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Church tips for simpler weddings

12 February 2007 (BBC)

Couples getting married should spend less and think green when planning their big day, according to the Church of England.

A new Church guide says the true meaning of marriage is becoming lost in a spiralling culture of spending.

It advises brides to travel to the church in a taxi, wear a fair-trade dress, and get guests to bring their own alcohol.

And it says weddings should also aim to be more environmentally friendly.

Recent figures suggest the average cost of a wedding in the UK has now reached £17,000, with the bride's dress alone costing an estimated £826.

Former Relate counsellor the Revered Andrew Body, who penned the new guide, believes the Church has a duty to "blow the whistle" on this out-of-control commercialism.


The pocket-sized book, called Making the Most of Weddings, advises couples to embrace a more simplistic approach to their nuptials.

And as well as saving money, he says they can prevent their happy day costing the earth by adopting green principles.

For example, the bride's dress could be made from fairly-traded material or could even come from a charity shop and the wedding list itself could allow guests to donate to good causes.

Friends and family could provide their own drinks and instead of a limousine or horse-drawn carriage to get to the church on time, the bride could travel by a taxi or hitch a ride.

Mr Body has conducted more than 500 weddings in his 35 years as an Anglican priest.

In the book, he writes: "Increasingly, people are asking about how their wedding can save the natural world and be a blessing not only to them but to God's world."

The more creative suggestions contained in the guide come from Karen Holford, the former chair of Churches Together for Families.

The guide, which reminds couples that a wedding should be about a public commitment before God, also advises on the right hymns and vows to choose, and the role of church ministers.


The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, commended its "can do" attitude.

He said: "Marriage is absolutely fundamental to our human life and therefore, to society's health. Couples need every possible help an encouragement to walk this path.

"The Church is brilliantly placed to provide that assistance. There is a great deal here to encourage and help all congregations to assist couples at the start of their married life."

"Blogging" vicar the Rev Jan Harney, who writes on www.newlyweds-uk.com, also praised the book.

She said: "Andrew has drawn together a wealth of expertise and good practice, wrapped in a heart-warming blend of pastoral concern and sound business sense."

Other ideas in the guide include:

* Buy second hand rings or use ones handed down through the family

* Make your own invitations on recycled paper

* Use silk flowers rather than real ones and give them to a nursing home after the service

Making the Most of Weddings - A Practical Guide for Churches is available from Christian bookshops at £6.99.

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