Weddings and baptisms


A wedding ceremony marks the start of a marriage, and all weddings, wherever they take place, are significant. They all mark a public witness to the love that two people have for each other. However, a Church wedding makes certain themes clearer:

The fact that the promises are made within a supportive community provides a setting in which the marriage can be supported and sustained.

The Church building witnesses to the significance of love as the very reason for existence. The concept of covenant between the couple reflects the relationship between God and the world.

The idea of the ‘sacrament of marriage’ reflects the miracle of what God is doing in human lives as you both make the promises together in Church.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people get married in England. It is the most important day in their lives. Whether or not you are a regular churchgoer, getting married in church allows you to make solemn promises to the one you love, not only in front of your family and friends but also in the sight of God and with God’s blessing.

Please note, however, that there are legal constraints for all couples who may wish to marry at St Etheldreda’s (or in any other Church of England Parish Church):

at least one of the couple must reside in the parish

The easiest way to check if you live in the parish is to go to:

OR if neither reside in the parish then at least one of the couple must be on the Church Electoral Roll [NB: this is different from the Register of Electors. To qualify for membership of the Church Electoral Roll you must attend worship regularly (at least once a month) for a minimum of six months.]

OR when there is a proven link between the couple and the parish

Service of Blessing after a Civil Marriage

The Service of Blessing after a Civil Marriage may be used in a variety of ways. Some couples choose to be married at a Register Office, and then come to church later the same day, or on the next day. Others may have their marriage overseas, and then return for a church blessing a few weeks later. In some cases the service is used to mark anniversaries, or as a way of renewing marriage vows. Because there are no civil legalities to be observed in the Blessing Service, there is a greater degree of flexibility, so services can be tailored to the couple’s particular needs and preferences. 

Other Blessings & Celebrations

There is nothing of our lives which is outside of God’s love and care for us. The clergy at St Etheldreda’s will be happy to discuss special services of prayer and thanksgiving with you. In the first instance, please contact Fr Darren.


If you live within the parish then you automatically have the right to use the church for baptisms, weddings, blessings and funerals (and that’s whether you usually attend on Sundays or not – but of course you are very welcome to do so!).

What is a Baptism

Baptism (or Christening) is the rite of entry into the Christian Church and for this reason the traditional place for the font is by the church entrance, as is still the case at St Etheldreda’s.

Baptism is what the Church calls a ‘sacrament’ or in other words, “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”. That means it is far more than just a naming ceremony or an opportunity to give thanks for a new-born life, but an acknowledgement of God’s involvement in the candidate’s life (at whatever age) and a celebration of God’s saving activity as they grow in faith and Christian discipleship.

Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives, the first step in response to God’s unconditional love. For all involved, particularly the candidates but also parents, godparents and sponsors, it is a joyful moment when we rejoice in what God has done for us through Jesus.

Baptism involves a statement of faith and serious, important promises are made either by the candidate themselves (if adults) or by their parents and godparents.

Baptism is a partnership between parents and the Church because in welcoming children to baptism, the local Church commits itself to be the kind of Church that will encourage its younger members and help them to worship and grow in faith.

Baptism services at St Etheldreda's

Each month there are opportunities for Baptisms in our regular pattern of Sunday services, either as part of our main 9.30 am Parish Eucharist or afterwards at 1pm.

To keep things more personal, we only usually book in a maximum of two families at each particular service.

Our fixed pattern of baptism services is a way of trying to organise ourselves at St Etheldreda’s – but it is not set in stone! We recognise that there are many different factors involved when trying to organise a family celebration. So where possible we are happy to schedule additional services, but we would appreciate your trying to fit in with the Church’s schedule as far as possible.

Recently, the Church of England has formalised its provision for baptism to take place within the Marriage Service. If this is something you would like to consider, please contact the Fr Darren before completing your Baptism Application Form.

Being a Godparent

Being a godparent is an important responsibility and a great privilege. There are a number of things to consider before choosing godparents (and before accepting the role if you have been asked), so please read the following information carefully….

In keeping with early Christian practice, the Church of England baptises people at any age, and those who are too young to answer for themselves are represented by ‘godparents’.

Along with the child’s parents, godparents present the candidates for baptism, speak on their behalf, and promise to support and encourage them in their growth in faith by prayer and example. This, of course, is a lifelong commitment!

Traditionally there are three godparents: two of the same sex as the child, and one of the opposite. However, there is space in the baptismal register to record for more names, and the gender of your choice of godparent is entirely up to you!

Canon law (the rules governing the Church of England) states that godparents must themselves have been baptised. Those who are not baptised can act as ‘sponsors’ but will not be recorded in the baptismal register, and are not godparents. Adults can be baptised in order to become godparents, but this of course will mean that the child’s baptism is delayed while they are prepared as adult candidates.

Godparents have no legal standing as guardians of their godchildren unless separate provision is made through your solicitor. They are none the less, significant people in your child’s growth and development.

Promises made by Parents and Godparents

Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy. Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith. Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ? 
With the help of God, we will. 

In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today. Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church? 
With the help of God, we will. 

In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. Therefore I ask parents and godparents: 

Do you turn to Christ? 
I turn to Christ. 

Do you repent of your sins? 
I repent of my sins. 

Do you renounce evil? 
I renounce evil.

For more details contact the Team Rector 
Fr. Darren Collins - 01707 256638