PRIESTS have been advised to let wedding couples personalise
their service, so that, if they want to, they can be "like Posh and
Becks for one day".
The Church Weddings Handbook: The seven pastoral
moments that matter*, the fruit of the Archbishop's Council's
Weddings Project, describes the findings of the project, and
suggests ways to make contact with, and continue to nurture,
couples before and after their wedding day.
Allowing couples to make the service "special" to them made a
huge difference in whether the couple were interested in returning
to church afterwards, researchers for the project found.
Of those couples who did not feel free to personalise the
service, four per cent said that they were likely to come back; and
of those who were allowed to customise the service, 13 per cent
said that they were very interested in getting more involved with
The area of personalisation can bring some priests "out in a
cold sweat", the project found. But other clergy said that it was
hard to get couples to realise that the church could be
Photographers could be one area of tension between the priest
and the couple, but the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Mark Bryant,
said: "I've worked with couples over the years for whom life has
been quite difficult, and their wedding is one day of their lives
when they will have people photographing them. They'll be like Posh
and Becks for just one day. And I think God can cope with that. And
if God can cope with that, it's probably up to me to try to cope
with it as well."
The priest played a significant part in shaping a couple's
attitude to marrying in church, researchers found. "People do make
this distinction between their local church, 'my church', and the
Church with the capital C. And it's the vicars who make the
*Church House Publishing, £12.99 (CT Bookshop
£11.70 - Use code CT895 ); 978-0-7151-4287-5.