God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 1 John 4:16
The marriage and blessing of two people is a holy union; a lifelong, spiritual commitment. It begins with your desire to form a lasting, life-long partnership with another in God’s love, and continues throughout your lives as a process of intentional living and growing together. In this holy union, each of you as an individual, and together as a couple, gradually transform and mature in God’s presence and image.
Weddings are rites of passage, a sacred ritual that celebrates your desire to enter into a life-long relationship. It symbolizes the ending of former ways of life and other future possibilities, and establishes a particular pathway into the future – one that you promise to travel together.
By uniting within the context of a faith community, you recognize that God is active in the love you feel for one another, and you place your relationship in God’s care. Your individual stories – and your story as a couple are celebrated in the context of the story of God and God’s ways with the human community, as understood within a particular community of faith.
Within the faith community, your personal stories are seen in the light of God’s action in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s unfolding pattern in our lives is one of dying to self and rising to Christ, of transformation, and of self-offering. A Christian relationship is the living out of a self-giving way of being in a community with one another, in the larger context of the Christian community.
Through this sacramental rite, you as a couple enter into a life-long commitment. You make your vows before God and the gathered community of family, friends and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help you fulfill your vows. The exchange of your vows and holy union is a sacrament – an outward and visible expression of God’s grace in bringing you together and nurturing your love.
Weddings and Blessings in the Episcopal Church
A wedding in the Episcopal Church is governed by The Book of Common Prayer, other approved liturgical resources, Canon Law and the laws of the State. The Book of Common Prayer is the foundation for all Episcopal worship services – referred to as liturgies in the Episcopal Church – and provides the liturgical framework by which a wedding is celebrated. While the Episcopal Church has not yet developed a liturgy for same-sex marriages/blessings, it has and continues to develop authorized rites for use. Likewise, the Church recognizes that in many of its dioceses, such celebrations are a usual part of the life of the community. For these liturgies, St. Paul’s uses an adaptation of the Office of the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage found in The Book of Common Prayer. Depending upon your situation, the appropriate rite will be provided for you as you plan your service.
To be united in the Episcopal Church, it is required that:
- at least one of the couple be a baptized Christian,
- the ceremony be attested to by at least two witnesses, and
- the marriage must conform to the laws of the State and the Canons of the Church.
Scheduling and Expectations
The date for your ceremony will be chosen after your initial meeting with the officiating priest and once you have signed the acknowledgement that you have read, and will conform to the policy of St. Paul’s regarding weddings and blessings. These liturgies are scheduled on weekdays, Saturdays, or on Sundays but are not customarily scheduled during Lent or Holy Week. In addition, they are not scheduled on any major holyday, such as Christmas and Easter.
Scheduling your ceremony date at least six months in advance is advisable. This allows plenty of time to plan for your liturgy, and complete three counseling sessions with the officiating priest during the course of your preparation and – if you are not already a member – become familiar with the St. Paul’s community. We ask that you worship regularly with us at St. Paul’s. We believe that your union is not just a ceremony in our building; it is part of the community of seekers and believers here. Your individual spiritual journeys and your journey as a couple will be enriched by your participation. Many opportunities exist for involvement, expression, reflection and growth.
While St. Paul’s does not require that you become part of our community before your ceremony, we do hope that you will carefully consider us as a potential church home during the time that you prepare for your ceremony.
For more guidelines and expectations, please download our complete Wedding Packet here, or contact the Parish Office to obtain one. In it you will find helpful information concerning music, flowers, coordination, and fees. We look forward to helping you plan this important step with you!