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God at our wedding? No, thank you

11 September 2015


From the Revd Professor Mary Seller

Sir, — I recently officiated at one of the very few weddings held in our village church this year (I can remember when there was one almost every other week).

Before the wedding, only one real meeting between the couple and me was achieved, despite my best endeavours. During it, explanations of the meaning of various parts of the marriage service, such as “covenant” rather than “contract”, were met with relative disinterest.

We had difficulty finding three “songs” that both the bride and the groom knew; the word “hymn” was meaningless to them. The liturgy directs: “At least one reading from the Bible is used.” All passages I suggested were rejected as “not understandable”, whereas they had many poems downloaded from internet wedding sites that they “loved”.

On the day, the bride was attended by flowergirls and bridesmaids small and large — too many to enumerate. The processional, recessional, and other music were CDs of the very loud, discordant, popular genre, and our organist’s considerable skills were largely devoted to operating the CD player.

“I proclaim that they are husband and wife” was greeted with cheering, clapping, whistles, and catcalls. As I concluded the proceedings, the bride’s mother stood up and told everyone present that I had missed out part of the service. For one nanosecond, I panicked. But we soon learned that I had omitted to say to the groom: “You may now kiss the bride.”

I rejoice that on their journey through life, this couple chose the church as the venue for their “time of solemn commitment”, and wished to seek God’s blessing on their marriage. But they certainly knew exactly what they did and did not want from the service.


11 Home Park
Oxted RH8 0JS

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