More than half of those planning to get married in church say the vicar who officiates at their service is just as important a part of their wedding as the setting of the church for their photos, according to a research report released by the Church of England in January.
The findings, released on the denomination’s Web site, show that 75 per cent of those opting for a church ceremony say that one of the main reasons for their choice is that they want a “proper” wedding. They see church as a positive choice, and not “just another venue.” In fact, 60 per cent of those surveyed said that their church has a particular meaning for them or their spouse.
The research was released several weeks before the Church of England hosted exhibits at the National Wedding Show in London. The church’s booth at the spring wedding shows was intended to allow couples to speak to clergy about their big day and married life beyond it. Volunteers are scheduled to be on hand to give advice on popular readings and hymns for those beginning to plan their wedding service.
The church’s research shows that more than half of couples make the choice of a church wedding because of their own religious beliefs (56 per cent) or because of the “spiritual or sacred ambience” of the venue (55 per cent). The findings are at odds with the perception that many couples turn to the church primarily to please their parents: less than one in three indicated that their family’s religion was a very important factor in their choice to hold their big day in a church or chapel.
It was the first time that the Church of England commissioned professional research into the reasons that people opt for a church wedding. The study involved nearly 1,800 respondents. The findings indicated that four out of ten weddings being planned by visitors to the shows were due to take place in church. Official Church of England figures indicate that 31 per cent of first weddings in England and Wales were conducted by the Anglican Church in 2003, the latest year with figures available.
Alex Campos, marketing manager for the National Wedding Show, believes the research results demonstrate that for many couples the church plays an important role in creating their perfect wedding: “Couples preparing to commit their lives to each other clearly value an environment and support network that is about far more than just being a ‘venue.’ The church offers an open door before and after the wedding day itself – and this research shows that people appreciate that.”