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Multiple ten-minute weddings

15 January 2021

Email if you have any answers to the questions, below


Investigating my family history, I came across 36 weddings all con­­ducted on Christmas Day 1890 in St John’s, Hoxton, London. The regis­ter was signed by the vicar, the Revd Mr Cooke, on all occasions. Did the Victorians have a different (shorter) marriage service? How did he fit them all in? [Answers, 18/25 December 2020]

Your answer: In the mid 1980s, I worked in Portugal, then a poor country in the post-revolution period. One summer Saturday, I visited the Church of Santa Maria, part of the World Heritage complex of Jeronimos Monastery, in Belem, Lisbon.

Waiting in the gardens outside was a small wedding party looking very excited. Then I noticed another wedding party in the church porch, waiting to enter. Inside the church, there was another group waiting by the font, and, a few feet away, a further group waited at the start of the nave. Yet another wedding party group was waiting halfway down the nave, and, at the front, were the happy couple being married at that moment.

The priest gave a final blessing, the newly married couple moved off to a side door on the right, and, even before they had reached it, the organ started up with “Here Comes the Bride”. Each wedding party moved up one place in the queue. I watched the next wedding in full — it took all of ten minutes. I was so stunned that I watched the next wedding: again, ten minutes, blessing, departure right, “Here Comes the Bride”, and the conveyor of wedding parties moved up one slot like clockwork.

None of the parties looked as if they felt they were being shortchanged by what we would consider a short service. Thirty-six services in seven hours — no problem.

A ten-minute wedding is probably just about do-able with Anglican liturgy if, like Liberace playing Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto in seven minutes, “you miss out the boring bits.”

Perhaps an alternative question is “Why do weddings take so long these days?”

Robert Ashdown


Your question: Are priests who have committed major misdemeanours still “de-frocked”, or is just the bishop’s licence withdrawn?

P. W.


Please use email only: questions@churchtimes.co.uk


Wed 29 Jun @ 05:47
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