The usual exhibitors at wedding fairs tend to be florists, photographers, dress designers and caterers - but two Lanark ministers are taking a stand at a wedding fair to highlight the benefits of getting married in a church.
Rev Louise Mackay and Rev Bryan Kerr will be on hand to talk to people today, Thursday, at the fair in New Lanark Mill, itself becoming popular as a wedding venue.
They will share information, answer questions and remind people of the warm welcome they will receive in their parish church.
Miss Mackay, minister of St Nicholas Parish Church, said “We want people to know that in a day of rising secularism, the Church of Scotland and its ministers are still happy to meet with couples and conduct their weddings, whether or not the couple are church members or even come to church.
“We are not seeking to push couples into asking a minister to conduct their wedding, nor are we pushing them to use one of our churches, which of course they are welcome to do.
“As ministers we do not have any financial interest in a couple’s wedding, we simply seek to advise them, work with them to ensure the service reflects their personality, and journey with them as they begin their married life together.”
Church of Scotland marriages topped the list of ceremonies conducted by religious and beliefs-based celebrants in 2016.
A total of 3,675 couples chose to be married by ministers, who do not charge for their services, in a Kirk ceremony.
Mr Kerr, who leads Greyfriars Parish Church and is Clerk to the Presbytery of Lanark, said too many couples appeared not to realise that they can ask a minister to conduct their wedding and automatically go to a registrar or other celebrant officiate.
“Whilst that may be right for some couples, we want to break down the false barrier that exists in the minds of many people that the church will only marry people in a church, if they are a member or seek to become a member,” he added.
“In our local area the fee for a registrar to officiate at a wedding has gone up and up, whereas there is no fee for a minister.
“It is not all about cost but that can be a major factor in a lot of couples minds when it comes to planning a wedding. Not every couple has an unlimited pot of money.
“So, for those who are wondering about whether to approach a minister, we want to say that there is no barrier in terms of cost, membership, attendance or even venue.”