Congratulations on your engagement!
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, staff 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 this 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 by a prospective bride or groom. Marriages take place by agreement with the Chaplain and are subject to the legal permissions of the Archbishop's Faculty Office in London. 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. Owing to 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.
Legal and Practical Requirements
After personal contact with the Chaplain, the legal preliminaries 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 legal preliminaries are different.
Once we a date has been agreed with the Chaplain, permission must be sought from the appropriate church authorities. For weddings in Brasenose Chapel, the appropriate authority is the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Chaplain will help you to apply for a special licence from his Faculty Office.
The fee for a special licence is c.£325 (correct as of 2022), 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 always 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.
Fees and Other Information
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.
You must have a wedding rehearsal in Brasenose Chapel on an afternoon or evening shortly before the wedding itself. This takes c.45-60 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.
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 (2021-2022). If for any reason you cancel or postpone your wedding or service of blessing within 3 months of the booked service date- the full organist's fee will still be payable to the musician direct. In the wedding service, there are usually two to four 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 marriage document (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 £480 inc VAT (2021-2022) for Chapel weddings. For services of blessing after civil marriage we charge £420 inc VAT (2021-2022). These fees are in line with parochial fees of the Church of England and charged for the use and maintenance of the Chapel as well as the administration required to prepare for the service. The Chaplain takes no personal fee for the wedding. We look forward to discussing your service with you.