Recently, I took my first family wedding when my ‘niece-by-marriage’ married in St. Bartholomew’s, Nympsfield, a beautiful listed church in Gloucestershire.
It was the first in the next generation, so we were all just a little bit excited with hats, cameras and tissues at the ready. It was both special and daunting to be the vicar conducting the ceremony – after all, there are not many jobs where your whole family come along to watch you at work!
Amy and Andy married in this church which they chose specially. They travelled from London each month to establish a connection, and were so warmly welcomed by the congregation, they wanted it mentioned specially in the service. They chose hymns they like – and emailed a link to the yourchurchwedding website to guests so they could practice beforehand.
They had two readings – one from the Bible and another specially written for the day. It was a privilege to witness the marriage of these two young people, and to pray for God’s blessing on them as they took this next step in their relationship.
Prior to this, I also talked about weddings – this time to a bride I had met at the Church of England stand at the National Wedding Show at the NEC. We met in a local coffee shop, and she introduced me to her partner. He laughed as he told me: “She came back from the show saying I haven’t bought a veil or anything, but I have found a vicar!”
Caty and Craig are marrying in their parish church, at the heart of the village where they live with their two children. It was family tragedies that made them think about getting married. The long marriage of Caty’s grandparents inspired them to make a similar commitment and as Craig said: “if we are going to get married, it has to be in church, otherwise there’s no point.”
Strong words – but that’s how many couples feel. There is something special about the place. We talked about it a bit more, chatting about how a church is a place of stories and history, and how only good and significant things happen there.
Part of my job now is about helping vicars all over the country welcome couples like Andy and Amy, and Craig and Caty, to make sure they not only have a really special wedding day, but also discover that the church is a place that will be there for them throughout their lives ‘for better or worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and health.’ Whatever happens the church is there, and underneath that is the great love of God with all the promise of hope and revelation of love that we celebrate at Easter in the good news of Jesus.
That’s what so exciting about weddings – sharing the good news of the day, and sharing the good news of Jesus. I love it!