Yes, the fact that Pippa Middleton’s forthcoming nuptials may be attended by members of the public is clearly a bit of a shock to some. All that meticulous planning, all that co-ordinated designer garb, all the calculated ingratiation in which various hangers-on have indulged to get an invitation – what’s the point if the pristine picture is sullied by a bunch of locals who may not be wearing quite the right clothes, who may not have quite enough money, who may not have quite enough connections to A-listers or aristocrats, who may, you know, smell a bit?
To which the reply should be: you clearly fail to understand quite what a Church of England wedding is. Exasperatingly as the institutional C of E can be, much of what it represents is worth cherishing – especially at a time when our society grows more divided and our lives become increasingly corporatised and privatised. And nowhere is this more evident than in the church’s view of celebrity marriages – or, to use the correct ecclesiastical jargon, “marriages”.
This reminds us of something deeper, too: people are part of our lives regardless of whether we invite them in
It actually has an official policy on such things. It begins with the observation that “the same law applies to the weddings of celebrities in Anglican cathedrals and churches as it does to the weddings of any other persons”; the fact that this needs spelling out tells us something in itself. It is splendidly dismissive of “exclusivity” deals: “A marriage is a public ceremony which at the least all parishioners are entitled to attend.”
The actual point of the marriage ceremony being that it is in public. Oi, you lot, we’re going to be shagging each other, alright?