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The Law

Qualifying Connections

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.

Your Responsibility

If you wish to be married at St Nicolas', it is up to you to provide the evidence to satisfy the clergy of your qualifying connection. It is not the clergy’s responsibility nor that of the Diocesan Registry to assemble the evidence.

If you wish to get married in St Nicolas' Church by establishing a Qualifying Connection under the 2008 Measure, you will therefore have to provide written evidence (e.g. copy of baptism certificate) or a reference from any current church officer (e.g. church warden, organist) if you know them personally.

The form that must be completed before a marriage booking is confirmed at St Nicolas' is available from the Marriage Clerks or from the Parish Office. If you prefer, you can download a copy by clicking here.

A Bishop’s Licence (Common Licence) can be issued on the same basis. The grounds for a Bishop’s Licence have therefore been extended. If a “qualifying connection” is to be used to obtain a Bishop’s Licence then the evidence must be presented to the Diocesan Registry together with an Affidavit sworn on Oath that the contents are true and correct.

For more precise information about The Marriage Measure and Marriage Law Review, click here. If you really want to go into fine detail, you will find a full copy of the guidance issued by the House of Bishops here.