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About Weddings (Holy Matrimony)

What is Holy Matrimony?
 Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two individuals enter 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. (BCP 861) 

When are Marriage Ceremonies (Weddings) Held? The Church may celebrate the sacramental rite of marriage throughout the year except for penitential periods, such as Lent and other times of fasting. Except in extraordinary circumstances, weddings are always celebrated in the church. All weddings at St. James are scheduled through the office of the Rector. By invitation of the Rector, clergy of another Episcopal parish or another Christian church may assist in a wedding at St. James. 

Who may be Married? Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between two individuals in the presence of God. At St. James, the marriage must conform to the licensing requirements and laws of the State of Tennessee as well as the Canons of the Episcopal Church. If one or both of the parties have ever been married previously, the Rector must be informed immediately so that Episcopal permission (the bishop) can be received to solemnize the marriage. A copy of the divorce discharge papers must be sent to the bishop’s office along with a letter of explanation from the divorced party. 

What is involved in Marriage? Holy Matrimony is accomplished through the making of solemn vows followed by the symbolic exchange of rings in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A priest or a bishop normally presides at the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, because such ministers alone have the function of pronouncing the nuptial blessing, and celebrating the Holy Eucharist. A wedding should include a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist so that the sacrament and symbol of our common life is shared at the beginning of the couple’s life together. 

How do I arrange for a Wedding? It is recommended that couples contact the Rector a minimum of six months prior to the proposed date of the wedding. The date and time of the wedding must be approved by 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 must be approved by the Rector, and the Organist. 

What is a Witness? (typically called “best man” and “maid/matron of honor”) A witness is someone who is present and has firsthand knowledge about the event, through his or her senses, and can certify important considerations about the event. In the Episcopal Church, the ceremony must be attested by at least two witnesses. 

Do I have to be A Baptized Christian in order to be Married in the Episcopal Church? Yes. In the Episcopal Church it is required that at least one of the parties must be a baptized Christian. 

Do I need to be a member to be Married at St. James? Yes. To be married at St. James, you must meet one of the following criteria: 
  • at least one party must be a member of St. James in good standing (or the son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter of a member of the parish in good standing) - A member in good standing is defined as someone who is known to the clergy, wardens, exhibits regular attendance in worship, and maintains a gift or pledge of record. 
  • the couple is a year-round resident of the Tri-Cities area, are baptized Christians, and are willing to become members of St. James and remain members after the marriage. 
What is the fee for Marriage? The administration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a part of the pastoral ministry of the parish. There are separate charges for the organist (also building fees and premarital counseling fees for non-pledgers). However, no “fee for service” of the clergy is expected. We hope that you will participate regularly (spiritually, physically and financially) in the life of the St. James parish and honor your baptismal vows. 

Why is Premarital Instruction Required? The Episcopal Church Canons (rules that govern the church) requires the priest to ensure that both parties have been instructed, and to be competent and responsible, in the nature, purpose, and meaning, as well as the rights, duties and responsibilities of marriage. (Canon 1.18.sec 3.(c)) 

Why doesn’t St. James ‘Rent Out’ the beautiful church Building for weddings? St. James has a beautiful worship space & its space is reserved for those who participate in the life of the community. St. James’ sacred worship space is NOT for hire. A wedding is first and foremost a worship service. It is a very special occasion in the life and faith of the couple who seek the God’s blessing on their relationship and the community. A wedding should be celebrated within the context of a worshipping Christian community, and shared with those who can help you strengthen the relationship and help you live out your faith. (It should not be just a convenient beautiful location to have a ceremony.) Likewise, the marriage should be nurtured in the context of Christian community by active participation and involvement in the life of the community. 

Other questions? Please feel free to ask the priest about specific questions regarding Holy Matrimony and other aspects of the Episcopal Church.

The liturgy for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is found in The Book of Common Prayer (pages 423-432)

At the first meeting with the priest, you will receive a booklet called Planning Your Wedding that will give you complete details about the ceremony and help answer other questions you may have.
Ken Saunders,
Jun 14, 2018, 5:51 AM
Ken Saunders,
Jun 14, 2018, 5:49 AM