There was a time when I would tell you that I preferred taking a funeral to a wedding any time. If pressed further, I would claim that it is because of the "why they are here" dimension of it all and yes, there are a few couples who seem to favour the pretty pictures and only God-lite.
But only a few.
I have just finished conducting a cracking wedding here. It was life-giving for me, and I think that it might have been for the assembled crowd too. We laughed a lot, and even the forecast and inevitable rain stopped a very helpful four minutes before the bride emerged from the antique Roller. The power of prayer, I tell you ...
As I pondered the increasing queue for the loo post-nuptials (and my word, what a lengthy queue it was for the single Necessarium in the building) it occurred to me that I might have been characteristically harsh on weddings. In the first place, the couple chose us - we didn't choose them. We had the honour of saying "yes" to them. Within the myriad options that exist for couple these days, that a pair would choose us is not to be taken for granted. Then they invited their friends and family to a place that they have grown comfortable with through the time of preparations - and a group of people who were complementary of the church and of the service. They gave us a go too.
I reflected too upon some of the weddings I have been privy too that have not been in a church setting. Some are exquisite and meaningful affairs, but many are not. Taking God out of the equation leaves you with a book to sign and person in a suit to work out how to stretch that moment out beyond three or four minutes. The fact is, churches are gifted in this ministry - we have had lots of practice I guess.
As with funerals, we as priests get (DV) one go to take our place in realising a meaningful moment in someone's earthly existence. They needn't come to us, but they do, and we should be glad of the opportunity. They choose hymns and sing them, they choose Scripture and pray the prayers. I have also noticed a new level of creativity on the part of couples. They know well what they want and envisage every moment in detail. It seems to me a great opportunity, once again, to enable - as distinct from chuntering about proper music in church. I have witnessed some fantastic things this year in the weddings I have conducted - some true creativity and expression, and I am at peace with all of it (mostly). In fact, I am learning a thing or two along the way. In the middle of these remarkable ceremonies, with all the quirky touches and questionable rhyme, there is a couple, God, and love.
You can't want for more than that, surely.