It may have come as a shock to many people when in the recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, that Meghan and Harry spoke of having two weddings - Why is this quite a popular thing to do ?
Harry and Meghan, have told Oprah that they had a secret wedding three days before the official one. Their reasoning was due to the publicity, and that they wanted their actual promises to be special, and unique to them.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, officiated at the public wedding using the standard Anglican church service for Holy Matrimony published in Common Worship, a liturgical text of the Church of England. However this was in part yet another form of blessing.
There are two parts to a wedding one is sanctioned as legally binding by the state, the other by the church - for those interested in how this works -
Here's the legal bit -
This type of Civil Wedding is the type that takes place in registry offices, and registered wedding venues in the UK, although there is nothing to stop a couple having a blessing either before or after this type of Ceremony.
Prince Harry and Meghan, it seems had a religious blessing in a garden, confirming their own promises in front of the archbishop. They made their promises to each other and before God, and then it is assumed that the archbishop pronounced a blessing on the couple. Although the contents of this ceremony will, I am sure never come into the public domain, and remain private to Harry and Meghan the blessing was very real to the couple, and was in no way fake. However it would probably not be recognised by the church, state or crown.
Harry and Meghan then went on to have a traditional anglican wedding, which was yet another type of blessing in a registered building in front of witnesses including the Queen, which was obviously very formal. This second ceremony allowed the world to share in their happiness and celebrations, and fulfil the legal obligations.
By having two ceremonies they allowed themselves both a public and private event, which was more suited to the two sides of their very public and private relationship.
This type of double ceremony is becoming increasingly popular with couples electing to have a simple 'legal ceremony' and then an elaborate and more meaningful blessing afterwards. As a celebrant I have officiated at many blessings in some very beautiful locations, and witnessed the joy of couples who have created something very special for themselves and their families.
Of course many local registered religious organisations, including your local parish church will be happy to conduct the ceremony according to their own traditions, and some may be creative, and some may be very short with no choices except the hymns and the choice of bible readings.
The Blessing on the other hand is available to couples who are already married and wish to re-affirm their commitment to each other or celebrate a long and happy marriage, or for those who are looking for something a bit more creative and personally expressive.
I wish the couple a long and happy marriage.
Richard Sanders is a Community Pastor and Celebrant working from Torbay in South Devon.