An interview with a Reverend

Jun 10, 2020 | Wedding advice & ideas

I hope you’ve been enjoying the ‘An interview with’ blog series, I have loved chatting with suppliers from all across the wedding industry and I’ve learnt some really interesting facts. If you know anyone planning their special day, be sure to share the series with them as it’ll certainly provide an insight!

Throughout the entire series, it is today’s blog that I’ve probably learnt the most as when it comes to Church weddings there are some things I have always wanted to know, for example, I now finally know what the banns reading are and I’ve learnt more about the ’stole’ worn by priests on wedding days and what they signify. I want to say a huge thank you to Reverend Rod Reid for taking part in the interview and for sharing his wisdom.

Having worked alongside Rod during wedding and christening services over the years I particularly love the way he conducts a service keeping them light-hearted and even throwing in an occasional joke here and there. Rod has a charismatic personality and is a joy to be around and I can see why so many couples choose to wed in his churches.

One thing I love about working with Rod is that he allows photography during the ceremony, something that is not allowed in every church. So when booking your church for your wedding be sure to ask the question if photography is allowed because to many couples, photography plays such an important part in their day.

If you’re currently looking for the church for your wedding ceremony I’m sure Rod would love to hear from you, you can get in touch with him via the church website here.

Reverend Rod Reid answers your wedding related questions:

TELL US YOUR STORY

Well, I am married (nearly 17 years) and we have two young children. I am presently a Vicar in the Church of England and have been for nearly 10 years. Before that, I used to be a Meteorologist (weather forecaster!) with the Press Association. I loved that job and had worked hard for years to get there but things were to change. In my mid-20s I first began to feel that I had a different calling. After several years figuring that out, and 3 more training, I was ordained in 2011. I am passionate about ministry, and meeting people, particularly hearing their stories and sharing in their stories.

WHAT CHURCHES DO YOU WORK AT?

Presently, I look after two churches, St Mary’s Bocking and Panfield Church. Panfield is a smaller church but with so much character in a lovely community and with a traditional churchyard around it. In contrast, St Mary’s in Bocking is a big building with so much history attached to it, and plenty of open grounds that make it even more picturesque. Many people are often overwhelmed when they see the building as it is surrounded by walls that are older than the church itself, dating back some 1000yrs, the present building is about 600yrs old. In fact, some of our younger visitors think they are visiting a castle!

HOW MANY COUPLES HAVE YOU WED OVER THE YEARS?

Prior to being in my present post, I finished my training at Waltham Abbey Church, another church full of history and another one where there are lots of weddings. I was there for 3 years and with my time in Bocking and Panfield, I have had nearly 10yrs in ministry, so I must have conducted nearly 200 weddings, if not a little more.

HOW LONG IS A TYPICAL CHURCH OF ENGLAND WEDDING SERVICE?

Most weddings are around 30-40 minutes, those are ceremonies with music and readings, as well as plenty of time for photographs. Some couples prefer that to be a little shorter and others expand upon it. Most importantly, we encourage couples to personalise the service and make it their own!

WHAT ARE THE MAIN PARTS OF THE CHURCH CEREMONY?

Of course, we have the big entrance to kick everything off, so music is key, as are the readings and other items couples choose to make the service their own. Early in the service, we have the Declaration this is the legal part of the service, and later I lead the couple through their vows and the exchanging of rings. After that, I have the privilege of pronouncing them as husband and wife. After a few prayers, the couple join me and two witnesses for the signing of the Registers and then we’re ready for their big walk back out of the church, as they walk down the aisle a married couple!

HOW MANY WEDDINGS DO YOU HOLD A YEAR?

Across both churches, we have about 25-30 weddings on average, although these numbers fluctuate a little. I think some people assume we only conduct weddings on Saturdays but ceremonies can be held on any day, and we can conduct several weddings in a day, so don’t assume we will be busy, get in touch!

DO COUPLES HAVE TO BE WITHIN A PARISH TO WED IN A CHURCH?

No, anybody could be married in either of the churches. Couples do need to make a connection to a church, and the Church of England a few years ago expanded the list of automatic connections that couples already have. So everybody lives in a Church of England parish, you can automatically be married there, indeed any parish you or your partner have lived in for 6months or more, you have an automatic connection and there are others too. Many couples have chosen our churches for their beauty, and practicality for their proximity to wedding reception venues. In these cases, the couple can attend some of our Sunday services, get to know us and then be connected.

HOW MANY GUESTS CAN YOUR CHURCH HOLD?
Panfield can hold about 60-70 guests comfortably and we might manage a few more. St Mary’s Bocking can cater for weddings up to 300+ using the entire building. However, most weddings we host are 80-120 and that works really well and allows people to be very comfortable.
DO YOU ALLOW PHOTOGRAPHY DURING THE CEREMONY? WHY ARE PHOTOGRAPHY RULES SO DIFFERENT FROM CHURCH TO CHURCH?

Yes, capturing moments from a couple’s special day is priceless and many of those are in the church. I always worked together with the photographer to talk through how we can best do this together. Sometimes the rules vary from church to church due to copyright issues but more often than not clergy and churches have had bad experiences which can lead them to say no.

FOR COUPLES THAT WED IN A CHURCH DO THEY HAVE TO COME TO REGULAR SERVICES?

Not always, as we talked about earlier it may be they are coming to build connecton but they may through where they live be automatically connected. Either way, I encourage couples to come when they can, not least because it means I get to know them a little more, and them me. We particularly invite couples for some of the big services in the year at Christmas especially.

WHAT ARE BANNS READING AND WHY ARE THEY DONE?

A wedding ceremony conducted by the Church of England includes the legal aspects of marriage. Due to our special status, there is no need for a Registrar to join us, or for the couple to give notice of marriage to a Registar either.

All of the legal aspects are conducted by me with respect to a couple’s wedding. As part of those legal necessities, we need to tell people you are getting married. This is done either by Licence or most often by Banns. Banns need to be published in the church you are marrying in, and the parish church you live in. We help you with all of that, and in fairness, it works very seamlessly. It means on the day I can present you with your wedding certificate. Banns are called for 3 consecutive Sundays in the main church service, we usually have ours towards the end. I say, ‘if anyone knows of any lawful impediment to this couple being married, please speak now! Cue the Eastenders closing music. Will anyone object? And in nearly 200 weddings and even more sets of Banns, nobody has!

WHAT DOES THE STOLE YOU WEAR DURING A CEREMONY SIGNIFY AND HOW IS IT USED IN THE SERVICE?

Great question! The stole is a ribbon of cloth that we wear around our necks and hangs down our front. Priests wear them for a number of services, and they come in different colours too depending on the service. For funeral services we wear purple, I think most people will be able to picture the purple ribbon (stole) on the Vicar. At weddings the stole is white, the meaning behind that is purity and new beginnings. After the couple have made their vows, and we have blessed and exchanged rings, I ask the couple to hold hands and I gently wrap the end of the stole around their hands. It is a beautiful reminder of two becoming one, the unseen bonds. It is also a blessing, reminding them of God’s unseen love for them that will guide through all that is to come. It is a special moment, and afterwards, I get to say the classic line… ‘You may kiss the Bride!’

COUPLES WITH CHILDREN, CAN THEY BE CHRISTENED ON THE SAME DAY AS THE MARRIAGE?

Yes, we can certainly do that. I have had a few occasions where this has happened and it has always made a special occasion even more unique.

AT YOUR CHURCHES CAN COUPLES HAVE BELL RINGING, A CHOIR, LIVE MUSIC AND CONFETTI?

Absolutely! It is all part of making the ceremony your own. Many couples who choose a church wedding are looking for the classic moments to go with it, so the bells ringing as they walk down the aisle and out of church then surrounded by their guests is one of those. With music whether it be the organ or live music, a choir, or soloist, or no music at all we will take our lead from the couple.

The technology at St Mary’s is a little more 21st century than at Panfield so it is more achievable there but let us have the conversation. The Confetti moment is a special one, for the couple and guests but photographer too! It is definitely a shot you want to get.

CAN COUPLES DECORATE THE CHURCH?

Most couples find the best way to do this is with flowers. From pedestals of flowers to pew ends, as well as the use of candles and other props, can make it feel just the way a couple wants and we will work with you on that.

FOR COUPLES NERVOUS ABOUT STANDING IN FRONT OF EVERYONE DURING THE CEREMONY WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?

Being nervous is understandable and if it doesn’t sound too strange, a really good sign! I always worry when a couple says ‘oh we are not worried at all’. Gentle nerves indicate how much this matters to you, they capture the magnitude of this moment, as it is a big step. Nobody wants the nerves to take over though and so we always run through the service and choreography at a rehearsal which often helps allay the nerves. Most couples will say and it is my own experience too that in the midst of the vows, everyone else melts away. It is like a little bubble forms around the couple and I get to be part of that. I then say you may kiss the bride and the bubble bursts and any remaining nerves go and you celebrate with everyone else.

WHERE CAN WE SEE YOUR LATEST UPDATES?

Feel free to check out our website, Facebook page or email me on bockingchurch@gmail.com

Want to see who else I interviewed in the ‘An interview with’ series? Read all the posts here.