Getting Married at St. Mark's -- What you need to know!
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Getting married in the church:
When you choose to be married in a church, you have shown that the focus of your wedding is not you, but God. This frees you to set aside many of the customs surrounding weddings that have accumulated over the years which are a product of the commercial society, eager to spend your money. We encourage you to slow down, plan carefully and reverently, and make choices that will glorify God and be a witness to your friends and family who want to be with you. There is plenty of pressure to please others and conform to their expectations or the image of weddings promoted by the media. This is a church service in a holy place, a chance to worship God and commit your marriage to God’s ways.
Who may be married at St. Mark’s?
The Episcopal Church requires that at least one of the persons intending to be married be baptized. St. Mark’s asks that one of the persons be an Episcopalian, or that the couple is attending St. Mark’s for at least three months prior to the wedding date. The Historic Church is not available for non-Episcopal or weddings of non-members. Church attendance and making a pledge for the mission and ministry of the church is encouraged. If a couple is active in another Episcopal Church, the couple may be married at St. Mark’s after contact is made between the home priest and the priest here. Non-members may use the Fellowship Center for weddings for a nominal donation. The Episcopal Church supports the marriage of same-sex couples. If you have questions about getting married at St. Mark’s, please speak to the Rector or contact the church office.
Non-members: The Fellowship Center is open to anyone wishing to be married at this location. It is also available for receptions, parties and showers. Please contact the Church Office for Building Use Information. Normally, the donation for the use of the Fellowship Center or Parish Hall is $50 per hour, plus a $50 set up fee.
What should I do first when planning a wedding at St. Mark’s?
The first step is always to contact the Rector. This should be done at least three months ahead of the wedding date. The Rector will discuss dates with you and send out the necessary forms for you to complete. The dates for the wedding or rehearsal are not final until the forms have been received and the Rector has given permission for the wedding to take place. Please do not send out any invitations until you have met with the Rector at least once. St. Mark’s does not normally schedule weddings during Lent.
What if one or both of the couple has been divorced?
Divorced persons may remarry in the Episcopal Church with the following procedures: There must be a 90 day notification period; the couple must attend pre-marital counseling sessions and submit copies of all divorce decrees to the Rector; and the Rector must submit a letter of request to the Diocesan Bishop. Persons who have been divorced more than three times may not be married in the church. They may be married in a Civil ceremony and have their marriage blessed in the church.
What about pre-marital counseling?
Pre-marital counseling is required by all persons who wish to be married in the Episcopal Church. The couple meets with the Rector for three or more sessions and the Rector may require them to meet with another counselor. If the couple is not residing locally, counseling may be completed near to their residence and a letter from the counselor must be submitted to the Rector before the wedding can take place.
What form of service will we use?
All services must conform to the Book of Common Prayer. Choices are given for readings and some prayers. The use of Holy Communion is encouraged. Couples do not write their own vows. One of the pre-marital sessions is devoted to understanding the marriage ceremony and discussing its meaning.
May I invite a friend who is a minister to take part?
If the couple wishes to invite another minister to take part, this must be cleared well ahead of time with the Rector. The Rector has the final word on all decisions in this area.
What kind of music should we use?
The wedding ceremony is a worship service. The religious and classical music allowed should reflect this fact. Non-religious music with secular words is better suited for the wedding reception and may not be used in the church. While the traditional “wedding march” is popular, there are other more unique choices. All vocalists, vocal music, instrumentalists, and selections must be approved by the Rector and Organist. The St. Mark’s organist plays for all weddings in the church. If an alternative organist is used, the St. Mark’s organist must be paid a fee in lieu of playing for the service.
When and where do we get the marriage license?
You may get your marriage license at the Washington Country Courthouse at least 1 week before the wedding. Only one person needs to be present. Please bring the license to the Church office a few days before the wedding, as the forms need to be completed ahead of time. You will sign the church register at the rehearsal.
What about flowers and other decorations?
Please discuss your ideas with the Rector ahead of time. She must approve any ideas you have.
Flowers: We encourage you to use the church florist. Flowers for the altar in the Historic Church will consist of two vases next to the cross. No flowers are allowed on the altar itself. An arrangement for the organ or flowers in the windows is also allowed. In a church as ornate as St. Mark’s, “less is more.” Flowers for Dorsey Hall may include a large arrangement in front of the altar and smaller arrangements for the window sills.
Candles: All candles are provided by the church.
Unity Candle: The custom of the unity candle is not used at St. Mark’s.
Pew decorations: Bows for the pews need to be small, as the aisle in the church is very narrow and clothing can easily catch on decorations. Bows should be tied to the ends of the pews. No adhesive is allowed on the historic wood pews.
Runner: Please do not use a runner at St. Mark’s. It is an unnecessary expense and is dangerous as people may easily trip on it.
Confetti, bird seed, rice: Please do not use these due to clean up problems on the stone walks.
What about pictures during the service?
Please keep in mind that this is a worship service and is conducted with as much dignity and reverence as you deserve. Flash photos may be taken as the couple is entering and leaving the church, but NO flash photos are permitted during the ceremony. A video tape may be made from the balcony only. Photographers are not allowed anywhere in the area above the steps near the altar at any time during the ceremony. Please discourage your guests from taking photos during the ceremony. There is plenty of time afterwards to “pose” any photos to help you remember your special day.
What about inviting small children (under 5) to take part in the service?
While it may be tempting to invite children under 5 to be flower girls and ring bearers, please think twice. Our ideas of what children will do and will want to do may differ from what they are able to do, especially when under pressure. When allowed to run free during a ceremony, young children prove an unnecessary distraction and it is not fair to them to place them in a position of not being able to appreciate the moment. Young children will be happier sitting with their parents.
Can we use the Parish Hall or Fellowship Center for our Rehearsal Dinner and/or Reception?
You may request a copy of our Building Use Guidelines that contain the procedures for using the Church buildings. If there is no conflict in the schedule, this space is available for your use.
Where can I get dressed before the wedding?
Men and Women may use rooms in the Fellowship Center. Please notify the Rector of your intention and plans.
What does it cost to get married at St. Mark’s?
Worship services at the church are always free. There are suggested honoraria (donations) for the Clergy, Organist, Altar guild, and clean up which recognize the time and professional care they give towards making your wedding a holy and beautiful ceremony. Checks may be brought to the rehearsal and taken care of the day before the wedding.
Clergy (Make check to The Rector’s Discretionary Fund) $300
Organist (Make Check to W. Kirk Denton ) $250
St. Mark’s Church (includes rehearsal and wedding) $400
Use of Fellowship Center/Parish Hall $50 per hour, plus $50 set-up fee.