Season after Pentecost, 2023

08 January 2008
D - Canon in

Is it really wedding season again? Well, not exactly.

Wait -- hold the phone, "wedding season"? Is there a particular season for weddings?

There's hunting season, and there's the holiday season that we just (barely) made it out of. If a fruit or vegetable is readily available at a particularly high quality we would say that it is "in season". In all of these cases the "season" is when the getting (game, gifts, gourds) is good.

So it's a kind of "wedding season" in the sense that couples are trying to get good "venues" for their weddings. And where should these weddings be? Why, how about a church? The couples haven't been to one lately, or ever, but they figure, hey, it's pretty and our parents might like it.

I regularly encounter these couples at the church where I work. According to our wedding policy, many of them are not eligible for a wedding in our church, now matter how pretty it is or how much money they have.

If you want to get married somewhere, great! Try the Motel 6, or the Hilton down the street.

If you want to get married in the context of a worship service, how about the church?

Unlike your blond bimbo bride, the church is not just another pretty face. Nay, it's rather more than that. And expressions of extravagant consumerism really have no place here.

A past rector was once asked what he would like to be paid for officiating at the wedding. His answer? The same as what the bride paid for her dress.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are "faithful" weddings, and not all faithful weddings happen in liturgical churches, or churches at all for that matter.

But the wedding-industrial complex is out of control. Too many churches, it seems, are in the "venue" business. They're happy to profit from a default deistic tendency of the populace, and are poor stewards of the gifts and heritage of the church. Rather than attempt counsel, educate or edify (let alone attempt to construct any kind of meaningful God-centered worship around the hackneyed couple-centered wedding liturgy) with their human resources, these churches simply whore their buildings out to the masses.

Speaking of whoring yourself out to the masses, how about Canon in D?

I'm happy to report that my "Moratorium on Pachelbel's Canon at Weddings" group on Facebook is doing well. Here are some recent highlights from the wall.

Mariah Mlynarek from Michigan writes:

everyone frickin bride says "I really want something different, you know, not you know canon in d?" and then I tell them that it is cursed and they will get a divorce if they have it played at their seems to do the trick

Jackie Lo from Australia relates the hate from down under:

when I hear "I've been dreaming about walking down the aisle to this song all my life.. but I can't remember what it is" or "'we need some music to kill some time" I know its coming....... Pachelbel's canon. So frigging lame!!!!! It's the worst song EVER

Kathryn Cooper, from Minnesota State, balked at the Canon she heard at her wedding rehearsal:

I stopped them immediately! I told them that if they want to get payed, they would stop... they all reacted "Thank God!" ha ha

Sarah Field's experience at a beginner flute concert:

The tempo was so slow that it took about 10 minutes to perform, no lie. By that time I was looking for razors.

Sally Hanton speaks on the musical literacy and levelheaded reasoning of wedding couples when she writes:

. . . I was asked to play as a solo cello at a wedding - of course, they wanted Pachelbel! Apparently the concept of "Canon" had escaped them...thankfully the aisle was short enough that I had only got to bar 8 by the time the bride arrived at the front!


Why should weddings have to be faithful? Why should couples have to related to your church only as you see fit? I feel funny about this column.
Weddings that take place in the church are inherently expressions of Christian faith and stewardship. Couples that do not wish to enter into a fully and openly Christian union should choose other venues.

I doubt it's as Mr. Sinden sees fit; rather, it's as his church sees fit, and it has likely adopted those policies to preserve its integrity.
Thanks for this - I think you've captured how a lot of organists feel about weddings. I've heard it argued that the church shouldn't be officiating at weddings at all - that it got into it in the medieval period in order to facilitate bureaucratic record-keeping. (Someone had to keep track of who was married to whom, and the church already had copies of everyone's baptism certificates. . .)

One of my favourite wedding stories, (told to me by one of my organ teachers, who played at the ceremony) involved a couple who wanted their entire wedding to have a Mexican theme. (No, they were not Mexican.) So they rented Mexican-themed decorations and the wedding party wore sombreros for the service. The next day, the wedding party had skipped town and everyone involved - the costume rental place, the organist, the church administration - realized their cheques had bounced. What such a service has to do with the Christian church, I can't imagine.

I'm impressed, though, by your coining of the term "wedding-industrial complex" - for a while now I've been talking about the "choral-industrial complex" for the network of publishers, composers etc. who produce the easily singable but musically questionable dreck that now fills music stores. Great minds think alike?
Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Penguin: I don't run the church. The church is governed by a representative board of contributing lay people. They are ultimately responsible for crafting church policies, including this one. Non-members wishing to marry in the church, therefore, must relate to the church as members see fit.

Noah: yes, but the Book of Common Prayer stipulates that only one half of the couple be a baptized Christian. Does this then constitute a "fully and openly Christian union?"

Osbert: I wish I could take credit for "wedding-industrial complex" but it is a phrase I recently heard from someone else.

The underlying issue here is one that I didn't really address very well: how does the church balance a radical hospitality (even
toward such a thing as heterosexual nuptials) with Noah's "policies to preserve its integrity" -- and, I would add, policies to preserve its employees' sanity?

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