GUIDELINES for WEDDINGS at ST. MARK’S CHURCH
Marriage is a serious and sacred event.
Marriage is serious because two complex, individual lives are joined together as one. It is sacred because it is through God’s love, which we believe is made visible in the Church, that individuals can accomplish this amazing and lasting union.
Marriage is first and foremost a sacrament.
You are the ones who create the sacrament. The Church’s minister is merely the official witness of what you undertake. Engaged couples must be ready—mentally and spiritually—to celebrate this sacrament. The Church has developed procedures which will assist you both in becoming ready fully to participate in the sacrament, but the procedures are useless unless you both commit yourselves to the task. It is for your benefit that these procedures exist – to help yo u to grow in faith and love as you prepare to celebrate this wonderful reality in your lives.
As you do so, consider this point, on your wedding day you two will not go alone to an empty building to echo your vows off lonely walls. Your wedding will not only be about you. You will have gathered the family and friends that have played a part in your lives brought you to this special day. So your wedding also has profound meaning for those you have gathered, and indeed, for the whole people of God. As the Book of Common Prayer indicates, the love you two will share in this sacrament becomes the mirror of God’s everlasting love, and symbol of Christ’s love for His Church.
Getting Married at St. Mark’s Church
If you wish to be married at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, you must first contact the parish priest immediately after you make the decision to marry (formal engagement). However, this contact should be made at least six months prior to the anticipated time of your wedding.
Clergy persons not associated with St. Mark’s Church will need to contact the rector to discuss any arrangements.
You will be asked to participate in a process designed to help you and the Church assess your readiness for marriage. This process begins with the initial interview with the priest. Some discussion points include: your faith experience, your individual maturity as well as your relationship as a couple, and your views on Christian marriage. At this meeting please share with the priest any of the following special circumstances: if either of you are teenagers; if there is a pregnancy involved; if you are presently living together; if one of you is of another faith tradition or denomination; if you have been married before; or if you are now civilly married and wish to have your marriage blessed by the Episcopal Church.
If any of these special circumstances exist, it does not mean you cannot be married in the Episcopal Church. It does mean that an honest discussion of these circumstances is called for, in order to decide what steps need to taken for you to marry in the Church.
If you have been married before, you will need give proof of the dissolution of your previous marriage (civil divorce or annulment decree). Then the parish must request permission from the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania to conduct the wedding. The Bishop may permit you to celebrate your wedding only when he or she is assured that both parties are aware of and are willing to live out the commitments of marriage.
After your initial meeting, you will have to make appointments for follow-up sessions with the priest./p>
You will need to schedule a rehearsal date and time. The rehearsal is traditionally scheduled on the day before your wedding. However, rehearsals can be scheduled at any date or time that is mutually convenient for you, the wedding party, and the priest who will be officiating at your wedding.