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When you’re planning to tie the knot, understanding the legal and traditional requirements is crucial for a smooth journey to your big day. One such tradition, particularly in the UK, is the reading of the banns. This article will delve into what the reading of the banns entails, its significance, and how it fits into the modern process of getting married in the UK. Plus, discover how Contend, your AI legal expert, can help simplify the legalities surrounding your marriage.

What Are the Banns of Marriage?

The reading of the banns is a tradition steeped in history, dating back to the 12th century. It’s a public announcement in a church of an impending marriage between two individuals. This announcement is made on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding. But why, you might wonder, does this tradition hold such importance?

Historical Significance and Modern Implications

Originally, the reading of the banns served a dual purpose: it was a way to ensure the community was aware of the union and to provide a platform for anyone to come forward if there were legal reasons preventing the marriage. Today, while the legal landscape has evolved, the reading of the banns remains a cherished tradition for many, especially those marrying in the Church of England.

Do I need to have the banns read for my wedding?

Navigating the Process

Who Needs to Hear the Banns?

If you’re getting married in the Church of England, the reading of the banns is a requirement unless you opt for a marriage licence. This applies to both partners, regardless of their individual religious beliefs, provided at least one person resides in the parish where the marriage is to take place.

The Practical Steps

  1. Notification: Inform your parish church where you intend to marry. If you and your partner live in different parishes, the banns must be read in both.

  2. Timing: Plan for the banns to be read three months before your wedding at the earliest and no later than a month before.

  3. Attendance: While not mandatory, it’s a beautiful tradition for the couple to attend the reading of the banns.
  4. Documentation: Once the banns have been read without objection, you’ll receive a banns certificate, which is your green light to proceed with the wedding.

Costs Involved

There’s a nominal fee for the reading of the banns and the issuance of the certificate. This fee is set by the church annually, so it’s best to check with your parish for the exact amount.

Parental Responsibility

What if my partner and I live in different parishes?
Family: reading of the banns

When the Banns Aren’t Suitable

Certain circumstances may necessitate an alternative to the banns, such as if you’re marrying abroad or if there’s not enough time for the banns to be read. In these cases, a Common Licence or a Special Licence might be required. These licences, while more costly and requiring additional paperwork, offer flexibility for those with unique circumstances.

Do I need a Common Licence or a Special Licence for my wedding?

Contend: Simplifying Your Legal Marriage Queries

Feeling overwhelmed? Contend is here to help. Our AI-powered legal assistant can guide you through the nuances of marriage laws in the UK, including the reading of the banns, licensing options, and any other legal queries you might have. With Contend, legal advice is just a chat away, ensuring you have all the information you need in 5 minutes or less.

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How do I legally register my marriage in the UK?

Taking the Next Steps

Armed with knowledge and the right support, navigating the tradition of the reading of the banns can be a seamless part of your wedding planning. Remember, this is more than just a legal requirement; it’s a chance to celebrate your upcoming marriage within your community.

How do I ensure the reading of the banns is legally compliant for my wedding?


The reading of the banns is a beautiful tradition that connects your marriage to the community and to centuries of history. While the process may seem daunting at first, understanding the steps involved can help you appreciate its significance. And with Contend’s AI legal assistance, you’re never alone in navigating the legal landscape of getting married in the UK. Ready to take the next step in your marriage journey? Chat now with Contend’s legal expert and make your wedding planning process as smooth and informed as possible.

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This material is for general information only and does not constitute
tax, legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on any
information contained herein to make (or refrain from making) any
decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your
own particular situation. Contend Inc is not regulated by the
Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.