Banns of Marriage are an ancient legal tradition to announce publicly that you wish to be married!
Banns have been read out every week in churches for many centuries. The announcement in the Church of your intention to marry is a chance for anyone to put forward a reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place. If there is not enough notice given for the banns to be read before the wedding is due to take place, or if one or both of you are British but do not live in England (or Wales), the Common Licence procedure needs to be used rather than banns.
If one or both of you is a national of a country outside the UK, you will require a Superintendent Registrar's Certificate to marry, rather than have banns read.
Banns have to be read at your parish church where you live and at the Church where you are to be married. They can be read in Church at any time during the three months leading up to your wedding over three consecutive Sundays.
It would be advisable to arrange to have your banns read a few months in advance. After reading the banns, you will be sent a certificate to prove that the banns have been read and that there has been no impediment alleged to your marriage.
It's an exciting and happy time, so you're welcome to invite your family and friends to hear your banns too! While you are not legally required to be present during the reading of your banns, it is a lovely tradition to come to Church and hear them being read. And it's an excellent opportunity to get to know us here in the Parish of Cove a little better. We generally read the Banns at the beginning of our 10.30 service at Christchurch.