St John in the Wilderness Church makes a wonderful setting for the celebration of a wedding, and as a church community we try to offer all the help we can to couples coming to be married.
A Wedding Pack is provided, to assist you in the planning of the service, giving details/guidance regarding readings, hymns, music, and the preparation of an Order of Service, as well as information regarding costs.

A Marriage Preparation Day-Course is also offered, to give couples some ‘down-time’ in what can be the hectic build-up to the wedding day, allowing them – in a non-intrusive and light-hearted way – to explore together the experience of approaching marriage. The priest will be available to you, to guide you through your preparations, and a full Rehearsal takes place (usually the evening before the wedding) to acquaint all who are to take part with what is going to happen.

To arrange a wedding at St John in the Wilderness, the first step a couple needs to take is to contact the priest to ensure they are able to be married at St John in the Wilderness, and to check the availability of dates/times.

Before you make contact, however, there are some considerations to bear in mind, regarding getting married in church.


1. Residency. The law ordinarily requires that at least one of you should be resident within the registration district of the church in which you wish to be married. Therefore, if one or both of you is/are resident anywhere within the boundaries of the Parish of Withycombe Raleigh with Exmouth, then you fulfil the requirement of residency. You can find out if you are resident within the parish by visiting the Church of England website ( and entering your postcode into the ‘Find Your Local Church’ facility that you’ll see there.

In certain circumstances a parental home within the registration district may qualify, even if you yourself have another address outside. (The actual law surrounding residency is complex, so do please ask concerning this if you are in any doubt.)

2. Qualifying Connection. Legislation allows marriage in a church even if neither of you are resident, provided that a Qualifying Connection can be demonstrated.

Under the Marriage Measure 2008, a person has a Qualifying Connection with the church of a parish, if that person:
  • was baptised in the parish (this does not apply where the baptism formed part of a combined service of baptism or confirmation);
  • had his or her confirmation entered in a church register book of a church or chapel in the parish;
  • has at any time had his or her usual place of residence in the parish for at least 6 months;
  • has at any time habitually attended public worship in the parish for at least 6 months;
  • 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;
  • a parent or grandparent of that person was married in the parish.
All cases involving the criterion of attendance at church services apply to Church of England services only.

3. Marriage by Licence. In certain, exceptional, circumstances it is possible to apply for a licence to be married in church - which overcomes the requirement of residency. However this also usually requires the ability to demonstrate some connection with the church, present or past. (A connection through having family graves in the churchyard would not of itself qualify in this regard.)

4. Enrolment on the church's electoral roll is another way to qualify if you are non-resident. This requires that you attend services at the church in which you wish to be married, regularly over a six-month period, after which an application for enrolment can be made.

You would be very welcome indeed to attend our services. We are a very welcoming church, and would be very pleased to have you with us. However, it would be wrong to start attending church just as a means to getting married, and we wouldn't recommend this path unless church-attendance was something you were considering for yourselves anyway.

5. Remarriage After Divorce. Should this be applicable to you, you need to be aware that it is the policy of this parish not to permit the remarriage of divorcees in church (during the lifetime of a former spouse).

6. Are you baptised (christened)? Although within the law there is nothing to prevent the marriage of unbaptised people in church, the Church itself expects that at least one of you should have been baptised. (If neither of you is baptised, you may be interested in exploring the possibility of being so.)