Thought Leadership

A very special day

By Colin Walls

For my American friends and colleagues, yesterday was a special day. I hope that everyone had [or is having] a great time. But, for me, today – 6 July – is very special. I am to be married …

As many people who know me will be aware, my wife died about 6 years ago. It was about a year later that I met Libby and I soon realized that my life was going to take a new path. I recall reading that research has shown that the average time for a bereaved man to remarry is 18 months after the death of his wife [for women it is 3 years]. So, I guess I have taken my time. I am very happy about the way things have worked out and so grateful to be given a second chance to make a life with someone.

I am not a religious person, so, when I used the word “given”, it was figurative – I do not really believe that I am being rewarded for leading a good life. I am simply grateful for where circumstances have led me.

Because we are not religious, we are not having a church wedding – just a civil ceremony. Our plan was to do something “very simple” in November. However, some complicated logistics meant that we made the decision to bring it forward to this month. The idea of simplicity just seems to have faded away, but I am pleased to celebrate the occasion with friends and family.

A modern wedding in the UK is quite interesting. In some respects it is quite old fashioned, but other aspects are very 21st Century. For starters, we were required to attend separate interviews, which were intended to ensure that the marriage was “real” and not simply a sham to facilitate what would otherwise be illegal immigration. We can make a number of choices concerning the ceremony itself, including the decision as to whether music is included and, if so, what the music is.

There are two broad options: select music from a supplied list or bring along a CD with 4 tracks recorded. We decided on the latter option. The requirement was that we submitted the CD a few weeks before the event. This was for 2 reasons: first, to ensure that it would play OK; second, to verify that there was no “religious music”. The first reason was totally sensible – a good precaution. The second was completely incomprehensible to me. I could find no explanation other than the fact that we could not have religious music at a secular wedding.

I started to think about this. What is “religious music”? Obviously a recording of a choir singing a hymn would qualify. But what about a piano rendition of “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” – I would just tell them that the track is called “La Di Da Di Da”. That is a well known piece, so they would recognize it, but I am sure that trick would work with something more obscure. Surely, the local Registration Office does not have a team of international religious music experts, who listen to every CD. Also, what qualifies as a religion? A few years ago, a bunch of people put “Jedi” on their census forms and this was accepted. I guess that means I cannot have the Star Wars theme. It is all very silly.

It was made clear to me. If I kicked up a big fuss about this or tried to outwit the system, there might not be a wedding after all. So, my protest has been confined to the odd rant to friends and the above ramblings. The wedding vows may not include the word “obey” nowadays, but sometimes …


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at