Struggling to find ceremony venue

Hi All,

We’re planning on getting married next summer and as we’ve both been married before, we’ve been looking for a ceremony room or suitable venue to get married in before going on elsewhere for the reception.  We live in Bucks and we’re not overly keen on a hotel package but the four ceremony rooms here are all too small.  I’ve only found two places that will allow a ceremony only without reception but I’m not sure the nearby village halls will be large enough, there’ll be about 85 guests.

There is a lovely marquee reception venue near me that has a lovely country church next door with plenty of hotels nearby, so ideal but my question is, would anybody else consider getting married in church when they’re not church goers or particularly religious?!  I know very few people who attend church these days but plenty of people still getting married in church.  It wouldn’t be my first church but we may be left with little or no option but to be hypocritical.

What would you do in my situation or have you been in this position yourself, what did you do?

🤪

Posts

  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,913 New bride
    Most people who get married in church aren't regular churchgoers - I really wouldn't worry about it.
  • jjward2019jjward2019 Posts: 128 New bride
    We are doing this. We really didn’t want a hotel wedding as most of the nice venues in our area my friends had gotten married at last year and to be completely honest a hotel venue wasn’t really us.
    We have a beautiful little church in our village that we considered and thought the same as you, would it be wrong/hypocritical - however after months of searching it was only ceremony venue that made us excited. It almost felt more ‘real’ it being a church and slightly unique as no one (sadly) really gets married in the church anymore. We met with the reverend and though she knew we weren’t regular church goers she was incredibly welcoming and I think they were genuinely very happy that a local couple had decide to get married in church. It helped a little that my fiancé’s nan is part of the WI and his mums a Scout leader and they both do things with the church throughout the year but again the reverend was lovely and has never made a single comment about us not be regulars. Sorry for the essay 😂 long of the short of it - I wouldn’t worry about it you’d probably be surprised! 
  • OmRumOmRum Posts: 788 New bride
    I also apologise for an essay! As my job involves knowing about Anglican marriage law and I recently had a church wedding, I thought I might be qualified to offer advice!

    You should check what denomination of church it is, but it is probably Church of England, in which case it should be easy to arrange to meet the vicar to talk about getting married there. To put it into perspective, when we got married, we went to a marriage class at the church (you might be asked to do this - in our case it wasn't at all religious, just based on marriage counselling techniques and communication, then a run through of the service) there were about six couples, and we were the only ones who went to church there, so I'm guessing most people who marry in church aren't regular attendees.

    One little snag is the fact you've both been married before. Anglican vicars are allowed to refuse to allow people who have been divorced to marry in their church. However, this is very rare and I have only heard of it happening once. Canon law sees marriage as unbreakable, but it also recognises that some marriages do end and is sympathetic towards people wanting to marry again. I don't think this is something you should worry about, I just wanted to make sure you were aware in case the vicar starts asking you about your previous marriages.

    One consideration is the wording of the ceremony. There are set words which can't be changed. You can read the service here: https://www.yourchurchwedding.org/article/wedding-ceremony-words/. As you can see, there are a lot of references to God, in particular that you are making the vows in the presence of God and according to God's law, which might feel a bit odd if you don't believe in God! You will also need to select at least one Bible reading and some hymns, although there is also scope for non-religious readings and songs.

    But if you're happy with all that, churches are lovely venues to get married in and often offer the option of choirs and organs for music, plus if it's a summer wedding they might have bell-ringers. It's also a lovely back-drop for photos. As jjward2019 says above, there is something a bit magical about being married in a church.
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,913 New bride
    OmRum said:
    I also apologise for an essay! As my job involves knowing about Anglican marriage law and I recently had a church wedding, I thought I might be qualified to offer advice!

    You should check what denomination of church it is, but it is probably Church of England, in which case it should be easy to arrange to meet the vicar to talk about getting married there. To put it into perspective, when we got married, we went to a marriage class at the church (you might be asked to do this - in our case it wasn't at all religious, just based on marriage counselling techniques and communication, then a run through of the service) there were about six couples, and we were the only ones who went to church there, so I'm guessing most people who marry in church aren't regular attendees.

    One little snag is the fact you've both been married before. Anglican vicars are allowed to refuse to allow people who have been divorced to marry in their church. However, this is very rare and I have only heard of it happening once. Canon law sees marriage as unbreakable, but it also recognises that some marriages do end and is sympathetic towards people wanting to marry again. I don't think this is something you should worry about, I just wanted to make sure you were aware in case the vicar starts asking you about your previous marriages.

    One consideration is the wording of the ceremony. There are set words which can't be changed. You can read the service here: https://www.yourchurchwedding.org/article/wedding-ceremony-words/. As you can see, there are a lot of references to God, in particular that you are making the vows in the presence of God and according to God's law, which might feel a bit odd if you don't believe in God! You will also need to select at least one Bible reading and some hymns, although there is also scope for non-religious readings and songs.

    But if you're happy with all that, churches are lovely venues to get married in and often offer the option of choirs and organs for music, plus if it's a summer wedding they might have bell-ringers. It's also a lovely back-drop for photos. As jjward2019 says above, there is something a bit magical about being married in a church.
    My parents were both divorced when they married each other and the vicar refused to marry them, but would bless them, so they had a registry office wedding followed by a Church blessing. This was in 1983 though and most vicars have moved on a bit. 

    You may need to try different churches/vicars if the first you try won't marry you. I had a hell of a job finding a vicar who would christen my son without my fiance being christened & going to preparation classes (it was important to me, my fiance was happy for me to have our son christened but wouldn't be christened or go to classes himself as he doesn't believe in organised religion!). The vicar who I found was so laid back and said he'd be happy to marry us too, but sadly FH wasn't up for a church wedding at all!
  • OmRumOmRum Posts: 788 New bride
    MrsCToBee I'm sorry you and your parents had issues. The Canon Law to allow remarriage in Anglican churches was made in 2002, so hopefully your parents would have had a different experience nowadays. Shocking how recently it happened, really.

    I'm amazed you had so much trouble finding a vicar for the christening! There is no rule that states the parents have to be baptised for their child to be baptised. I can see why they would want you to go to the class, just to make sure parents understand what being baptised actually means, but I see no reason why you couldn't attend alone if it made your partner feel uncomfortable. That being said, my parent's vicar refused to baptise me and my brother because he didn't believe in child baptisms, so the vicar must have some say in what he (this was the '80s, no women priests back then!) will or will not do.
  • Cecilia13Cecilia13 Posts: 512 New bride
    I'm in Bucks too and there are some lovely town halls around. We're having our ceremony over the border in Berkhamsted Town Hall because it's the closest one to us that's big enough and looks nice too, but there are some others it might be worth looking into too.
  • Thanks for the replies.  We’re both Catholics, I’ve never practiced but my fiancé has in the past but these days his church attendance is limited to weddings and funerals.  From his perspective, if he can’t marry in a Catholic Church, I’m  divorced so that can’t happen, (he’s a widower) then he isn’t interested in a church wedding.  My first husband was a divorcee (first marriage was in 1993) and we had a total nightmare trying to find a Vicar prepared to marry us, a church wedding was very important to me back then but I couldn’t even make an appointment to speak with a Vicar.  The whole experience put me off a church wedding if I’m honest as convenient as it would be.  I suppose I just to keep searching.  Is it any wonder that weddings are at an all time low?!

    Cecilia13 I’ve looked at Berkhamsted but the large room is way too big and the small one isn’t big enough.  I’m not sure where the other town halls are that you’re referring to?  There’s one in Ivinghoe and Chesham but neither are licensed for wedding ceremonies.  There’s one in Wallingford, Oxfordshire but it’s too small.  Henley Town Hall is about the right side and we could marry there but it’s quite a distance and I would prefer something closer to home if possible (north Bucks).

    🤪🤪🤪🤯🤯🤯
  • Cecilia13Cecilia13 Posts: 512 New bride
    I am trying to remember the ones we found. I think there's one in High Wycombe, it's a town hall and also a theatre or something? The other place we looked at was Henley (and really liked it) but it was too far for us too. I don't know if we'll fill the hall in Berkhamsted 😂 we'll see! I'm sure there was another one but now I can't find it. We will only have 90 or 95 or so guests and the big room is fine for that from what we saw and discussed with them.
  • MrsCToBeeMrsCToBee Posts: 2,913 New bride
    edited 1 March
    If you go on the Buckinghamshire County council website there should be a list of all the licensed wedding venues and the numbers they are licensed for  - you could then narrow it down from there. In fact I found it:
    https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/media/4512800/register-of-approved-venues.pdf

    If you have 85 people I really wouldn't worry about a room being too big, the venue can add/remove chairs and dress it to make the space suit the number of people usually.
  • Thanks for all the replies.  We’ve compromised and booked the Tally Ho Hotel in Bicester.  It’s a small family run hotel which my fiancé fancied and it’s quite barn like and olde worlde which I liked and we can have the whole day there.  It’s an established hotel so I feel confident that they’re going to run the day well and it doesn’t feel like a conveyor belt type venue.  Only 16 months to go, very exciting!
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