We hope that the time of preparation for your wedding is joyful and as stress-free
as possible. These guidelines offer couples an initial understanding of what marriage
and a wedding ceremony in an Episcopal Church entails and of what our own
church’s particular policies and procedures are.
Definition of Christian Marriage
Marriage is both a legal and a spiritual union. The priest acts as an agent of the
state and signs the marriage license. Christian marriage is also a sacramental
relationship, lifelong in intention. In the marriage ceremony, the priest pronounces
God’s blessing upon the couple’s love and life together. It is the Church’s hope
that Christian marriage begins and matures within the context of a Christian
community; and, indeed, one reason it exists is for the benefit of the Christian
community. “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 in God’s will, for the procreation of
children and their nurture with 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.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 423). Couples requesting a marriage
ceremony at Emmanuel Church are invited to attend worship services before and
during the time of preparation for the marriage.
Requirements of the Canons of the Episcopal Church
At least one member of the couple needs to be baptized.
The authorized liturgies of the Episcopal Church are to be used.
A minimum of thirty (30) days notice of the marriage needs to be given.*
Premarital counseling with the Rector (3-6 sessions) is required
*If one or both members of the couple have been previously married, this has to be discussed with the Rector during the first session. A period of one year after a divorce is finalized is required by the Episcopal Church before the wedding can take place, and the Rector has to obtain permission of the diocesan Bishop in order to officiate at the marriage ceremony. The Rector writes a letter to the Bishop requesting permission after meeting with the couple for pre-marital counseling. The Bishop requires a minimum of 60 days to respond.
Weddings at Emmanuel
The Episcopal Church treats the marriage ceremony as a worship service that praises and thanks God for all the blessings of this life. Thus, planning a wedding should be regarded as planning a worship service. Though not always necessarily the celebrant, the Rector is in charge of all weddings celebrated at Emmanuel Church. Participation of other clergy from another church, denomination or faith needs to be discussed with the Rector during the first meeting with the couple. The liturgy for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage in The Book of Common Prayer (pages 423-432) includes scripture readings, prayers, and the exchange of vows. The use of friends or relatives as readers, the inclusion of personal expressions, and the choice of scriptural readings allow each couple to "design" the service according to their wishes. The service may also include a homily and celebration of Holy Eucharist, if desired.
Wedding Preparation Timeline
Make an appointment with the Rector (540-687-6297) to discuss a potential wedding at Emmanuel Church. Both members of the couple need to attend this meeting.
With clergy agreement, set the wedding date and time. Due to the penitential nature of the season of Lent, no weddings are scheduled between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The Rector is unavailable for weddings the week after Easter and the week before and after Christmas due to parish responsibilities.
Make appointments for marriage preparation with the Rector of Emmanuel Church or with another Episcopal priest located where the couple live or work.
Contact and meet with the organist to select music appropriate for a marriage service. The organist plays for all weddings, unless other arrangements have been approved by the Rector. All musical participants need to be approved by the organist.
Historic Emmanuel Church is a simple and beautiful brick building built in 1842. It is fully heated and air-conditioned and seats a maximum of 130 persons. By prior arrangement, rooms in the Parish Hall next door may be reserved for use by the bridal party for dressing prior to the wedding. The Fellowship Hall may be rented for receptions by separate arrangement with the church office.
Fees and Other Requirements
All fees are due and payable at the wedding rehearsal. Non-members pay $1,000 for the use of the church. (Members pay a fee of $75 for cleaning services.) In addition, a fee of $225 is paid directly to the organist. There is no fee required by the Rector for officiating at the marriage ceremony. However, it is customary to make a donation to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, which is used for providing emergency financial assistance to those in need in our community.
If agreed to by the Rector, an outside facilitator/director may be part of the rehearsal and ceremony.
Photography is permitted before and after the service, but not during the service. A video recording is permitted as long as the camera is mounted on a tripod and not moved during the service.
The traditional worship service candles on the altar are used during the wedding service and are provided by the church. The color of the altar linens will be in the colors specified by the season of the church year, or may be changed to white if you prefer by arrangement with the Rector and the Altar Guild.
The wedding couple is responsible for ordering and paying for two floral arrangements which are to be placed on the small shelves of the chancel columns leading up to the altar. These arrangements will remain for the following Sunday services. Any additional decorations used in the windows or at the ends of pews must be removed at the conclusion of the service. A notice of thanksgiving for the marriage and flowers is printed in the Sunday service bulletin, and a prayer of thanksgiving is said at both Sunday services following the wedding.
If bulletins or service leaflets are desired, they need to be provided by the couple. The Rector will assist in preparing an initial draft. Copies of the following worship books are available in the pews for use by the congregation: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer; the Episcopal Hymnal 1982; and the hymn book Lift Every Voice and Sing
For additional information
We look forward to sharing our historic tradition and church with you. If there is anything else we can do to facilitate your making this important choice or if you have additional questions, please call our church office at 540-687-6297.