If the build up to a wedding is not enough to put your nerves on edge, surely attending marriage preparation in a church must really be the worse thing of all! And I would not have been surprised if the four couples who agreed to attend the Itchen Valley Parish marriage preparation day today were a bit nervous about doing so. Would they have to sit around in a circle like a meeting of AA and talk openly about intimate matters which were no-one else’s business? And what about the food? Surely all that you ever get in a church is warm orange squash and custard cream biscuits?
But I hope that as they were walking up the church path and heard the music of Oscar Peterson rolling across the countryside and as they came into the church building (which has so brilliantly been reordered so that we can hold events like this), and saw individual cafe tables for each couple lit with candles and bedecked with red roses, and fresh Danish Pastries and decent coffee, that their nervousness was relieved.
The Marriage Preparation Day in Itchen Valley Parish is based (rather loosely) on the Marriage Preparation Course run by Holy Trinity Brompton www.relationshipcentral.org. Of course, their wonderful course in run over 5 evenings and we had to squeeze as much as we could into one day without couple overload!
So after an introduction from our Rector Revd. Amanda Denniss, Alex and Lucy Pease gave talks on Communication, Managing Conflict and Keeping Love Alive. Each talk was interspersed with exercises from the Marriage Preparation Course handbook and video contributions from the course – particularly interviews with an engaging couple called Miles and Deborah. During the very private exercises – just discussed between the prospective husbands and wives – more jazz played in the background
Keeping couples awake while receiving so much information on a Saturday morning was of course a top priority and so we also had two coffee breaks and then a delicious lunch organised by Revd Rebecca Fardell which included some very special Christmas chutney.
After lunch Rebeccca spoke on the subject of Christian Marriage and the couples read the vows which they will say on their wedding days over to each other and discussed them.
Its always a delight seeing couples who are on this journey and all of us in Itchen Valley Parish wish them wonderful wedding days and long and happy marriages.