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New book challenges 'spend spend spend' culture of weddings

 

Get me to the church on time… even if it’s in a taxi

Buying your wedding dress from a charity shop and giving it back afterwards, inviting your guests to bring a bottle, and arriving at the church as part of a flower parade or in a taxi are all suggestions included in a new book published today by the Church of England. Among other things, the book aims to debunk the idea that weddings need to cost thousands of pounds. With St Valentine’s Day just a few days away, the Church of England is using the book to remind couples that their wedding day need not cost the earth – and that the real investment has to be made in the relationship itself.

In addition to the tips on saving money on the events of the big day, Making the Most of Weddings offers ideas for arranging an environmentally friendly wedding, such as using organic food for the wedding breakfast or fairly-traded materials for the dress, or arranging the wedding list with a charity.

The pocket-sized book, by former Relate counsellor the Revd Andrew Body - who has conducted more than 500 weddings in 35 years as an Anglican priest - also gives a wealth of practical tips for churches keen to make the most of holding weddings, from the moment the couple approach the vicar, through to remembering the anniversary of their big day. Written primarily as a book for church ministers, it also provides a range of ideas for couples who want to take advantage of the various wedding service options – which hymns to choose, how the bride should enter the church, which vows to use – and the book includes a handy checklist designed to prompt questions for the vicar.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, commends the book’s ‘can do’ attitude: “Marriage is absolutely fundamental to our human life and, therefore, to society’s health. Couples need every possible help and encouragement to walk this path. The Church is brilliantly placed to provide that assistance... There is a great deal here to encourage and help all congregations to assist couples at the start of their married life”.

Against a backdrop of recent figures suggesting the average cost of a wedding in the UK is now £17,000, Andrew Body believes the Church has a duty to “blow the whistle on commercialism”. His more ‘creative’ suggestions, drawn from ideas collected by Karen Holford, former chair of Churches Together for Families, are aimed at giving couples - and the churches that play a major part in their wedding day - a sense of the options open to them, that will help keep the focus on the wedding as a public commitment to their relationship with each other, and with God.

The Revd Jan Harney, a member of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists and the Church of England’s first wedding website ‘blogging vicar’ (at www.newlyweds-uk.com), comments: “Andrew has drawn together a wealth of expertise and good practice, wrapped up in a heart-warming blend of pastoral concern and sound business sense.”

Making the Most of Weddings – A practical guide for churches (ISBN 978 07151 4125 0) ispublished by Church House Publishing, priced £6.99, and is available from Christian bookshops including Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel. 020 7799 4064, email, or on the web (mail order available).