Weddings and Civil Partnerships

We are thrilled that you are thinking about holding your wedding ceremony at St Mary’s. Marriage is one of life’s most significant mile-stones and there has been a long tradition of weddings and services of dedication at this historic church. Whether it is a quiet, simple service in the Chancel or a full, flower-bedecked wedding in the Nave, we endeavour to meet all requirements with thoughtful care and efficiency. We can offer the services of a professional choir and mark the occasion with peals of bells from one of the dreamiest spires in Oxford. 

From your first contact with the Church Office, right through to the ceremony, we will guide you step-by-step through the process with care which is tailored to each couple’s requirements.

Who qualifies to marry at the University Church?

An early enquiry about a wedding enables us to sort out the legal requirements, which will differ from couple to couple. We try to be as accommodating as possible. There are, however, some clear legal restrictions.

You are able to marry at the University Church if one of you:

  • was baptised in the parish or
  • was prepared for confirmation in the parish or
  • has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
  • has at any time regularly gone to Church of England services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months

Or that one of your parents, at any time after you were born:

  • has lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
  • has regularly gone to Church of England church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months

Or that one of your parents or grandparents:

  • was married in the parish (this means St Mary’s, not a college chapel)

Sometimes members of the University who do not fall into these categories can be married by Special Licence. Those who fall into any of the above categories and have a spouse still living from a former marriage are also welcome to discuss their plans with the Revd Dr William Lamb, the Vicar of St Mary’s. Foreign nationals and UK subjects living abroad who have connections to St Mary’s are also welcome to contact the Vicar. To set up a meeting, call 01865 279111 in the first instance or email: universitychurch@ox.ac.uk.

If you are in any doubt about whether you qualify, please ask. If you do not qualify to be married at St Mary’s, then it may be possible for you to be married in a civil ceremony and to have a service of dedication at the University Church. 

Civil Partnerships

Our clergy will offer support and guidance to all who wish to live in loving, faithful, committed relationships, whatever their gender. At present we are not permitted by law to marry people of the same sex and the House of Bishops of the Church of England has declined to authorise a service of blessing for a Civil Partnership. The bishops’ statement says, ‘Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances of each case’ (para 18).

The University Church seeks to be an inclusive community where LGBT+ people are welcomed and affirmed. At the same time, while the clergy have to operate within the discipline of the Church of England, they will always seek to respond pastorally and sensitively to requests for prayer and support.

We would be delighted to help you to prepare prayerfully for your Civil Partnership, and you can be assured of a sensitive and supportive response from us. Please contact the Revd Dr William Lamb, the Vicar, if you would like to explore this further: william.lamb@universitychurch.ox.ac.uk