When you marry at All Saints the first thing you must do is to contact the Vicar Fr Stuart Lee, and the second is to take his marriage prep course. While couples may have been initially reluctant, the feedback has been that this is an enjoyable and very helpful experience for wedding couples. Jamie Phillips and Sarah Halford agreed to describe the course.
When we initially contacted Fr Stuart about the possibility of getting married at All Saints he told us about the Marriage Prep. Marriage Prep is all about anything from the practicalities of your special day, future finances to spirituality. We were not with other couples, the programme is tailored to each individual couple and the issues that are discussed are those that are most pertinent to that couple.
When we first walked up the road to meet with him we were both quite nervous but his relaxed and friendly manner immediately made us feel at ease. He never made us talk about anything that we weren’t comfortable with and we felt like we were in control of the topics discussed. We felt very lucky to have Fr Stuart’s support and as a result of the meetings we felt that he knew us well during the wedding ceremony.
We met on 4 separate occasions (at Fr Stuart’s house, on East Sheen Avenue), each one lasting approximately an hour, over the course of 5/6 weeks. Fr Stuart was extremely flexible with timings and we found it easier to meet in the evening (6.30 – 7.30pm) due to work commitments. Fr Stuart always offered us drinks and snacks and the kettle was always already on the boil!
As for the format, we were each sent an email with a link to an online questionnaire which we were asked to fill out separately. During the following session we discussed the results of the questionnaire and decided which topics would be most appropriate to discuss in the next sessions (i.e. those that we didn’t agree on as strongly). We were given tasks to complete during the time such as rating issues that were most important and those that were less of an issue in our relationship. This really helped Fr Stuart to get to know us and gauge how he could tailor the sessions to our individual needs and was also interesting for us to see the results (often not what had expected!) These tasks were non-threatening and would evolve into an interesting debate/conversation.
- Work/life balance
Spirituality to many is a very personal thing and I was slightly wary that I would find some of the sessions a bit difficult. However, I found the marriage prep really useful and we were never pushed to discuss anything we were not comfortable with. The sessions covered a number of very practical issues that we had not really discussed with each other before. The sessions also gave us time to step away from all of the marriage preparations and remind ourselves about what the institution of marriage is really about. Jamie Phillips (the Groom)
I found Marriage Prep really useful, in fact far more useful than I thought I would. We had been together for a long time before getting married and to be honest I thought that we had discussed everything that there was to discuss. However, having Fr Stuart there (who is such a good listener) and properly talking about the future in depth as well as any worries and issues that we had was invaluable before the wedding. Fr Stuart listened to us and provided objective advice (without being pushy) which we really appreciated. Planning a wedding can be a very stressful time and Marriage Prep gives you the opportunity to talk about the planning and stresses with someone who is outside of your intimate circle which I found helped to relieve some of the pre wedding worries. Sarah Halford (the Bride)
Would they recommend Marriage Prep? Here is what Jamie and Sarah told us:
Marriage Prep was definitely worth it and we would recommend it to others. It is a fantastic opportunity to discuss important matters for the future in a calm and relaxed atmosphere (which is rare during a very stressful period of wedding planning!) It was non-threatening and very therapeutic and has put us in a fantastic position to start our married life.