Building a Mission Community
St Mary's is a great place to get married, not just because we have a beautiful church building and surroundings, but because we seek the best for everyone who wants to have their wedding here. We therefore offer a range of resources to help you get going in married life, and to keep your marriage strong in the years ahead. Our people offer a fantastic Marriage Preparation Course (see below for details).
If you or your intended partner live in the parish of Old Harlow and you have not been married before, you can be married at St. Mary's; you can check parish boundaries with the Parish Office.
The church allows divorcees to marry at the discretion of the minister who performs the ceremony. At St. Mary's, we believe in the sanctity of marriage but have married divorcees where the previous marriage has clearly broken down.
If you do not live in the parish, and you want to marry at St Mary's there are two options.
- You can attend a Sunday service for 3 out of every 4 services per month, for six months. You are then eligible to join the parish electoral roll and can be married in the church. If your proposed wedding date is less than six months ahead, you will not be able to use this procedure.
- You can be married by Special Licence if one of your parents lives in the parish (it has to be a parent; siblings, grandparents or other relations do not make you eligible). Special licences currently cost an additional £125 on top of the cost of the wedding.
If you are looking to have your marriage blessed, please see Dave Welch after the 10.30am Sunday Service or contact the Parish Office.
"You covered it all!"
"Resolving the disputes and conflicts was never our strong point!"
"It opened my eyes to marriage!"
Just three of the many quotes we've received from couples over the years.
Marriage Preparation sessions are provided for couples who are to be married at St Mary’s and for couples for whom their own church doesn't offer marriage preparation sessions. As a church, we want to help prepare couples with the skills that they can use throughout their marriages: in times of joy as well as in times of difficulty. Preparation for marriage is so important – it provides the opportunity for couples to explore issues which they may not have thought about or discussed previously. In the sessions we aim to provide couples with thought-provoking material, which they can use to build into their relationship and offer suggestions about how they might deal with certain issues, which they could encounter during their married lives together.
The programme includes the following weekly themes:
But it also involves conversations around: What does it mean to be married?; Understanding ourselves and each other; Parents and children; and Exploring the practical meaning of love.
Generally, up to six or seven couples attend the preparation sessions over five evenings, which are spread out across the months of January to March.
These need to be called both at St Mary's and at the church of your intended partner, if their address is in a different parish. We will take care of the banns here, but it is your responsibility to arrange banns at the other parish. The reading of banns will cost £34. You cannot get married without a Banns Certificate. Please bring it with you to your wedding rehearsal.
If we fill the rows, St. Mary's can hold over 300 guests, although smaller numbers would feel very comfortable. We find 100 guests can make the church look full as they tend to spread out.
This will take place during the week before your wedding. You may bring along the best man, bridesmaids, and the person giving the bride away. The date is in the leaflet, 'Your Wedding at St Mary's.'
A small amount of flowers are provided by our Flower Team. The flowers are usually white and will be placed at the altar. We also have available arrangements which have been made to hang on the end of each row. These flowers are made of silk and are white in colour with a small amount of green ivy. If you would like a pedestal, or any other flowers, you will need to contact a florist of your choosing. You will need to make arrangements with the Parish Office about the delivery of extra flowers. These flowers will need to be removed after the ceremony and are often used at the wedding reception.
If you are arranging to have a video recording of the service, we would kindly ask that wherever possible the recording be made from one fixed place in the church. You will need to obtain a video licence directly from your videographer.
We recommend that if you want to have hymns, you also have the choir to lead the singing. We will assist you to choose hymns and music, as part of the Marriage Preparation sessions. If your wedding is planned for a weekday, the choir are unlikely to be available. The organist will be happy to play suitable alternatives to the traditional wedding marches if sufficient notice is given and if necessary, the sheet music should be provided by you. St. Mary's has a CD and other suggested music available at Marriage Preparation to help you select your music.
The provision of bells is subject to the availability of the ringing team. If your wedding is planned for a weekday, the ringing team is unlikely to be available.
If you are having a printed order of service, please check the draft with us before you have it printed. We will help you with this in the Marriage Preparation Sessions as well.
We do not permit photography during the ceremony, but it is allowed during the signing of the registers and as you walk down the aisle.
We would appreciate it if you could ask your guests to only throw confetti if it is rose petals, or it is edible by the birds.
Churchgate Street is too congested for parking and it is also a bus route. Please ask your guests to park either side of Sheering Road beyond the junction with Churchgate Street. The space by the church will be needed for the bridal car. Please ask your guests not to park in the narrow part of Churchgate Street.
The Church of England provide an excellent website called Your church Wedding.
Here is the St Mary's Guide to getting married.