The duty of clergy to prepare couples for marriage is set out in the Canons. Whilst marriage preparation courses can be an enormous help, they should not be seen as an alternative to personal interviews between the Priest and the couple. The obligation on clergy is to explain the Christian understanding of marriage within the framework of grace (Canon B30) and to check the couple are free to marry in law, which will include checking ages and any degree of kindred and affinity (see Canons B30 and B31). If either party has been previously married to a partner who is still living, it is also essential to see divorce papers. If the couple do not live locally, it may be possible to delegate certain aspects of marriage preparation, but it is reasonable in most circumstances to expect a couple to attend at least one interview with the Priest who is to conduct the marriage, or a close colleague.
Special care should be taken is respect of those who are not British or European citizens, and such marriage will normally be by common licence.