11 couples tie the knot at St Francis of Assisi Church

Dubai: Eleven couples tied the knot and received the church’s blessing for their union at St Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali on Friday, the first mass wedding in the church’s history.

Organised by the Couples for Christ (CFC) in Jebel Ali, the mass wedding provided the opportunity for 10 couples who have been civilly wed and one couple who are getting married for the first time to walk down the aisle and solemnise their marriage by a priest.

Fr Reinhold Sahner, parish priest of St Francis of Assisi Church, officiated the wedding with four concelebrants.

“We are celebrating this mass wedding on the Feast of the Holy Family to underline the importance of the family for both church and society being the foundation or the smallest unit of both. It is essential for our children to grow up in a safe and lovingly environment, that provides a social context where mutual respect, responsibility and compassion are daily days tasks, and where our young can mature and become healthy persons ready to form their future in the basis of peace and justice,” Fr Sahner said.

During the ceremony, Fr Sahner emphasised on God’s design for man to have a helper in life, the woman. He urged the couples to find strength, guidance and love in each other and be the “eyes and legs” of one another.

“Together, you are stronger. What binds you together is your love,” Fr Sahner told the couples, nine of whom are from the Philippines, one is from South Africa, and the other one from India.

Filipino couple Richard and Jennifer said they are each other’s source of strength and they are proud to finally get married after three years of being together.

“I’m so happy that finally I can present her to God as my wife. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Richard, who works in production, told Gulf News.

Jennifer is just as ecstatic. She said: “I met him here at the church in our Singles for Christ ministry. We agreed to get married and he sought the permission of my parents, which is part of our tradition as Filipinos.”

The new Mr and Mrs Peroche said their families cannot come to Dubai for the ceremony but they will share their wedding photos with them.

For Danilo Albano and Jackelyn, the church wedding was a dream come true. The two had a civil wedding ceremony 21 years ago.

“We’re very happy that finally we’re getting married in a church. We’re planning to have a church wedding on our 25th wedding anniversary. But the church gave us this opportunity to get married this year, so we’re thankful that CFC Jebel Ali helped us,” Jackelyn told said.

Danilo said their two daughters, now 18 and 15, are part of the entourage. He said he and his wife will have their second honeymoon for a few days here in the UAE.

The ceremony was also extra special for Riaan and Alicja Natalia Badenhorst, who have been married for three years. Their civil wedding three years ago got a few hiccups.

“My husband was actually very sick on our wedding day, so we get to do a do-over where he gets to enjoy it for a change,” Alicja, who is from South Africa, said with a smile.

Asked which anniversary they’ll celebrate, the first or the second one, Riaan said: “Our first wedding was held on May 3, 2014. Now, we have two wedding anniversaries. The wife might pick two.”

“We get double the fun!” Alicja said with a chuckle.

Arnold and Gina Valbuena, cluster leaders of CFC Jebel Ali, said the ceremony took months of preparation. They also hope for God to bless their union.

“We will keep praying that they always put God in the centre of their lives and they may remember this special day as they continue to journey through life together,” the couple said in a statement.