Church bells and a chuppah

By Jennifer Lipman, December 15, 2011
Tying the knot: James Hughes and Eleanor Rochford

Tying the knot: James Hughes and Eleanor Rochford

A rabbi and a priest will be joining forces this weekend to officiate at what they believe to be the UK's first Catholic-Jewish wedding ceremony in a Catholic church.

When James Hughes and his non-Jewish fiancée Eleanor Rochford tie the knot on Sunday they will have a traditional Catholic ceremony. But they will also stand under a chuppah and their rabbi, Paul Glantz, will recite Jewish blessings when they exchange rings. The bride will walk around the groom seven times and the couple will also sign a ketubah

Mr Hughes, who grew up in the Reform Jewish community, said his Jewish side was "always part of my identity". But, four years ago, he met Ms Rochford, who comes from a staunchly Catholic background.

"We've tried to make our wedding as equal as possible," he said. "She can't get married in a shul, but the priest has agreed that I don't have to take communion and has changed the wording of the part that says I must raise my children as Catholics."

Rabbi Glantz, who trained at Leo Baeck College and advertises himself as "the Wedding Rabbi", has performed a number of mixed-faith weddings. He offers ceremonies incorporating readings from the book of Psalms or Rumi poetry in order to "create a tapestry of traditions".

"It's been difficult for both families but we all get on very well now and we appreciate each other's culture," said Mr Hughes, 33, adding that if they had children, they'd be "brought up to understand both of our faiths. I hope that wouldn't mess them up too much."

He said the rabbi and the priest, Norbert Fernandes, had been working together on the logistics. "The priest studied Hebrew for his PhD so he's excited about it," said Mr Hughes.

Last updated: 2:43pm, December 15 2011