Congratulations on your engagement. As you plan the rest of your lives together, we welcome you to prayerfully discern the role that St. James can play. We hope the section below will help you sort out your thoughts.
What is Holy Matrimony?
The Outline of faith in our Book of Common Prayer says Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man 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 )
The Sacrament is administered to a man and woman, at least one must be a Baptized Christian. The intention of marriage is that it is a lifelong commitment between that man and woman. A Declaration of Intent will be signed by the Bride and Groom attesting to that.
Do we have to do marriage Preparation?
In the opening address, the Presider says the following: …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. ( BCP 423 ). To prepare for marriage, premarital meetings will be held with the clergy of St. James.
Can we write our own vows?
The vows written in the Book of Common Prayer are the only vows that are permitted for use in the service.
What if one of us have been previously married?
If the former spouse is still living, the Canons of the Episcopal Church require the party intending to be married to apply for Permission to remarry from the Bishop of Long Island. One can not be married unless permission is given by the Bishop.
Can we choose our own music?
Music is an integral part of the service. All music choices are made in consultation with the organist of St. James and must be approved by the clergy. Music must be appropriate to the worship. We do not allow pop tunes and top hits to be played in the church.
Do we have to be Members of St. James to get Married at the Church?
While you do not have to be members of St. James, the expectation of the clergy as that while you are preparing for Christian marriage, you will be regular in your worship. In our Outline of Faith or Catechism, We are reminded that the duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God. ( BCP 856 ).
We do not Live in Brookhaven, can we get married at St. James’?
From time to time, we have people who wish to get married on Long Island for a variety of reasons, but unfortunately, they do not live locally. The expectation will still be that the couple obtains premarital instruction and become familiar with our service and faith tradition by attending an Episcopal church close to where they reside.
Other Things to Consider
All too often, the church is an afterthought in the highly commercialized wedding industry. Please speak to the clergy early on in your planning process. It is desirable that weddings be scheduled 6 months or more before the desired date.
Please remember a Clergyperson is not a Justice of the Peace there to do a ceremony but is there to preside and pronounce God’s blessing in the context of Christian worship.
Some couples may choose to retain the services of a Wedding coordinator or planner. While this may be helpful to you in planning, remember that the clergy has the final decision in the order and structure of the service.
Due to safety concerns, we do not allow runners in the church. Items (petals, seeds, confetti etc.) may not be thrown in the church or on the floor. While many different churches use a unity candle at the service, it is not part of the liturgy of the Episcopal Church. Weddings at St. James’ are performed by the clergy of St. James’. It may be possible for another clergy may be invited to assist. This is solely at the discretion of the Clergy.
The canons of the Episcopal Church place the decision of performing a wedding at the discretion of the clergyperson. The clergyperson at any time may choose not to perform a ceremony.
Holy Matrimony will normally not be administered during the Penitential season of Lent (normally falls during February, March, and April.
The couple getting married is responsible for obtaining a municipal license to be filled out so that the legal requirements for marriage may be met.
Only the clergy of St. James officiates at weddings at St. James. Another clergy of the Episcopal church may be invited to officiate with the permission of the Vicar.
If there are specific questions that have not been answered above, please feel free to contact us at 631 286-0726.