LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A new British law making it easier for couples to get married in Anglican churches comes into force on Wednesday.
Previously, couples could only get married in a church if they worshipped there regularly, lived in the parish or applied for a special license.
Under the new rules, called the "Church of England Marriage Measure," couples can choose to get married in a place with a special connection for themselves or their families.
"Getting married in church just got easier," said Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, saying it had been difficult for people in the past.
"People who are serious about getting married naturally want a marriage ceremony and a setting which is equally serious."
The Church said that a recent survey had shown that more people would choose a church wedding if they could have one, with 53 percent of the public believing such marriages "feel more proper."
The new law comes in amid a growth in popularity for civil weddings in hotels, stately homes and other privately owned locations after a change in the law 13 years ago allowed marriages to take place outside registry offices.
"Loads of people want something only the church can offer: God's blessing on their marriage. Now it will be easier to provide it," Cottrell added. "Golf clubs and country houses, you have been warned."
Under the new rules, couples can marry in a church where:
- One of them was baptized or prepared for confirmation;
- One has lived in the parish for six months;
- One has regularly worshipped in the parish for six months;
- One of their parents has lived in the parish for six months during their child's lifetime;
- One of their parents has regularly worshipped for six months in their child's lifetime;
- Their parents or grandparents were married.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Peter Griffiths and Paul Casciato