The aim of the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008 is to allow couples to be married by Banns or Common Licence, rather than by Special Licence, in a parish where they can show that one of them has a “qualifying connection”.
A person has a qualifying connection with a parish if:
- was baptised in the parish. (This does not apply where the baptism formed part of a combined service of baptism or confirmation); or
- had his or her confirmation entered in a church register book of a church or chapel in the parish; or
- has at any time had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
- has at any time habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months; or
a parent of that person has at any time during that person’s lifetime:
- had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months; or
- habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months; or
a parent or grandparent of that person was married in the parish.
The references to baptism, confirmation and marriage, and to attending public worship, are all confined to services according to the rites of the Church of England.
The Measure came into force on 1st October 2008. The House of Bishops has issued some Guidance on the Measure, which can be found on the relevant page of the Church of England website.
If neither of the couple has a qualifying connection, as specified above, an application for a Special Licence must be made. It should be noted that Special Licences are only granted where there is a genuine and longstanding link with the church or chapel concerned.