Archdeacon Michael: Marrying in a cathedral

Archdeacon Michael's wedding day and pictured at Carlisle Cathedral with wife Ruth 26 years ago and now
Archdeacon Michael's wedding day and pictured at Carlisle Cathedral with wife Ruth 26 years ago and now
Share this article

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is the case then my home is a very noisy place.


I enjoy painting and there are a quite a few original ‘Everitts’ on the walls along with paintings by friends of mine, one or two embroidery pictures stitched by my wife or me, and some things from when we lived in Africa.
The house is as festooned as a teenager’s bedroom with posters, although we would like to think that it has a little more sophistication.
I think because of that one evening as we were discussing wedding day memories with a friend, he asked to see a photo of the big day. It is 26 years to the day since my wife and I got married. Her dad is also a clergyman and he worked for Carlisle diocese and was part of Carlisle Cathedral’s team. This meant she had the right to be married in the cathedral and as such a lot of our arrangements were made simple.
They lived in a house next door to the cathedral and so no wedding cars were needed. There are a couple of large halls connected to the cathedral which meant we could also walk to the receptions. Before being ordained I worked for a wallpaper and fabric firm and their wedding gift was fabric which was used for the wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses. A friend made the dresses, others did the catering and marrying someone who had grown up in Scotland meant the toasts were to be local drams to where her grandparents lived.
I think because of all of the above my friend wanted to see a photo. In among all our of pictures there is one of the wedding day up on the wall. It perfectly sums up the day for me, but disappointed my friend deeply. It is of the inside of the cathedral from under the organ. In the foreground in silhouette is the choir then in the distance are on either side there are small figures who are our family and friends. The main part of the picture is dominated by the great East Window of the cathedral and its reflection in the polished stone floor. There standing in front of the altar, about a centimetre high is the two of us. While no details of the dress or my suit can be made out, no smiling faces can be seen, this is the photo that captures the day for me. Music, family, friends and my wife all placed in the grand scheme of God’s love, care and beauty.
If the estate agents say “Location, Location” is what matters with a house, then for me all human relationships, whether marriage or daily life need to placed into their context. That context is complex with history, geography, art, community and family all playing key roles and all placed in the context of God.