Horsham Uniting Church might not have had quite the who’s who roll-call of dignitaries and celebrities attending but it still managed to show it could put on a pretty decent royal wedding.
One day ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tying the knot at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, England, Horsham Uniting Church staged its own version of the event.
For event co-ordinator and church member Denise Merrett it was a chance to show people an unexpected side of church life.
“There is enough sadness in the world, and we wanted to invite people from our local community to an occasion where they could have some fun, and see that church involvement can be fun”, Denise said.
The event mirrored many aspects of the royal wedding, including the wedding cake which was made using elderflowers and roses.
It took a full day to decorate the hall.
“I love weddings, I’ve helped organise my daughters’ weddings and also a number of local girls over the years,” Denise said.
“For our Harry and Meghan wedding, we advertised in the local paper and invited members in our local community to come along and dress up in wedding gear.
“It wasn’t our first wedding; we did a similar thing when William and Kate married in 2011.”
A highlight of the Horsham UC evening was that everyone was asked to bring small presents for the “bride and groom” that would in turn be donated to charity. Denise said they received over 60 beautiful gifts.
“It was amazing what people gave. A gilt-edged mirror, coat hangers, a pair of vases, mouse traps, tea towels and lots of linen. All the items are brand new and we are looking forward to passing them on to charity,” she said.
Denise said that the Horsham royal wedding did score one special coup.
“Meghan’s father turned up at our event! We thought that was pretty special,” she said.
The event was also a way to introduce the church to people who don’t normally attend.
“We printed some information related to ‘church’ for people to keep – things like a legend that Christ’s cross was made from elderwood and the religious significance of myrtle which Meghan had in her bouquet,” Denise said.
Denise hoped others would discover the same friendliness in the church that she had after moving to Horsham with her late husband after retiring from their farm and local business in Kaniva.
“We were keen to meet people when we moved so we went to the Horsham Uniting Church and were made to feel very welcome,” she said.
As for the timing of their Harry and Meghan event, even a royal wedding has to recognise the local priorities.
“We held our ‘wedding’ the night before so that people could still get to the regional inter-league footy matches the next day,” Denise said.