OSJ On Weddings

A crash course on (heterosexual) Weddings for those who have had no previous guidance.

A Costly Business.

The wedding industry is generally designed to strip as much money from couples as it possibly can and couples should be aware of this from the moment they embark on planning a wedding.  The industry has a multi-billion pound turnover and contributes little or nothing to helping keeping couples together if they face problems once married. 

Apparently a wedding is no longer about the 'getting married' but the party afterwards and all the additional and largely unnecessary trimmings that we are told we need and 'must have'. This is not what weddings are really about.  

To get some idea of just how brutal it is, for the average cost of a wedding (according to the National Office for Statistics) in 2020, you will be looking at over £32,000  which is massive investment that most couples can ill afford. 

However, all is not lost. There is some good news if you do your homework.

If you shop around you can some great products and hospitality services at a fair price.   Some hotels and venues offer value wedding packages for as little as £5,000 and whilst there might not be the same choice on offer they do a great job, but there is nothing to say you have to do things this way.  There are other alternatives available.

It's all about the good stewardship of your resources, sticking to a realistic and affordable budget, looking at 'need' rather than 'want', and having something to live on after 'the big day'. 
Weddings have got out of hand in terms of social expectation and costs but it doesn't have to be like that, even if the glossy magazines and media suggest otherwise.  It's not about putting on a great show or trying to match a friend's wedding but about sharing and celebrating a very special moment in a couple's life with family and friends.  That's what really matters.

Your real friends will appreciate just being a part of your day and will gladly accept whatever is on offer.  If they don't then they are not your real friends.

A wedding is about so much more, but it is just 'one' day in many, and there is no point in starting married life with big debts.  

It is often said that your wedding day should be the best day of your life.  This is absolutely not true and is perpetuated by the wedding industry and media who have a vested interested in you believing that lie.

A wedding day should not be 'the best day of your life'.  If it was then what have you got to look forward too?  The simple answer is that every day should be the best day of your life, and that is much more important, especially in a marriage.

Church Wedding:

Don't expect a lot of choice in your service.  Many churches have their own services and rules which have to be followed if you want to have your wedding on their premises.  You may get a choice with hymns and readings but don't expect much more.  Most marriage liturgies are fixed and you will get no choice as to wording.  That's the price you pay for using them.

One of the conditions you should be aware of is that most churches expect couples to be baptised.  If you are not baptised you should check what their rulings are on this.

On the matter of actual costs, be very clear about what is and isn't included in your service.  You may have some surprises in store when you find the organist, choir and church bells are not included and all have to be paid for separately.  Some churches charge a premium for the use of confetti and others don't allow it at all.  There used to be fixed charges for the use of the church, particularly those of the Church of England,  but these are now often advisory and they charge whatever they can get.  The basic rule seems to be the prettier the church, the more you will pay.

You should also check what restrictions there are on photography and videography.

Many churches expect you to be a member for at least six months and to attend services, even a pre-marriage course.

If you are divorced and getting re-married, not all churches will be sympathetic and may even turn you away.

Wedding Blessings:

A wedding blessing (a generic phrase which is used to cover a number of different types of services) can reasonably take place up to 12 months after a civil wedding (one conducted and recorded by registrars or other legally appointed persons), and it may take place in any suitable location.

After this period, a renewal or rededication of vows may be more appropriate.

The Blessing Itself:

Wedding blessings are very flexible and can follow a traditional denominational format (the full rite and sacrament of holy matrimony), or be completely re-written/adapted by the couple themselves under the guidance of an Order of St James (UK) priest, or be a blend of both.

Wedding blessings can also include baptism of children if the couple have been living together and have already started a family, and also may include a short form of communion or nuptial mass if requested.

Couples may also wish to include traditions from across the world. The use of unity candles and hand fasting are becoming increasingly popular and can be included appropriately. There are many such visual symbols of the coming together of a couple that can be easily be adapted.

The most important thing about a wedding blessing is that each couple makes the wedding blessing their own. It needs to be relevant, personal, and allow the couple to express their love, commitment, hopes and expectations to each other, to their family and friends, and to ask for and receive God's blessing.

It should also be fun and a real celebration of the joining of two lives in this way.

A Typical Wedding Blessing:

Services ideally should be between 35 - 55 minutes depending on what is included. There is no limit on the number of readings and hymns or other inclusions other than time, and it is perfectly acceptable for family and friends to contribute in some way.

At least one reading from the bible should be used as part of a wedding blessing but readings can come from other sources, always providing that they are appropriate.

You may meet as many time as you wish and a final rehearsal with your OSJ (UK) priest or celebrant is always a good idea. He or she will go through all the service details and walk you through the ceremony with you to help make sure that nothing has been overlooked and that you will be relaxed and able to fully enjoy this very special day.

Component Structures:

The blessing of a wedding usually contains several basic elements and may be structured as below although there are many other forms which may be used. (Hymns and readings have been omitted for clarity.)

• Introduction and welcome

• Declarations of commitment to each other by the couple

• Giving the family blessing (replacing what used to be called 'giving away')

• The offering of support and encouragement by family and friends

• The vows or re-affirmation of promises

• The blessing and exchange of rings (optional)

• The blessing of the couple and prayers

• Communion/Nuptial Mass if required

• Closing blessings

A Dedication:

A dedication is a church service following a civil service and is little more than prayer, a hymn or two perhaps, an agreement to stand by your civil vows, and a blessing.


There is no obligation to exchange rings at either a civil service or a church service.  It is not a legal requirement but a matter of tradition and personal choice/preference.