Despite rumours to the contrary, marriage is alive and well in 2018. Over 90% of young people in the UK still aspire to marry and most will achieve this. Although the popular view is that marriages don’t last, two out of three first marriages last until one partner dies, and half of second or subsequent marriages also last a lifetime.
At the time of writing, the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, is about to happen. There will still be pageantry and ceremony, albeit on a less sumptuous scale than Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding in St Paul’s Cathedral. Diana’s fairy tale coach gripped TV audiences all over the world. Even staunchly Republican France (where Angela and I then lived) is still fascinated by royalty.
Of course, real life isn’t a fairy tale. A wedding ceremony begins a marriage relationship when the pledges sincerely made face many challenges.. The vows openly reflect this: ‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.’
Marriage is about action and commitment, not just words. Human love and marriages are not perfect, but they are definitely worth celebrating. The marriage service echoes the Bible, reminding us that God is love. He “invented” love, sex and marriage, which are gifts of God. Marriage also enriches society and strengthens community and family life.
A church wedding can be on any day of the week. We don’t have long waiting lists and they are usually easier and cheaper to book than reception venues. In many circumstances it’s possible for second marriages to be held in church now and churches also offer blessings after civil marriages. Changes to the law since 2008 have also made it much easier for those with personal or family connections with a parish to marry in a wide range of Church of England churches, as well as those currently living or worshipping there. Like other churches, we work hard to help make each wedding really special and unique for the bride and groom and their guests. We believe that weddings and marriage have a future. If we can help you or your loved ones, we’d be delighted to do so.
Rev Fred Olney