Saint Margaret's Hornby
Saint Michael the Archangel Whittington
Saint John the Baptist Arkholme
Saint John the Evangelist Gressingham
in the Lune Valley in north Lancashire

Frequently Asked Questions

Why these three options?
The proper role of the church and the priest, as you approach your wedding day, is to be the calm, prayerful presence, helping you prepare for the sacrament of marriage, available to talk about the things that really matter, while others rush about organising any extra decorations, additional celebrations, and special features. That's why we recommend using a wedding organiser - Option 1 - or if you just want a simple, beautiful, traditional church wedding, without any extra expense and complexity, we can offer that without the need for an external wedding organiser, as Option 2. And if you only want some prayers and the paperwork - with none of the usual grand ceremonials - we offer that as Option 3.

What dates are available?
Legally a church wedding can take place on any day of the year except Good Friday and Holy Saturday (which is the day between Good Friday and Easter Day), at any time between 8am and 6pm. We will do our best to accommodate all requests, although the church and the vicar may not always be conveniently available.

How many people can each church seat?
Saint Margaret's, Hornby, seats about 250
Saint Michael the Archangel, Whittington, seats about 210
Saint John the Baptist, Arkholme, seats about 150
Saint John the Evangelist, Gressingham, seats about 80

Can we write our own vows?
For a church wedding, the vows are always the standard church wedding vows, and you cannot write your own instead. The vows come in three parts. First, a question and answer: “Will you take [name] to be your wife/husband? Will you love, comfort, honour and protect her/him, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”. Then the vows: “I take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow.” And finally, when the rings are exchanged: “I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage. With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God.”

Do we have to contact the registrar at the town hall?
No. For a church wedding, the priest is the registrar on the day, and the preliminaries (which you have to organise before the day) are either ‘banns’ or a Common Licence (or occasionally a Special Licence). Information about banns and licences is in the three sections Can we have a church wedding, Can we have a church wedding here, and Three month checklist.

What are the available toilet facilities?
In Hornby, there is the usual internal plumbed-in facility that you would expect; please note that while it does have a ramp and grab rails, it does not meet the latest full specifications for wheelchair accessibility; if you need a more advanced facility than this, you should book Hornby Village Institute. In Whittington, there is a flush loo in the cellar, but it is really for emergency use only, as access is via an uneven (and sloping) grass path and outdoor steps which can be slippery when wet; if you need a more advanced facility than this, you should book Whittington Village Hall. Arkholme church and Gressingham church each have a recently‑installed caravan‑type loo in a new wooden outbuilding; these facilities are not wheelchair‑accessible, and alternatives are not available in the vicinity; if you need a more advanced facility, you may need to consider one of the other churches.

Do we have a rehearsal?
Full rehearsals tend to make everyone more nervous, not less. It usually goes much better if I just brief everyone on the day. I do like to meet the couple for a final briefing in the last ten days before the wedding.

Is the photographer allowed to take photographs in the church?
Yes. You should discuss with your photographer how nearby or intrusive you are willing to allow the photographer to be during the ceremony itself. The fashion is very much to allow the photographer to move around without restriction throughout the ceremony, and if they dress in black, they are fairly invisible, as everyone's attention is on the couple - but in the end, it's up to you to decide, and to give instructions to your photographer. Using flash is unacceptably distracting, so we do not allow flash photography during the service, but most professional photographers already know and understand this, and make it their own rule for the same reason.

How long does the service usually last?
You will probably be outside church for ‘newly married’ photographs about 35 minutes after the start time.

Can we throw confetti?
Sadly no, as the build-up of confetti (even the biodegradable type) causes permanent damage to the churchyard.

Who can walk the bride down the aisle?
Traditionally this is the role of the bride's father, but it can be taken by anyone, male or female, young or old; or the bride can make her grand entrance alone, or the bride and groom can even enter together.

What happens at ‘the giving away of the bride’?
The tradition of having the bride's father ‘give’ the bride to the groom is now symbolised simply by having the bride's father (or any other representative of the family) walk the bride down the aisle to the bridegroom's side, and then stay there to support her during the ceremony ... and even this is optional.

Can we have more than one Best Man?
This is surprisingly common, and the answer is yes. Alternatively, the marriage is also perfectly legal and straightforward without a ‘best man’.

Can my dog come?
Sadly, like most public buildings, we have to say that we do not allow dogs inside the building, except for Guide Dogs.

I'm hoping to apply for a new passport in my new name
You will need to get the exact details from the passport office, but the way that this has worked in the past is that I have to sign a form (which they will give you) saying that I have organised your wedding. You send this off with your application. There is also a part of the form that I have to keep - which I have to promise to send them if the wedding does not go ahead(!).


Special note about Gressingham church
There is a long‑term plan for a possible major re‑ordering of the interior of Gressingham church, some time between now and 2025. The church will probably be unavailable for about a year during the re‑ordering. We can provide the latest information on request, but if the work eventually clashes with the date of your wedding, you may have to have the ceremony in one of our other churches on the day, ie Hornby, Arkholme or Whittington. We should be able to give you at least three months notice if this is likely to affect you. The other three churches are unaffected.


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