Life Events


Although many couples choose to live together first, people still feel strongly that marriage is important, and many couples still aspire to it. Getting married is the best way to cement your relationship, and for most people, this makes them happier and more secure together.  There is something about making vows in public that makes it more likely you will stay together.  If you marry in church, your family, your friends and God promise to support you.

We welcome you to consider having your special day at St Mary’s Parish Church  in the grounds of Portchester Castle, which has been described as ‘one of the most stunning wedding venues in Hampshire.’

St Mary’s is a Grade A listed building;  a 12th  century Norman church which was at one time the church of a small monastery (a priory), and since the 16th century has been the parish church of Portchester.  Through the lych gate many brides and their maids have gathered, and within its ancient walls thousands of couples have made their vows to God.

Who can be married at St Mary’s?

  • Anyone who lives within the parish of Portchester
  • Any member of St Mary’s Church (wherever they live) if they are on the roll of members called ‘The Electoral Roll.’
  • Anyone with a ‘Qualifying Connection’ to the parish (Examples: grand parents or parents married there, or lived in Portchester; baptised at St Mary’s, etc. Rather than give the full list here, please contact the parish office).


Divorce is not necessarily a bar to being married at St Mary’s, but you would be required to have a (friendly) chat with the Vicar first.

Marriage Preparation Session

Several times in the year we put on a special marriage preparation evening in which we invite couples to the church where we go through the service.  It will also give you a chance to meet the organist and clergy as well as discuss flower arrangements.

Reading of Banns

The reading of ‘Banns of Marriage’ is a legal requirement for your marriage to take place.  It is necessary for them to be called at St Mary’s and, if either one of you lives in another parish, at that parish also.


At some time in the week before the wedding, the minister conducting your service will hold a rehearsal for you.  This is normally early on a Wednesday or Thursday evening.  It would be helpful for these people to come: bride, person giving her away, bridesmaids, groom and best man.

The service itself

  • An organist will be pleased to work with you in choosing music for the bride to come down the aisle to, and for the couple to walk back up to. Several suggestions are on most wedding websites, and a selection will be played at the wedding preparation.  You may also wish to play a special CD while the register is being signed.
  • You don’t have to sing any hymns, but if you do, they are your choice. These tend to be well known, or special wedding words set to well known tunes.  Again most sites have these listed and we can also advise you on this.
  • You don’t need to have a big occasion with lots of people in the main part of the church. Perhaps you would prefer a smaller more intimate ceremony, with the minimum of four people present: the couple plus two witnesses. These work well in our smaller worship area, the ‘transept’ pictured to the right.
  • Wedding vows. There are certain words which must be said by law, and certain bits of the Church of England’s liturgy must be used, but these can be incorporated into words you might also like to say to each other. The Vicar welcomes couples who wish to have a greater input into the order of service.
  • We require at least one reading to be from the Bible, and we will offer suggestions. You may have as a second reading, a poem or another piece of wedding/love literature.
  • Other people taking part. One of the clergy from St Mary’s will conduct the ceremony, but you might want to involve other friends and family members to do readings, prayers etc. If you live outside the parish and have a realistic church connection, it might be possible to have your own minister take part.


We are happy for your official photographer to take photographs (but not flash photographs) throughout the ceremony, and from any part of the church.  Photographers have been impressed at St Mary’s good attitude over this.  One local photographer, Martin Bell, put on his site: ‘Special praise must go to St Mary’s Church for the freedom I had to get the photographs the couple desperately wanted, this rarely happens in churches and myself and the couple are all very grateful.’


Getting married at St Mary’s is cheaper than you think. The standard fee for 2020 is £605 and then you have optional extra, like bells, choir, printing etc. There is a non-returnable deposit of £50 required when booking. The church office will send you an invoice for the balance nearer the time.

Simple or grand

Most weddings are quite grand affairs with lots of people, music, specially hired suits and dresses, all of which may have been planned for years.  However, some people might prefer a simpler and quieter ceremony as mentioned above, we are happy to provide a more intimate event, and the minimum number of people present (apart from the bride and groom) would just be two witnesses.

Religious or not?

We encourage you to have a religious ceremony rather than a civil one.  This does not mean that you are declaring yourself to be a very religious person!  You don’t need to have been baptised or christened or attend church regularly. It simply means that you feel that having your marriage in church, and making your vows before God, will add an extra spiritual dimension not just to the day, but to your married life.

Same-sex wedding/blessings

The Church of England believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, and we are not able to offer same-sex weddings or blessings.  However, all people, regardless of their sexuality, are welcome to be part of the community of St Mary’s Church.

St Mary’s

St Mary’s Church is not just a building, it is home to a vibrant and growing Christian community.  Although quite full on a Sunday morning, we can always make room for some more!  We welcome you to attend our services, particularly on the Sundays when your banns are read.  Many couples after their wedding have settled with us and made St Mary’s their church.


If you would like to know any more please contact Emma on 02392 321380