Before entering into any discussion of marriage, it is important to draw a distinction between civil marriage, on the one hand, and Christian marriage, on the other.  In our culture, with its Christian heritage, the histories of these two rites of passage are closely intertwined, and confusion can be caused by the fact that the same word is used to refer to both things.  However, they remain separate and distinct.

Civil marriage is a legal union of two people, and is performed by a registrar or another person authorised to act with the legal powers of a registrar for the purposes of marriage.  It is governed by the Marriage Acts of 1949 and 2013, and gives formal recognition to a relationship between two people, who make legal vows to each other as part of the ceremony.  It also grants certain benefits and responsibilities in law.  Civil marriage often serves as an occasion to gather friends and family to add public celebration and social affirmation of the relationship that has been given new recognition in law.

At St Melangell's, we pray for the long life and happiness of all who enter such a legal union.

By contrast, Christian marriage, also known as Holy Matrimony or the "Crowning" of a marriage, is not a legal ceremony and has no relationship to the law of the land.  Rather, it is a Christian sacrament - a purely religious rite - by which a man and a woman enter into a spiritual union, reflecting the union of Christ to his Church.  It is a union of the male and female of the human race into one flesh as completing each other for the purpose of their mutual support on the path of salvation, and has a strong (though not exclusive) focus on the couple's participation in God's action of the creation of life.  Many of the marriage prayers focus on this unity and completion, as well as the bearing of children.

Christian marriage is performed by a priest, and usually in the presence of the wider church community to which the couple belongs.

If you would like to be married at St Melangell's, please get in touch.

Some important points to note: