Father Christopher Wood, the vicar of Waddington and West Bradford, explains why marriage is as popular today as it’s always been
The vicar of St Helen’s Church, Waddington, Fr Christopher Wood has no less than 40 weddings planned at the historic church over the next year – the church is in a beautiful setting in an idyllic country location.
But it is perhaps not the setting that is priority for couples about to tie the knot there – since he arrived at the church in February, Fr Christopher has forged a reputation for his vibrant personality and his assuring confidence giving couples the affirmation they are getting married for all the right reasons.
“Part of the personality of a church is the personality of the vicar,” says Fr Christopher, who has been touched by the warm welcome he has received from his parishioners. “Weddings provide an opportunity to welcome the people from the community and further afield to the church and make them feel comfortable.”
“I don’t have lots of do’s and don’ts when it comes to weddings. It’s my job to make things possible. I am willing to take any ideas on board.”
“We recently had a local farmer’s wedding – the couple left the church walking through an arch of bell ropes and out to a group of young farmers and an arch of pitch forks – it was wonderful!”
“I’ve also had a wedding with two full size cherry trees in the aisle and another where the floral arrangements were nine feet high! On the morning of the wedding we had to work out how the bridesmaids were going to get to their pew.”
“I just need to make sure that their big day is the most memorable day of their life. There is a knack to ensure everyone is relaxed.”
“The first half of the service is always very serious – but when we get to the stage where I point out that the couple are now legally married, it never fails to get a round of applause. During the second half of the service you can feel that any tension has disappeared and everyone is enjoying themselves.”
So, is marriage is as popular as it always was? “In the Ribble Valley that’s definitely a ‘yes’! The average age of couples nowadays is around 30 for a bride and 32 for a bridegroom,” says Fr Christopher. “It’s usually around the 10th anniversary of them being together when they realise that ‘this is it’. I think that’s a great thing.
“I say to couples who are getting married that they will go from here changed. I say, something different has happened now you are married – you will feel different about each other.”
Fr Christopher adds that he conducts blessings for civil marriages as well as ceremonies for already-married couples who want to renew their vows.
“There are a lot of couples who, when they reach a significant anniversary, want to renew their vows in church – it puts a spiritual importance into their relationship, which I think is wonderful.”