|St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Albany, Georgia
"No minister of this Church shall solemnize any marriage unless . . . he shall have ascertained that both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong."
-- Title I, Canon 18, Sec. 2(b)
The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is an action of the Church as well as an event for a couple and their family and friends. It is our desire at St. Paul's Episcopal Church to assist our members as they plan for their wedding so that the preparation time can be a period of growth in the understanding of Christian marriage and the service itself a witness to our conviction that marriage was instituted by God and that God does indeed bless those who make a sacred covenant with one another in God's Name before God's holy altar.
In order to assist couples and their families to begin planning with an understanding of the regulations and traditions of the Church for a wedding of beauty and dignity, the following guidelines are provided.
Under the canons (laws) of the Episcopal Church, applications for marriage must be made to a priest at least 30 days prior to the date of the wedding. This is a minimum and actually leaves insufficient time for proper premarital counseling required by the Church and the many other details that arise in planning a wedding. We recommend a period of four to six months for scheduling a wedding.
The officiating clergy for a wedding will normally be a priest on the staff of St. Paul's Church. The couple should make an appointment with the staff priest they choose. Another priest may be invited to assist, with the prior approval of the officiating priest. All wedding arrangements utilizing the church and its liturgy are under the direction of the priest, not a wedding director or consultant.
If either party has been married before and divorced, and the former spouse is still living, the entire matter must be dealt with in consultation with the Bishop and depends upon the recommendation of the priest on the basis of his or her knowledge of the couple. No less than two months must be allowed for this process between the initial application and the date of the wedding. Church attendance and future membership by the couple is strongly sought, recommended and expected.
Christian marriage is a request for God's blessing upon a covenant freely undertaken by a man and a woman for their lifetime. The service for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (which often involves the Eucharist as well) is a sacrament of the Church. There are some options which the couple may elect; it should be borne in mind that the form of the service itself is prescribed by the Church and neither the priest nor the couple is free to alter the service beyond the permissible options.
The couple should not make any announcement of a wedding at the St. Paul's Church until they have had an interview with the priest and have received consent to proceed. In the event a judgment is necessitated by virtue of a divorce, no announcement should be made until the Bishop has signified his permission.
If any priest of the Episcopal Church has declined for any reason to officiate at a particular marriage, no St. Paul's Church priest is at liberty to do so without prior consultation with the priest involved to obtain consent. It is the responsibility of the couple to make such circumstances known to the St. Paul's Church priest.
Unless good cause be shown, the St. Paul's Church clergy will not officiate at weddings other than in the Church.
Times for Weddings
Weddings can be arranged at such times as do not conflict with regularly scheduled services. Sundays and major feast days are not appropriate because of the full schedule. On Saturdays, weddings are usually scheduled for 12 noon, 3 or 6 p.m.
Receptions in the Church Hall may not be scheduled after 4 p.m. on Saturdays and must be concluded by 7 p.m. to allow adequate time for the sexton to prepare the Hall for Sunday morning use.
Rehearsals are scheduled on Friday at 4 or 6 p.m. Weddings are not scheduled during Lent and Advent!
Flowers and Accessories
Flowers are appropriate symbols of joy and life.
All flowers used in St. Paul's Church are to be approved by the St. Paul's Church Flower Guild.
Plans for flowers should be developed at least one month prior to the wedding in consultation with the Director of the St. Paul's Church Flower Guild.
Flowers placed at the altar for a wedding are considered to be an offering to God and are used on the following Sunday as a thank offering from the couple. Flowers are arranged only once each weekend. In the event there are two or more weddings in one weekend, the brides will share the cost of the flowers.
Flowers at the St. Paul's Church will reflect the liturgical season of the year: Advent, only evergreens and the Advent wreath; Christmas through Epiphany, Christmas flowers and greens; and Lent, no flowers or greens (weddings are not generally scheduled during Lent).
Wedding kneeling cushions are provided by St. Paul's Church.
Only reserved pews may be marked by ribbons or modest arrangements by the St. Paul's Church Flower Guild. Nothing may be taped to the pews or chairs.
Artificial flowers may not be used in the sanctuary area.
There is usually a frontal and antependium used on the altar and pulpit. Notification should be given if a bare altar is preferred.
St. Paul's Church has a Wedding Guild to assist you with the planning and handling of your wedding. One member of this Guild will be assigned to work specifically with your wedding. You will be contacted by that person one month prior to the wedding.
At the rehearsal, the Guild members will be present to assist the priest.
At the wedding, the Guild members will be present to assist you and your attendants. Space will be available for you and your attendants to dress.
There is to be NO consumption of alcoholic beverages prior to the ceremony.
The groom and groomsmen are expected to dress prior to coming to the Church and should gather in the Narthex of the St. Paul's Church upon arrival and at least 45 minutes before the time of the wedding.
Wedding Guild members are responsible for special seating and formation of the wedding procession after consultation with the bride and/or mother of the bride.
Music for the Wedding
A consultation with the St. Paul's Church Musician should be arranged no later than 30 days prior to the wedding. The St. Paul's Church Musician will discuss music possibilities with the couple and advise them. The following points are to be observed:
The wedding, or the Nuptial Eucharist, is a sacred service. Any texts that are sung must, under the canons and rubrics, be from the Holy Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, or other authorized services, or the hymnals of the Episcopal Church, or be theologically consistent with them.
The Church Musician is charged with responsibility for all music at all services in the St. Paul's Church, including weddings.
The final decision on the appropriateness of music must reside with the officiating clergy in consultation with the St. Paul's Church Musician. All soloists and instrumentalists must be arranged through the Church Musician. Additional fees for these musicians will be paid through St. Paul's Church.
The offering of the Lord's Prayer in the liturgy of the Episcopal Church is reserved for the entire congregation; thus, vocal renditions are inappropriate.
The purpose of the rehearsal is to prepare the wedding party to participate in the service in such a way as to render praise to God and joy to the bride and groom. In deference to the nature of the service and to the many people who must be on hand for a rehearsal, members of the wedding party are expected to be present and on time.
The rehearsal is under the direction of the officiating priest assisted by members of the Wedding Guild. IT IS TO BE CONDUCTED PRAYERFULLY AND REVERENTLY. Any parties to be held should be arranged so as not to cause delay, embarrassment, or difficulty for any concerned. Such events should follow the rehearsal.
The marriage license should be brought to the St. Paul's Church Office at least two weeks prior to the day of the rehearsal. Normally, the priest will not conduct the rehearsal without the marriage license in his possession.
The professional photographer may have a reasonable time following the service for posed pictures. Thirty minutes is the norm for this activity. Special arrangements can be made for pictures to be taken before the wedding, but pictures in the church must be completed one hour prior to the wedding. No flash pictures may be made during the service, including the processions, by either a professional photographer or members of the congregation.
Videotape recordings of your wedding may be made if the camera and operator remain stationary and use no extra lights. Placement of video cameras is to be determined only in consultation with the officiating priest.
The Wedding Guild can provide names of professional photographers who are familiar with Episcopal customs and who provide their services for reasonable fees.
The Church Hall can usually be made available for wedding receptions. Arrangements should be made as early as possible by telephoning the St. Paul's Church Office. Receptions in the St. Paul's Church Great Hall may not be scheduled after 4 p.m. on Saturdays and must be concluded by 7 p.m. to allow adequate time for the sexton to prepare the Church Hall for Sunday morning use.
Champagne and/or wine may be served at receptions. No other form of alcoholic beverage shall be permitted.
1. The St. Paul's Church seats 400 people
2. The Chapel seats 50 people
3. The Church Hall seats up to 200 for receptions (at tables)
4. The Memorial Garden makes a beautiful setting for a reception in fair weather
Acolytes are altar servers who assist the priest by carrying the processional cross, wedding banner, and serving the altar during a Nuptial Eucharist.
All couples married at St. Paul's are required personally to visit a priest at least six months prior to the marriage, when a determination will be made as to whether or not the Sacrament can be celebrated at St. Paul's.
Marriages for persons who are not active members, or becoming members, of the Episcopal Church will be discouraged except in the most unusual cases. This is because the Church understands this Sacrament to be not only a lifelong commitment to each other, but also to God in the context of this faith community.
Pre-marriage counseling is required by St. Paul's, the Rector will provide the first session and Dr. Joe Clift will provide the other four sessions ($35 per session with Dr. Clift). The Rector will need to meet with the couple again just prior to the wedding to discuss the ceremony.
Please contact the church office for a full listing of fees.
Rector, The Reverend Mark S. Jones
Church Musician, Ken Williams (436-0196) or Dr. Egbert J. Bacon (888-0129)
Wedding Guild, Mrs. Sue Fletcher, 883-4428
St. Paul's Church Office, Judy Williams, 436-0196
Counseling, Dr. Joe Clift, 446-1222
Full Name (including middle name) of both Bride and Groom:
Date and Time of Wedding:
The Readings (see page 17 of this booklet for options)
Old Testament Lesson:
New Testament Lesson:
The Wedding Party
(full names please)
Maid/Matron of Honor:
Lectors: Old Testament:
(arrange with Church Musician)
Procession 2: (the bride)
"Most people get married believing a myth - that marriage is a beautiful box full of things they have longed for: companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy and friendship.
The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage; loves is in people and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriage.
A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising — keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in the box will be empty."
J. Allen Person, "Homeward"