Marriage Banns
The term “Marriage Banns” refers to the proclamation in church of a proposed wedding.  In England, typically, they wer to be read on three successive Sundays in the parish churches of the bride and bridegroom.  They could also be written up and posted on the church door or other prominent location within the parish, for a minimum of 14 days.

Posting or reading of the Banns is so that those who know of any impediment to the marriage can make an objection.  The practice is still in use today.

The Banns were often by-passed by the “better-off” folk by obtaining a marriage licence, which had to be paid for.  Sometimes, those of the upwardly mobile classes would marry by licence, just to show how well off they were.  The wealthy didn't like to invite every person in the parish to object to their marriage.

The custom of announcing a forthcoming marriage during Divine Service was probably taken over from pre-Christian practice, but it seems to have developed especially after Charlemagne’s order for inquiry before marriage into possible consanguinity between the parties.  The practice was enjoined by the Synod of Westminster of 1200 and the Lateran Council of 1215.

During the English Commonwealth Period between 1653 and 1660, marriages were civil contracts performed by a Justice of the Peace and the Banns could also be read in the town market place, or other places such as private homes on three successive market days.  These Banns were sometimes recorded in a separate book and sometimes in the parish register with the letter M (for market) added.