Wedding bells

Our love and warmest wishes go to all the couples who have married at St Giles.

Purdy and Craig, 27 May 2022

Two lynchpins of Graffham pubs, Purdy Walker and Craig Baldwin, were finally married at St Giles Church on Friday 27 May – after two delays because of pandemic restrictions and a nine-year engagement.  They first met around a decade ago, when both worked at The Foresters Arms, where Craig returned recently as head chef before moving to the same role at Pulborough’s British Garden Centre, while Purdy is housekeeper at The White Horse, where they hosted their wedding reception.

The date for their big day was chosen because 27 is Purdy’s lucky number – and it turned up trumps with the sun beaming all day.  St Giles was the only choice for their wedding, as Purdy, whose family home is Eastwood Stud Farm, East Lavington, explained: “I always wanted to be married in the church I was christened in and attended whilst at Graffham Primary School.”

The bride wore an off-the-shoulder dress with pleated bodice and full A-line skirt and train with button detail down the centre back, in ivory satin.  She carried a bouquet of white peonies, white roses and thistles made for her by her friend Francesca Sharpe.  Attending her were her and Craig’s twin daughters, Lydia and Michaela, wearing ivory dresses to match their Mum, but, in their cases, with a pretty blue print. She was walked down the aisle by her father Russell Walker, to join Craig, sporting a smart navy three-piece suit, waiting for her with his best man and brother Stevan Baldwin.   To match the bride’s bouquet, the church was decorated by Purdy’s sister Lara Walker with peonies, roses, thistles and stocks arranged in suitably rural milk churns.
During the service, conducted by the Revd Vivien, Lara and other sister Kirsty Booker read, respectively, poem Maybe and 1 Coronthians 13’s famous verses on love.  For hymns, they chose Jerusalem, which is included at all the family’s church services, along with One More Step Along The World I Go and Lord of the Dance, accompanied by organist Martin Ridley. Purdy’s grandmother insisted that they newlyweds should leave the church to a peal of St Giles’ bells – but she sadly she is no longer with us to have witnessed it all herself.

Holly and Lewis, 14 May 2022

Holly Hardy and Lewis Watkins had all but abandoned their dream of a countryside church wedding until they stumbled upon Graffham’s St Giles. With demand on venues so high after lockdown when they became engaged six months ago – four years after meeting on a blind date arranged by her sister – they had booked the only slot available for a reception at nearby Cowdray House.  But the residency requirements for a marriage in a church meant exchanging vows in a traditional religious ceremony locally was out of the question.  So when they met the Revd Vivien she suggested instead that they have a civil registration first – followed by a blessing of their wedding afterwards at St Giles.  Which is exactly what they did!

After formalising their union at Marylebone Town Hall, a few weeks in advance, the London residents had their marriage blessed at St Giles on Saturday 14 May, in what is known as ‘a service of prayer and dedication after a civil marriage’. 

Interiors brand owner Holly wore a traditional white dress and carried a bouquet of spring flowers as she and her husband, management consultant Lewis, entered the church together ahead of the service, to Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, played by St Giles’ organist Brian Lanaghan.  They were accompanying by two flower girls in white dresses with blue sashes, overseen by chief bridesmaid Olivia Samuels, Holly’s best friend.  Lewis’ brother Scott was best man.  As part of the service, the Revd Vivien read a prayer written by Holly’s granny who was sadly too unwell to attend.  Holly’s father drove her to the church, and Lewis’ Dad chauffeured them away on to the reception, to the pealing bells of St Giles’ tower.  Holly said: “It was by pure chance that we stumbled on Graffham and how lucky we were – Vivien has been so accommodating and kind to us, she made it possible still to have the church service although for a blessing rather than a wedding.”