We would like to get married, where do we start?
We welcome enquiries to marry in our churches. Start by reading this page, which presents the specific information you will need to know, regarding our churches. Next, it is worth downloading the specific documents ( Click here) telling you about costs, flowers, how to make up an Order of Service and the like (these things will really focus your mind on what you want on the special day). Lastly, general and very useful information can be found at the Church of England website https://www.yourchurchwedding.org/.
You may now want to book a date, but, firstly, you must meet the Rector. We recommend that you attend a service on Sunday at 11.00 a.m. at St Andrews’ Alfriston (even if you intend to marry in one of the other four churches). Often at this point, after the service, we can book in a date very quickly, but just remember that we usually only have one Wedding service on a given day, and some months get busy. Weddings are usually on Saturday, but also on weekdays. We do not conduct any weddings (or blessings) on Sunday.
Finally, it is useful if you email the Benefice Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) before you first come to church. That way we can prepare for your visit, and ensure that the Rector (or Administrator) is available to have a chat.
Special Day and Special Churches
Weddings take place in all of our five churches, and each one has a unique atmosphere and is situated in a beautiful location. In order to marry in one of these special buildings you, as a couple, must fulfill the following – one of you be resident within the parishes (or build a “connection” with them), as a couple you must attend a Marriage Preparation Day, attend a rehearsal, and (if marrying at St Andrew’s) agree become a member of The Friends of St Andrew’s, Alfriston for at at least one year.
Residency and Connection
If one or both of you lives within the boundaries of any of our parishes, you automatically have a right to marry in any of the churches. If neither of the you live locally, however, you can still get married here, but must build a “connection” with us. Church of England parishes cover the whole of the country, and we take the idea of a local community very seriously. In a fast moving and mobile world the reality of living in a community can be hard to maintain, and so we ask all couples to attend at least ten church service in the months leading up to the Wedding Day. This way you will get to feel comfortable with a church you may not know that well, meet locals, and ensure that the practical aspects of your special day are dealt with smoothly. We try and make our services uplifting and meaningful, and thus provide an opportunity to prepare mentally and spiritually for the biggest commitment of your life.
Because we understand that the act of getting married in church is a sacred event, we believe that this commitment is worth just a little time thinking about. Marriage Preparation lasts one day, with two opportunities each year (if you book a wedding date the year before, the chances are that you will have three or even four dates to choose from). Each Preparation Day consists of several couples coming together, and in groups discussing their thoughts about what they are entering into. It is very relaxed, non-intrusive, and everyone seems to find it a useful part of the preparation for the “big day”. A free cooked lunch and afternoon tea are provided. During the Preparation Day we also run through practicalities, which can be very helpful when you are trying to sort out all the many tasks to be done. Most important of all is the opportunity for you to talk with others in the same situation, and to gain perspective and strength from a common experience.
A rehearsal is always conducted (usually within two weeks of the Wedding Day) at a mutually agreeable time for yourselves and the conducting minister. Most, but not all weddings, are taken by the Rector (there is a small team of retired clergy who conduct occasional weddings, and all take great efforts to make the event special).
The Friends of St Andrew’s, Alfriston
Most weddings take place at St Andrew’s, Alfriston, and for those who marry here we ask that you become a Friend for at least one year. There is a small fee (by Direct Debit), but it is not primarily about any money. We want those who marry here to keep contact, come back to see us now and again, perhaps baptize children later on, and generally feel part of an extended community, beyond the boundaries of the Valley and parishes in which the churches reside.