In his weekly blog, Fr Paddy Byrne proposes an alternative to high cost weddings and invites your response.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on 20 May 2009

Weddings are celebrated in every church in our locality throughout the summer. Weddings are big family occasions. They call for a lot of preparation and effort on the couple’s behalf in order to achieve the “Perfect Day” Weddings by their nature can be very stressful. Issues such as invitations, venues and the enormous expense incurred, add to the burden of stress, on young couple’s lives as they plan for this moment of celebration. All couples agree with me, when we discuss this subject, that there is an element of extravagance, if not madness, that an average wedding will cost around Eighteen Thousand Euro.

Weddings are wonderful occasions of celebration. It is a beautiful experience to be present at a moment of great hope. When young couples publically commit to remain faithful and in love for the rest of their lives, it is also a spiritual moment. A moment when they rely on the Grace of God to bless their union and for God to protect and accompany them, on the pathway they will walk for the rest of their lives.

It saddens me when many couples tell me that they can’t get married because they can’t afford it. Other couples have shared that they find the detail of all that is involved too stressful and a result don’t get married. For this reason I wonder should we as Church and Parishes offer young couples an opportunity to celebrate marriage in a the context of a Sunday Eucharist. We have become accustomed to celebrating baptisms, First communions, and confirmations on certain Sunday of the year, Why not have a Sunday in the month of June or July for couples who want to get married in all our parishes.

I think this certainly would relieve the burden of stress and massive expense on all our couples in this time of recession and high unemployment. I think it would also be a beautiful parish experience. A Sunday Mass where the couples of the parish celebrate marriage together. The parish choir would lead the music ministry. The flowers for the occasion would be the flowers present in all our Church’s every Sunday. During the ceremony the priest would simply invite all the couples present to come forward and then to give their consent and receive the grace of the Sacrament.

The parish hall or local community center would be the venue, where the families and friends of the couples would celebrate after. There could also be even a band for dancing. It sounds very simple and it is. I think that it could easily happen if we promoted this in our parishes. I know that it certainly would be far less stressful and a much more affordable option for all couples. Most wedding in the past were celebrated in family homes or in parish halls. There is a terrible waste of money that cripples young couples with huge debt in relation to getting married. This is very wrong. It is crazy that it costs Twenty Thousand Euro to say “I DO”

I would love to hear some of your responses to this practical suggestion.