In order to get married in our chosen venue, the chapel of our Alma mater, we had to achieve 2 things. The first was to obtain a special licence for the wedding, which although a mere formality as we are both alumni, was still an interesting experience. The second was to attend a marriage course together.
The special licence to wed in a religious building other than a parish church is granted by the faculty office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. They are granted under powers that he and is predecessors have exercised since 1533. Essentially there was some form filling and permission granting followed by a visit to Westminster Abbey to swear an affadavit (legally binding confirmation that the information we gave was correct) and then we had our licence. It will be posted to our Chaplain in May 2009 and at the wedding we shall be given the sealed certificate along with our marriage certificate.
The marriage course was a little more time consuming. Our Chaplain was happy for us to carry this out at our local parish church rather than with him, so we visited our church and discovered that a marriage course was about to start. It was to be a locally run version of a national course, which consisted of seven sessions using a video & handouts. Although there were several other couples also doing the course, all discussion was done privately within each couple. The course is run by Nicky & Sila Lee and we ended up doing the course for married couples rather than the marriage preparation course, but as we have been together for 7 years we had faced all of the issues contained in the course, except for the week relating to children.
I have written on my blog about some of the sessions which I found particularly helpful, which I will direct you to at the end of the post if you are interested, as I know that many brides are not planning religious weddings. We did gain an enormous amount of skills for marriage though, nothing to do with religion, including better communication and listening skills, relating to each other more effectively and a better idea of how each other reacted to problems, as well as how well we knew each other. These tools have proved enormously helpful to us, especially in the current economic situation, where I definitely have to find a new job (to start the month before the wedding, how about that for good timing) and financial management has become ever more important. That’s not to say that we found the course easy though, as I for one found the constant analysing a strain, but I certainly found it helpful.
The course also really emphasised to us why we are getting married. A long time ago M and I went on a surfing trip to Cornwall. In fact, the one I wrote about here. On that trip we were sitting with our surf boards on the beach when a film crew approached us and asked if they could interview us about our thoughts on weddings and marriage. M responded that he thought it was an excellent reason for an enormous party. Well, to an extent he is still right. It is about the party for all our family and friends to celebrate the commitment we are making to each other. But it is also more than that and our wedding day will be the start of the rest of our lives, in which we need to work as a partnership, two wholes making a better whole together. So yes, the theme and the dress and the details are important, but not as important as the vows we make to each other in front of God (if you choose) and our family and friends. So I am glad that our Chaplain insisted on the course and I would encourage anyone to take part in one if they have the option.
Marriage course posts here.