This is not an anti-church post, just a friendly prompt for you to consider what it is you really want from your ceremony.
"We aren't religious but we have opted for a church service because we don't want a hotel or register office/don't want to write our own vows/don't want to spend lots of money /do like church buildings/do want an easy option/do want a traditional looking service."
This is something I see a lot in bride forums, even just yesterday, and, I'm not going to lie, it makes me feel so sad. Let me explain why.
I am a lover of churches and cathedrals. From the tiny village churches to the grand ones, the buildings themselves are awe-inspiring. So many stories! On holidays or day trips my husband and I seek them out to visit. We love reading about their history! So I can totally see why couples would want to marry in one.
So what are the details? Well it depends on the type of church but here's some info for C of E:
There is a basic fee set by the Church of England of £550 but churches can charge additional to that. This doesn't usually include bells, choirs, certificates, vergers, Order of Service, flowers and so on and additional charges can be made for extra heating for example.
To marry in a church (depending on the type of church and where it is) you are legally required to have your banns read out. They are read over three Sundays during the three months before the wedding in both the parish church where you live and the church you are marrying in. If there's not enough time then a license is required which costs around £200.
You also need to build a connection with that church by attending services, usually for 6 months.
It is important to note that you cannot marry in a C of E church if you are a same sex couple. Divorcees need to speak with the vicar as some are not willing to marry divorcees. Your service and vows will be a Christian one and focused on what your marriage means in the eyes of God.
But Lisa, why does all that make you sad?
I am passionate about couples having a ceremony that is inclusive and that is all about their love, their story and what they believe, not all about things they or their guests don't believe in.
I want couples to know that celebrant-led ceremonies do not have to be quirky, wacky, loud or out there. They can be traditional, beautiful, quiet and reflective if that is what the couple want. Ring exchanges, candle lighting, singing...we do that too!
I believe in equality, and I think you do too, so why marry in a place that is not supportive of same sex marriage particularly if you are inviting any LGBTQ guests?
I want couples to know that humanist ceremonies can be held anywhere including deconsecrated churches and private chapels such as the magnificent Left Bank Leeds (see pics below) and the idyllic Thicket Priory (pics at bottom of page).
Left Bank Leeds
Humanist ceremonies don't have to cost you a fortune either - got a local pub or restaurant you both love or know someone with a nice garden? A farmer with a field?
My fee is £550, the same as the basic church fee. It includes friendship, support and guidance. It includes meeting me before your big day and telling me all the things that are important to you in your ceremony and your married life. It includes a completely bespoke ceremony, no set scripts. It includes handholding and making it all as simple as possible!
If a church service is for you, that is brilliant, and I am so happy that you have found a service you are excited about and looking forward to.
But if you are unsure, nervous about what a humanist ceremony entails or just plain confused, you are always welcome to contact me with any questions (and no obligation to book!).