There are new opportunities emerging for mission and ministry around weddings throughout 2021 and into 2022. It is a unique moment for the church – this page explains why and offers simple ways for rebuilding wedding ministry from Autumn 2020 onwards.
Why is this a unique moment for the church?
We know that there is now a backlog of wedding demand, and we know too that stress and uncertainty has made a sense of blessing and hope feel very important to couples and their families. Watch here for more about this, from the Head of Welcome & Life Events, Sandra Millar.
We have provided English closed captions for this video – click the Subtitles/Closed Captions icon on the player to enable them.
How do I get started?
Quick, simple and good value ideas
- Most churches have outdoor noticeboards and space in the porch to put up posters, If you only do one thing, put up a poster that lets people know your church is offering weddings and welcomes enquiries.
- There is a ready-made poster for this purpose on the Church Print Hub. It’s part of a range of new materials designed to encourage people to ‘Just ask’ about a wedding. See the full range just here.
- The range of ‘Just ask’ materials can also be put up around the local community with the relevant permission. If there are community noticeboards, shop windows, pub noticeboards, café’s, hotels which do weddings, or other places where couples will pass by or meet up, have a presence with a poster.
- If you have space, why not put up a special banner outside – on the churchyard railings for example. This is an especially good opportunity for churches in busy places, whether locals or visitors are passing.
- There is a ready-made banner designed for this purpose on the Church Print Hub. It’s part of a range of new materials designed to encourage people to ‘Just ask’ about how the church can help with any of the three life events – when a child arrives, when a marriage begins and when someone dies. See the full range just here.
Most couples will do research online before they get in touch. Have a look at your church website from the point of view of a couple and check the following:-
- Is your church’s profile up to date on achurchnearyou.com? This includes having the correct email address entered into the ‘Get in touch’ form on your church’s profile, so that when a couple sends a wedding enquiry via that form, it actually reaches the right person. It’s vital that your church’s profile is up to date, because it’s often the number one site that comes up in Google searches for church information, and many couples may therefore try to contact you this way.
- Is it clear who couples can contact, how they can do that, and when?
- Is the church’s message positive and welcoming?
- Is there a designated page about weddings which gives preliminary information and invites couples to get in touch? Is there a link to yourchurchwedding.org?
- If you have a church account on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, post about weddings and extend a warm invitation for couples to make enquiries.
- There are some free ‘Just ask’ images you can share on social media, designed for this purpose. Have a look at them on the Church Print Hub, just here.
- Keep repeating these posts every so often, perhaps a couple of times each month, or more, and especially around Boxing Day, New Year and Valentine’s Day, when marriage proposals tend to peak – posting just once will not be enough.
- Ask those who follow your account to re-share these posts to their own networks sometimes.
Involving the usual congregation
- Family can be one of the biggest influences on the wedding choices made by young couples. There may be people among your congregation who know someone in their family or network of friends who has just got engaged. Encourage them to give information to the couple and talk to them about the possibilities of having a church wedding – even if this may not be at your church. There is some printed information you can buy which can shared within families/friends.
- Have a vision bigger than your church – it may be that the wedding doesn’t take place in your building, but you may still be involved in local couples’ marriages by offering prayers, or perhaps banns being read. If so, consider sending them a banns invitation card.
Ideas that take more time
The next suggestions will take a little more time, but in the current climate, they could help your church establish a growing wedding ministry from 2021 onwards.
Reception venues can be friends
One of the first choices a newly-engaged couple makes is the reception venue. All-in wedding packages have meant this is an easy choice for the ceremony too, but we know from research that there will be couples who, deep down, would prefer to have traditional vows and spiritual references as part of their ceremony – which they legally can’t have in a civil venue, but they can have in a church wedding.
Surprisingly, reception venues are often open to supporting local churches who want to make newly-engaged couples aware of the choices for their ceremony. Many venues could well be over-subscribed in 2021 – could your church help with the backlog? Even before the pandemic circumstances changed the weddings landscape so dramatically, churches which successfully built a relationship with a nearby reception venue, such as a licensed hotel, castle or stately home, found this does generate additional enquiries through referrals.
So these are some things you can try:
- Contact your nearest civil wedding reception venue and ask if you can meet the wedding organiser for coffee.
- Talk to them about how some couples would really like a church wedding and that you’d love to hear from those couples. Explain how couples can make a legal connection with the church, and leave them some information to pass on to interested couples.
- Be there pastorally for the staff at the venue too – they will most likely be local.
Be present at wedding fairs – or host one
- Wedding fairs are starting to take place again. Find out if any are planned in your local area and see if you can be a part of it – perhaps shared with another church nearby. You might even encourage your deanery to join up for this.
- Alternatively, if you have the appropriate space, be the host of your own wedding fair and invite local wedding businesses to be a part of it. Although there’s a lot of work involved, you’ll benefit from the opportunity to meet all the other suppliers’ contacts on home ground. Involving other businesses in this way also greatly widens the publicity. Any event will need to be compliant with the Covid-19 hygiene and safety guidelines in force at the time.
- Read our fact sheet on being well-presented at wedding fairs.
- If possible, display some leaflets which couples can take away.
- Hand out your business card and encourage couples to get in touch. There are some ready-made ones here, designed especially for weddings ministry.
Keep in touch
- Keep in close touch with couples who show an interest. Make a follow-up call, invite them to a church service, whether online or physically at the church building. If they eventually choose not to have a church wedding, let them know about other services they can have to bless their marriage.