Couples shown joys of merger in the cathedral

FOR many modern-day brides and bridegrooms, the idea of horse-drawn carriages, three-tiered cakes and flowing wedding dresses is enough to make them turn them white with terror – or elope.

But a new battle by the Church of England to halt a decline in traditional marriages and win back the hearts and minds of young lovers is aiming to change all of that.

As part of the new white wedding drive, changes have been made to church doctrine to allow couples to be married in parishes even if they do not live there.

Now it has been revealed Ripon Cathedral is to host a wedding show, the first commercial venture of its kind to be held within the walls of the ancient building which dates back over 1,000 years, to persuade young couples to tie the knot the traditional way.

Nearly 50 businesses offering everything from honeymoons to stationery to dresses for the mother of the bride, will set up shop in the cathedral for the big day,

It is hoped more than 500 new brides and bridegrooms will attend, helping to raise 10,000 towards the Ripon Cathedral Development Campaign.

Some of Yorkshire's most picturesque sites – including Fountains Abbey and Newby Hall – will also be promoted as wedding venues.

The Dean of Ripon, Keith Jukes, said: "We want to promote what we have to offer. This is one of the best venues in North Yorkshire and is staggeringly beautiful.

"We have a brilliant choir and terrific bells and all the things that people want to have a special wedding.

"Maybe in the past the church has been slow to promote these things despite having some stunning venues.

"People who sell other wedding services go out really to sell themselves.

"We are doing this to make people across Yorkshire aware of what is on their doorstep and to celebrate marriage and the concept of marriage."

He added: "This isn't a money-making exercise; our primary concern is to promote marriage and the part the church can play in it."

The recent changes by the Church of England, to halt the national decline in traditional white weddings, mean couples no longer have to be married in the church closest to them and can instead choose different parishes so long as they can demonstrate a connection with the area.

Ripon Cathedral is not included in the changes as it is a cathedral but Mr Jukes said it has not been affected by the national decline, with the number of local people still getting married there doubling in the past two years to around 15 weddings a year.

Resident Nigel Rawlinson was married in the cathedral 38 years ago and has since seen three of his four daughters also walk down the same aisle.

He said: "In this secular society where people are getting married in pubs and clubs, it is important to promote Christian marriage in a church.

"The fact that three of my daughters were married in the same cathedral as me fills me with great pride.

"It is amazing, it is every girl's dream.

"Most of the people who came to the weddings were probably not church people and the comments that we got from most of them afterwards were about the actual service rather than the reception or anything else.

"They were so taken with the beauty of the Christian marriage service, it is just a wonderful occasion."

The wedding show takes place between February 11 and February 13 next year.

A stand at the event will also be manned by a team from the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, aiming to remind visitors of the advantages of a church wedding as they shop.

Organiser Margaret Hammond said: "We do have to bear in mind that the cathedral is a place of worship and we have worked closely with the community to ensure there is as little disruption as possible – but the splendour of the building is still something we hope will attract visitors to the show.

"Our role is to help as many couples as we can plan their big day with as little fuss as possible as they may be able to find everything they need under one roof – but the event will also help to raise money for the cathedral restoration appeal which we hope people will see as a worthwhile cause to help maintain our heritage."

More information about the wedding show is available online at www.riponcathedralweddingshow.co.uk or by telephoning 01765 603 583.

Trend started by queen victoria

THE tradition of a white wedding can be traced back 170 years when the nation's longest reigning monarch tied the knot.

The trend became hugely popular with the Victorian upper classes after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress when she married Prince Albert on February 10, 1840.

Before the Royal couple's wedding was held at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, brides had simply donned their best dress regardless of its design and colour.

The term "white wedding" now encapsulates European-styled marriages which usually include a ceremony, where the marriage is initiated, followed by a reception.