Congratulations On Your Engagement!
…and welcome to St Peter’s, the ancient Parish Church of Harborne. Christian weddings have been taking place here for at least 700 years. Marriage in church is beautiful and profound, moving and joyful. It is a great privilege to have weddings at our church and we work very hard to try and make them the best possible start to any marriage. We hope that what follows will be helpful to you as you plan the most important day of your life.
Who can get married at St Peter’s?
There are specific requirements that must be met for someone to be married in a Church of England Parish Church. If you live within the parish boundary or worship here regularly you have the automatic right to get married here. To find out if we’re your parish church, enter your postcode at this page:
If you don’t live in the parish, and you don’t worship in St Peter’s, there are other ways of qualifying. You can find out more here:
Choosing your wedding date
It’s a good idea to book your reception venue provisionally first before you come to arrange a date with the church. Reception venues get booked up very quickly! Generally our weddings are held on Saturday. They may, by arrangement, be held on weekdays or Sundays - but please note that this may mean a rise in some fees.
Marriage, “being religious” and Belief in God
Because England is a Christian country, where Church and State are not separate, everyone who lives here is entitled to be married by the Church of England - regardless of their background or beliefs. However, the promises made in the marriage service explicitly talk about the God in whom Christians believe: God the Father, who created us; God the Son, Jesus Christ, who saved us by his death and resurrection; and God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church. If you would normally say you don’t believe in this God, and you’re unlikely ever to attend a church service of your own accord, then what will the promises you make in church really mean? Anyone wishing to get married in church should think seriously about making a deeper commitment to the Christian life. Like anything else, the more you put in, the more you get out. So you don’t have to be a Christian to have a Christian wedding – but it helps!
Meeting the Vicar
Once you’ve worked out your qualification or settled on a date, the next step is to make an appointment to see the Vicar. Fr Graeme has been marrying couples since 2004 and has been married himself since 2000 – he’s always delighted to see people to discuss their special day. Both bride and groom should come to see the Vicar – although it is nice to see (for example) the bride and her Mum, it is important that the groom is involved from the start of the process! The appointment will last about an hour, and will simply be a friendly conversation about who you are and why you’re together. It’s much better when the person who’s marrying you knows you! Go to the "Contact Us" page of our website to see how to get in touch with Fr. Graeme.
Once you qualify to be married you need to have your “banns” read. 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. This is the public announcement of your marriage – to see if there are any objections! They have to be read in the parish where you are to be married as well as the parish in which you are resident (you should approach your local church yourselves and there will be a fee payable in both cases). They are called on three Sundays at the 10am service in the three months before your wedding. We at St Peter’s ask that you are here for at least one “reading”; and family and friends should be invited too. It can be a moving occasion as the congregation are informed of your marriage and pray for you. Once the banns are read, your completed application form should be returned to the Parish Office.
A non-returnable deposit of £100.00 is payable when the church is booked and all fees must be paid, in full by cheque or cash, before the wedding – accounts must be settled by the time of the rehearsal.
Please consult the Parish Office to verify the fees as they are revised annually. The statutory fee for 2014 is £451.00. There are also local fees applicable to cover heating (if necessary), the services of an organist, a verger, choir, bellringers, flowers, provision of special music and taking of a video. These are not obligatory and should be discussed with the Vicar when you meet him.
You will be invited to take part in a session of marriage preparation before your wedding. This may be held at St. Peter’s or one of the other churches in our ‘cluster’ – Edgbaston Old Church, St. George’s, Edgbaston, and St. Faith & St. Laurence, Harborne. Please ask for further information when you see the Vicar.
The Marriage Service
The order of the marriage service follows a set pattern – see the template. It’s up to you to make and print your own service sheets, but the Vicar will help you fit your choices into the template. You can choose your hymns, readings and music both for coming in and going out, and during the signing of the registers. We can make suggestions if you would like some ideas. The choir may be available to sing during the signing of the registers. Please feel free to discuss this with our Director of Music, David Friel (again, see the "Contact Us" page of the website). All choices of music and hymns are subject to the approval of the Vicar, and must be in keeping with the Christian character of the service.
We have an excellent flower team who are able to help you with special flowers for an additional fee. Alternatively you may make your own arrangements. At certain times of the year (principally in Advent and Lent), no flowers are used in church, so any floral displays will have to be removed after the service; otherwise placement and removal should be discussed with the arrangers and the Vicar
Photographs and Videos
Only the official photographer may take photographs during the service. No other photographs should be taken from the moment the service starts until the bride and groom leave church. This is important, as your guests are to take part in the wedding – they’re not bystanders or spectators. They need to be thinking about you and praying for you – not fiddling with their phone or camera and trying to get a good picture.
St Peter’s is a holy and special place. By asking for a church wedding, you are asking for a solemn ceremony of prayer and praise. Guests should be advised that they’re expected to join in the ceremony and behave appropriately in church. It’s especially important that during the service ALL mobile phones are switched off so that the couple are not distracted as they make their vows.
Confetti should be biodegradable and only be thrown outside at the foot of the steps.
If you wish, you may have the bells rung by our team of bell-ringers – a traditional celebration at the end of your wedding. This can be arranged through the Vicar and/or the Parish Office for a small fee.
These will take place by arrangement, usually on the Thursday evening before the wedding. Present at the rehearsal should be: bride and groom; best man and ushers; bridesmaids; parents of bride and groom; and anyone who reads at the service.
The church is equipped with radio microphones and loop system and access for the congregation is on the level. There are toilet facilities with disabled access in the adjacent church hall. We will do our best to accommodate other special requirements – raise any issue you might have with the Vicar when you come to see him.
There is car parking in the church forecourt with two marked disabled spaces. There is other parking in the glebe field (the entrance is two gates down from the church). For directions to the Church and details of disabled access, please check our website.
Keep us in the loop!
We wish you every success as you plan your wedding. Do tell us immediately if your contact details or plans change: we’re always happy to hear from you and very happy to help.
For any advice please contact the Parish Office on 0121 681 1940. Office hours are
Tuesday 10.30am - 1.00pm
Wednesday - Friday 9.00am - 1.00pm.