Two Devon churches are using the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to exhibit wedding dresses from the past 70 years and showcase their churches as beautiful places to get married. St Mary’s, Kentisbeare and St Thomas of Canterbury, Thorverton will both be displaying wedding dresses and flowers as part of their jubilee celebrations.
The festival in Thorverton will include dresses from the last 70 years, some of which were worn at weddings in St Thomas of Canterbury church. Included in the display will be the dress worn by Charli Harlow (pictured) whose marriage to Chris finally happened in the church on 28 August 2021 – after moving the date three times because of Covid.
The team of flower arrangers will be dressing the church for a wedding and recreating wedding bouquets from each decade of the Queen’s reign. Elspeth Holmes, a retired florist from Thorverton, is assembling a floral crown inspired by the Queen's crown and a wedding bouquet inspired by the Queen's bouquet.
Wedding music from the past 70 years will be playing as people enter the church, further highlighting how tastes have changed over the years. Throughout the weekend there will be a Guess Who competition, with wedding photos of local couples for people to guess the bride and groom! There will also be artwork from the local school on display, and on the Sunday, visitors will be treated to strawberries, cream and shortbread.
Allison Toogood and Jean Brown, who both serve on the PCC, attended the recent Church of England’s Life Events conference and felt inspired to do more to promote the church for weddings, baptisms and funerals. The Jubilee event promises to be an excellent opportunity to showcase the church to local people and there will be a stand with literature from the Church of England’s Just Ask life events campaign.
Speaking on BBC Radio Devon, Allison Toogood, said: “It’s a chance to remember all the lovely village weddings that have happened during the Queen’s reign and remind everyone in the village that the parish church is there for everyone.” To hear the full interview, click here (1:16:50)
Likewise at St Mary’s church in Kentisbeare, the flower arrangers will dress the church for a wedding and
visitors will be able to see 24 dresses from the 1950s to the present day. PCC member and assistant warden, Sarah Leyman said, “Most dresses are from the congregation and church community and about half of them were from weddings in St Mary’s church.”
The festival, which runs from Friday 3rd to Saturday 11th June, will also include bunting and crowns knitted by the Knit and Natter group. Sarah and husband Gerry, who are both on the PCC, are hoping that the event will showcase St Mary’s as a beautiful place to get married. The church, which has unusual chequerboard stonework on the tower and an original untouched medieval rood screen, has seen many weddings pass through its doors over the past 700 years and this event is a fitting way to mark the last 70.