Congratulations on your engagement! We are honored that you wish to ask God’s blessings upon your marriage at St. Paul’s. In the Christian church, marriage represents the visible unity between Christ and the church and is the principle sacramental union between man and woman sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Marriage services reflect this spiritual truth. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Holy matrimony or Christian marriage is marriage within the Body of Christ represented by the Church. As it is the expressed intent of the couple to nurture their relationship within the Body, that takes on reality in the context of the local church. Thus, in the Episcopal Church, the church is open to members of its congregations for marriage
You should call the Church Office to check on available dates. Weddings are scheduled far in advance and because of the demands on staff, parking, etc., we only celebrate one wedding per day, usually Saturday in any church season other than Lent. So plan early. Also, it is necessary that a clergy person agree to take on the responsibility that a couple will meet the requirements for marriage in the Church before any wedding can be considered officially scheduled. They, or another Episcopal priest must agree to perform the service.
To be married in the Church, one of the engaged will need to be a baptized member of the Church. Every couple must be willing to enter the Church’s pre-nuptial counseling program which involves three to four sessions, or more if necessary. These sessions are designed to help a couple reflect on how living in Christ, as the Church sees that, can make itself known in the every day aspects of marital life. Here the Church hopes to be a helpful partner. The couple also must be willing to sign a document called the Declaration of Intention, describing marriage as a lifelong union. There may be other needs and requirements for an individual couple, such as the special circumstances of re-marriage, that would necessitate further preparations or action. Please consult with your priest.
No there’s more! The bride will need to schedule an appointment with a representative of the Wedding Committee which is charged with coordinating the service and directing the rehearsals. While outside wedding consultants are not forbidden, the Wedding Committee is the responsible party for the conduct of the service and the maintenance of the parish’s etiquette for services. When an outside consultant is present, the consultant will be serving to assist the committee.
Every church and denomination has its traditions and etiquette, as does St. Paul’s. The Wedding Committee will seek to be as positive and flexible as possible, but all the church’s policies, including no flash photography during a service, are designed to keep a prayerful and spiritual setting in which we invite God’s Presence and celebrate the holy nature of the new life of the couple. The liturgy during the service must conform to that set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
Music also is a part of the sacred liturgy and needs to be compatible with music we might use in regular worship services. There are many lovely and traditional pieces appropriate for weddings. The Minister of Music can tell you what these pieces are and can also let you know if something you might be thinking about is acceptable for the occasion. All music will need to be coordinated through the Music Minister, including outside instrumentalists and consultants prior to their being hired for helping during a marriage service.
There are policies on flowers and photography that the Wedding Committee can answer. Flowers can be simple to take advantage of the simple elegance of the sacred space, or they can be more ornate. There are a few rules to follow, such as: Arrangements on either side of the altar Cross should not be higher than the Cross; and flowers may not be used on the altar that obscure, or sit in front of the Cross. There are other common sense rules we follow relative to flowers and photography. Ask the Wedding Committee for details.
The Church is here to serve her members, so there are no direct fees for use of the facilities. We do ask that the organist be compensated $250 for their services, and the sexton $150 for the extra after hours work that takes place Friday evenings and Saturday. One check may be issued for both services made payable to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
We hope this information has been helpful as you begin to plan for your marriage. We are delighted and privileged to join with you in preparing for one of God’s greatest gifts, new life as a married couple. May God bless you together as you take these first steps of a wonderful journey.