Getting Married

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is a place of Christian worship, service, and fellowship. As such, St. Mark’s seeks to be a place where people can experience the Presence of God through the Sacraments. This, of course, includes the Sacrament of Christian Marriage.

Download the St. Mark’s Wedding planner here.
In the Episcopal Church there are several requirements for marriage:

1) At least one of the persons seeking to be married needs to be a baptized Christian. However, neither party needs to be an Episcopalian.
2) The couple must undergo pre-marital counseling either with the priest who will marry them, or an agreed-upon surrogate. This usually means 2-4 meetings which take place several months prior to the wedding.
3) The priest must have at least 30 days notice to perform the marriage.
4) And, anyone seeking to be married, who has been previously married, and subsequently divorced, needs to present the priest with copies of all divorce decrees, and join with the priest in making application to the Bishop of New Jersey to perform the marriage.

Fees and Other Information:
For A Member of St. Mark’s Who Seeks to be Married by the Clergy of St. Mark’s:
Contributing members of St. Mark’s are already providing for the ministries of the parish, and therefore no fee whatsoever is required. A member may want to make a contribution to the church and to the clergy member performing the marriage, but this is completely at the discretion of the couple. If the services of the organist are desired, the organist does require a $250 fee.

For A Non-Member of St. Mark’s who Seeks to be Married at St. Mark’s by the Clergy of St. Mark’s:
Fee to the Church and Altar Guild: $500 ($300 for Post Chapel)
Fee to the Organist (if required): $250
Minimum Fee for the services of the Clergy: $250
For A Non-Member of St. Mark’s who Seeks to be Married Somewhere-Other-Than St. Mark’s by the Clergy of St. Mark’s:
Minimum Fee for the services of the Clergy: $250
And the couple is responsible for paying for transportation for any venue further away than 20 miles. If the priest is to drive, the reimbursement rate is the current IRS mileage rate.
For A Non-Member of St. Mark’s who Seeks to be Married at St. Mark’s by a Clergy Person not from St. Mark’s:
Fee to the Church and Altar Guild: $500 ($300 for Post Chapel)

All details regarding the decoration of the church for the wedding service, the scheduling of the rehearsal and wedding-day activities, and photography and videography must be made in consultation with the clergy officiating at the wedding.
We do not allow wire hangers of any type to tie decorations to the ends of pews. However, soft ribbons or ties may be used.

The clean-up of the decorations after the church service is the responsibility of the couple, unless the couple would prefer to pay an additional amount to have the church cleaning service do this instead.

St. Mark’s never wants to deny anyone a Christian Marriage because of cost. If the above fees are prohibitively expensive, reduced rates may be worked out with the clergy of the parish.

This policy was approved by the vestry of St. Mark’s in November, 2010

The Wedding Liturgy

This is the basic flow of the wedding service in The Episcopal Church. The priest who is officiating at your wedding will go over this with you in great detail as you plan your big day.

The Address

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us
the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.

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.

This is the part of the wedding that everyone remembers from the movies. It establishes the reason that we’ve all gathered together, and it speaks to what marriage is. 

The Declaration of Consent

Into this holy union N.N.. and N.N.. now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace.

I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God’s Word, you do now confess it.

N., will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

The Woman answers

I will.

N., will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

The Man answers

I will.

Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?

The people say

We will.

This part establishes to all gathered that there is no reason why this marriage should proceed. (What reasons could there possibly be for a marriage to NOT proceed? Well, the main reasons would be that one of the people is already married, or that they are closely related.)

Then both members of the couple assent that they are committed to this relationship for life, and through whatever trials and tribulations come their way.

Finally, the communal nature of marriage is affirmed, as those present promise to support the new married couple.

The Presentation

Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

Or

Who presents this woman and man to be married to each other?

I do.

The presentation goes back to the time when women were considered “property” of their father, and then transferred to the care of the husband. Today we might see it as a parent or other family member presenting their beloved child on the day of their marriage.

Homework: Is there to be a presentation? Who will be presenting? Which option will you go with?

The Collect for Marriage

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray,

O gracious and everliving God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who come to you seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A “collect” is a form of prayer. This collect recognizes that God made us in God’s Image, and it asks God to bless this new couple.

The Readings

The suggested readings for a wedding can be found here.

In a traditional wedding there’s a lesson from the Old Testament, the reading of a Psalm, a reading from the New Testament, and a reading from one of the Gospels.

The couple may decide to read fewer lessons, or even include the reading of a poem or some other appropriate source.

If the couple would like Holy Communion during their wedding service, a reading from a Gospel must be included.

The couple should think about who they would like to have read the readings. (If there’s to be Holy Communion, the Gospel lesson is to be read by a deacon or priest.)

Homework:

  • Choose lessons
  • Choose readers
  • Be able to say WHY you’ve chosen these particular readings. 

The Homily

The couple may choose to ask the priest performing the wedding to say a few words about the lessons, their relationship, and the sacrament of marriage.

The Vows

In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

In The Episcopal Church there is no option to “write your own vows.” However, if so desired, after using this vows, the couple may say something to each other publicly.

The Exchange of Rings

Bless, O Lord, this ring to be a sign of the vows by which this man and this woman have bound themselves to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

N., I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Pronouncement of Marriage

Now that N. and N. have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of a ring, I  pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.

Amen.

Just prior to the Pronouncement of Marriage, the priest ties the right hands of the couple together, using the priest’s stole. This is where we get the phrase “tying the knot.”

The Lord's Prayer

If there is to be no Holy Communion during the wedding liturgy, the Lord’s Prayer is said (or sung) here. If there is to be Holy Communion, the Lord’s Prayer is said later in the service.

The Prayers

These prayers are similar to the Prayers of the People, or Prayers of the Faithful during a normal Sunday liturgy. However, these prayers are specifically for the couple, those present, and for their future together.

Homework: Read over these prayer intentions. Are there any that you would like to exclude? Are there any intentions you would like to add?

The Blessing of the Marriage

Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life. We thank you, also, for consecrating the union of man and woman in his Name. By the power of your Holy Spirit, pour out the abundance of your blessing upon this man and this woman. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death.
Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

OR

O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon these your servants, that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The husband and wife still kneeling, the Priest adds this blessing

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may faithfully live together in this life, and in the age to come have life everlasting.  Amen.

The nuptial blessing is one of the most ancient parts of the Christian Marriage liturgy.

Homework: Read through the two blessing options and choose one.

The Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

You may kiss the bride.

Here, the couple kisses, and then turns to greet their family and friends.

The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, may be celebrated here. If so, the couple presents the bread and wine to the Altar, and then receives the Eucharist first. In the Episcopal Church, all Christians are welcome to receive the Sacrament, and it will not be denied to anyone who seeks to receive.

If the wedding is not in the church, and is at another venue, Eucharist is still an option, if so desired.

Homework: Do you want to have Eucharist at your wedding?

The Presentation of the Newly Married Couple

This is not an official part of the wedding liturgy of the Episcopal Church. However many couples like to include it.

And now, I present to you for the first time, Mr and Mrs N.

Homework: Is there to be a presentation? If so, how would you like it worded?