Lucy and I were off this last weekend in The Emmaus Centre, helping lead an Engaged Encounter Weekend for couples planning weddings. They give each other a whole weekend to focus on the marriage rather than the wedding, in a Christian context. We really enjoy these weekends. We meet some fantastic people and always come back feeling, somehow, there is hope... It also feeds us both to share quality time far from the madding crowd talking through things that matter to our marriage. I always used to complain as a vicar about bureaucracy around ministry — on these weekends all that’s taken care of. It’s hard work but immensely rewarding. Amidst all the anxiety about marriage and family life, it’s good to light a candle rather than curse the dark, and we’re always the better for it.
Dave Walker tells of an Essex Vicar who is giving away free weddings this year. Assuming the financials be kosher, why not? I'm willing to confess I thought of doing this myself a few years ago, but bottled out. Wedding trimmings are lovely if they help people feel special, but I used to admire occasional couples who just got on with it, without all the extras.
I remember one couple in Reading where her mum (Jehovah’s Witness) pulled the plug on everything the week before. I asked them if they really wanted to get married whatever, and when they said yes, we did the lot gratis free and for nothing, including a bring and share reception in Church. Dad came and gave her away, whilst Mum and Chums stood at the bottom of the Church path. Didn’t tell the archdeacon.