Holy Matrimony is the Church's celebration of the vows a man and a woman make for life-long union in which God's blessing is given on their life together as husband and wife. In the Episcopal Church, marriage is a sacramental Rite.
These guidelines are based on The Book of Common Prayer, and long lasting worship practices both within the Episcopal Church and at St. Mary's Parish.
In the Episcopal Church at least one of the persons to be married must be a baptized Christian. A minimum of thirty days notice must be given to the clergy by those contemplating marriage. (Title I Canon Sec. 3a). A minimum of three formal counseling sessions with the clergy are required to explore some theological, spiritual and emotional aspects of marriage the Church affirms. When geographic considerations make this impractical to be done at St. Mary's, the couple will arrange similar counseling where they reside. Alternative arrangements for counseling must be approved by the clergy of St. Mary's.
No public announcement, publicity, or sending of invitations is to be done until the clergy have met with the couple and stated their consent to officiate at the contemplated marriage.
Every priest of the Episcopal Church has the discretion to decline to preside or officiate at any marriage.
It is expected that at least one of the persons desiring to be married in St Mary's Church, or their parents or family, is a registered member of St. Mary's in good standing having given financial support of record.
On occasion, when neither the bride or groom is a member of St. Mary's, the clergy may agree to officiate at their marriage if in their judgment the couple has begun to worship regularly and it is believed the couple intend to make st. Mary's their church home. The primary concern of the clergy is for the couple's continuing relationship to the parish community and their spiritual growth after their marriage. Requests from non-Episcopalians to "use" or "rent the church" cannot be honored.
Remarriage of divorced persons may be possible with the consent of the bishop of RI. There are specific guidelines and requirements set forth by the Bishop's Office which apply in all cases.
All other provisions of the Church's Canon on Marriage noted above apply. The Wedding Liturgy: The Wedding Service or the Celebration and blessing of a Marriage (BCP pages 422-483) is first and foremost a service of worship in the Episcopal Church. Though the service has a personal and special dimension for the couple being married, it is nevertheless not a private service, but a public liturgy of the Church.
In the Episcopal Church, the planning for this service, is the immediate responsibility of the clergy. The Prayer Book Wedding Service does allow for flexibility and choices which the couple may exercise in consultation with the priest.
Other clergy may participate and assist if the couple so desires and the permission of the clergy of St. Mary's is secured. The clergy will then formally invite the guest clergy to participate in an assisting role.
All music must be approved by the Parish Organist and/or Clergy. A list of appropriate music is available. Musical selections are to be Christian in intent and expression in accord with the norms of the Prayer Book and the Hymnal as an offering to the Glory of god. Popular music, show tunes and movie music are not permissible within the liturgy though such selections might appropriately be used at the reception following the service.
The parish organist is responsible for all music at wedding services. With the permission of the clergy and the organist, other persons skilled in music as soloists or instrumentalists known to the couple may be used in an adjunct way within the wedding liturgy. When other musicians assist, the professional fees for the parish organist still apply.
The entire wedding party is expected to attend the rehearsal. The couple is responsible for seeing the participants are present by the time the rehearsal is scheduled to begin. The rehearsal is under the direction of the officiating priest. The latest hour a rehearsal can be scheduled is 6:30pm the day before the wedding.
Ushers: During or before the rehearsal the couple should decide which members of the family they wish seated in special places and which usher will seat the mother of the groom and the mother of the bride.
The Altar Guild is responsible for the placement and arrangement, or the overseeing, of the flowers, appointments and furnishings used in a wedding service just as they are for all other worship services. A florist or wedding consultant is never in charge. A member of the Altar Guild will contact the couple to assist them in selecting permissible arrangements and decorations. The nave and chancel of St. Mary's has an inherent beauty, dignity and simplicity which we preserve by the use of minimal flower arrangements and/or decorations. Two flower vases of live flowers may be placed on the Retable Shelf behind the Altar as an appropriate sign of beauty of God's Creation and as a symbol of the Resurrection. Flowers and bows may be used at the ends of the pews if they are fastened in such a way that the wood finish is not marred. Other floral arrangements or decorations may be added with the approval of the Altar Guild and clergy.
White festivals Altar Vestments are used. The Altar Candles are lighted for the service.
The photographer chosen by the couple must consult with the officiating clergy prior to the wedding service. Only the photographer designated by the couple is to take photographs during the service. The couple, ushers and designated photographer should alert camera-carrying guests that no flash pictures are permitted to be taken by them in the church. Time exposure photos are permitted. The photographer and videographer must remain in the back of the church at all times and may not walk up any of the aisles. Photographs may be appropriately taken before or after the service. Posing for photos after the liturgy produces the best pictures. We ask that time for this be limited to one hour. Under no circumstances is it permissible for the photographer to move or remove candles, altar rail cushions, the lectern stand or any of the chancel or sanctuary furniture.
The latest hour a Saturday wedding may be scheduled is 3:00 p.m. The Marriage license is to be brought to the rehearsal and given to the clergy.
Rice or confetti is not to be thrown in the church or on the church grounds; birdseed may be used outside the building away from the entrance ways. Aisle runners and extra candles at the altar are not permitted. A runner may not be used. In addition to being an unnecessary expense, runners can be hazardous. The so-called "unity candle" is not part of the Prayer Book Service and is not used at St. Mary's. Receiving lines are appropriate at the reception and are done best there. Impromptu receiving lines at the church delay the taking of after-service photos and the exiting of the congregation. Food & Drink are not to be brought into the church proper at any time. Alcoholic beverages are not to be brought into St. Mary's or to be consumed on the church grounds. Permission may be given to serve wine and light alcoholic beverages in the Gibbs House or the parish hall as part of a formal or planned reception following the wedding service. There are limited facilities for women in the bridal party to dress prior to the service. We lack space for men to dress at the church. A wedding service bulletin is an option a couple may elect to have their liturgy. St. Mary's will, for a small fee, print the bulletin or it may be printed elsewhere at the couple's expense. The contents and the layout of the order of the service itself need first to be approved by the officiating priest.