The Marriage Measure 2008 came into force on 1 October 2008. It sought to respond to changing social conditions and in particular to the increasing mobility of our society. It does not affect the existing right of parishioners. A couple continue to have the right to be married in the parish church of a parish where one or both of them are resident or entered on the electoral roll.
However, some people would like to marry in a church because it has special significance for them, even though it is not where they live. The 2008 Measure enables a church to offer the same welcome to a couple who wish to marry there and who can demonstrate a straightforward connection with the parish as it does to those who live in the parish itself, without the couple's having to apply for a special licence.
The object of the Measure is to grant couples the same right to marry in the parish church of a parish with which one or both of them can demonstrate a "qualifying connection" of a kind specified in the new legislation as a person resident in the parish would have.
A person has a Qualifying Connection with a parish if that person:
- was baptised in the parish. (This does not apply where the baptism formed part of a combined service of baptism or confirmation); or
- had his or her confirmation entered in a church register book of a church or chapel in the parish; or
- has at any time had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
- has at any time habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;
or a Parent of that person has at any time during that person’s lifetime:
- had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
- habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;
or a Parent or Grandparent of that person was married in the parish.
In all these cases/In all cases involving church services - i.e. coming to/going to/attending normal church services, baptism, confirmation or marriage - this applies only to Church of England services.