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I am feeling rather religious today, having been to one and a half church services this morning.

I am also rather embarrassed, and cross with myself. But at the same time, convinced that I am right, and the Church is wrong. Which is possibly not terribly Christian.  But at the same time makes me feel better.

You may have noticed, or possibly not, because I never mention it, ever, that The Other Half and I stand up in front of family and friends in a few weeks and take our marriage vows.  Given my natural reticence on this subject, I may not have shared with you that we are having a church wedding.

In order for this to happen, there needs to be a little thing, minor really in the giant scheme of things, which happens beforehand.  Tis called the reading of the banns.  And not only must it take place in the parish we are getting married in, but also in the one we reside in, on three consecutive Sundays.  The church we are getting married in are terribly organised, and within what seemed like minutes of getting engaged we had signed on the dotted line, been given dates and allowed the Vicar to laugh at our passport photos.  Then we had to go and have an interview at our local parish church sometime in February, and filled in masses of forms, declared we knew of no lawful impediment why we cannot be married, and drank some rather weak coffee.  

By doing this in two different locations we cover all the possibilities, the Church gets to cash two cheques, and all my ex-boyfriends have twice the opportunity to declare that actually they were wrong and they made the mistake of a lifetime by letting me go / letting me let go of them. Oh, and we get to check we’re not related or actually married to other people or anything.

The problem is that without doing this, we cannot get married, because it wouldn’t be legal. And they have to be read within a certain timeframe, and then we get a Banns Certificate which releases us from our parish, and once we have presented this to our Vicar, then we can be married. Clear as mud?

Off we trotted a couple of weeks ago to hear our banns being read in the Church we are getting married in. They nearly forgot to say them, but all was recovered in the end. Shock over.  It was rather pleasant and congratulatory which was lovely.

Come today, and having spent yesterday wrestling with making Orders of Service, and table plans, the last thing we felt like doing was going to Church at 9.30 in the morning. But off we dutifully headed, through the rain, to our parish church. We mentioned to the Warden as we went in that we were there to hear our banns being read.

Thank Jesus, Mary and All The Saints that we did.

Because we weren’t in the book.  No record of us. Nada.  

Cue much to-ing and fro-ing, and questioning whether it was actually going to cause much of a problem if they weren’t read today. See above re timeframe, and see me hyperventilate as I realize that actually, this is the one thing that could derail everything.  

And about half an hour into the service, the Church Warden came up to us for about the third time – and trust me, everyone around us was wondering what on earth was going on – and calmly announced that our banns were not being read in the church we were in, but in a different church, at the 11am service.

So we walked out of church, which was terribly embarrassing, and came home for a cup of tea. And a good rootle through the diary, to find that all our notes said it was the 9.30 service in the church we had just walked out of, with no mention of the other church.

I have been questioning myself ever since.  Hand on heart, honest to God, we were never told it was going to be in a different church.  I don’t get these sorts of things wrong, I promise you.  Hence the self-doubt.

At least we didn’t recognise anyone there.

Twenty minutes after we got home, we trotted off to the other church.

Where they didn’t read the banns at the start of the service with the other notices.

I began to wonder if I should faint and claim I had been overcome by incense fumes or something.  I was dangerously close to chasing the sidesman into the vestry and refusing to let him out again until he’d stopped the service to have them read.  

Fortunately at the whole ‘Peace be with you’ point I asked a rather nice lady when the notices were read, and she said she would prompt the vicar, because he was a locum, and he said oh yes, there were some banns to read, in a rather vague way.  I managed to smile at him and restricted myself to merely thinking un-Christian thoughts which weren’t terribly peacefully inclined, rather than allowing myself to enact them.

She had to do remind him several times, but they were eventually read at the end of the service.

I am exhausted. The relief.  I felt like having a rather large G&T followed by a lie down in a darkened room when we got home, but erred on the side of caution, and vented my feelings by badly charring some bread which I’d intended to eat for lunch instead.  There was smoke and everything. They say that carbon’s good for you, and I should be cutting down on carbs anyway.

We’ve got another two services to go.

Whether my blood pressure will stand it, I don’t know.   The toaster certainly won’t.

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