There can be a long gap between making the arrangements and the wedding day – sometimes more than two years. Hotels, florists and photographers will be in contact with the couple. How can the church keep in touch too?
When a couple have booked their reception, most venues will then be in contact with invitations to events around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other special occasions. Good venues will even send cards on birthdays and other key dates! Brides are busy sorting everything out, and it can be very stressful to realise that there is a big silence from the church about when and how the service planning begins.
There are lots of opportunities to show care and welcome during this time of waiting. Here are just two examples:-
It can be really special for a couple to hear their banns read and especially if their names are mentioned in the prayers too. Invite couples to hear their banns read using the banns invitation card (pictured left).
It’s another opportunity to welcome a couple into church, regardless of whether they are marrying there or not. In fact, encouraging couples to get to know their local church, even if they aren’t marrying there, will help them develop longer term contact with church. If the couple come to hear their banns, look out for them, welcome them and ask how their wedding planning is going. They will appreciate the time the vicar takes to get to know them.
If this is the couple’s local church, they’re more likely to come back again if they begin to form connections with others like them in the congregation. Encourage friendly locals in the church to talk to the couple and invite them to stay for coffee afterwards. Getting to know people in the church can make their wedding day all the more meaningful too.
Planning the service
The research showed that couples like to make their service special and personal to them, reflecting their story. Choices of music, hymns and readings will help to build a service tailored to the couple.
A service that has personal touches built in is more likely to result in the couple returning to church after the wedding, due to their overall sense of being cared for.
In the majority of cases, couples make choices that are traditional and simple, and rarely overly-eccentric. But be as flexible as you can within Canon law.
To help couples begin thinking about their hymns and readings, an online Ceremony Planner at www.yourchurchwedding.org gives them the confidence to talk to the vicar about the service at the next meeting. Some couples may need reminding of hymn tunes and titles that were perhaps familiar at school but which they have now forgotten and the Ceremony Planner is ideal for this.
It offers a drop-down menu of some of the most well-loved hymns for weddings. Couples can listen to extracts of each hymn and also view popular Bible readings.
Once they have made choices, the tool slots them into a printable Order of Service, designed to be brought to show the vicar for further discussion.
Offer a positive response and talk to them about other ways you can help them personalise their service, with music for entering and leaving the church, other readings and ways to involve family and friends.