We are off to a wedding today. It is going to be a huge joy to share in Laura and Richard’s special day, notwithstanding what looks like very damp weather. There will be laughter and tears, meeting of old friends and new, and all the other good things that go to make up a wedding day. We have long looked forward to this wedding and we wish them every joy and happiness in this new phase of their life together.
They asked me to take their wedding service. I would have loved to have done it. But, of course, I can’t. I don’t think there is any reason why I could not be permitted to do so legally, but the cathedral would not allow it; it would be read as a political action cocking a snook at the bishop. I wouldn’t ever have milked it in that way, but that is the fear.
I shall be honoured and thrilled to read the lesson and to be part of the choir – but it saddens me that a couple that I have known for some years can’t have the priest they want preside when they marry each other. They are not alone. Another couple at the other end of the country who are getting married later this year in a large cathedral wanted me to take the service. They were told that it would not be allowed – the cathedral authorities might have countenanced it, but they dare not agree because of the attitude of the diocesan bishop.
These couples don’t seem to think that my marriage will spoil theirs, as the Church of England does, or that it will make their “learning the disciplines of marriage more difficult to acquire”. They positively want me to do this service for them. I have married hundreds of couples over the years, and I loved the preparation and the day itself. I see Kate Bottley joyously sharing photos online of herself with the couples she marries and wonder if I will ever again be allowed that part of my ministry.