The Diocese of Exeter has launched a new project to encourage more couples to choose church weddings.
The number of church weddings has fallen to a historic low nationally, with fewer than one in four people now choosing a religious ceremony.
Devon Church Weddings wants to showcase the county's more than 600 Anglican churches, which are often Grade I listed in stunning locations, and offer support through the wedding process.
Reverend Sue Davies-Fletcher is a priest in Westward Ho! in North Devon and is part of the Devon Church Weddings team. She told Premier why she thinks couples should choose a church wedding.
“A church is such a beautiful and special place in which to make really big married promises to just celebrate love and to be blessed. And I think many couples who do come to church to marry, can find themselves becoming part of a church community. It's the beginning of a journey, [being] part of the community that is there for them and can support them through their married life.”
In Devon, there were around 977 Church of England weddings and 63 blessings in 2018 and around 800 weddings and 50 blessings in 2019.
There was a sharp drop in 2020, due to coronavirus legislation preventing or restricting weddings for much of the year.
The Archdeacon of Exeter, the Venerable Andrew Beane, said couples who had married in 2020 might like to now consider a church blessing.
He said, “A wedding blessing in church gives couples a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their wedding with family and friends who, perhaps because of COVID restrictions, couldn’t attend their special day.
“Blessing might take place on a special anniversary too. Wedding blessings do not involve any legal paperwork and can be organised by contacting one of our splendid churches.”
You can learn more about the project here.