“Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the couple enters into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.”
-The Book of Common Prayer, p. 861
This section includes the teaching of the Episcopal Church about Holy Matrimony and guidelines for the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage at St. Andrew. We hope that it will provide an informative and useful introduction to our parish beliefs and practices for couples who are planning a Christian marriage.
If, after reading over this material, you wish to inquire further about how to arrange for a wedding in this church, please contact the parish office at (231) 796-5473.
We thank God for your inquiry, and we invite you to use the following prayer for those who are preparing to commit themselves to one another in Holy Matrimony.
“O gracious and everliving God, you have created us in your image: Look mercifully upon this couple 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. Amen.”
-The Book of Common Prayer, page 425
Marriage in the Episcopal Church
The Book of Common Prayer and the Canon Laws of the Episcopal Church provide the following directions for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage.
· Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between two persons in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that one, at least, of the parties must be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by at least two witnesses; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of this Church.
· The couple must meet with the clergy in pre-marital instruction. In order for the clergy to provide responsible counseling and preparation, it is recommended that the couple contact the church a minimum of six months prior to the proposed date of the wedding.
· Both parties to the marriage must declare that they hold marriage to be a lifelong union of as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, and sign the Declaration of Intention, which includes the following statement: "We believe that the union of two persons 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."
· In the event that one or both parties to the proposed marriage are divorced, the member of the clergy must obtain the permission of the Bishop of the Diocese in order to officiate at the wedding. Guidelines for this application are provided by the Bishop’s office and will be followed as part of the pre-marital instruction.
Marriage in The Episcopal Church of St. Andrew, Big Rapids
The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is, above all, a service of worship offered to the Glory of God, according to the tradition of the Episcopal Church. Except in extraordinary circumstances, weddings are always celebrated in the church. All weddings at St. Andrew are scheduled through the office of the Rector. Ordained clergy of the parish may share with the Rector in officiating at the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage. With the permission of the Rector, clergy of another Episcopal parish or another Christian church may assist in a wedding at St. Andrew.
It is recommended that couples contact a member of the clergy a minimum of six months before the proposed date of the wedding. The date and time of the wedding must be confirmed with the Rector before any arrangements are made for receptions, invitations, or other announcements. Any subsequent changes in the dates or times of the wedding and/or rehearsal should be confirmed with the Rector, the Parish Administrator, the Director of Music (and the Organist if desired). By Church tradition, weddings are not celebrated during the season of Lent. The liturgy for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is found in The Book of Common Prayer (pages 423-432). A wedding may include the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Weddings at St. Andrew must conform to the Prayer Book and its directions.
When a wedding is scheduled, it is the responsibility of the couple to contact the Director of Music to arrange an appointment with him (and an organist if desired). All music for weddings at St. Andrew is under the direction of the Director of Music.
The couple must also contact the Altar Guild Chair well in advance of the wedding date to discuss parish policy and procedures governing floral arrangements. If the parish is given responsibility for procuring flowers for the altar area, the costs will be passed on to the family member(s). The flowers will be left in the church to be used for Sunday services.
A rehearsal will be scheduled on the afternoon before the wedding. The bride, groom, family, and wedding party should arrive promptly so as not to delay the clergy, organist, and altar guild volunteers.
A license must be obtained from the office of the County Clerk. Please bring all fees and the State License to the rehearsal. Photography is not permitted in the church during weddings, or any service, without the prior permission of the clergy. Family members and guests as well as professional photographers should be advised of this policy. Time can be arranged for "staged" photos following the service.
With permission of the clergy, videotaping may be allowed during the service, provided that the camera remains stationary (in a location designated by the clergy) and that there be no additional lighting. A runner for the aisle, if desired, should be furnished by the florist.
Fees: There is no charge for the use of the church for members. Honorariums to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, the Director of Music (or musician), are appreciated.
Non parishioners wishing to hold a wedding at St Andrew's must have the approval of the Rector and fees will apply for the use of the facilities.
Use of the Parish Hall and Kitchen: If the Women if St Andrew's are providing the food for a this occasion, they will be responsible for setting up the tables and taking them down again. Typically $200 covers the cost for a reception for groups up to 80 persons. An appropriate donation to WoSA for the cost of food and supplies is requested.
In all other cases, the group using the church must arrange to have the church sexton set up tables as well as return the room as it was found or prepare it for the next church function (a fee will apply for this) The kitchen may be used for light refreshments. If the kitchen supplies are used, a donation to the Women of St Andrew's is expected. If the kitchen equipment is used (i.e., coffeemaker). There will be someone from the church present during the ceremony and reception for assistance.