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Wedding bells

28 February 2014

THE congregation was larger than at most local weddings: 89 children from Headlands Primary School, and many of their parents. The majority were six and seven years old, as were the happy couple getting "married" by the Revd Ron Smith at St Mary's, Haxby, in York diocese.

The vows were unusual: the children had written them themselves. Freddie Wilson, aged seven, and Phillipa Cranmer, aged six, promised to be friends with each other until Year 6 (the final year at primary school), and to play football with each other in the playground.

The children (and some parents) were all in wedding finery, and had organised the whole occasion by writing to the Vicar to book the church, and sending out invitations. After the ceremony, the bride and groom travelled back to the school in a wedding car for the wedding breakfast, and the school caterers had even made the children a wedding cake.

"The 'wedding' was part of a school project on people, places, and parties," the Deputy Head of the school, Louise Pearce, explained. "There's no better party than a wedding."

Mr Smith, who chairs the governors of Headlands School - and although it is not a church school, has built up a strong relationship with it - was delighted to co-operate. "I've celebrated dozens of weddings in my 20 years as a priest. As you get older, the brides and grooms seem to get younger, but not normally as young as this.

"Everything was like a real wedding, apart from the legal parts - I even read the pretend banns at the church on Sunday. The bride and groom wore proper wedding clothes; the guests were in their best finery, too; and there was confetti to throw on the church steps after the ceremony.

"I think [it] is a lovely idea, and a great way to show the children and their parents what a church wedding is like. If you are making promises to love one another - or, in Phillipa and Freddie's case, be friends with one another - there's no better place to do that than a church."

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