When and where? Part I: The Ceremony

I suppose the first thing to be decided when planning a wedding is the location and the date. I know that some people have a firm idea where they wish to get married and the date is chosen purely on availability. However, in our case, we had no idea about a venue so we had to start with a rough date and work from there.

When M proposed to me, we both decided we would like to get married in the summer and that we didn’t want to wait any longer than a year. The location was a little harder, as we live together in London but knew straight away that we did not want a London wedding.

In England at least, you have limited choices; for a wedding to be legally binding it must be conducted in a licensed building. This effectively gives you three choices: a registry office, another licensed building for a civil wedding service or a religious building registered to carry out marriages (i.e. a church). Further restrictions relate to weddings taking place in churches as it must either be your parish church (effectively your local church) or a church with which you have a ‘special connection’ and for which you must have a ‘special license’. Unlike America, you cannot get married outside although it is possible to have a civil ceremony first and exchange vows again outside.

We both liked the idea of getting married near the sea, as it mirrored so nicely our declarations of love and our proposal. But in reality this would mean either marrying in a registry office or a hotel – we could not have the actual wedding outside. Now M is not religious at all but I, on some level, am. He knew I would be disappointed to look back on our wedding and for it not to be in a church, so he said to me that we should start looking at churches. We consulted the Church of England guidelines and realised that, with special permission, we could marry in the chapel of the university where we met. And so it was decided.

University Chapel
The University Chapel (outside view)
Image from my personal collection
We arranged a meeting with the Chaplain who explained the process of applying for a special licence (but as we are alumni it is more of a formality than anything else) and talked about dates. In the backs of both our minds had been that June would be a good month to marry in and that the middle would be about perfect. And what luck, this fitted with the Chaplain too. And with that, our date was set for 13 June 2009.

As the old English tradition states:

“Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last”

Or, as others say, the month of June is named after Juno, the Roman god of love and marriage.

Whichever reason you choose, it fits perfectly for us. And, as I later found out, that date has special meaning in my maternal family, as it was my maternal grandmother’s parents wedding anniversary too.