Marriage is the union of two people to live together in fidelity, love and unity until death parts them. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Jesus Christ and the Church; therefore, it is to be honored and supported by the community. The celebration of a marriage unites two people in heart, body and mind and is intended for their mutual joy, help and comfort. The blessing of the marriage asks God to assist them in honoring and keeping the promises they make. The sacrament creates marital partners as mutual ministers and a sign of Jesus Christ’s love and compassion to the world.
Preparing for Marriage
- Couples wishing to be married at Church of the Holy Spirit must conform to the requirements of Canon Law in the Episcopal Church. This means:
- At least one of them must be a baptized Christian.
- They must freely consent to the marriage, provide adequate notice of their intention to marry and subscribe to the “Declaration of Intention” which states their understanding of marriage is by intention a life-long union which provides mutual support and love, and, when it is God’s will, the procreation of children.
- The couple must meet with the Rector and a licensed counselor for premarital counseling.
- They must have met with the requirements of the State of Pennsylvania regarding licenses and any other provisions.
- If either or both have been married before and if their previous partner is still alive, the Rector must receive dispensation from the Diocesan Bishop of Pennsylvania.
- The wedding ceremony must be attested to by at least two witnesses.
- The couple must arrange for a minimum of three premarital sessions with the Rector and three with a premarital counselor recommended by the Rector. The cost of the premarital counseling will be the responsibility of the couple. These sessions will cover a range of issues including the couple’s understanding of Christian marriage, the effectiveness of their communications and clarification of their mutual goals and priorities. Additional sessions may be required as determined by the Rector or the couple.
- The couple is asked to maintain and deepen their commitment to their faith, including regular attendance at worship services and active participation in the life of the church community. Under exceptional circumstances, one or both of the couple may be members at another Christian church; if so, they are expected to renew and maintain commitment to their faith, including regular attendance at worship services and participation in the life of the church community. If the couple comes from differing faith traditions, they are encouraged to mutually support one another in maintaining and deepening their individual faith practices.
- The couple and the Rector will plan the marriage ceremony in accordance with the canons, order and rubrics of the Church. It is recommended that the wedding include the Holy Eucharist. This offers a deeper and more meaningful enrichment of the sacrament of marriage. This decision is that of the couple, made in consultation with the Rector.
Planning the Wedding Ceremony
- A minimum of six months notice is required to assure availability of space and necessary preparation for the wedding. No weddings will be scheduled on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter Day or during Holy Week. Weddings during the seasons of Lent or Advent will only be approved and scheduled under extraordinary circumstances. It is not customary to schedule weddings on civic holidays. The Rector may also decline to schedule weddings on other days due to programs on the church calendar, availability, or other reasons determined by the Rector.
- Charges for families who are currently attending worship on a regular basis, pledging to the financial support of this parish, and participating in the ongoing life of the parish community are minimal. For those who are inactive members of Church of the Holy Spirit or are not members of Church of the Holy Spirit, as defined above, there will be additional fees payable one week prior to the ceremony. This fee includes at least the use of the church for the wedding service and necessary preparations prior to the service (three hours total) and one rehearsal (60 minutes maximum) to be set at a time and date mutually agreed upon by the Rector and couple.
- The Rector and/or church administrator is to be consulted regarding the coordination of the wedding, the wedding rehearsal and the decoration of the church. Floral and other decorations, including wedding candles, should be chosen only after prior consultation with the appropriate member of the Flower Guild and the Rector. The coordination and expense for flowers and their set up is the responsibility of the couple. The placement of the flowers shall be done under the direction of the Flower Guild or Rector.
- The placement of chairs, altar, lectern and other furnishings in the sanctuary are at the sole discretion of the Rector.
- The music director/organist is to be consulted at least three months in advance regarding music to be used. She may provide assistance in selecting music appropriate to the occasion and in keeping with the tastes of the couple. Secular music is not appropriate for the ceremony. The approval of the proposed music by the music director/organist, in consultation with the Rector, is a prerequisite for its use. The church music director/organist receives fees.
- If vocal or instrumental services are desired, the couple must make arrangements, including fees, in consultation with the music director/organist.
- If the couple wishes to use the services of another organist or other musicians, the parish music director/organist must still be consulted and paid the appropriate fee. The expense for additional vocalists or musicians is the responsibility of the couple.
- The use and set-up of any equipment associated with additional soloists or musicians must be arranged and managed in consultation with the music director/organist. If additional rehearsals or set-up is required, the music director/ organist may charge an additional fee.
- There is a fee for setting up and cleaning the church building for the wedding ceremony.
- If any of the church facilities are to be used for the reception or gathering after the wedding, additional fees will be charged as appropriate to the scope of the event. All expenses and arrangements for set-up, clean-up, caterers, food, supplies and food service are the responsibility of the couple. Arrangements for the reception must be made with the approval of the Hospitality Committee. No alcoholic beverages are to be served or consumed without the prior approval of the church Vestry. This approval must be requested at least eight (8) weeks prior to the event.
- If the couple wishes to invite any clergy of another church (or faith leader of another religion) to participate in the ceremony, they must consult with the Rector of Church of the Holy Spirit. The decision to approve the request is solely that of the Rector.
- There is no fee for the clergy if the marriage service is celebrated at Church of the Holy Spirit; but a donation to the Clergy Discretionary Fund is requested. There may be fees for marriages celebrated at other locations, including travel costs for the Rector.
- If the services of a professional wedding coordinator are employed, his or her jurisdiction terminates at the door of the church. The Rector is in complete charge in the church.
- The wedding ceremony is a joyous occasion and an act of worship; as such, photographs may be taken during the ceremony only if the photographer remains absolutely inconspicuous and refrains from all use of flash equipment. The photographer is to consult with the Rector immediately before the ceremony regarding plans for photography. The Rector will gladly cooperate with posed photographs after the ceremony.
- The throwing of rice, birdseed or other materials is prohibited on the church property.
- The parish office will gladly prepare a service leaflet so the guests may follow and participate in the service. There will be a fee to cover the costs of the leaflets. If the couple prefers to prepare their own service leaflet, it must be done in consultation and with the approval of the Rector as to overall design and content.