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© Copyright 2010 Hexham Abbey

a brief guide for those thinking about marriage
Click for this guide as pdf

CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!
We hope that you will find this information to be of use over the next few months as you prepare to be married. The day should be wonderful in every possible way and you’ll no doubt be undertaking many preparations to make it so, but it is only the start of your lifetime together.
You will be very much in the thoughts and prayers of ourselves, or the person conducting your wedding, as we get to know you more and as your wedding day approaches. To that end, we are available to talk with you as you prepare, both about the arrangements and, also, about other things you may wish to bring up.

It may seem strange to mention this here, but if at any stage you feel you have any doubts about getting married - and so often it feels impossible to get out of things when arrangements have been made - do feel that you can come to talk with us.
We hope that this booklet will answer some of your questions and guide you through the weeks ahead.
With our very best wishes,

Graham Usher, Rector
Helen Barton, Associate Vicar

"We were delighted to follow in our parents footsteps by getting married in Hexham Abbey as it is a truly beautiful venue - we very much appreciated the support of the Abbey staff throughout the planning of our ceremony. After our wedding service, our family and friends commented on the tranquil splendour of the Abbey and how memorable it was to see us exchange vows in a place where so many of them have married and worshipped over the years"
- Hayley and Paul.


Deciding to be married at Hexham Abbey is choosing to begin your married life with an act of Christian Worship during which you make your commitment to each other and ask for God’s blessing on your relationship.
As such you are not ‘hiring’ a building for the day but adding your page to the Abbey’s 1,300 year history.
The Clergy will guide your preparations and, whilst they will reflect with you about your plans, the final say about the Church arrangements lies with the Rector and Associate Vicar.


We would also like to invite you, as part of your marriage preparation, to come to services and join in the life and worship of our church community.


If you are getting married by Banns, there is no need for you to contact the Registrar or anyone else as Church of England clergy legally act as Registrars at marriages in parish churches. The Banns will normally be read in the Abbey in the period before the wedding at the 10.00am service on three successive Sundays. If either of you live in another parish they will need to be read in that parish too within the three months before the wedding and the clergy here must have the banns certificate from your parish before the wedding takes place. It is your responsibility to see to this.
You will be informed as to the dates when your Banns are to be read at the Abbey and we would encourage you, perhaps with friends or family, to come to hear them being read.
There are alternatives to Banns which the clergy can explain.


If you are likely to change your address, please contact the Parish Office otherwise the marriage may not be legal.


If one, or both, has been divorced and wish to be married in the Abbey they should discuss things with the Rector or Associate Vicar before making further arrangements.
The Abbey follows guidelines issued by the Church of England to help the couple and clergy reflect on the issues involved and this can take a number of months to complete.
We will not make a booking until this has been completed.


The member of the clergy who will conduct the wedding will normally see the couple three or four times; a short meeting to discuss the form and basic arrangements; one or two longer sessions to go through the service and talk about marriage and relationships; and normally a short rehearsal with others taking part.


Whoever is conducting your wedding will arrange with you a convenient time some point during the week leading up to your wedding for a short run through with you in the Abbey.
On this occasion it is good to have other participants present if possible, the Best Man, the Bride’s father, the bridesmaids, etc..


The service, including the signing of the Register, takes a little under an hour and legally it must take place between 8.00am and 6.00pm.
Weddings can be held on any day of the week.
It is important that we begin punctually as there are many people involved in the service who may have difficulties if things run late.
The length of time the photographer takes after the service is far more variable, and that is a factor which will govern relative timings of the service in church and the beginning of your reception.


We normally have two or three hymns at a wedding service and a very wide range of hymns is perfectly suitable.
Do not feel restricted by what someone else has had.
The clergy will be glad to give advice and some suggestions are given at the back of this booklet.
For a small charge the Parish Office can produce orders of service which are laid out in the style of service we use and are a wonderful keepsake.


Michael Haynes, the Director of Music will be very happy to talk with you about music for your wedding.
He may arrange to see you at the Abbey when he can demonstrate some of the possibilities.
Please make an appointment directly with him.

One of the Choirs (Listen) is usually available to sing at weddings and the Director of Music can advise on their repertoire and fees. (see below)


We do not allow photographs to be taken during the prayers or the promises as they detract from the meaning of the service.
However, your photographer is welcome to take pictures as you enter and leave the Abbey and during the signing of the Register.
Some photographers and will try hard to make you fit in with their wishes.
Remember that you are paying them to fit in with yours, and insist that they meet your requirements.


It is possible for you to make a video recording of your wedding in Hexham Abbey.
There is an additional fee payable and you will need to sign an indemnity form.
The company and any individuals recording a video will need to obtain the relevant licences.


We are privileged at Hexham Abbey to have a group of talented people who arrange flowers.
Our flower arrangers give of their time as well as providing oasis/sundries so there is a small fee of 25% of the cost of the flowers for doing the arranging - this money is then used to provide flowers in the Abbey during other times of the year.

We also permit, with supervision, professional florists to also provide displays.
Please contact Mrs Sheila Dance directly about your requirements, including colour scheme, and she can provide you with relevant costs.
It is customary that flowers are left in the Abbey for others to enjoy during the following week and so to give thanks for your wedding.


We are happy to discuss your ideas about inviting a friend or relative to read at your wedding, instrumentalists to play or other people to have a part in the proceedings.
Please discuss these things with us when we jointly plan your wedding.


Confetti is brilliant fun at a wedding but please, only throw it outside in the street.


You will be informed about the full fee for your wedding, which includes the standard legal fees and the extras you have asked for.
This is payable on or before the rehearsal and cheques should be written out to ‘Hexham Abbey PCC’.
The clergy are happy to talk to you, generally at the initial meeting, about the costs involved.

The fees for 2007 are as follows.
These are likely to increase on an annual basis.

Service without Music


Service with Organ

 £363 (£398v)*

Service with Boys Choir

 £633 (£693v)*

Service with Full Choir

 £793 (£853v)*

Banns Publication


Marriage Certificate






Orders of Service sheets

 from £30

* Fees in brackets denote fee for musicians when a video recording is requested.


Hexham Abbey has a peal of 10 bells and the bell ringers are happy to ring for weddings.
The bells usually are rung for approximately 20 minutes at the end of the wedding and can very much enhance the occasion as well as being very traditional.
Details of the fees are given earlier in this booklet and the bells should be booked with the Abbey’s Administrator as early as possible.


Hymns and songs:

There are very few hymns written specifically for weddings, and they are not well known.
Hymns praising God, or about the love of God, are very suitable, as are some hymns of prayer.
Here are some suggestions.

Praise my soul the King of heaven
A hymn of praise to God for His care of us, and a prayer for Him to look after us.

The Lord’s my shepherd I’ll not want
A version of Psalm 23, which is a hymn reminding us of God’s care to us through good and bad times.

Love divine all loves excelling
A hymn offering ourselves to Jesus, asking Him to change us, and help us to live our lives in praise of Him.

Now thank we all our God
A hymn of praise to God for His care of us, and a prayer for Him to look after us.

Come down O love divine
A hymn in which we open our hearts to God the Holy Spirit, to fill us full of love.

Father, hear the prayer we offer
A hymn of prayer admitting that the challenging ways of life will bring more fruit than the easy ones.

For the beauty of the earth
We praise God for all his blessings in many ways, not least for marriage and family life.

Other popular hymns and songs

All things bright and beautiful
At the name of Jesus
Be thou my vision
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Father I place into your hands
Give me joy in my heart, Sing Hosanna
Great is thy faithfulness
Immortal, Invisible
Lord for the years
Lord of all hopefulness
Make me a channel of your peace
Morning has broken
O perfect love
O praise ye the Lord
O worship the King
Praise to the Lord the almighty
The King of love my shepherd is
To God be the glory

Organ Music for your wedding

There is a wide range of music available for you to choose from. We suggest you discuss this with the Director of Music.
The following is a selection of the more popular traditional pieces.

For the entry of the Bride to church (processional)

Bridal march from Lohengrin (Wagner)
March from ‘Aida’ (Verdi)
Trumpet tune (Purcell)
Trumpet Voluntary (J. Clark)
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel)
Now thank we all our God (Karg-Elert)

As the married couple leave the church (recessional)
Wedding march (Mendelssohn)
Toccata (Widor)

During the signing of the Register
The organ may play some suitable music or the Choir sing an anthem - usually 4 or 5 minutes in length.


It is possible to have two or three reading at your wedding, one of which should be from the Bible.
It is important that you discuss what you are thinking about with the clergy as all readings must be appropriate for an act of Christian worship.
Try to find readings that speak to you in your situation.
Commonly used Bible readings include:

Old Testament

Genesis 1.26-28
Song of Solomon 2.10-13; 8.6, 7
Jeremiah 31.31-34
Psalm 67
Psalm 121


Romans 12.1, 2, 9-13
Romans 15.1-3, 5-7, 13
1 Corinthians 13
Ephesians 4.1-6
Philippians 4.4-9
Colossians 3.12-17
1 John 4.7-12


Matthew 5.1-10
Matthew 7.21,24-end
John 2.1-11
John 15.9-17


The clergy at Hexham Abbey are:

The Revd Graham B Usher (Rector)
The Revd Helen M Barton (Associate Vicar)
and they are supported by a number of retired priests. Contact is via the Parish Office (01434 602031)

For arrangements about your wedding:

Jane Musto (Abbey Administrator) 01434 602031
email: admin@hexhamabbey.org.uk

For flowers for your wedding:
Sheila Dance (Flower co-ordinator) 01434 607335

For music:
Michael Haynes (Director of Music) 01434 606169

Click for this page as pdf