Learning About Marriage Banns and Marriages
To learn more about banns, I turned to George G. Morgan's book, How to Do Everything with your Genealogy. McGraw Hill/Osborne (2004) that I have handy in my office bookcase.
On pages 75-78, Mr. Morgan tells me that the clerk (or ordinary) is responsible for the actual licence or certificate of marriage which is taken to the clergy, justice of the peace, or judge who performs the ceremony. When one of those people who are authorized to perform the marriage signs it, the document is returned to the courthouse where the clerk transcribes it into the record (or today, the computer). This is why it is known as a marriage return.
Of course, the age of consent for marriage differs from country and to state and parental permission is required for marriage of very young persons in some cases. It is considered "contract law".
Banns are a public announcement. They may be read out loud by the clergy or put in a paper church announcement. I expect my Schofield-Fox banns were announced during the service on those named three consecutive Sundays.
In the "Old Country", couples were married in the bride's parish and were married "by banns" or if they were in a hurry married "by license". Banns took three weeks and license could be quicker. If the couple lived in different parishes, banns were probably required. If some person objected, such as they knew one person was already married, they could tell the clergy and the marriage would be investigated.