Broadcast on February 2nd, this webinar helped us think about the opportunities and challenges around weddings for 2021 and beyond.
Broadcast: February 2nd 2021, 10am-11am.
Presenter: The Revd Canon Sandra Millar, Head of Welcome and Life Events.
In 2019 there were around 1.5 million people attending churches as wedding guests – part of the huge reach the Church of England has across a wide age range. How might we think about church weddings going forward? This webinar helped us think about the opportunities and challenges around weddings for 2021 and beyond including ideas for making memories and making connections.
Follow this link to open the PowerPoint presentation Sandra shared: Weddings Webinar 21 Sandra Slides.
Faculty Office web page outlining advice on Special Licences during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with contact names and numbers for enquiries.
Some resources that may help you to keep in touch with couples as they wait for news about when Weddings can generally happen again.
- I’m getting anxious about how to manage banns for March, April and May for Spring and early summer weddings. What advice do you have?
Talk to your diocesan registrar in the first instance regarding specific wedding couples. Until a Government announcement is made about when weddings can go ahead more generally, we realise it makes planning banns very difficult. Generally speaking, if your church is closed for worship, you will need to make alternative arrangements to banns. Common Licences have been frequently used throughout the pandemic to help mitigate uncertainty around church closures, and your Diocesan Registrar can support you in the administration of this. Banns can’t be read in any form of online service.
- How can we hold weddings this year in cases where the qualifying connections cannot be made by attendance at the moment? Will Special Licences be granted more readily, under the circumstances?
Again, speak to your Diocesan Registrar regarding specific couples’ circumstances for specialist legal advice. In general, if the couple had already started attending before lockdown, the time during which they were unable to attend due to the closure of the church may still count towards their six months attendance, since they were prevented from attending through no fault of their own. If the couple hadn’t started attending before lockdown, it is different, and the couple’s six months attendance can only begin once public worship has resumed. However, the Faculty Office has said on its website that: “Whilst every application for a Special Licence is considered on its own merits, the Faculty Office will be very sympathetic where couples have shown a willingness and commitment to create a qualifying connection with their chosen church and have been prevented from doing so solely due to the suspension of public worship.”
- What is the best way of dealing with disappointed and stressed couples, having to continually move the date of the wedding?
Above all, keep in touch with couples with sympathy and understanding. Contact them when you don’t necessarily need to with a simple ‘how are you’ email or text, not because you can change the situation, but because it shows you care. Offer prayers for patience and peace. The outlook for the pandemic this year seems more hopeful than it has been over the last 12 months, so dates set for post lockdown in 2021 look likely to go ahead. News of when weddings can resume were still awaited as the webinar was broadcast, so it is not yet known what or whether any restrictions on guest numbers will be put in place as the year progresses.
- Do all churches need to have a social media team? How can I get started with social media with little experience?
Social media is great way to keep in touch with your contacts all in one go – if you have connected with them in that way. You don’t necessarily need a team, but there might be individuals within your congregation who are more social media savvy than others, and might be inclined to help you manage the church’s social media presence as part of their discipleship. If you’re very new to social media, the Church of England Digital Labs offer excellent resources, webinars and online guidance to help: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/church-england-digital-labs
- Do you have a view on the Law Commission consultation on proposed changes to wedding venues and celebrants and how the Church can respond?
The Life Events team and the Mission & Public Affairs department of the national Church of England have been invited to have input into the consultation. The Law Commission will keep us informed of any further proposals that follow. This is likely to be within months, not weeks. Our aim will always be to support churches with information, advice and inspiration on making the most of any changes that happen. We can’t say much more than that until we hear further news from the Law Commission.