21 May 2023

You may now Kiss the Bride.

Not long ago, I rewatched on the Beeb that sweet little ole film The Graduate. What fun the Sixties were. How elegant their nymphomaniacs.

In the very last sequence, the Hero rescues the Heroine at the very foot of the Altar (or whatever one has in the U S of A in proddy churches) just after the Minister has said "You may now kiss the Bride", and the Wrong Man has indeed just kissed the Heroine. 

It reminded me of what were, I think, the last nuptials I solemnised in the C of E. Or rather, of the rehearsal we did did beforehand.

The 'groom' was incredibly nervous. I couldn't make out why. I kept issuing all the customary reassurances ... "You needn't worry ... I'll tell you exactly what to say and do ... you don't have to remember anything ." ... but he still kept trembling.

When we had finished rehearsing, he spoke. "Father ... when do we get the bit about You May Now Kiss the Bride?" 

"You don't", I snarled. "It's a revoltingly naff American custom. We don't do it over here."

His relief was palpable (although I didn't actually verify this by stroking him physically). "Oh thank God for that", he cried. "That's the bit I've been dreading most".

He subsided into being a normal human being.

Weddings, weddings. My fave wedding memory is of the first one I ever 'did' ... when the Bride's Grandmother had imbibed far too much. In a brief pause at the Reception when other voices had chanced momentarily to subside, this discerning little old lady was heard to pronounce, with loud conviction, "Bloody Vicar's the only good-looking man here".

Not that I was a Vicar. I've never been a Vicar. Plura indicta relinquam.


frjustin said...

In vino veritas.

Joshua said...

Never having been an Anglican, I've never quite grasped the nuances of the titles used by Anglican clergy, such as Vicar, Rector, etc. I understand, I think, that the first was once the substitute for the second, but I assume these and other titles have mutated over the years... could you explain, dear Father, for the benefit of RCs et al.?

Arthur Gallagher said...

When my mom was teaching in our parish school, an Irish woman appeared at the rectory direct from Kennedy Airport, clutching a copy of the parish bulletin in her hand. When the parish secretary asked what her business was, she announced: The banns of marriage are announced in this parish for MY HUSBAND. Imagine the surprise of her faithless spouse shortly after he was told that monsignor was waiting to see the prospective groom in his office! Or the s*** that subsequently hit the fan when the would-be bride and her parents arrived for the nuptual mass.

The moral of the story is to always read the parish bulletin, and to remember that wherever you go, there might be people who know who you really are, even if your lady friend does not.

Matthew said...

What about "I do", which also seems to figure in make-believe weddings if not in real ones (or real C of E ones, anyway)?

√Čamonn said...

I once attended an Irish Anglican wedding. The Rector was an Englishman, who wore a green cassock under his surplice, and gave us a 1/2 Prayerbook and 1/2 Alternative Service wedding service. He did ask the question "if any man knows of any just cause etc etc" whereupon our 1 year old daughter started shouting very, very loudly. The bride should have listened to her. The groom turned out to be a very bad lot, sadly.

El Codo said...

In my bucolic setting, locals sometimes greet me with “ Good morning, Vicar” to which I reply, “ I am not the Vicar, I am the Father”. To which one countryman replied, after a momenta’s thought, “ Good morning ,Vicar Father”. I think “ Parson” as a corruption of the medieval “ Person” ( the only one who could read and write, the priest)..this venerable English title should be revived. ‘“Good morning, Parson” sounds so much better.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. This is decidedly off topic

The North London Collegiate School has made a proposal to my town of Wellington, Florida to build a super-premium, K-12 private school that will charge $40,000.00 per year for 1500 - 1700 students.

Do you have any knowledge of this school, whose origins date to the 1850s?

Thank you.

Albertus said...

In the Catholic Church (Latin) we have Rectors, Vicars, and many more such titles. The Anglicans simply inherited them from us. The ''chief priest'' of a non-parish church is called a ''rector'', as is the head of a priestly seminary. A ''vicar'' is the first assistant to the officially appointed parish priest (pastor) or rector. All other assisting priests are called ''chaplains'' (in some places, such as in the Netherlands). I could go on and one with more examples, but this will suffice to prove the point.

Bill Murphy said...

Around 1990 I attended a "wedding" at a picture postcard ancient Anglican church on the south edge of Oxford (Father H probably knows it). Since the church had been built, a sprawling council housing estate had been erected nearby. When I parked my car, I was not sure if it would still be attached to its wheels when I returned. The bride was divorced, so I was not clear how the celebrant would play it. Most of the service was the straight "wedding" liturgy and you had to be alert to catch the weasel words "bless their union already recognised by law...". The happy couple had already done the legal stuff at the registry office. Both their families were happy at the ceremony and the glorious photo op tree filled churchyard and I was happy that my car still had its wheels.

Joshua said...

I have met priests who are rectors of seminaries, but that is the only time I've ever heard the word used in Catholic circles. Not being in the USA, we call the priest in charge of a parish the parish priest - not the pastor, a term reserved to Lutherans here. I've never heard of a vicar, and the term curate is only used in historical accounts.

Moritz Gruber said...

And while we're at it,

noo, there is exactly one man who leads the bride to the altar - if the wedding takes place at the altar as in the Novus Ordo - and that's the same man who leads her to the Church door if the wedding takes place at the Church door as in the Vetus Ordo.

And that's the groom. Who else would it be? Two people not hindered by law are, out of their free decision and hopefully romantic love, administering a sacrament to each other, witnessed and blessed by the Church, whereby they are entering the married state. Right? It's not about a father giving his daughter as a present to some man he deems worthy of her, right? Symbols mean things! - That is even if there is a father who hitherto had the bride under his fatherly authority. The whole idea becomes even more strange when there is no father and some substitute has to be found.

Oh dear. If I should find marriage some day, I'll probably have to be pretty silent about that one. Women, if not belonging to the utter minority that rejects marriage outright, seem to just love that thoroughly antifeministic ceremony, and it certainly is not a hill to die on. But in itself...

Moritz Gruber said...

And anyway,

I'm not saying it is certainly wrong to kiss the girl you date with honest intentions, but a case can be made that the proper time for that is the period of engagement.


With the marriage contract, there begins not the time of engagement, but the time of marriage. Marriage is not the time you start to kiss your wife, but one where you have already kissed her a lot and start to do some other thing with her (sorry for being this explicit!). Hence, "you may now kiss the bride" just makes no sense. It wouldn't even if the "bride" were called by her proper title, which at that point in the ceremony is "wife". - Well, I guess that is no hill to die on either.

(It does make sense in my view, which is perhaps not shared by many, that if having a sign-of-the-peace at all, that between spouses takes the form of a kiss. A not too stormy one if they please.)

Greyman 82 said...

As a former chorister, I've been present at many more C of E church weddings than most people probably have. I don't remember the officiating minister ever saying "You may now kiss the bride", but it might have happened.
At my own Catholic wedding, just after the vows, the priest asked if I'd like to kiss the bride and I said "No thank you"! We weren't there to put on a performance for our families, relations and friends - we were there to solemnise a sacrament of the Church. I'd already asked the priest not to invite the congregation to give the newly married couple a round of applause - quite a *common* thing in the post Vatican 2 Catholic Church, but he said he didn't do that anyway. So, no embarrassing moments that would have detracted from the holiness of the occasion.

Albertus said...

I am familiar with catholic terminology in Hilland, Italy and Lithuania. in these lands, a rector (rettore, rektorius) is the head of a non-parish church, such as a church of Opus Dei, or of the jesuits, that is not a parish chuch itself, but within a territorial parish. The parish priest's assistant is officially known as a vicar (vikaras). These terms used to be used in the USA, i am told by priest friends, until the reforms of the 1970s. A priest friend of mine in Massachusetts tells me thst there the assistant priest is still known as the vicar, and the head of a non-parish church is still called rector, just as here in Europe. Cure is the french term for vucar. Sometimes curato is used also in Italy.

Banshee said...

Ackshually.... It says here, in Curious Church Customs and Cognate Subjects, that kissing the bride was an English custom, albeit one with a fairly restricted 19th century survival. But it survived in two villages in Somersetshire, and a lot of early US settlement came from there.

The author proposes a relationship to the canopy/kiss of peace thing at weddings in the Sarum and York Rite (and at Hispanic weddings in the US and Central America, albeit sometimes the canopy is replaced by a rope, ribbons, or a giant rosary, or those things plus a canopy), as well as to the old English custom of everybody congratulating the bride by kissing her.

The author concludes, "...still, in many rural districts, it is customary for the bridegroom to kiss the bride while they are before the altar, and in sight of the congregation assembled. At Halse, a village in Somersetshire, it is still a recognised custom amongst the laboring classes for the bridegroom, after he has placed the ring on the bride's finger, to take her in his arms and kiss her fervently, and it is a somewhat remarkable feature that instead of this causing any amusement amongst the spectators, it is treated as a solemnity, and would certainly seem to be a distinct survival of the nuptial kiss. A similar custom still prevails at Bishops Lydeard, in Somersetshire."

It's a book of articles. The wedding one is by England Howlett, F.S.A., and the editor is William Andrews, F.R.H.S.

It's funny how the English forget their own customs and words and blame them on us Americans; and how we tend to assume that England, Scotland, et al., are still doing things exactly as they did when our ancestors left for here.

Banshee said...

Life Magazine in 1946 seems to think that every US wedding includes every guest kissing the bride.

Heh, most US wedding receptions today don't even include a reception line for shaking hands.

Sometimes the bride and groom just walk around the reception tables and say hello, under the idea that keeping the guests corralled at tables is the only way to keep proceedings on track. Which is probably true.. but corralling them when they're coming into the reception hall, and before they sit down, is a lot easier, logistically. The less walking the better.

Banshee said...

Google Books still has a lousy search function, but I found some fun things.

The Smart Set magazine has an article called "The Gentle Art of Osculation" which is full of customs about guests kissing the bride. Anybody who kissed the bride before her husband did would have a year of good luck, for instance... which obviously messes with the ceremony quite a lot!

I have no idea of the authenticity of this folklore, because it's in a magazine article that was clearly meant for fun.

There's also an article in Manford's Magazine which pooh-poohs kissing the bride as being mean to the groom, and also as making the bride get bad breath from smokers and drinkers.

There's also a lot of talk about how it was (previously) an English parson's duty to kiss the bride first, and how that was related to the pax; and how originally he would have kissed the groom who would then pass the kiss to his bride.

Banshee said...

Okay... I just found a claim that the announcement came from Ireland, where the priest or minister just told the groom, "Kiss your wife."

It's from Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders, by William Henderson.

Heh, heh, none of it is our fault! None of it! And it's not Protestant stuff, either!

jaykay said...

There are Vicars General (VG) and Vicars Forane (VF).


And Parish Priests (PP) and Catholic Curates (CC). Well, that's the usage in the U.K. and Ireland.

Simon Cotton said...

In France, curé is the parish priest. Vicaire is an assistant priest.