You've dreamt of getting married in a church since you were little - hearing the bells ringing, the choirs' voices echoing through the air - but how do you make sure that your church wedding goes off without a hitch?!
Follow these top 10 tips:
Banns - for a Church of England wedding you need to have your banns read in the church where you wish to get married, as well as the current parish where you live, if it is a different parish. If you live separately, you'll need them read in both parishes as well as the church you're getting married in. For more info look at the Banns section on the C of E website.
Toilets - find out (and let your guests know) if there are toilet facilities at the church, or if not, where they are nearby. Guests have often travelled a long way, and churches don't always have their own restrooms.
Confetti - before you get too excited and order confetti, double check with the vicar if you're allowed confetti. They may also specify the exact type that you're allowed (bio-degradable, natural petals etc) and where you can throw it on the church premises.
Readings - make sure that you're clear on your vicar's expectations for your readings. Do they need to all be religious? Or are you allowed to have a pre-approved non-religious reading too?
Vows - make sure that you and your partner have gone through the wording of the vows with your vicar. Sometimes they can still include 'to obey', which doesn't always sit right with everyone!
Bell Ringers - if you're having bell ringers at your church wedding (why wouldn't you!?), then it is important to find out how much they cost and how they need paying. It could be cash for the group, or broken down so that each bell ringer can take their cut home with them. Allocate someone trustworthy to ensure that this is handed over to the correct person on the day!
Choir - having a choir makes such a difference - I strongly recommend that you don't cut corners here - they're worth every penny! There is nothing worse than people mumbling their way through hymns that they haven't sung since primary school. The choir not only add volume and atmosphere on the day, but they can also perform during the signing of the register. Like with bell ringers, check how they need to be paid.
Photographers/Videographers - some vicars aren't that keen on photographers/videographers 'taking over', they find that they get in the way. It's best to have a chat with your vicar beforehand to find out their requirements. They may ask for you to have one of them seated, or stood in a particular place. Make sure that this information is relayed back to your photographer/videographer well before the big day so that they can be prepared.
Organist - if you're having the organist play at your wedding, and your ceremony is videoed, then please check if there are any additional fees. Some churches have charged couples extra due to music licencing if the ceremony is being videoed. Don't get caught out on the day - check this out well in advance.
Vicars - finally, check the individual expectations of your vicar. Some are more traditional and request that the Bride walks in first, followed by her bridal party (it's the American way to have the bridesmaids process in first). Vicars have also been known to tell grooms not to turn around until their bride is next to them at the altar. If it is super important for you that they turn around and see you walking towards them - check this in advance, there isn't much you can do if you're already walking down the aisle!
Church weddings are beautiful; and with the right planning, they can still be personal and seamless like any other wedding type of ceremony.
For help with planning your church wedding, get in touch. At The Country Blush I specialise in country weddings; typically,church ceremonies followed by a marquee.
Photograph : Joanne Collins
For more information from the Church of England about weddings - have a look at their website.