Wedding Festival at St. Martin’s Church, Ryarsh

Our Wedding Festival – which proved to be a very joyful celebration - has come and gone! 

You may have read about our plans for the Festival over the first weekend of July, in the last issue of Link. We had three days of very different weather.  On the Saturday it was too hot, on the Sunday it was too wet and on the Monday it was just right. (Sounds like Goldilocks and the Three Bears!) Interestingly, although it was not a bank holiday, we had almost as many visitors on the Monday as we did on the Saturday. 

The twenty nine wedding dresses on display spanned the decades back to the 1920’s, and all the dresses bar one  told a story highlighted by the bride’s own words of her memories of her special day. 

One bride wrote:

The bride’s dress was made to the bride’s design by her friend, Norma, who went on to marry a man called John Major whom you may remember  became our Prime Minister in 1990. Can there be any other bride who  can say that her  wedding dress has been made by the wife of a British Prime Minister?!

The bride herself created the boxer shorts - in matching fabric to the bridesmaids’ dresses – which the groom wore on the wedding day.

There was one story which was written by a friend and not by the bride. The bride’s name was Brenda:

Brenda was baptised and married in St. Martin’s Ryarsh, so it seemed only fitting that the celebration of her life should be held in St Martin’s on 11 November last year. Before she died, Brenda was aware that a Wedding Festival was planned. In clearing her home, the executor of her will – Brenda had no children - was asked to be aware that Brenda’s wedding dress might still be somewhere in the house.  After a lengthy search, Brenda’s wedding headdress and veil were uncovered - but no dress - until it finally came to light in virtually the last box to be cleared.

All Brenda’s family and friends believe that she would have been delighted to know that her dress was displayed as part of the festival! It was positioned next to the organ since Brenda had been a chorister in the church for seventy one years! 

To the delight of visitors, the Festival was greatly enhanced by some extremely talented musicians who played and sang over the course of the three days. 

The first recorded marriage in Ryarsh was in 1559 when Thomas Goddard was married to Elizabeth Kettell on the 20th November. 

What a privilege it was to celebrate all the hundreds of marriages which have taken place in the church since then at the very special Wedding Festival of 2015.

It was also a privilege to be able to feature in the Wedding Festival the dresses of three generations of the same family – the grandmother in 1957, her daughter in 1983, and her daughter’s daughter in 2012. The grandmother of this dynasty wrote:

“My husband and I were married for forty three years – not long enough – but I thank God for every minute of our life together.”

What a wonderful testimony to all that marriage means and all that we sought to celebrate.


Page last updated: 17th Aug 2015 8:19 AM


Copyright 2015 © The Diocese of Rochester. Registered Office: St Nicholas’ Church, Boley Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SL. Registered Charity No. 249339 The Rochester Diocesan Society and Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. 140656