If you have found your way to this part of our website, we are assuming you have some interest in how we think about weddings at St. Mary’s, which leads us to believe you are engaged to be married. With that impression we have written the following:
First of all, congratulations on your engagement!
May this union bring you joy –
This web page anticipates questions you might have regarding your wedding. When there are easy answers, you will perhaps find them here. Please know that for the most part these are guidelines and that the Rev. Ramona will be happy to field any of the more complex questions, and help you design an wedding that fits who you are
What if we are not official members of St. Mary’s?
It is church canon (law) that at least one of you has been baptized, and of course it is preferable if the couple is a part of the work and worship of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. We believe that in marriage two people make a commitment to each other before God. We also believe that the church community makes a commitment to uphold these two people in their life together. To ask the congregation of St. Mary’s to make that commitment for you in good faith means we need to be in relationship with you. It is also true that there are as many life circumstances as there are people, and the Rev. Watkins is happy to discuss your particular situation with you. Exceptions can be made.
What’s the first thing we need to do?
Talk to the Rev. Ramona about your desire to be married in order to reserve the church building and her time. No wedding may be scheduled without her permission.
How much notice do we need to give St. Mary’s?
The canonical (church law) answer is at least thirty days. Of course, it is preferable to think a bit farther ahead to ensure the date you desire is available, so that all the preparation that is required of you may be completed as stress free as possible.
What if we want to be married off-site from St. Mary’s?
Actually, most of the weddings these days happen in places other than St. Mary’s.
When do we apply for the marriage license?
As soon as you are able it is a good idea to apply for the marriage license. The Rev. Watkins requires the license in her office the week prior to the ceremony.
What about pre-marital counseling?
It is required by church canon (law) that you have some sort of premarital counseling. It is our preference that you choose to do this counseling with a licensed professional. Such things as family of origin issues, finances, sexuality, children, and gender roles, among other things, should be discussed. The cost of premarital counseling is the responsibility of the couple. If you don’t already have a relationship with a counselor, we can give you some suggestions.
What if one or both of us has been divorced?
In the Episcopal Church, being previously married does not exclude you from the possibility of being married again. It is required by church and civil law that divorce paperwork is final. If either of you has been divorced, please mention that to the Rev. Watkins. She will want to make sure that divorce agreements about finances and the care of children are being fulfilled.
What if we are living together before we are married?
Living together before being married does not preclude your getting married in the Episcopal Church.
What if we are a same-sex couple?
In the Episcopal Church, we will happily marry you! You will be treated as any other couple seeking God’s blessing on their lifelong commitment.
What will our service be like?
The Episcopal Church is blessed with a beautiful marriage service in our Book of Common Prayer. It is also possible to create a service that is more tailored to you as a couple. To craft a service that is meaningful for you, you will meet with the Rev. Ramona for at least two sessions. In between these sessions you will be given some ‘homework’ to help her get to know you better and to help clarify your thinking about what marriage means to you.
How long should we plan the service to last?
This answer depends on several things, one of which is whether you would like to have the Eucharist (Sacrament of Bread and Wine) as a part of your wedding. At St. Mary’s all people, no matter what, are welcome to participate in this meal. A service with the Eucharist can last between forty minutes to an hour, depending on music. A service without the Eucharist can last from twenty to forty minutes, depending on music and number of readings.
May we invite other Episcopal clergy, or clergy from other denominations or religious traditions, to participate in the service?
Generally, yes, but please talk to the Rev. Ramona about this before you begin planning the wedding. If they are coming from another state there is some paperwork involved.
May we have a unity candle?
The unity candle is not a part of the Episcopal marriage service, and in fact is redundant to the binding of hands and the blessing. It is preferable not to have a unity candle. So, (not to put too fine a point on it), no.
What about pictures?
It is fine to take pictures during the rehearsal, but please no flash photography during the actual ceremony. It is a good idea to take pictures before the wedding, and wise to finish them up about a half an hour before guests come. You may take pictures anywhere you like.
What about flowers?
You may place flowers anywhere you like except directly on the altar. We have plant stands of various sizes. Please be certain that all floral arrangements have something on the surfaces underneath them in order to protect the wood against water spills.
What about decorations?
You may decorate the church however you like, but please use no thumbtacks or tape. If you want bows hung from the pews, wire works well. The altar guild will change the hangings in the church to white. There are also iron candelabra for votive candles available. They can be attached to the end of the pews down the center isle of the Sanctuary. Please ask well ahead of time if you would like to use them. Coordination of installation and removal of the candelabra requires us to schedule our team of installers and there will there will be an additional fee for this.
What about bulletins?
The church does not provide bulletins for your wedding. You can choose not to have bulletins at all, but if you do, it is important that the priest proof the bulletins before they are printed to make sure everything is in the right order. Your bulletins may be as simple or fancy, or detailed or streamlined as you wish.
What about a rehearsal?
A rehearsal is a good idea. It will take about forty minutes starting when all the participants show up. Please invite all those who will be participating in your ceremony in any way.
Is there a fee for the use of the church?
If the Rev. Ramona or another clergy member of St. Mary’s officiates, there is no fee. For an outside clergy person, look here for building use fees. . There is however, a fee paid to those who clean the church, and that is $60, more if the reception is held here. Exceptions to that can be made if you can tidy up after yourself. Please make that check payable to the person we name ahead of time. There is also a $75 gift requested for our altar guild that compensates them for their time in setting up and taking down the appropriate linens, for replacing the candles, etc. Please make that check payable to ‘St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’, write in the memo that it is for the altar guild, and give it to the Rev. Watkins before the wedding. Also, it really helps to have someone who knows the sound system to make sure the sound is all working well, so there is $50 charge for us to have someone there. Same deal, check to St. Mary’s, ‘sound’ in the memo please.
What about money for the priest?
It is customary to make a gift to the priest’s discretionary fund. Out of this fund she buys food certificates for those who need food, provides emergency funds for individuals experiencing emergencies, provides for the needs of someone in the parish, or purchases something the church needs that isn’t in the budget. It is important for her that you know she receives no personal compensation for this Sacrament. The customary amount the Rev. Watkins receives is about $700, but that is just a suggestion. Please make the check out to the ‘Rev. Watkins Discretionary Fund’ and give it to her before the wedding.
May we throw rice after the service?
Throwing rice is not allowed because it causes harm to birds. Confetti is also not good because it is such a mess to clean up. Blowing bubbles has been a good idea, and looks nice in pictures too.
What about one of those aisle runner things to walk on?
This is not recommended – they never seem to line up right and become such a thing to fuss with it takes the focus away from the service.
What if I don’t want any music at my wedding? Or what if I want a string quartet (or something like that) without organ or piano?
That’s fine. There is no music fee if one of the the Music Directors is not involved and no keyboard music is used.
How much is St Mary’s Music Director going to cost?
There is a fee of $250.00 payable on or before the day of the wedding.
What if I want a friend or relative to play? Or singers or instrumentalists?
That is fine, but we ask that since you won’t be using one of our Music Directors, a donation be made to the music fund. And you can work out their fees with them.
Will someone help me choose music?
Very few people start wedding planning knowing everything that they want musically. In the music planning session, our musician will play a variety of things and help you choose. A minimalist approach to music planning consists of the prelude music (10 to 20 minutes), the processional, and the postlude. Beyond that, you could easily include a soloist or a congregational hymn or two. The inclusion of Holy Eucharist gives you more musical options as well.
What are my musical options at St Mary’s?
Music may be chosen for the organ, piano, or harpsichord in addition to any musicians you bring in. (There is a $75 fee for the tuning of the harpsichord.) Should you request that St. Mary’s Choir or Handbell Choir play for your wedding, a suggested donation of $125 each is applicable. Also keep in mind that your music choices will be limited to the repertoire that the choir has learned already, unless there is sufficient time to prepare something new by your wedding date.
Will the organ or piano be tuned for my wedding?
The organ and piano will not be tuned for your wedding, unless it happens to fall at a time when the church regularly has tuning scheduled. If you would like tuning anyway, our regular technician will be able to tell you the cost, payable to him.
In spite of its length, this web page isn’t intended to swamp you with details as much as it is an attempt to answer any questions you might have at this point.
Again, congratulations on your engagement and many blessings to you!