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Clergy couple to marry in groom’s church

24 July 2020

TODAY, the Revd Tobie Osmond will be at the first wedding in his church since he became the incumbent last October; but, instead of being the officiating priest, he will be the groom, and his bride will be a fellow cleric, the Revd Susan Ison-Stierer.

Only a few weeks ago, the wedding, due to take place at St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, was in jeopardy owing to the lockdown; so the recent relaxation has meant many frantic rearrangements.

“When lockdown came, everything was put on hold,” Ms Ison-Stierer said. She is an assistant curate at Bridgwater and Chilton Trinity, about 12 miles away. “Now, we are desperately trying to find somewhere to hire dress suits, and there is no one available to do make-up. Thankfully, I have just got a hairdresser, but, really, the wedding’s the thing — everything else is not so important.

“It was going to be quite a huge weekend, with our two congregations there, and lots of family and friends. Now, we are having just our immediate families and two priest friends who will say prayers for us.” The officiant will be the Rural Dean of Glastonbury, Prebendary David MacGeoch, who was ordained with Mr Osmond 22 years ago.

Their congregations, and Mr Osmond’s original best man, who is in Canada, will be able to see the ceremony via a Zoom link, and the guests will attend a socially distanced reception under gazebos in the adjacent vicarage.

The couple first met nine years ago when the groom was Vicar of St Thomas’s, Wells, with Horrington, and the bride was a children’s worker in a neighbouring parish. They met again in 2018, after Ms Ison-Stierer was ordained and began to serve her title in Bridgwater.

“My training incumbent went sick, and, as a new curate, I needed advice; so I contacted him,” she said, “but it was not until Easter last year when we realised it was more serious. I had been through a marriage breakdown, and he had gone through a similar stress; so there was a connection between us. We had shared common ground.”

Ms Ison-Stierer will be accompanied into church by her two sons, Joel, aged 15, and Levi, 11. The three bridesmaids will be her daughter, Jasmine, 14; her niece, Marni; and Mr Osmond’s niece, Niamh.

Continuing restrictions mean no congregational singing of hymns, and St Mary’s flower arrangers have to leave their displays outside for the guests to carry in. The bell-ringers, however, will ring for the first time since the lockdown ended, and a local photographer has offered to take the pictures if she can use them in her blog.

Mr Osmond said: “For a while, we were thinking: ‘Was it going to happen or not?’ Then we were wondering that only five people could be there. With 30, we are able to have our immediate family, which is phenomenal.

“It’s been a nightmare uninviting people, but, on our first anniversary, we plan a big bash to do what we were anticipating this weekend.”

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