Choosing a Church Wedding

Katrina and Jason

We were married at St. Mary's on 19th December 2014 and are delighted to say that the whole process, from early discussions to the big day itself was an absolute joy and could not have been simpler.

Finding St Mary's (by Jason)

As a couple we definitely wanted a church wedding. My (now!) wife Katrina's family are catholic and regular church goers, and I was christened in the Church of England - although neither I nor my family have ever attended church regularly. Initially we considered a Catholic wedding but this wasn't a straightforward route as it required the non-Catholic (me!) to undertake some instruction. A secular service was also out, from experience we felt these tended not to have the gravitas or sense of ceremony we wanted. So we were casting around for beautiful London churches with a sense of history and grandeur when Katrina remembered St. Mary's from a walking tour of Little Venice many moons ago. We visited on a Sunday afternoon and were immediately excited; St. Mary's has a striking exterior aspect - cinematic even - and a dramatic, light infused interior. And best of all, it was in our local area, hidden in plain sight all along.

Preparations (by Jason)

We made an enquiry and soon thereafter found ourselves sitting in the drawing room at the presbytery with Fr. Gary Bradley and a fine glass of red wine! One evening in Fr. Gary's company was all it took to convince us that not only had we found the right Church, we'd also found the right priest. He was incredibly welcoming, interested in our backgrounds and how we had met. He was and is contemporary in his attitudes and a considerable source of knowledge and guidance on liturgy. He simply recommended that we have regular dinner dates throughout the ten months that followed, in order to get to know one another and plan our service. And plan we did, over a number of great meals accompanied by much laughter, some wine and the occasional ribald anecdote from Fr. Gary about the Maida Vale of yesteryear!

Fr. Gary lent his support throughout, advising on everything from the kind of service we wanted, readings , music and even Church decorations. Music was especially important to Katrina and I, and we were extremely fortunate in Jonathan Cunliffe, director of music at St. Mary's who helped us devise an ambitious musical programme, the quality of which delighted our guests and is one of our prevailing memories of the day. With the planning overall where we had strong ideas of our own they were encouraged and where we didn't, Fr. Gary was always ready with a astute suggestion. Special mention must also be made of Peggy Windsor, St. Mary's delightful Verger whose logistical prowess in terms ofcoordinating rehearsals, flowers and decorations made for a smooth final few days before the wedding.

The BIG day (by Katrina!)

After a quick rehearsal the night before our big day finally arrived and despite the December chill, sunshine was streaming through St Mary's windows making the church and our amazing Christmas-themed flowers and candles more beautiful than we even dared to dream!

Fr. Gary beamed at me as I got out of the car and commented that my affianced was " nervous, he was like jelly on a stick!'' but reassured me he had taken charge and calmed him down! It was so wonderful to be being married by a man we had both come to know so well. His care for us throughout the process was just amazing. To say we knew we were in safe hands is an understatement - and the fact that the homily was always going to go down a storm due to Fr. Gary's unparalleled style of delivery was just the icing on the cake!

The service went on to exceed our expectations in every way - but even more importantly it thrilled each and every one of our guests. It was full of joy, love, fun - and even mulled wine due to Fr. Gary allowing us to keep the guests warm and happy in the church following the service while we captured the all important bride and groom photos outside! All I can say is the feeling you get when you turn around having been married, and see a church full of 140 of your nearest and dearest, all singing Jerusalem at the top of their lungs (and aided by Jonathan's marvelous choristers) as you walk back down the aisle is indescribable!

Conclusion (by Jason)

Looking back I cannot see how our wedding could have been improved upon. Getting married at St. Mary's allowed us to reconcile Katrina's Catholicism, my Church of England background and the various perspectives of our respective families and guests. In fact we had a number of guests (mainly on my side I have to admit!) with a predominantly secular attitude and they were heard to gush, "I didn't know religion could be this much fun" - which says it all really! St. Mary's is a uniquely modern and welcoming parish, with Fr. Gary a peerless leader. We look forward to feeling connected to this beautiful place for the rest of our married life.