Congratulations on your engagement! If you are considering a wedding in Balliol it is strongly advised that before you enter into any commitments you get in touch with the Chaplain as early as possible, whether you intend to be married by the Chaplain or another officiating minister.
Planning your day
In order to set a date for your wedding you will need to liaise with both the Chaplain (via his Secretary initially) and the Conference and Events Manager (see contact information below). The College has an extremely busy Conference and Events calendar, so, following your preliminary conversations with the Chaplain’s Secretary, you will need to contact the Conference and Events Manager in order to co-ordinate a date that suits both parties.
In order to be married in Balliol College Chapel you must obtain a Special Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury. (This applies both for couples intending to be married by the Chaplain and those intending to be married by another Anglican priest. If you are intending to be married by a member of the clergy from another denomination it will be their responsibility to investigate and advise you of the relevant procedures.) Licences are normally granted if you are a Balliol student, Old Member, or member of staff. The current fee for a Special Licence is £310. In order to complete the licence application you must gain the permission of your local parish priest. Please ensure that you do this prior to returning the application. Special Licence application forms may be obtained from the Chaplain’s Secretary.
The Chaplain will prepare couples for marriage. If another Anglican priest is conducting the service, it will be their responsibility to prepare the couple and register the marriage. The Chaplain would normally meet with the couple several months in advance of the wedding and again nearer the time to discuss the service in detail.
It is also possible to have a wedding rehearsal in Balliol Chapel in advance of the wedding itself.
Balliol College Chapel seats 120 people comfortably. Further chairs can be added at the ends of rows and in the Antechapel if necessary. If you require extra seating, please make the Chaplain’s Secretary aware in order that the relevant arrangements can be made.
Disabled access into the College is via the metal gates off Magdalen Street East; please make the Lodge aware so that the Porter can operate the automatic gates. The Chapel can then be accessed via the Fellows’ Garden. There are two steps up from the Antechapel into the Chapel which would require physical assistance to lift a wheelchair.
Order of service
There are a number of variables in the order of service itself depending on your specific requirements, i.e. music, readings, hymns, etc. A typical order of service is available to download.
The College has two Organ Scholars who are available to play at weddings; the usual fee is £150. The Chaplain’s Secretary has contact details for the Organ Scholars should you wish to be in touch with them. It may also be possible to make use of the Balliol Chapel Choir or a small number of them as appropriate. For further information about this you would consult the Organ Scholar who has agreed to play the wedding service.
If you would like to discuss flower arrangements for your wedding with the College’s flower arranger please contact the Chaplain’s Secretary, who will provide you with contact details; alternatively you may use an arranger of your choice.
It may be possible to hold your wedding reception in College. The College has a very busy conference schedule outside term time and facilities may not always be available. It is strongly advised that you contact the Conference and Events Manager as early as possible in order to investigate availability.
The Chaplain does not charge Old Members for conducting weddings or marriage blessings. He offers his service on the basis that any Old Members disposed to be married in College would probably want to remember the development needs of the College in their own way. For weddings, couples are required to obtain a Special Licence, currently £310; and a fee of £100 is payable to St Mary Magdalen Parish for use of the parish marriage registers (details are available from the Chaplain’s Secretary). Catering costs will vary according to your requirements. A fund has recently been established in memory of Carol Clark to help choral singing in College. Carol was the first woman Tutorial Fellow of any ancient college in Oxford and a keen chapel choir singer. A voluntary donation of perhaps £100 for the use of chapel and facilities is suggested.
Religious service after civil marriage or civil partnership
Sometimes it is more appropriate or the couple may prefer to have a service of thanksgiving or blessing in Chapel after entering into a civil marriage or civil partnership, by arrangement with the Chaplain. No licence or registers are required.