A Church Blessing: is a wedding ceremony, held in a church, chapel, temple, etc. usually after a civil marriage ceremony. (Sometimes, non-married couples have a blessing.) The most famous recent church blessing must be that of HRH Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. It is a common choice for divorcees, or for those who the church will not marry, to have a blessing of their union witnessed by family and friends.
History of Blessings:
Church weddings and blessings, in front of two witnesses, were initially introduced in European countries in the mid 1500’s, to discourage informal and secret marriages. Crucial to this was the “Council of Trent” (1545 AD) when Henry VIII of England nationalized the Church of Rome in England declaring himself as its head. (He wanted his marriage to his dead brother’s wife Catherine to be annulled upon her not bearing him a child. Rome declined! The Prodestant Reformation commenced.)
What is a Church Blessing:
Also called a “Holy Union”, it is a symbolic, celebratory, event that affirms a couple’s love for each other. It is usually a short ceremony that takes place after a civil wedding ceremony in a church. (Nowadays, it need not be held in a church.) It is a spiritual commitment to one another. A Blessing is not legally binding, i.e., it is not governed by laws.
A Traditional Church Blessing:
This is approximately 30 minutes. The bride and groom walk down the aisle together as husband and wife. It is performed by a priest or minister. The religious blessing may include religious hymns, prayers, songs and music.
A non-religious blessing, still conducted by a priest, minister, etc. in a non-religious setting will focus upon love, commitment to one another, honesty, integrity and sincerity.
Why have a Church Blessing:
With multi-cultural, interdenominational and inter-faith weddings this is an excellent compromise. The couple may get married in one religious tradition and have the blessing in the other. It is also the choice of divorcees.
Same sex (homosexual or lesbian) marriages may also be blessed in some churches. The Metropolitan Community Church has blessed same sex marriages since 1968.
Writing Your Own Wedding Vows:
You may choose to write your own wedding vows. If you have a church blessing, church or civil wedding, and want to find out more information on your wedding vows click on the following link: wedding vows.
Are There Any Legalities?
Usually a couple is required to be married and they will have to produce their marriage certificate. Having said that, non-married couples in some churches may still receive a blessing. Some couples request a pre-marriage blessing. You will need to speak to your local priest, vicar, minister, etc., to ascertain:
– the documentation required, e.g. marriage, divorce, death certificates
– is there a requirement for one of the couple to be baptized?
– is there a requirement to be a member of the church?
– is there a requirement to have attended the church in question?
– is there a requirement to attend pre-marital counseling?
What Arrangements Are Required?
The same arrangements are required as for a church wedding or civil marriage. Click on this link for your wedding timetable. It is usual for your blessing to be held on the same day as your civil wedding. However, some couples opt to hold their blessings a few days later.
How Much Does A Blessing Cost?
It depends upon the church, chapel, temple, etc. Costs I have researched vary from no fees at all to full wedding fees.
Finally, a church blessing may involve as much work as a church wedding. Do not be misguided in thinking it is an easier option!