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Inter-Faith Blessings & Support

Wedding Celebrant and Workplace Chaplain

 

WEDDINGS WITH MEANING!

Hello.

My name is Graham Wilson, and I'm an ordained interfaith minister.  I would love to create and conduct a wedding with meaning, just for you!


This is the most important day in your life!  Why compromise?

Lots of couples say they feel uncomfortable with traditional approaches to marriage - especially in Britain.

  • Registry Office weddings are tightly controlled for time, allow very little freedom of expression, and forbid any mention of anything religious or spiritual.

  • Church weddings follow a quite rigid pattern, usually only allowing their own religion to be mentioned, and many priests are reluctant to marry anyone other than regular church-goers.

Less than 1% of the population attend church, and yet more than 2/3rds of people in Britain say they believe in some kind of 'higher' power or Spirit.  Could you be one of that vast majority?  If so, and you'd like to celebrate your wedding in a meaningful way, and not be constrained by convention.... CALL ME.

 

SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...

ARE YOU PREPARED TO TRAVEL?

Yes, I am happy to travel almost anywhere to help you.  So far, I have performed blessings in a French chateau, a beach in Portugal, a Scottish hillside, a Cornish hotel, and a villa in Marrakech.  Most ceremonies though were dotted throughout England in hotels, fields, and gardens.

HOW FAR AHEAD DO WE NEED TO BOOK YOU?

PLEASE contact me as soon as you can.  I usually have confirmed bookings as much as eighteen months ahead.  I am happy to hold a date on receipt of a booking form and deposit but prefer to meet beforehand.  Obviously summer and autumn are more popular than spring and winter (except early January).

WHAT IS THE LEGAL STATUS OF A WEDDING BLESSING?

PLEASE read the detail on my site below - there's plenty of information there.  Lots of people in the UK find the idea of a separate Civil Registration and Spiritual Blessing confusing.  Throughout Europe the two have always been separate.  There is nothing particularly unusual about this - even Prince Charles had a separate civil registration and spiritual blessing.  The legally binding part is the civil registration.  The spiritual blessing can take almost any form, be held almost anywhere, and can be created uniquely for you.

CAN YOU REALLY PERFORM A BLESSING OUTDOORS?

Yes.  It is only the Civil Registration that has to take place within a licensed premises.  The spiritual blessing can take place anywhere, though different Faith groups have their own rules for members of their congregation.  Most of the couples that I support have a simple civil registration and follow this, either on the same day or later, with the spiritual blessing that we create together.

WHAT ABOUT THE RINGS?

The Civil Registration does NOT have to include an exchange of rings.  Most couples choose to exchange rings in the blessing instead and to use them as symbols of the spiritual bond that exists between them, rather than the legal one!

 

MORE INFORMATION...

What kind of people can I help?

  • The majority are people who have never really engaged with an established Faith, for any one of many reasons, yet who have a sense of the spiritual and want to reflect this in their marriage service.

  • There are people who want far more control over the content, format, and style of their wedding, but also to retain a sense of the 'Holy'.

  • Some people would like to draw on more than one Faith in their celebration:

    • Maybe their personal sense of the spiritual is of a universal God that transcends the boundaries of individual faiths

    • Perhaps they come from different backgrounds and are excluded from their own faith by their choice of partner but want to honour both in their celebration

    • Perhaps they have travelled widely and feel an affinity with other cultures as well as their own

  • Some have been divorced and others can't marry in a church because they are gay or lesbian.

In essence, most of the people who draw on an InterFaith approach do so because their own beliefs don't fit with an established Faith, but they still want to seek some support from a higher Force for their relationship.

 

   

"We knew we wanted something meaningful and different, but we didn't know where to start. Graham's understanding of our situation, together with his warmth, sincerity and gentle guidance helped us to create a ceremony that was memorable, special and perfect for us."

Sue and Peter

   

 

A historical problem and a modern answer...

In the UK, as a result of the divorce needs of Henry VIII, the state and the church became intimately linked.  Our Head of State is also the Head of the State Church and takes the title 'Defender of the Faith'.

With the exception of the Vatican state, nowhere else in the world does this situation exist.  However, in the UK, the only people who can perform a state-recognised WEDDING are Home Office appointed Registrars and Anglican Priests.

All non-conformist (ie non-Anglican) ministers actually perform a WEDDING BLESSING, though most will still be constrained by the traditions of their particular church or Faith.

Throughout Europe, however, where the state does not regulate the Church, there's a two stage approach, registration and then blessing.  And you can do the same.

Sadly, lots of couples don't realise this, and you'll often hear them say later, "It was over so quickly, one minute we were all waiting nervously, the next we were on the steps outside, with more people queuing.  Sure we had a reception, but it just felt a bit flat.  A real anti-climax."

Well, there's no need to join them.  With the two-stage, European,  approach, the couple attend a Registry Office, complete the formal procedure and then have a wedding blessing of their choice either on the same day or very soon after.

By choosing an interfaith blessing, you have complete freedom in the design of your ceremony.

   

"We wanted a ceremony that was personal to us, our relationship and our family.  Graham seemed to understand from the start exactly what we were looking for and helped us to consolidate our ideas.  On the day he presided over a service more beautiful than we could have imagined.  He was wonderful."

Claire, Michael and Daisy

   

 

What does an InterFaith wedding blessing contain?

There are probably no two blessings that will be the same.  In almost every case, we will craft something together that precisely reflects the couple's needs.

The significant difference about an Interfaith blessing is that it accommodates differences (in Faith, lifestyle choice, and previous circumstances) and still recognizes and draws on the Divine in the relationship.  This is not something that most Faiths can offer.

We can include favourite verses, appropriate songs and chants, words that mean something to you, and NOT ones that upset you.  We may have a small intimate gathering or a massive public event.  We can exchange rings, other tokens, or nothing at all.  We may make vows (and if we do, then the couple has complete freedom over the words), or we may not.  If the couple want to involve other people, then they can do so in many creative ways.

The ceremony doesn't have to happen in neat rows of chairs, nor does it have to be 'in the round', people can be standing, sitting, formal or informal.  There are no constraints on dress style either.

If all these choices frighten you, don't panic.  I've lots of ideas, and a good feel for what works and what doesn't, we'll talk things through and craft a ceremony that suits you (and the people around you).

 
   

"Graham's thoughtful advice before the big day, his calm and caring aura on the day plus his heartfelt words of wisdom gave what was a very special event for us even greater meaning and depth."

Rob and Clerio

   

 

Where do blessings take place?

Anywhere you can persuade me to conduct one!*

Some couples have a special place that they wish to use.  Typical examples would include a home, hospital or hospice (so that a close relative can be present), particularly beautiful places (ranging from a woodland glade to a mountain top), hotels, castles, National Trust properties, on board boats (at sea, on a river or perhaps aboard a canal narrow-boat), in public places (parks and gardens are popular), or family-friendly and economical centres when they have a particularly large group to accommodate (such as holiday villages).

For those who want a traditional 'English', church wedding-style ceremony there are many private chapels that are available for hire.

* Although I am reasonably adventurous, I have my own spiritual values, and there are probably a few circumstances where I would question whether the choice was because the place had meaning or was simply for effect, but each situation is different so we'd need to talk it through.

 

 

"We had ideas as to what we didn't want our wedding to be, but crystallising what we did want was far more difficult until Graham's involvement.  Graham helped us to develop an idea of what the day should look like.  We especially wanted to personalise our promises to each other, and to involve our friends and family so that they all became a special part of the day.  Thanks to Graham this was achieved in a wonderful way."

Kaye and Nick

 

   

 

If we decide we like this idea, what will we need to do?

To begin with, just give me a call (07785 222380) or email me (graham@inter-faith.net).  If you already have a date in mind, let me know, and if I can't make that date, I can always refer you to one of the other 100+ interfaith ministers in the UK who might be able to help.

It's vital that you feel comfortable working with me, so the first step is for us to meet and learn a bit about each other.  I'll try to find out a bit about your expectations and needs.  I'll also be trying to understand your thoughts and feelings about Faith and spirit so that I can make sure that the ceremony will be right for you.  Unless it involves extensive travelling, THIS MEETING IS FREE AND WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION EITHER WAY. 

(If distances are too great, I will suggest that we have a conversation on the phone first, for you to decide if you are happy to proceed.)

We will then have two more meetings.  At these we will do three things:

  • We will talk through all the wonderfully creative aspects of the ceremony, and a shape will evolve that I'm sure will be right for you.

  • We will identify the others involved, and the detail of their contributions.

  • I will present you with a draft of the ceremony, to give you a proper feel for the detailed flow, for us to iron out any aspects you aren't comfortable with, and for you to explore any words that I might have used so that you are happy there too.

During the meetings, I will also ask you to explore your relationship a little too.  We all want the ceremony to be the next step in a long and fruitful time together, but sadly one in three marriages these days ends in divorce.  We can at least try to spot any possible tough spots and explore how you'll handle them.  There is a lot of evidence that a few simple open and honest conversations at this stage can significantly help cement the relationship in the future.  One couple summed up the discussion later:

"It was amazing how much we had assumed about each other, how much we had our own ideas about the future that hadn't been explored together.  In just a couple of hours it was as if we had got a whole new level to our relationship."

(If we find there's a bit more to explore in the relationship than we'd thought, don't worry.  We can always arrange an additional couple counselling session separately to avoid it getting in the way of planning the wedding.  Some couples need it, some don't and some just think it's an interesting idea.  Whichever, the choice is up to you.)

 

   

"Graham's guidance, patience and open mind was invaluable in helping us create a blessing that was unique to us - that truly reflected our relationship, values and aspirations for marriage.  He was a pleasure to work with - an inspiration both on the day and leading up to it.""

Karen and Nick

 

   

 

Usually, two meetings are all that are needed to plan the day.  You'll find I am very laid-back about 'performing' and some of that will hopefully rub-off if necessary.  For most ceremonies, we will have a short practice beforehand on the day, and that will be plenty.  Of course, a more elaborate event might warrant a dress rehearsal and if so we can arrange that too.

On the day then, we'll meet at the pre-arranged time, explore the venue a little together, and have a run through.  You'll have some time for quiet together, and I will have a little time to prepare myself, guests will arrive, and a wedding with meaning will unfold around us.

 

   

"Suffice to say the day went spectacularly well, in fact it was brilliant, better than we'd ever hoped, not least because of your input both in the build-up and the ceremony!"

Paula and Dave

   

 

More information, please?

The easiest thing to do is pick up a phone and give me a call (07785 222380).  I can probably answer most doubts or questions on the spot.  But you can also give the rest of this site a browse.  You'll find all sorts of other information here.

A lot of people find it reassuring to know a little more about me.  Click here to see a brief profile.  If you'd like to know a bit more about interfaith generally, click here to download an introductory brochure.

A wedding with meaning needn't be expensive.  For details of my current rates, click here.

 

2003-8 Rev Dr Graham Wilson

This page was last updated on 21/01/2008

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