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London - One of the worst weddings I’ve attended was held in a grand London hotel.The bride and groom were exquisite in Armani and after the registrar pronounced them man and wife, the 100 or so guests stood politely drinking Krug while a classical string quartet played discreetly in the background.
It was all in perfect taste. And yet it was excruciating - because at no point was real life allowed to intrude. There was no place at this wedding for embarrassing dancing, clichéd best man speeches or, indeed, any hint of raucousness whatsoever. It was all terribly restrained - and, as it turned out, terribly fragile, too.
Many years later, the bride told a mutual friend that even as she’d stood greeting the guests, she’d known, deep down, that the whole thing was an expensive charade.
She spent her honeymoon trying to ignore a hollow feeling of despair and less than two years later, she and her husband were rather acrimoniously divorced.
I thought of this couple when I heard this week about the Church of England’s decision to allow Posh and Becks-style weddings. The C of E aims to double the number of church weddings by adopting a more flexible approach.
(Reportedly, when Victoria and Beckham tied the knot, a purple flag initialed VBD (for Victoria, baby Brooklyn and David) was raised above the castle after the couple recited their vows; there were his ‘n' hers golden thrones at their reception; and a purple party suit for the groom. The topper had to be the nude sculpture of the happy couple crowning their wedding cake.)
In its new handbook for vicars, it suggests they consider allowing couples to reflect their interests - turning up at the altar in bike leathers or riding to church on horseback, choosing pop music or having their wedding rings delivered by owls.
Hands have been held up in horror at the prospect of - gasp! - such common behaviour being allowed in church. But actually, I think the dusty old C of E - which often strives so pathetically to be trendy - is right: anything that encourages couples to get married in church has to be better than the alternative, which is marrying elsewhere or not at all.
Because at least if you marry in church you have to go through some form of questioning and discussion with a vicar, someone who truly believes in the sanctity of marriage and the concept of love and duty.
And yes, you may only be going through the motions, secretly mocking the cassocked fool and his (or her) quaint rules and rituals. Possibly you don’t even believe in God, but simply want to get hitched in a beautiful old building with great acoustics and an ancient lychgate that’s perfect for wedding photos.
Yet I defy anyone to marry in church and not be touched, at some point, by the beauty of the service, the sincerity of the celebrant and the solemnity of the vows.
Indeed, the reason so many of us cry at church weddings is precisely because the ritual serves to highlight the seriousness - and bravery - of a lifelong undertaking.
And it doesn’t matter if you sweep down the aisle to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March or the Sugababes singing Here Come The Girls. As the Venerable John Barton, who helped compile the new guidelines, put it: ‘God does not only listen to Radio 3.’
Of course, choosing to marry in church is no guarantee of marital happiness or success. A marriage is, after all, a leap of faith. But a church is the best place to make that leap - whatever you’re wearing. - Daily Mail