“Holding your wedding in a church makes a faith statement” (Andrew MacBeth, Dearly Beloved, 10). Do you want to do that? Some people are deeply aware of God’s presence in church and the support and encouragement of friends at a local congregation. It’s like an extended family. They feel called to attend worship and to serve others, as expressions of their love of God and other people. It feels natural to celebrate their marriage vows in a church worship service.
Others have a personal connection with God, or an awareness of God, but don’t find this takes the shape of joining a religious organization. Still others aren’t sure.
Beginning a marriage is a great opportunity to talk through your own spiritual and religious values, so that you and your fiancé can choose a wedding ceremony that fits what you believe and how you want to live your lives together.
Finally, a couple may have two very different belief systems and religious practices. If this is the case for you, you will most likely want multiple clergy and both congregations involved.
2. Should my wedding be at an Episcopal church?
Episcopalians understand marriage to be a sacrament – an outward, visible sign of an inward, spiritual grace. “We believe that the union of husband and wife, in heart, body, and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (Declaration of Intention of a True Christian Marriage).
Do you intend a “true Christian marriage” as Episcopalians understand it? Have one or both of you been baptized as a Christian?
3. When do we first contact St. Luke’s?
As soon as you know you want to be married, and before you send out any invitations. The Episcopal Church requires a minimum of thirty day’s notice but the church calendar is often busy and thirty days is rarely enough time for pre-marital counseling sessions with the priest.
4. Do we have to be members?
At least one person in the couple should be a baptized Christian for our clergy to preside. You may rent the church building, however. 5. When can a wedding be scheduled?
Scheduling is at the discretion of the priest, depending on the building’s availability, but not during the Christian season of Lent (forty days leading up to Easter).
6.Are there other requirements? It is not our practice to hold weddings in the midst of Sunday worship. We will, however, publish the banns, or give the congregation several weeks notice of an upcoming wedding.
7. What premarital counseling is required?
The priest will want to meet with you four to six times to help you think and talk about your values and experiences that may consciously or unconsciously affect your future marriage. Engagement is a unique time for negotiating and for bringing up your assumptions that affect marriage. Premarital counseling is a guided conversation around topics such as personal experiences, and beliefs and practices, children, religion, extended family, living together, conflict patterns, money, etc. One session will plan the ceremony itself.
If one or both of you live elsewhere, another Episcopal priest may do the premarital counseling, but please do contact St. Luke’s before arranging this.
8. Can divorced couples get married at St. Luke’s?
Yes, although the church will want to make sure that you have addressed the cause/s of the divorce, so that you can have a successful future marriage. The priest will want to talk about your divorce/s, and the care of any children involved. The Episcopal Church requires that you settle any matters of property and custody and also a one year wait between the final divorce date and the wedding date. (Plan to bring your signed divorce decree to the first premarital counseling appointment.) The priest will need to petition the Bishop of Milwaukee for his consent to the marriage and this takes a month or two. Your priest may refer you to other professional psychological counseling depending on the number of previous marriages and her assessment of your preparedness for marriage.
9. Can Roman Catholic (or other church) couples get married at St. Luke’s?
Perhaps. If you are an active member of another church tradition, please honor the teaching of your church.
If you want to consider the Episcopal church, you are welcome to explore this. You may want to visit a service, and/or talk to a priest or parishioner.
If you want simply to rent the church, with a different clergy person presiding, please contact St. Luke’s to discuss the logistical details. We charge modest fees (see below).
10. Is there a particular service, readings and music for weddings?
Yes, most Episcopal services are in the Book of Common Prayer, and it provides guidelines for choosing Bible readings, and various roles for friends and family members. You can look at a Book of Common Prayer when you come for worship, or find the marriage service online at http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/formatted_1979.htm