London, October 22 (ANI): In an attempt to attract more worshippers, the Church of England is revolutionising the way it offers weddings, researchers say.
The issues that discourage people from getting married in church have been identified by the researchers, and how the Church is telling vicars to overcome them.
It starts with allowing couples to customise or personalise their big day to reflect aspects of their own lives like hobbies and pets.
Among the examples that vicars are being urged to welcome are biker weddings, where motorcycle enthusiasts, often clad in leather, are transported to church on vintage bikes.
Vicars should even be encouraged to officiate over underwater weddings, where the bride and groom exchange vows in a pool.
In such ceremonies, couples have worn traditional formal dress over diving suits with oxygen masks, while clergy have used special microphones so the couple's vows can be clearly heard.
Another new trend, endorsed by the guidance, involves the use of a trained owl to swoop down the aisle with the rings in its talons, which it delivers to the best man.
In another wedding, a bride rode to the church on her favourite horse and it remained inside during the ceremony.
Even particularly ostentatious weddings like that of David and Victoria Beckham's 1999 marriage at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland, during which they sat on golden thrones, should not be ruled out.
"I have to work on the basis that if I say 'no', it's because I think Jesus would. I hardly ever say it," the Telegraph quoted a vicar in Carlisle as saying.
Vicars should also consider allowing a couple's children to walk down the aisle with them, or include existing children by incorporating a baptism or thanksgiving for a birth.
Vicars should give couples greater freedom in their choice of music, allowing pop songs like 'Here Come the Girls' by the Sugababes, 'Cosmic Love' by Florence and the Machine or the theme from BBC Radio 4's 'Test Match Special'.
Couples should be told that classical choices are not "more Christian" than other songs and that "God does not only listen to Radio Three".
The panel overseeing the Wedding Project is also considering allowing couples to choose entry and exit music online, although there was concern that organists might struggle to play more complicated arrangements that couples might suggest.
Tight rules applied in many churches to restrict the use of cameras and videos during the ceremony need to be relaxed and professional photographers must have a much freer rein around the building.
Filming of weddings should be encouraged because couples can watch it together later, helping to "protect their marriage for the long haul".
Vicars should stop telling people not to do things. The congregation may be asked to turn mobile phones off at the start of the ceremony, but vicars can set a more positive tone, by reminding them to turn them on again at the end.
When couples first visit to discuss the plans, vicars should meet them somewhere informal like the vicarage kitchen as sitting down in a study can be intimidating.
Vicars should invite the couple to use their first name, and show they remember personal details. They should also say they "love doing weddings" and think about their posture - sitting forward in the chair communicates interest.
Clerics should describe themselves as vicars, even if they are rectors, canons or even retired bishops, and should wear a dog collar.
On the big day, vicars should refresh their selection of wedding jokes. Instead of generic Morecambe and Wise style quips, their sermons should include humour that reveals knowledge of the couple.
Finally, vicars should sustain contact with the bride and groom after the ceremony by sending a congratulatory card. An online system allows them to ask the bride and groom for anonymous feedback. (ANI)