Here is an introduction to weddings at St. Timothy’s. If you are interested in marrying in the Episcopal tradition, remember that it is something we take very seriously. It is a sacramental union, a holy commitment—as well as an occasion of great joy.
Live together, save up, set the date, make the plans, spend an enormous amount of money, and then shop for a “venue” and a person to “officiate.” After all, it’s all about the event.
The Church’s view:
Get engaged, connect with a church and start attending, contact the priest about setting a wedding date, attend pre-marital counseling, learn about marriage as a sacrament, make arrangements about the service with the priest, keep a healthy perspective about the wedding costs…after all, its not only about the wedding but the marriage that begins at the wedding.
The wedding itself
Why we are here: To have a party for the couple’s “big day.” And, oh, yeah, there’s also that “ceremony thing” you first have to do….
Role of those present: audience, onlookers, & party-goers.
The Church’s view:
Why we are here: A service of worship (liturgy) to glorify God for the gift of marriage, to witness this couple enter into marriage through making vows, exchanging rings, and receiving God’s blessing as they begin the rest of their life together. This is the important part. Then comes the party….
Role of those present: worshippers, witnesses, active participants, guests at a celebration.
Getting into the church (the procession)
This is usually what people obsess over, but it really is pretty simple and isn’t the point.
The Address & Betrothal (“Dearly beloved,” &c.)
The priest explains the purposes of marriage and its significance; the bride and groom are identified and give their assent to the terms of marriage, declaring they are free to make this commitment; the assembled community gives its consent.
The Ministry of the Word (readings from Holy Scripture)
The priest offers a prayer for the bride and groom. Lessons from Scripture are read. A sermon about marriage helps apply what we learn about marriage at the wedding to our own lives.
The Marriage (the vows and rings)
The couple exchange vows as they hold each other’s right hand; the wedding rings are blessed and given as symbols of the vows, and the couple is declared husband and wife by the priest (wrapping the stole around the bride and groom’s right hands).
The Lord’s Prayer is followed by a series of prayers for this and all marriages. These prayers deal with what it means to live in holy matrimony for the “long haul.”
The Blessing of the Marriage
The couple kneel to receive God’s blessing. This is the high point of the liturgy.
“The kiss” shared between the bride and groom—hugs and handshakes for all others.
Holy Communion is the way the Church celebrates sacraments. The first thing a newly-married couple in the Episcopal Church do is share in the Eucharist together, with Christ as their host and Lord. All other baptized Christians are invited to share in the Eucharist, and those who do not are still invited to come forward for a blessing.
The procession out
Music is played while the wedding and altar parties leave the church.
Witnessing and signing the licenses & other documents immediately follows in the chapel