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Singing the praises of a church wedding


In an age where the institution of marriage is seen by some as outdated, it never fails to amaze me how much time, effort and money is put into the planning of a wedding by young couples.

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No stone is left unturned as they book photographers, videographers, make-up artists, dress fittings and venues for both the wedding and the recovery show the next day.

Not many of these weddings take place in a church, even if one, or both, of the couple is Catholic, or of Catholic heritage.

It would have been unheard of to get married outside a church in my parents’ era and it was still rare in my younger days, but times have changed and the lure of an outdoor wedding at a scenic vineyard or garden setting is hard to resist.

Of course, the primary concern is that many young people raised in the Catholic faith are not looking at marriage as a sacrament and the sacred union of two people, but it also worries me that we are not doing a very good job of marketing our churches as a good place for a wedding.

We just assume that most young people won’t want to marry in a church and that those who do will find their way there without any help.

While any wedding is a joyful occasion, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a father, or mother, walk their daughter down the church aisle.

And yet you rarely see vision of this in the secular media by chance or design. When is the last time you saw a print or online advertisement for a church as a wedding venue?

The sacrament of marriage is a key opportunity for those young people raised Catholic but no longer practising their faith to reconnect with the Church. The reconnection might be fleeting but it is better than nothing.

For a start, a church wedding involves meeting a priest or deacon, which the bride and groom may not have done since they left school (if it was a Catholic one). It also might give them a sense of belonging to the local parish and the broader faith community that helped make them the people they are today.

At the blessing of significant wedding anniversaries in our parishes last month, it was evident how important it was for these couples to celebrate with their faith communities. Indeed, some couples were married in the same church that they worship in today.

Even if only one partner is Catholic or a regular Mass-goer, there is a deep respect for their spouse’s faith. As one former Crows premiership coach was heard to say when he accompanied his wife to his second blessing in a year (once on the day of their 50th anniversary and once for the annual anniversaries blessing), ‘if I’m not careful they’ll make me a life member’!

Just as inspiring as the celebration of milestone anniversaries was the way Tricia and Daryl Hicks showed what a great team they are, as a couple and a family, when Daryl was inducted into the SANFL Hall of Fame last month.

With Daryl’s health problems restricting his ability to respond, Tricia showed courage and humour as she spoke on her husband’s behalf in front of 600 people and also gave him the opportunity to speak for himself.

They are a fine example of living the vows ‘to have and to hold…in sickness and in health’; vows taken in the presence of God and witnessed by family and friends on their wedding day.

It’s not a bad way to start a marriage – as part of a community and with a little help from God.

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