There are between 20 and 30 wedding services each year in the Anglican churches of St. Mary, St. Peter and St. George. By marrying in church the couples are expressing a clear choice for a service which, while fulfilling all the legal criteria, also places everything within a Christian understanding of marriage. This is outlined in the words of introduction to the Church Of England Marriage Service:
A wedding is one of life’s great moments, a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy. St John tells us how Jesus shared in such an occasion at Cana, and gave there a sign of new beginnings as he turned water into wine.
Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship, as his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and in bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses.
On this their wedding day the bride and bridegroom face each other, make their promises and receive God’s blessing. You are witnesses of the marriage, and express your support by your presence and your prayers. Your support does not end today: the couple will value continued encouragement in the days and years ahead of them.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13.4-7
The service includes prayers and readings, hymns, vows and promises and the exchange of rings by the couple, the blessing of the marriage and its formal registration through the issuing of the wedding certificate. Provision can and often is made actively to involve family and friends in the service.
Nowadays many places are licensed for wedding services. People are very often pleasantly surprised both as to the depth and meaning of the Church of England Marriage Service and the more practical considerations such as cost and flexibility in the use of a large building.
The clergy at St. Peter’s, St. Mary’s and St. George’s make bookings for weddings up to 18 months or more in advance. They are always pleased to talk with any couple thinking about marrying in church, or those who may wish for a service of blessing in church following a civic wedding, and also couples who would like to mark a significant wedding anniversary with a service of thanksgiving in church.