Secular ‘church’ provides religion-free weddings in Denmark

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 21:36 EDT
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Married couple via Shutterstock
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Danish couples keen on a church wedding but without all the religious trappings will soon be able to tie the knot in a converted church, dressed however they wish and saying ‘yes’ to the music of their choice.

“Civil weddings take about six minutes and that’s it. Not very romantic,” said Erik Frodelund, proud owner of the former church in the tiny island village of Lohals.

“Here they will be able to have a ceremony among all the trappings of a church, with music — basically whatever they want — without the religious content.”

Purchased from an Evangelical-Lutheran congregation a year ago, the church sports statues of Christ, a baptismal font, an original altar with railings, crosses and original pews and candlesticks.

The purchase contract, however, prohibits the building’s use for religious purposes.

“When the congregation wanted to sell the building, a local builder wanted to transform it into housing. But I thought it would be a shame as it’s a special building in our community,” Frodelund said.

He added he did not think there would be a problem holding civil weddings in what appeared to be a normal church.

“A statue is a statue whether it’s in a church or outside on a square. Just look at Rome. These are simply symbols of our Danish heritage,” Frodelund said, adding that the church will be ready for its first wedding in March 2013.

“I call it a culture church. People can decide precisely how they want their marriage ceremony to take place, they can attach their iPhone to the system for their favourite music, drink champagne — basically however they want their wedding ceremony,” Frodelund said.

“Perhaps people want to get married in a diving outfit, flippers and all, because they met each other on a diving holiday — well that’s fine,” he added.

Located on Langeland island, which has a population of 13,000, Frodelund’s wedding hinterland is hardly local.

“We already have a lot of Germans who come to Langeland to get married. I believe this will attract even more from Germany, Denmark and elsewhere,” he said.

Although Frodelund is contractually prevented from saying how much he paid for his church building, he said he has spent 40,000 euros ($52,700) on refurbishment.

“I’m not looking to make money on this, but if I can have the heating and electricity paid, that’s fine,” he said.

[Married couple via Shutterstock]

Agence France-Presse
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