From a Vicar: insider advice
I was married in 1974 but I long ago lost count of the number of people I have married!
As a vicar it has been my privilege and – yes, genuinely – my pleasure to officiate at the weddings of teenage couples, couples in their twenties, right up to some well past retirement age. I have seen brides arrive in horse-drawn carriages, vintage cars, plenty of limos and even a tractor. I wouldn’t dare to say that “I have seen it all” because every ceremony was different and it was always my aim to make each personal, and therefore special, for each couple.
Most people assume that the service in church is a prescribed format with little manoeuvre for variation. Not so. If you do your homework, gather some good ideas and suggestions, discuss them well in advance, then most ministers will be delighted to help make yours the wedding you want it to be.
Think of it this way. From the entry of the bride to the final procession usually takes between forty and fifty minutes. The legal and prescribed bits take up less than half of that time. So, that leaves plenty of time for your preferences to be included; plenty of time to include a variety of music, singing and readings and opportunities to involve other friends or family members ‘up the front’ alongside from the principal players.
But it does have to be planned carefully, especially if you anticipate introducing extra equipment that may require power. (Where are the sockets? They may be few and tucked away in an old church. Where can people stand to be seen as well as heard?)
Never be put off by the apparent limitations of the building. Take it as a challenge and don’t hesitate to use local knowledge to overcome difficulties. That goes for other features of the church service. Those who provide and arrange the flowers week by week will know what looks best and where best to place them. Your photographer may not have been to this church before but there will be someone who knows the best location in the churchyard for that special shot.
Weddings are wonderful occasions; I never tired of them, and that was partly because I really enjoyed seeing couples share the responsibility for this part of their memorable day. It really is your service so why not think about making it yours.
Rev Canon Brian Pearson has been a Church of England minister in SE London, Sussex and Warwickshire. He was on the personal staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury and has had responsibility for training priests. He now offers a consultancy service to wedding couples planning their church weddings. For further information email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org