According to the Episcopal Church, The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God. (BCP, p. 423.) Therefore, both members of the couple should understand and feel comfortable with the disciplines and dedication required in Christian marriage.
Historically, people have come to St. John’s because the Christian faith is a part of their background or courtship or both, and they want it to be a meaningful basis for their future life together. The meaning of Christian marriage can be lost, however, when one thinks that the church is only a beautiful setting for a ceremony.
Getting married in the church is not for everyone and, thankfully, there are many beautiful places and ways to tie the knot. With this in mind, we encourage a frank discussion of not only your hopes but also your beliefs regarding marriage and weddings.
What makes a “Christian marriage” Christian? Christian marriage implies a belief that God, through Jesus Christ and the community, will play an important role in the new relationship. In fact, the life of faith expects all of our relationships to be characterized by fidelity, humility, and honest communication, and that we should seek forgiveness when we hurt each other.
If you seriously consider the implications involved in a Christian relationship and determine that these can and will be applicable to your common life, you will be comfortable being married at St. John’s.
Who may be married at St. John’s Church?
Any man and woman (neither of whom is divorced*) who are sincere in a commitment to the establishment of a Christian marriage, are members of St. John’s Church, and are willing to conform to the Church’s policies, may be married at St. John’s Church. The Canons of the Episcopal Church require that a 30-day period of notice be given to the clergy prior to the marriage date and that at least one of the two persons to be married must be baptized.
*If one or both people have been divorced, check with the clergy.
Who may officiate?
No service of Holy Matrimony may be conducted at St. John’s Church without clergy present. Additional Episcopal clergy and clergy of other denominations may be involved in the service, when the involvement seems properly justified. When clergy outside the staff of St. John’s are involved, it is proper for the rector to extend a formal invitation.
How are wedding arrangements made?
After reviewing all information on this page and agreeing that Christian marriage is the desire of both parties, the couple telephones the parish office (516-692-6368 x3) and makes an appointment to meet with the clergy. At that meeting, the couple will complete the marriage form. No wedding may be scheduled until the couple has met with the clergy.
What takes place at the initial clergy meeting?
The couple and the clergy get to know each other and the clergy counsels the couple about the nature of Christian marriage and the preparation tools that are available.
What other meetings are expected?
Couples typically meet 3-4 more times with the clergy. They discuss family of origin, areas of conflict, the life of faith, personal finances, intimacy, and significant prior relationships. Sometimes couples about to be married are invited to an evening with “veteran” couples of the parish to share stories of struggle and triumph.
Tell us about the nature of the service.
Marriage at St. John’s Church is performed within the rich tradition of the Episcopal Church. The “Celebration and Blessing of Marriage” as contained in the Book of Common Prayer is used as the liturgical form for the service. To ensure the uniqueness of each service and the participation of the couple in the design and execution of their particular wedding service, each couple is asked to choose:
- the readings and/or lessons, and who will read them
- whether or not they would prefer the Holy Communion
- the music (Hymns, Processional, Recessional and soloists)
- other details relating to the conduct of the service
What time of year is best for weddings?
Weddings are discouraged in Lent and there are no weddings during Holy Week. Also, no weddings are held the week before or after Christmas. Weddings are normally held on Saturday and no later than 6:00 p.m.
What is the rehearsal?
The rehearsal is the opportunity, generally the night before the ceremony, for the wedding party to review the mechanics involved in the service itself. It is an enormously important part of the wedding preparation, in that it provides the opportunity to answer any questions involving the service itself. It lasts about an hour and involves the entire wedding party “walking through” the wedding service.
What about music?
The wedding party should contact the parish organist well in advance of the wedding date to work with her on the music. The only restriction upon music is that choices must support the symbols of the church service. We recommend that they come from the rich tradition of music written for the church. Click here to download a list of appropriate musical choices. If an outside organist is to be used, St. John’s organist will be paid a “bench fee” of $150. Additional musicians (soloists, harpsichordists, violinists) are possible, and arrangements may be made with the assistance of the organist. Singers or instrumentalists are responsible for furnishing their own music and a copy of the accompaniment for the organist, preferably in the key in which it is to be performed.
What rules govern photography?
A wedding is a sacred and solemn event. We work hard to ensure that the two persons being married are prepared for that event and are not in any way distracted from its importance for their future life together. We therefore require guests and outside professional photographers to comply with the following rules on photography:
- Flash photographs of arriving guests, ushers, bridesmaids, bride and groom are acceptable prior to the service.
- Posed photographs may be made of the wedding party at the altar before or after the service. The outdoor chapel, including the church garden, is also available for photographs and posed groupings.
- Flash pictures from the vestibule (the small entrance hall) may be made of the bride and other members of the wedding party during the entrance and exit processions. Photographers are NOT allowed to ask the participants to stop during the entrance or exit processions. The professional photographer is permitted to take non-flash pictures during the entrance and exit processions from the balcony if he or she has a very quiet camera.
- No other pictures are allowed during the course of the service. Ushers should remind arriving guests with cameras of this regulation to avoid the necessity of the clergy having to stop the service to make such a request.
It is the responsibility of the bride or groom to make our rules and parish customs clear to photographers and to all persons attending the wedding.
What can you tell me about flower arrangements for a wedding?
If your wedding is on a Saturday, you may use the altar flower arrangements which St. John’s Flower Committee provides for Sunday services. Call the church office if special colors are requested. Supplemental or premium altar flowers may be requested and paid for by the family. Any additional flowers are to be provided by the wedding party. No tape or staples are to be used in the church. Also, no aisle runners are permitted at St. John’s. If the wedding is held during the week before the flowers have been arranged for Sunday services, the altar flowers must be provided by the family.
What is the Blessing of a Civil Marriage?
The church is happy to bless a civil marriage, and in many parts of the world it is normal for people to be married first in a civil ceremony, and then go to the church for the blessing of the marriage. The same policies and Canon Laws, as described in this booklet for a church wedding, apply to the blessing of a civil marriage.
Is it possible to dress at the church?
Though limited, space is available for both bride and groom to dress for the service. Arrange a time with the church office to enter the church on the day of the wedding.
- If you are having a rehearsal dinner, it is best to hold it following the rehearsal itself. If you want the officiating clergy and his or her spouse to attend the dinner, please let them know in advance and send an invitation.
- LICENSES SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE CLERGY AT THE TIME OF THE REHEARSAL. Weddings cannot go forward unless the clergy has seen the license before the service.
- Throwing of rice, birdseed, confetti or rose petals is not permitted.
- If bulletins containing the order of service are desired, the wording is subject to approval by the officiating clergy in advance of printing since it is a worship service and represents the church as well as the couple. The couple is responsible for arrangements with a printer.
Wedding Fees & Offerings
All fees and offerings should be in the office prior to the rehearsal. The church and clergy offerings are tax deductible.
Suggested contribution of $1,500 – check should be made payable to St. John’s Church.
Suggested contribution of $500 – check should be made payable to St. John’s Church with Rector’s Fund in memo line.
$250 – check should be made payable directly to the organist, Carol Weitner.
Rehearsal – $50 per session, excluding immediately preceding ceremony.
Additional $50 to accompany soloists or instrumentalists.
$150 – check should be made payable directly to the sexton.