Welcome + Worship + Witness


(Photography by Matt Sim and www.imagesbytim.co.uk)

Congratulations on your engagement!

We are delighted that you are getting married – and that you may be considering holding your marriage service at Bolton Priory.

If you’d like to take things further, please be in touch with our Parish Administrator who will help you to set the ball rolling.

In brief, the steps up the aisle are as follows:

1                     You contact our Parish Administrator who will take some basic details, answer any initial questions, and ask you to send us a written confirmation of your request;

2                     You attend an initial information meeting with the clergy and parish administrator on a Saturday morning. This will include other couples in the same position as you, and will involve some form filling. The meeting’s main aim, though, is to help you make a decision about whether Bolton Priory is the right place for you to get married;

3                     We agree the date of your wedding;

4                     You join our worshipping community and commit to worshipping regularly at the Priory for at least six months before your wedding. This gives a chance for you to get to know some of the people involved in the life of the church – and for us to get to know you. It’s also a legal requirement for most couples;

5                     You begin planning your service. We have what we think is a very helpful Wedding Guide for Bolton Priory, and the Church of England also has a helpful website with more general information – please visit www.yourchurchwedding.org.

6                     We help you to prepare for married life at a session in which we reflect on the meaning of the marriage service for what will follow;

7                     You listen to your Banns of Marriage being read. This usually happens on the first three Sundays of the month before your wedding;

8                     The rehearsal. This takes place during the week before your wedding and is a chance to walk the ceremony through with all the main players;

9                     The Big Day itself: we will do all we can to make your ceremony the most memorable and enjoyable part of your day as you begin your new life together.

We will do our best to make things as straightforward as possible for you, but as part of the Church of England we are obliged to follow certain legal requirements, including ensuring that couples worship regularly at the Priory before their wedding. We hope that doing this will give you a chance not only to get to know the community here, but also to begin exploring the Christian faith and, perhaps, to talk things through further with one of the clergy.

We look forward to meeting you!

The following Wedding Guide is intended to cover most of the usual questions that arise.  If you have any other questions that are not covered here, please contact us.

How do we qualify to get married at the Priory?

Are we legally free to marry at the Priory?

How much will it cost?

What music can we have?

What hymns should we choose?

Should we produce Service Sheets?

What should we do about flowers?

Can we have confetti?

What are the guidelines for wedding photographers?

Can we have video photographers?

Can we have bells?

Does the Priory provide Wedding Tokens?

I have other questions; where can I get answers?

How do we qualify to get married at the Priory?

The Church has traditionally expected that couples will marry in the parish church of their home parish and there are good pastoral reasons for this.  If, however, you wish to be married in the Priory, then we ask you to observe the following:

At the Priory we like to encourage people in their desire for a church wedding and we do expect couples to have considered seriously the possibility of their own parish church.

We  expect you to come to Church regularly as soon as it is agreed that your wedding is to take place here.  We also expect automatically enrol you in our ‘For Better For Worse’ club which will involve you in Church life and give you the opportunity to meet members of our congregation and other wedding couples.

The obvious question is, ‘What is meant by regularly?’  Once a year on Christmas Eve might be considered regularly to some, but at the Priory we ask for a commitment of an absolute minimum of once every three or four weeks from the time your wedding is agreed.  If you and your partner are willing to commit yourselves to worshipping with us in this way, then we are willing to plan the service on the assumption that you will do so.  The church expects you to be serious about this and when you are not able to attend the Priory you should seek out your local church.  However, failure to fulfil the obligation will result in the service being postponed or cancelled, and so this is not a promise to be undertaken lightly.

Are we legally free to marry at the Priory?

Those who are under sixteen; those who are under eighteen but who do not have their parents’ consent; those who are closely related; those who are of unsound mind; those who are of the same sex; and those who are already married, may not marry at the Priory.  Bishops’ guidelines indicate that ‘prayers can be said’ for civil partnerships and can take place in the context of a daily service.

Most couples who wish to marry at the Priory demonstrate their freedom to marry by in one of two ways:

1 The Publication of Banns The word ‘bann’ means ‘a proclamation’.  This proclamation or calling of the banns takes place on three consecutive Sundays at the Priory Church and the parish or parishes in which the bride and groom reside.  This may mean calling them in one, two or even three churches.  For example, if you both live in separate parishes other than Bolton Abbey then banns will have to be called in three separate churches, ie here and in your two home parishes.

We call the banns immediately before the beginning of the 10.30 service in the Priory on the first three Sundays of the month immediately prior to the wedding. Banns are valid for three months after the Sunday on which the third calling takes place; please ensure that they will not be read too soon or too late in your home parish.

The fee for calling the banns, and all other fees, are listed under ‘How much will it cost?’.  When your banns are called in another parish, you must obtain a Certificate of Banns, for which a fee is payable to that Parish.  The certificate must then be passed on to the Church Office before the marriage can take place.  They may be posted to the office or put through the letter box. 

If you wish to qualify by having Banns called, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are read in your home parishes.  Unless you give us the appropriate Banns Certificates we cannot go ahead with the wedding.  This is a question of law and we have no discretion in the matter.  We would hate to have to turn you away at the church door!


Passport Photos

We have to have a copy of the photograph page of your passport to be put on file.

Change of Address

If you change your address you MUST let the office know your new address and new parish church.  If the Banns are read in your previous parish church they will not be accepted.  This is most important as the Banns will have to be read again, if there is time, before your marriage.  If not, you will have to apply for a Common Licence which costs over £250.

2 By Common Licence 

If either partner is a foreign national or you both live outside the EU you will need a Common Licence.  If this is necessary and if you are in this situation please contact the Rector.

Please note

The Priory Church welcomes applications from couples when one or both of the parties has been divorced.  However in such cases we follow the Bishop’s guidelines which can be discussed in more detail if the need arises.  In any case the officiating minister will need to have sight of the original copy of your Decree Absolute before the wedding can take place.

How much will it cost?


Fees are revised with effect from 1st January each year

Statutory Fees

Publishing Banns of Marriage                           £ 30

Marriage Certificate                                            £  11

Marriage Service                                                 £455

Local Fees

Organist                                                               £155

Choir                                                                     £240

Verger                                                                    £ 55

Video                                                                      £260

Heating (September to April inclusive) £140
If you would like heating on at any other time contact the office.

Flowers for a single wedding £350
Flowers for a joint wedding, per couple £210

An account will be sent approximately three months prior to the wedding.  Payment can be made by BACS; Bolton Abbey PCC sort code 72.00.05 A/C 82026709 or by cheque made out to The Priory Church, Bolton Abbey and sent to Mrs Margaret Cody in the Church Office as soon as possible.

If you are having Church flowers please enclose a separate cheque made out to The Priory Flower Fund or by BACS at the above account.

What music can we have?

The atmosphere or mood of a service depends on many factors, one of the most important of which is the music.  For many centuries a wide variety of music has been used as an aid to the worship of God, and your range of choice is equally wide.

D of M 3Our Director of Music will play appropriate music while your guests are arriving, during the entry of the bridal procession, during the signing of the registers, and for the retiring procession.  When choosing the music please bear in mind that it should reflect the dignity and atmosphere of the occasion.  Some possibilities that you might consider are:


Te Deum                                             Charpentier

Trumpet Voluntary                              J Clarke

Trumpet Tune and Air                         Purcell

Trumpet Tune                                      Stanley

Water Music (Hornpipe)                     Handel

Bridal March                                       Wagner


Arrival of the Queen of Sheba            Handel

Wedding March                                  Mendelssohn

Toccata                                                Widor

Grand March from Aida                        Verdi

This list is by no means exhaustive and if you have a piece that means something special to you, and are able to obtain the music copy, it may be possible for our organist to play it.

If you wish it may be possible to use your own organist but this will need to be agreed with our Director of Music.  Please note that the fee for the Director of Music will still be payable.  We do not use CDs at any time. After a preliminary conversation with the officiating minister, you must discuss the musical content of your service directly with the Director of Music, Dr Tim Raymond.

What hymns should we choose?

It is helpful to choose hymns both that say something important to you and that will be familiar to most of the congregation.  If only a few of your guests regularly worship in church or chapel, then our advice is to stick to the well known ones. There are usually three hymns in the service. The following list gives some of the hymns you might like to choose (showing the numbers in our Common Praise hymn books)

            369  All people that on earth do dwell

            353  Jerusalem

            362  Tell out, my soul

            377  Angel voices ever singing

            355  I vow to thee my country

            411  Dear Lord and Father of mankind

            538  O Jesus I have promised

            474  Immortal, invisible, God only wise

            496  Lead us, Heavenly Father, lead us

            507  Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy

            516  Love Divine, all loves excelling

            546  O worship the King

            555  Praise my soul the King of Heaven

If you would like help with the choice of hymns, please ask.  Common Praise hymn books may be borrowed from the Priory.  Please make sure your printer uses the words from Common Praise as the choir will sing from this hymn book and not your order of service, and otherwise you might find you will be singing different versions!

If you chose to have the Priory Choir they will sing anthems during the signing of the registers and an Introit at the start of the service.  You are welcome to have your own musicians but in that case the Priory choir stand down. We make every effort to provide a choir if you request one but sometimes this is not possible, inevitably, as they are volunteers with other demands on their time.  Details of what the choir might be able to offer should be discussed with the Director of Music, Dr Tim Raymond.

Should we produce Service Sheets?

Most couples produce service sheets that give details of the order of service, music and hymns. They save the congregation having to use hymn books and are good to have to look back on. They can, however, be quite expensive and are not absolutely necessary.

When organising your service sheets please make sure that the size of the type face is large enough for your guests to read.

If you do have service sheets, please discuss the contents with the officiating minister at least two months before the ceremony and then let him/her see a draft copy before ordering. A suggested template will be supplied by the Rector.

If you are having the choir please ensure that you include fifteen service sheets for them. Please make sure that all texts are copied from the Common Praise hymn book.

What should we do about flowers?

Bolton Priory has a team of extremely gifted and dedicated flower arrangers, headed by Lorna Freegard, who would be delighted to arrange the flowers for your wedding. 

If you wish to use our team please ring Lorna on 01943 607907 and let the office know.  There is a charge of £350 for a single wedding in 2019.

If there is more than one wedding during a weekend couples must co-operate over the sharing of flowers and agree a mutual colour scheme.  Please get in touch with the Church Office, at an early stage, so that you can be put in contact with each other. When couples are required to share flowers there is a reduced cost of £210 per couple in 2019.

‘External’ florists may be used.  If so, please stress to them the scale of the building: small arrangements tend to get lost in the Priory.  There are pedestal stands and saddles for the Chancel wall which may be used but not removed.

Flowers are not permitted on the altars, the organ, or the font.  Pew ends are allowed, provided that pins or sticky materials are not used to fix them, and that they are removed after the ceremony. They make pleasing table decorations at the reception.  Regrettably we do not allow the use of artificial flowers and ribbons.

Please ask your florist to contact the Church Office approximately a week before the wedding to arrange a convenient time for access to the Priory and to give time for the stands to be dismantled.  Dust sheets must always be used when arranging the flowers, as wet green leaves mark the stone floor.

Please note that during Advent and Lent there are no flowers in Church and you will need to use an external florist and remove the flowers after the ceremony.

If there is more than one wedding during a weekend couples must co-operate over the sharing of flowers and agree a colour scheme.  Please get in touch with the Church Office, at an early stage, so that you can be put in contact with each other.

Three pedestal stands of flowers must be left in church after the wedding for the enjoyment of our congregation and many visitors.  Other smaller arrangements may be removed.  When we have a festival ie Christmas, Harvest, Remembrance etc the flowers are left in Church for at least two Sundays.

Please note that during Advent and Lent there are no flowers in Church and you will need to use an external florist and remove the flowers after the ceremony. 

Before you make any arrangements about flowers in the Priory it is very important that you contact Mrs Lorna Freegard to either discuss your requirements or to confirm you are using an external florist.  Our regular flower arrangers then know when to remove the old flowers ready for your own florist.

Can we have confetti?

We regret that we are not able to allow the throwing confetti, rose petals or rice. Please ask your guests to save them for the reception.

What are the guidelines for wedding photographers?

We want to ensure that you have all the photographs you need to provide a full record of your great day and that the service is truly memorable for the right reasons, and not interrupted unnecessarily. Therefore we have one simple rule: photography is restricted to one professional photographer, with an assistant if required, (appropriately dressed), who is expected to liaise with the officiating minister in advance. The congregation is not allowed to take photographs or videos during the service. Please make sure they are aware of this beforehand.

Can we have a video photographer?

If you wish your ceremony to be professionally video recorded you will need to notify the Church Office.  Performance Rights and Copyright rules means that there is an extra charge for a video recording.

Can we have bells?

Unfortunately there is no peal of bells at the Priory.

Does the Priory provide Wedding Tokens?

Candles and notepads, with a picture of the Priory, your names and date of the wedding or personal message, are available to order from the Church Office.  Please look on the sales table where you will find a sample.  Other sizes are available.

I have other questions; where can I get answers?

We have meetings for couples who are getting married at the Priory, so that we can answer their more detailed questions, and help with the final planning near the date. We also provide a more comprehensive ‘Planning Your Wedding’ booklet. If, however, there is something else you want to ask us now, please contact us.


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