Yes, we're getting married – but how? Church service or rather in a free wedding ceremony? This question is increasingly being answered with "free wedding" answered. This is confirmed by dean stefan kirchberger of the coburg protestant deanery.
According to coburg dean andreas kleefeld, this trend is due to excessive expectations: "the wedding must be unique." In addition, there are cliches from films – keyword "sissi". The figures for the last three years speak a different language: in 2017, there were a total of 175 weddings in the evangelical deanery of coburg. In 2016 the number was 188 and in 2015 177. So no negative trend recognizable.
Kirchberger suspects that a couple could have been worried: "what am i getting myself into?? In the worst case, they'll ruin my wedding." This is often the case if you don't know the pastor. With the speaker of a free wedding, the wedding couple is sure "there I get what I want, without surprises", explains kirchberger.
Worship is compulsory
Kirchberger contradicts the idea that an individual wedding is only possible without a church. "We do individual weddings and bring in the religious dimension indispensably.", says kirchberger. For this, there is the wedding talk between the couple and the pastor.
A completely individual wedding is nevertheless not feasible in a church. "A church wedding is not possible if the character of the service is called into question", says kleefeld. This would include weddings for two, for example, a wedding in a hay balloon. "The fellowship that makes a church service is missing."
The "lord's prayer" also had to be said prayers must be said, the prayers must not be mere wishes without reference to god, and biblical words must be read in a church wedding, says kleefeld. In addition, there is the choice of songs. "Not exclusively secular pieces were to be chosen", explains kleefeld. "If all this is missing, there is no need for the church at a wedding ceremony."
Another important feature is singing in a church service. "I often hear: nobody sings in our town", adds kirchberger. Many couples think they don't know any more church songs. Then the dean sings a few well-known songs, and the wedding couple remembers again.
His catholic colleague, dean robert huth, is also familiar with this phenomenon: "many families come to us without a religious background, so you have to build bridges first." The individual discussions with the pastors are helpful in this regard. Together with the bride and groom the wedding will be arranged in this way.
"We seem complicated in making contact", kirchberger admits. He recalls a couple who wanted to get married in the pavilion of the coburg courtyard garden. When he suggested a site visit with the two, they were taken aback. "Yes, the couple knew exactly what they wanted, but i was new to coburg and wanted to get my bearings", kirchberger remembers.
There is in principle no prohibition in the evangelical church for a wedding in the open air. "It's more a matter of practicality", kirchberger explains. Altar, speakers and atmosphere are already there in a church. In the open air, they had to be built up and established, which is not possible everywhere. Moreover, it must be remembered that "even the best garden party goes wrong when it rains", says kirchberger.
Huth adds, however: "an outdoor wedding is not possible in the catholic church." Because marriage is a sacrament that can only be performed in a sacred space. "But I have never experienced that a couple has left again." Nevertheless, the three deans notice that the number of weddings is declining. Kleefeld recognizes that there is a common understanding between the city and the county. "In rural areas there are more weddings", he explains. In general, "there are many people, but are in the church, who no longer marry in church", he continues.
However, kleefeld sees that people do make a conscious decision to have a church wedding: "there are still people who go a long way to have a church wedding. They have their roots in coburg and come from munich or schweinfurt."
More and more marriages are being contracted between partners belonging to different religions. It does not matter whether the partner is buddhist, muslim or jewish. Kleefeld adds that, from the church's point of view, such a wedding is only possible if the partner is committed to the christian religion.
Kirchberger explains that, conceptually, this is not a wedding ceremony, since, for example, the creed of the religions is different. "This is a service on the occasion of the marriage ceremony." Nevertheless, these weddings are becoming more and more popular: from eight marriages in 2015, they have risen to 27 in 2017.
This shows that an individual marriage ceremony in a church is possible. Kleefeld: "if you want to start your marriage with a church service, you've come to the right place. Those who are not interested, do not even contact us."