You might recall that I’m getting married.
Well, last night we had our first meeting with the priest who’ll perform the ceremony, which was quite a big deal. (It means we now have a date!) However, as I’m not the slightest bit religious I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I was concerned that I might be forced to take some kind of bible quiz, after which, I’d be sternly informed that Magneto and Wolverine do not feature in the New Testament. With my Christian charade lying in tatters around me, I would then be asked to leave.
I’d briefly shaken hands with the priest last Christmas, when I went along to a candlelit carol service with my fiancée’s family. But as the service was so dimly lit, I only had a vague recollection of what he actually looked like. If I’d taken my foggy memory into a police e-fit session shortly afterwards, I probably would’ve come away with something resembling Father Lionel Fanthorpe, the biker priest who used to present Fortean TV. And that would’ve been no bad thing. To be honest, I’d probably feel more relaxed if the priest sat me down and started chatting about Erich von Däniken or a llama that hypnotises people when it spits in their faces.
Anyway, perhaps unsurprisingly, our priest wasn’t Father Lionel Fanthorpe. However, that aside, he was very warm and welcoming, and his good humour and extremely relaxed approach instantly put us at ease. The actual meeting itself involved my rambling through a long-winded account of our ‘love story’ (which the priest specifically asked me about, I should stress), the filling in of some forms, and being told lots of information about what happens next, and what we’ll be doing on the actual day. “You can do pretty much whatever you want,” the priest said with a wry smile. “I’ll make it legal.”
[I wondered if it would be legal to have a panda enter the church on a little steam train, holding a confetti balloon with the wedding rings inside. But that’s maybe a question for next time.]
So all in all, it wasn’t too bad. And even better, we weren’t signed up to marriage classes or instructed to regularly attend the Sunday service (although, we did say we’d probably pop in on the odd occasion – which seems fair). The only vaguely religious thing our priest said to us during the meeting was that we should use the next few months “to think about our faith”. I nodded solemnly, but the truth is: I don’t have any faith.
That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means that I felt a bit uncomfortable, and like a fraud, to be sat before a priest talking about our big church wedding. I couldn’t help wondering if he knew.
From my point of view, there’s no religious motivation for getting married in a church. It’s just an aesthetic decision. Churches are picturesque, characterful and historic (and they have bells!). The alternative is a civil ceremony in a beige conference facility, with a service that probably includes a full Powerpoint presentation. After the service, bells will sound twice (for five seconds) during a scheduled fire alarm test, and party favours will come in the form of branded pens, USB memory sticks and stress relievers in the shape of a tiered wedding cake.
So it simply has to be a church. And for the reasons I’ve mentioned above, I’m delighted that we’re getting married in a church (and ours looks wonderful). I’m just worried that I’m going to be rumbled as faithless interloper at the last minute, and cast out in front of my friends and family.
I once saw a documentary about a bloke with “Super Tourette’s” who shouted “We are the Knights who say Ni!” at the end of a hymn he was singing in church. I obviously wouldn’t wish to have Tourette Syndrome, but it might come in handy as an excuse if I decide to say something like “Moonpig.com!” instead of “Amen” at the end of every prayer. At least that way I won’t feel like such a fake.
Still, I’ll probably just play it straight. After all, that’s what most normal people do.
Thank you for this opportunity to blog, Dear Lord.
Meh, that wasn’t too bad.