We are delighted that you are inquiring about a wedding at The Church of St. Jude. A marriage in the Episcopal Church presumes a commitment to our church. We believe that the married life of a couple shows us an image of God’s glory, goodness and love. We also believe that a married couple, or a family, is a manifestation, in miniature, of the Christian community we call the Church. When a couple seeks to celebrate their marriage in a church, they are asking the gathered community of the church, through its priest, to bless the marriage. Therefore a marriage in a church only makes sense for those who have a commitment to God, through Jesus Christ, and to the community gathered at St. Jude’s.
Marriage in the Church is first and foremost a service of Christian worship. It witnesses to the values of marital life which all Christian persons hold. Because it is a public service of Christian worship, it comes under the same standards and requirements as all public worship in the Episcopal Church. These standards apply to the liturgy, music, decoration and conduct of the service. The vows to be taken are those set forth in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
Here is an outline of the traditional Episcopal wedding service, annotated to give you a reasonably full picture of what we do as we celebrate and bless a Christian marriage. All services are conducted in accordance with the forms of the 1979 Prayer Book.
An organ prelude provides time for prayer and reflection. A procession normally begins the service during which the ministers and the wedding party enter. An exhortation follows in which the priest sets forth the purpose of Christian marriage. In the declaration of consent, the couple accept the responsibilities of Christian marriage. The individuals, or both, may be presented in marriage. Bible readings follow, normally two in number, separated by a Psalm. A passage from the Gospel is then read followed by a brief homily by the priest in which aspects of Christian marriage are elucidated with references to the readings. The couple then exchanges vows, the rings are blessed and exchanged and the marriage is blessed. Finally, prayers follow for the couple. The service lasts about 30 minutes.
If a nuptial mass is to be celebrated (Holy Communion is shared by the couple and the congregation – this is the norm at St. Jude’s), the service then continues with the offering of bread and wine, the consecration prayers and the Holy Communion. This adds approximately 20 minutes to the service.
Normally, in addition to the couple to be married, two attendants (who are also witnesses for the purpose of civil law) are chosen. Sometimes they are called the best man and maid/matron of honor. They do not have to be of the same gender as the individual getting married. Other attendants are purely optional. The couple may wish to choose two readers for the lessons, a person to greet at the door and to distribute the service bulletin and persons to present the bread and wine should the Holy Eucharist be celebrated.
A rehearsal is scheduled the day before the wedding. A couple, the two primary attendants and the rest of the wedding party must be present. A fully attended rehearsal helps create a more relaxed atmosphere the day of the wedding.
No flash photography is allowed by anyone during the service, and there are no exceptions to this. Even the most professional photographers are intrusive. Videographers and professional photographers, using natural lighting, are allowed in the balcony. We prefer that all the guests concentrate upon participation in the liturgy and prayer for the couple rather than upon the next photo opportunity. We also recognize that you will want a photographic memorial of this day, so, before or following the service we will gladly “re-stage” anything you would like photographed.
New York marriage law requires a marriage license. You must bring the license to the rehearsal and your two witnesses must sign it then and there. Without the license and witnesses, the marriage cannot proceed. Under New York Civil Law, a priest may not perform a marriage without a license, and until such time as that law is changed, we must insist that the license be available at the rehearsal. There are severe penalties for any priest who neglects to observe this civil law.
Any couple seeking to marry in the church must meet with Fr. Christopher at least 30 days before the wedding (although 6 months is preferred) and a date must not be chosen until they have met with the priest and secured the priest’s intention to celebrate and bless the marriage. Fr. Christopher requires 4 to 6 premarital counseling sessions prior to the ceremony.
Divorced persons may remarry in the Episcopal Church; however, the permission of the Bishop must be obtained. This procedure takes approximately 30 additional days.
Since 2011, the State of New York legalized the marriages of same-gendered individuals. The General Convention (the governing body) of the Episcopal Church has given bishops generous flexibility with marriage quality in the Church. The Diocese of Long Island is in full support of Marriage Equality and priests may officiate marriages of same-sex couples. The above rules of Church Law and Civil Law are the same.
St. Jude is a “Believe Out Loud” parish. In other words, we believe fully in the inclusion of all of God’s Children. We proudly and gladly officiate marriages of same-sex couples as well as mixed-gender couples.
St. Jude will prepare bulletins for the service. All information for the bulletins must be received in the parish office 25 days prior to the service. A draft of the bulletin will be given to the couple 2 weeks prior to the service. All necessary changes must be marked and initialed.
Music is to be chosen in consultation with the priest and the organist. Please speak directly to the organist. She will speak with you about preludes, postludes, processional and recessional music. Fr. Christopher will give you advice on the hymns. If you wish to have other instrumentalists or a soloist, you will need to arrange this with the organist.
Generally, flowers are placed at the altar vases. Additional arrangements may be placed in the entryway. Bows may be placed on the pews or pew candles. No confetti, rice or birdseed are permitted within the church building. Birdseed, flower petals or bubbles may be used outside of the building. If you wish to use the parish hall for a reception, please contact the parish office at 516.221.2505.
Priest: No set fee for Members, $500 for Non-Members
Organist (made payable to organist): $200
Sexton (made payable to Church): $ 50
Church: Free Will Donations for Members, $500 for Non-Members
Aisle Candles: $75
Altar Flowers: $150 (if church florists design)
For more information about marriage at St. Jude and/or to enquire about getting married at St. Jude, please contact the Parish Office to make an appointment to speak with a priest.