St Thomas à Becket welcomes couples who wish to discuss getting married or having a marriage blessing in church.
You want get married?
Marriage is one of the most momentous decisions that we make in the course of our life. When we decide to get married, there is alot of planning to be done, but before becoming too engrossed in practical details, it is worth taking time to consider what marriage is truly about.
A marriage is a new partnership. Literally, 'two become one flesh1. No longer can decisions be made about what I want, or what I like, it becomes a case of what we want to do together. Marriage involves a new way of living, and a new way of thinking. Any marriage in which either partner is only looking for personal satisfaction is not going to be a happy marriage. It has to be a relationship bonded upon mutual love.
The marriage service offers three reasons for getting married:
Mutual friendship, comfort and support, in good times as well as in bad.
A physical and sexual relationship within the security of a monogamous relationship in which there can be absolute trust and confidence.
In order to provide a stable family unit in which to bring up children.
The marriage relationship is the basic unit of society. It helps to create order and harmony in our dealings with other people. It is when marriage and family life begin to disintegrate that society itself is put under threat. Marriage provides the framework for our own, and other people's well-being.
You give and receive a wedding ring to remind yourself, and other people, of the new relationship that exists between you.
At your wedding you will make serious promises: that you will love one another, and put each other first in every situation. Your vows provide a fitting summary of this commitment:
'With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you.'
There are no exceptions. In marriage, every part of life is to be shared. For every couple this will require thought and discussion.
Marriage is certainly not intended as a straightjacket. A strong and happy marriage provides a great deal of liberation. It is a solid base on which to relate to your wider family and friends. Of course, in all human relationships, there will be problems to overcome. These need to be faced up to when they occur, and resolved.
If you choose to get married in church, you are adding an extra dimension to your wedding. By asking for God's blessing, you are acknowledging that there is a spiritual dimension to life, and that you want God's help and love within your relationship. It serves as a reminder of the importance of remembering that God is always with us, and the importance of prayer. It is worth taking time to learn to pray together, as a couple.
The structure of the service is as follows: The minister reminds the congregation of the Christian understanding of marriage. We ascertain that there are no legal objections to your marriage. We establish that you want to get married to each other. You make your promises to each other, and exchange rings as a token of your commitment. The minister declares that you are married. We ask for God's blessing upon your marriage
Before you can get married, there are certain legal requirements which have to be fulfilled. You cannot get married if:
a) You are too young.
b) You are already married.
c) You are too closely related.
d) You are a certified lunatic.
Before your wedding, you have to obtain proof of your eligibility either by obtaining a Certificate of Banns, or a Special Licence. Your priest will be pleased to help you.
Your wedding has to be conducted within a recognised legal framework, and you will be given a wedding certificate.
You will probably have lots of questions about your wedding service. You will need to decide on your choice of hymns and music, and which set of vows you feel are appropriate for you. Please ask for help and advice.
What is important is that your wedding is special for you. It should be a day that you will always look back on with pleasure, so we must make it as meaningful for you as we possibly can.
Even the best of marriages have problems, and it is quite unrealistic to think that you will never argue or disagree. Every couple has to work out a new way of living, which may involve completely re-thinking many aspects of your own life-style which you have always taken for granted. It is worth persevering, and seeking advice when you need it, either from older friends or family, or one of the marriage support agencies.
Before you get married, it is essential that you decide for yourself that you are doing the right thing. Do you really love your partner sufficiently to spend the rest of your lives together? If you are at all unsure, delay your wedding until you know that you are doing the right thing.
A broken engagement may be traumatic, but it is much less painful than a divorce.