Mary and Joseph spring a wedding surpise at Cumbrian nativity service

A couple ‘playing’ Mary and Joseph in a West Cumbrian church nativity left the congregation in shock after springing a surprise wedding.

David Blamire and Chrissie Armstrong decided that they wanted to get married during the special Angels and Shepherds Nativity service at St James’, Whitehaven, yesterday.

And to top off the nativity family affair, their seven month old daughter, Daisy, was baptised as well as ‘playing’ the part of the baby Jesus in the Nativity Tableau.

Chrissie, 36, said: “When we were arranging Daisy’s christening we looked at each other and said ‘Why don’t we just get married at the same time?’. It was the obvious thing to do.

“We’ve both been married before so we didn’t want to make a big fuss in all the preparation. So often weddings are about other people rather than the bride and groom but this way we knew it would be right for us.

“It’s amazing that we managed to keep it all such a secret. David’s dad had an inkling that Daisy might be baby Jesus, but the wedding came out of the blue for everyone else. ”

The Rev’d Robert Jackson, Priest-in-Charge of St James’ Whitehaven, was one of the few people who were in on the secret. He arranged for the couple to be married under licence, meaning wedding banns did not have to be read out in the weeks leading up to the surprise ceremony. And he also helped stash Chrissie’s wedding dress in the church vestry, meaning she could get changed quickly before the ceremony.

He explained: “The looks on everyone’s faces when we explained what was going to happen was an absolute picture. There were gasps and then cheers after people were told what David and Chrissie had arranged.

“I’d known about this for a few weeks but other than me, my churchwarden and our organist everyone else was completely in the dark.

“When they explained what they wanted to do I was really keen to make this work for them as best I could. It’s really important that as a church we’re open to the requests of others and we help out whenever we can. Jesus said ‘Come as you are. You are welcome.’ And that is how we as a church should approach things.

“We’d already baptised Daisy who was beautifully behaved both during the christening and when she was our baby Jesus. Then I just said in front of the congregation: ‘You know Mary and Joseph weren’t married at this point and neither are you. How would you both like to get married now?’ Of course they both said yes and that’s when the gasps began.”

Among the unsuspecting congregation were David’s parents, Albert and Anne, who are both members of the choir at St James’. David was a server at St James’ as a child.

Robert added: “I’ve officiated at plenty of wedding ceremonies but this one will stand out long in people’s memories. It was a wonderful occasion in which we celebrated together the forthcoming birth of our Saviour, we welcomed Daisy into the life of the church and we witnessed David and Chrissie making commitments to each other before God.”

The couple had even managed a secret rehearsal in church a few nights before the big day. Robert, together with the newly-weds, also arranged for special vows to be said during the wedding ceremony reflecting a commitment to Chrissie’s older daughter, Lily, aged 10, who was let in on the secret on Saturday night.

Chrissie added: “People sometimes have the idea that church is quite stuffy, but Rev’d Jackson and everyone at St James’ has been brilliant and made all our wishes come true for a special Christmas. We’re delighted at how it all went.”

The nativity newly-weds, Daisy, Lily and friends and family all enjoyed a wedding party at Whitehaven Rugby Union Club, yesterday afternoon.

ENDS


For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.