On the 3rd March 2018, Jenny and Robin got married. This was a wonderful day and, as far as I am aware, was the very first Messy Church wedding! Fittingly, it took place at the very church that Messy Church was first run.
Recently, we’ve had lots of people asking us questions about how we made the wedding day messy! So, I thought I’d put together a blog all about how we planned the day, what happened and why we believe this was the best way we could’ve celebrated our wedding.
Why did we want a Messy Church wedding?
Firstly, both Jenny and Robin are big fans of Messy Church having been involved in leading it for a few years at this point (Robin for many more). Robin had also got to know Lucy (part of the original Messy Church team) whilst she and Paul were still at St Wilfrid’s Church in Cowplain. Having invited them round for dinner, shortly after they got engaged, discussions turned to the possibility of a Messy Wedding. From my memory, these ideas were largely made as wild suggestions or indeed in jest, but seeds were sown and quickly grew into a possibility that this could actually be done!
Early on in the planning stage, we realised that we would be inviting a hugely wide range of people – from committed Christians who had been attending Church for 70+ years, to people who had never set foot in church; from 4 months old to 80+ years old. We believed that the best way to engage with all of these people was the use the format and values of Messy Church.
What makes it a Messy Church wedding?
Our main focus point was upon the Messy Church values. These are:
In planning each section of the day, we considered firstly: why are we doing this? If the answer fell to just “it’s what always happens at a wedding” with no other biblical or practical reasoning, then it didn’t need to be in our day. Then we considered, how can we make sure that the values of Messy Church are reflected in how we do this?
What did our Messy Church wedding look like?
It began with entering the church and walking down the aisle to meet Robin – as classic starting point with the slight twist of walking the “wrong” way down the aisle due to the practicalities of the space. Then, Robin introduced a time of activities. 4 of these activities were based upon the passage we had chosen (Proverbs 30:24-28 – you can read more about this here) and included making animal masks, the team skiing game, a table full of patience games, and beer pong. We also had two activities based upon marriage itself: making tissue paper flowers to decorate the church and making ring biscuits. During this first section we also served pastries!
After this, we moved into the church for the wedding ceremony, the celebration element of Messy Church. The ceremony followed the normal liturgy pattern with an opportunity for creative intercessions whilst we were signing the register – guests wrote their prayers on gift tags and attached them to the balloons at the end of each aisle. During the ceremony we also had a camera set up to cast onto the screen, so that everyone could see what was going on.
After the ceremony, we went back into the church hall for a hog roast, cakes, drinks and general time together. We had some of the activities still running and swapped the two marriage activities for a marriage advice table (which still lives in our living room) and a visitor’s book for people to sign.
Why we loved our Messy Church wedding
Obviously, we’re a little biased, but we believe a Messy Church wedding was the best decision we could have made. It allowed us a lot of flexibility and freedom that following traditions wouldn’t have allowed. I was able to speak with loads of different people throughout the day without feeling rushed off my feet. I saw so many people engaging with the activities and all that we were doing, even people that I never would’ve expected to! People of all-ages enjoyed the day and it was a great opportunity for us to see so many of the people we love in a much less formal setting than we had originally expected.
How can you include Messy Church in your wedding?
During the Messy Church conference, we got a number of questions about our Messy Church wedding. The two main things we discussed were: how can people incorporate Messy Church into their wedding? And how could a Messy Church support members of their congregation in getting married?
So, here are a few of my ideas for how you could involve Messy Church in a wedding:
- The Messy Church session before the wedding, base your service upon the reading to be used at the wedding
- Get your Messy Church to create a gift or decoration for the wedding (check with the couple first for this one) – we really loved having tissue paper flowers to decorate the church
- Use creative intercessions, perhaps one that you have used in Messy Church before
- Have a prayer activity at the Messy Church before or after the wedding to encourage your Messy Church congregation to pray for the couple
- Volunteer the services of your Messy Church congregation to help at the wedding in some way if appropriate – do the couple need people to give out service sheets? Do they want someone to help serve food or drinks? This is a great way to show hospitality!
- If it’s your wedding, ensure that the whole of your day is as inclusive as possible and allows everyone to engage and participate
- Help people to understand what marriage is all about – could you run a Messy Church session on this? Or make sure each part of the ceremony is explained by the person leading the ceremony
- Take a collection for Messy Church BRF – a great way to support Messy Church through your wedding would be to ask guests to consider donating rather than giving gifts (we did this for a different charity and it worked really well!)
You can find out more about Messy Church here! Would you want to have a Messy Church wedding?