and type / range of flowers requested).
Should you require a rehearsal, which is an opportunity to go through some of the main aspects of the service, it is preferable that this take place a few days before the wedding. It goes without saying that you both need to be present, with optional extras: Best Man; person giving bride away; and bridesmaid. Sometimes the photographer likes to be present to familiarize themselves with the layout of the building.
We acknowledge that it is sometimes necessary to have an alcoholic drink 'to steady the nerves' beforehand, but you need to take extreme care because, if it is believed that you are 'over the limit', it would be illegal (i.e. against the law of the land) to proceed with the wedding!!
We do not require a deposit once the wedding has been booked. A confirmation letter will be issued, and this should then be taken with you and shown to the registrar. The fees for weddings from 1 September 2008 are £305 - will increase to £320 from the 1st September 2010. (An optional extra for flowers of £75 and a supplementary fee for the organist should a video recording be taken). This covers the cost of the Church, Minister, Organist, Authorized Person and Caretaker. It does not include the Registrars Fee in Colchester. The wedding fee is reviewed each year, with the possibility of introducing a slight increase each September. We request that the church fee be paid in full 14 days prior to the wedding. Cheques should be made payable to 'Christ Church United Reformed Church, Clacton',
Wedding Planning Meeting
In the past, we have held an evening session around March where couples getting married at Christ Church can meet with the minister, Authorized Person, organist, Church Secretary, and other couples, to discuss the planning of weddings, to answer questions, and to help choose wedding music and hymns. If this is to happen, you will be given ample notice of the evening, and we hope that you will be able to attend.
Unlike the Church of England, it is not necessary for you to attend worship for a number of Sundays prior to your wedding for the 'reading of the bands'. But we do believe that much can be gained from attending worship on one or more occasions prior to your marriage. It is an opportunity for you to understand a little more about worship in the United Reformed Church, it will certainly give you a better 'feel' of what it's like to worship within our building, and it gives an opportunity for you meet with members of our congregation - in particular with those who may be involved in your wedding service.
We would ask that you give this your serious consideration, and note that services are each Sunday morning at 10.30am, and we have a Junior Church which meets at the same time. Other services - particularly Festival services (Christmas / Easter / Pentecost / Harvest etc) are always listed under 'Church Services' in the Thursday morning Clacton Gazette
Should the bride-to-be wish to have her passport changed in advance of the wedding (to her married name) then the minister can sign a certificate (obtainable from the Post Office) confirming to the Passport office that the wedding has been booked at our church. It is advisable that this be done approximately 2 months before the wedding - although it must be stressed that the newly issued Passport cannot be used until after the wedding has taken place.
If you have not already started, we highly recommend the keeping of a Note Book, to help you record information, dates, contact names and numbers etc that are necessary as part of your ongoing preparations for this very special day. It is also useful to make a note of any items that you wish to be considered for inclusion in the wedding service itself (music; hymns; readings; poems etc). We hope to do all that we can to help make your day very special for you both.
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