Members of Brasenose College are members for life, and we hope that after graduating our members will continue to feel part of the Brasenose family. For this reason Brasenose members, whether alumni or current students, are always most welcome in the College Chapel. As well as attending the usual chapel services, it is possible for college members to get married in Brasenose Chapel.
It is important to note that the Chapel is not a "venue" to be hired: there are many other historic and grand buildings that can be the backdrop to your special day. The Chapel is an active place of Christian worship in the Anglican tradition, at the heart of an established Anglican place of education. For that reason marriage here is not simply a question of booking a venue!
The Church of England Marriage Service says that "Marriage is a way of life made holy by God...no-one should enter it lightly or selfishly, but reverently and responsibly in the sight of Almighty God". There are number of safeguards, both legal and spiritual, to ensure that the church's teaching is followed; and the Chaplain is responsible for those safeguards being in place.
Those who are considering getting married in Brasenose should therefore contact the Chaplain as their first step. A face to face meeting should be arranged: and it should be a prospective bride or groom who does this: not a parent or some other member of the family. Marriage will take place by agreement with the Chaplain. Please don't decide on a date first and ask for confirmation of that date's availability: wedding-days are a logistical challenge, but marriage should still be seen primarily a long-term spiritual commitment.
Because of the formalities involved, and because the College has many other commitments, contact with the Chaplain should take place well in advance of any preferred time for the wedding. It should also be noted that the Chaplain has many other duties and responsibilities, and is not exclusively available as a wedding planner.
Legal and Practical Requirements
After personal contact with the Chaplain, other formalities can be addressed. These formalities are described below, as a guide for information.
Weddings at Brasenose are usually performed according to the practice of the Church of England. The Church of England is divided geographically into parishes, and the standard practice is that a wedding takes place in the local parish church where one or both of the couple live. If a couple wish to be married somewhere else - such as Brasenose Chapel - the situation becomes more complicated.
Your marriage will still have to be registered in the Parish Church registers. For Brasenose Chapel this means the registers of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The use of these registers costs £198, paid in advance, and the registers themselves have to be booked. There must be no other wedding in the parish on the same day - as the parish includes other colleges, it is worth, before anything else is checked, checking that the registers are free on the date and at the time you require. The Chaplain will help you do this.
Once we know we can register the wedding properly, permission must be sought from the appropriate church authorities. For weddings in Brasenose Chapel, the appropriate authority is the Archbishop of Canterbury, and so you need to apply for a special licence from his Faculty Office. The Chaplain will help you do this.
The cost of a special licence is £310, to be paid when you apply. The Faculty Office will reply fairly quickly with its decision. If you are successful in your application then you will need to swear an affidavit before the Chaplain, concerning the information you have given. Only then will the licence be granted.
It is worth bearing in mind that the special licence is a privilege, not a right. It is only granted under certain conditions, as follows:
- Licences are normally granted if you are a member or former member of staff (teaching or non-teaching) of the College or a member of the immediate family of one of the staff.
- Licences are normally granted if you are a current student, and may also be granted if you are an ex-student of the College.
- Your families should approve of the marriage. The College Chaplain is obliged by the Archbishop to enquire whether your families approve, regardless of your age.
- The incumbent(s) or minister(s) in charge of the parish(es) where you would normally be entitled to marry should have been consulted.
Special licences are not normally granted where one of the parties is divorced and has a former spouse still living.
If you can fulfil the above conditions, then the licence will probably be granted straightforwardly and swiftly. If not, then the licence may perhaps still be granted, but a strong case must be made, and the process is more complicated.
Sometimes it is more appropriate, either because of the legal restrictions outlined above, or for other good pastoral reasons, to have a service of blessing in Brasenose Chapel, following a civil marriage. This can take place any time after the civil marriage, by arrangement with the Chaplain. No licence or registers are required. Contact the Chaplain for more details.
A wedding in Brasenose Chapel need not be conducted by the College Chaplain - another Anglican priest may officiate. If the service follows a civil marriage, then, in exceptional circumstances a minister from another denomination can be involved. Please consult the College Chaplain.
In the case of a wedding conducted by another Anglican priest, an Archbishop's special licence is still required. But in the case of clergy from other denominations, they would need to investigate the ecclesiastical and civil constraints regarding the solemnising of marriages in an unlicensed building, according to their denomination. In any case, the officiating minister should undertake full responsibility for the preparation of the couple and the conduct of the service, as well as the registration of the marriage.
Brasenose's Conference & Events Office can help if you would also like to hold your wedding reception at Brasenose.
Brasenose College Chapel seats 90-100 people comfortably. A further 20-30 can be accommodated (although much less comfortably). More seats can be provided in the Antechapel, though with very restricted viewing. Occasionally couples have protested against this limit: but if you can't boil down your list of close family and friends to 120 then you need to re-examine your understanding of the phrase "close family and friends".
You must have a wedding rehearsal in Brasenose Chapel on an afternoon or evening shortly before the wedding itself. This takes 30-60 minutes. It is essential to the smooth running of events the following day and can be very helpful with nerves. As many of the wedding party as possible should be present.
Photography during the service is only acceptable from the official photographer, and he or she must be as unobtrusive as possible. The congregation must not take photographs during the wedding service, and there should be no flash photography from anyone.
The throwing of confetti or rice, etc, is not allowed in the college grounds.
It is possible to use the services of the Director of Music or the college organ scholars for music at your wedding - the Chaplain will advise you on this point. They will charge a fee of £150.
In the wedding service, there are usually two or three hymns, a bridal march at the beginning of the service, and an organ voluntary at the end, together with music to cover the signing of the registers (this is often where friends play a part). You have a fairly free choice of which hymns and music you can use: please discuss with the organist.
There is a fee of £400 for Chapel weddings and services of blessing after civil marriage. This is charged for the use and maintenance of the Chapel, and the administration required to prepare for the service. The Chaplain himself takes no personal fee for the wedding.