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Marriage in the Anglican Church

The prayer book teaches that marriage in the Anglican Church is the union of a man and a woman in a lifelong partnership in which they are called to unite in heart, mind and body, to enrich and respond to each other and grow in tenderness and understanding. It is a gift from God and a symbol of God’s unending love for his people.

Why marry in a church?

There are a range of good reasons to choose a church as the venue for your wedding. For many people, holding their wedding ceremony within a church is one special way to include God and bring a strong spiritual dimension to the start of their marriage. Many people also choose churches because of the beautiful environment they offer, and how they blend centuries of tradition within a modern context.

It’s also worth considering that churches understand the practical needs of a wedding ceremony, from seating arrangements, audio/visual requirements and necessary facilities. The Vicar also knows what’s needed to help your wedding be memorable and without issue, and will be able to help you plan the way you’d like the ceremony to run.

What are the pre-requisites to getting married in the Anglican Church?

The Commonwealth of Australia sets out certain legal requirements pertaining to marriage. These are defined by the Marriages Act 1961 and section 43(a) of the Family Law Act 1975.

One of the legal requirements placed upon clergy is that, when conducting a marriage ceremony, only those rites authorised by their particular denomination may be used. This means that, according to Australian law, Anglican clergy are required to use only the rites of Anglican Prayer Books when conducting a marriage service. The Anglican Church, furthermore, assumes that those couples approaching marriage are seeking a Christian wedding and are willing to be married within the Anglican tradition.

Who can be married in an Anglican Church?

Marriage customs vary slightly throughout the Diocese. Many parishes have an open policy regarding marriage – anyone wishing to be married in an Anglican church may be – but under the law of the Church, at least one party to the marriage must be baptised. The remarriage of divorced persons is possible in the Anglican Church with the permission of the regional bishop. Many parishes ask that couples being married attend a church service so they can have a chance to meet the vicar and understand what church is.

How do I go about getting married
in the Anglican Church?

The Marriages Act 1961 requires that at least one month’s notice be given using the proscribed Notice of Intention to Marry form to the proposed celebrant before the marriage takes place. Couples desiring to be married in an Anglican Church should contact the parish office, or attend a church service to meet with the vicar well before the proposed date of their marriage. It’s important that you allow as much time as you can when deciding on a date to be married, as churches can often be booked months in advance by other weddings, events or services.

Can same sex couples be married in the Anglican Church?

While there is a diversity of views within the Diocese on same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church nationally and the Diocese of Melbourne has declared its view on human sexuality and marriage as a lifelong, monogamous and unconditional commitment between a man and a woman. According to the law, Anglican ministers are only allowed to conduct marriages in accordance with the rites of the Anglican Church of Australia, and are therefore not permitted to conduct same-sex marriages. Even if a non-Anglican minister celebrant officiates, Anglican churches cannot be used as a wedding venue for a same-sex marriage.

Marriage preparation programs in the Diocese

While planning a wedding is important, it is even more important to make plans for the longer lasting celebration – marriage. Pre-marriage preparation is the church community’s way of giving support and guidance to a couple as they approach their marriage. Good pre-marriage preparation affirms the strengths in a relationship and clarifies the expectations a couple has for the marriage while providing the opportunity to face honestly the potential stressors in a lifelong relationship. Even couples who have already been living together for some time, are still two separate individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, hopes and fears. The Melbourne Diocese believes that couples contemplating marriage owe it to each other to think and talk through all aspects of married life before the wedding.

Do you have more questions? Talk to your local minister about what your church offers.