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Article:  Rev. Lesley Hewish

We are having a surge of weddings in 2024 which is bucking all the national trends. In North Nibley we have five and the same in Wotton.Rev Lesley Hewish

Church weddings have been in decline for years for a variety of reasons. And yet, here I am with ten weddings in our church diary. Thankfully, I don’t need to take them all. Our associate priest Peter Marsh has been requested for most of the Nibley ones. These are all local couples, so there is a connection between them and Peter, a connection between their family and our beautiful church next to the primary school where they used to go for special services for Easter and Christmas as children. The Church feels like the right place to go for their wedding. It is a community space, and they have a relationship with it.

In Wotton, quite a few of our weddings this year are for couples who live some distance away. Often the wedding reception venue is selected and then they look for a local church in which to ‘tie the knot’.

Now this creates an opportunity that our local couples miss out on. If you want to get married in a church but don’t live in the parish or don’t have a parent or grandparent who live in the parish then you don’t have what is called a ‘qualifying connection’. The alternative way to ‘qualify’ to be married in our church, is for the couple to attend services for six months before their wedding. Now you would think this would be a significant ‘put off’, but it seems to be quite the opposite.

Pretty much every week, there is a wedding couple joining our congregation for the morning service. I love it.  They sometimes bring other family members, they get to know our wider congregation, they get to know the spiritual space in which they are going to married. We get to know them, and they get to know us. They get to experience what it means to worship God; they hear the words spoken, the songs sung, the prayers said, and the word preached, and we build a relationship with them over that time. They get to experience what church is really about.

Wedding couple, St Marys Aug 2022.

Danielle and Adrian. St Marys Aug 2022.

 

When these wedding couples finally arrive at their wedding day, they are deeply rooted in the church in which they will say their marriage vows. When they walk through our church doors on their special day, they are stepping into a sacred space to which they belong and feel connected.

So why are some wedding couples deciding to choose a church rather than a stately home or a tythe barn? A church is a place you can return to whenever you want. It is a community space. A space to celebrate a wedding anniversary, or for the blessing of a child. It is space that is more than just a venue. It’s the house of God in a community where all are welcome.