Weddings at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Our main interest at St. Luke’s is your marriage, that you will enter into a life-giving union with one another and that your marriage will be a sign of God’s presence and Kingdom on earth. Therefore, most of our discussion with you will be about your marriage and not about your wedding. The information in this brochure, along with the help of the Rector and Parish Wedding Coordinator, will enable you to plan an appropriate ceremony. This guide is applicable to all weddings conducted at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
What is a Christian Wedding?
A Christian wedding is an opportunity for people of faith to come together in the presence of their faith community to declare their marriage vows and have the community bless those vows. Holy Matrimony is a sacramental rite in the Episcopal Church, in which a man and a woman enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. It is most appropriate, therefore, that your wedding be held at the church where you are active. In this age of mobility, this is often not possible. In this case, we will try to work with you as we welcome you to our church home.
However, if you are not active in a church somewhere, there is no purpose in having a church wedding. Please do not request the Rector to officiate if you are not or do not have intentions of becoming active here or at a church in the area where you will live after your marriage.
A Christian wedding is conducted within the context of a worship service. Since we are an Episcopal Church, the liturgy must conform to the rites and traditions of this Church. This fact dictates certain restrictions on the choice of music, the extent of floral arrangements and decorations, etc. Our Church Organist and Parish Wedding Coordinator will be available to help guide you in these areas. If you would like another clergy person to assist in the service, please let us know so our Rector can invite him or her.
Canon Law Requirements
1. At least one person in the couple must be a baptized Christian.
2. At least 30 days advance notice is required, although this can be waived for good reason.
3. Pre-marital preparation is required. This is generally conducted during three to five separate sessions with a member of the clergy, typically the Rector. In some instances when the couple is not living in the area, arrangements can be made for another priest to conduct the sessions.
4. You are required to attend a pre-marriage counseling seminar through the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care (or its equivalent in your community if not local). VIP Care is located at 2000 Bremo Rd, Suite 105, Richmond, VA 23226; 804-282-8332. Pre-marriage seminars are listed on their website at www.vipcare.org.
5. If either of you has been divorced, permission of the Bishop of Southern Virginia is required for your marriage in the Church and one year must have passed since the legal termination of the previous marriage. A copy of your divorce decree must be submitted to the clergy at the first meeting. At least 90 days notification before the wedding is required in this case.
6. You must have a valid Virginia marriage license.
It is a state law in Virginia that the officiant of the service must be an ordained minister and registered in the State of Virginia. A minister of any religious denomination must be authorized by a circuit court to celebrate the rites of matrimony in this state. To obtain such authorization, the minister must produce proof of his/her ordination and regular communion with the religious society of which s/he is a reputed member. The minister should contact the Powhatan County Clerk at this phone number: (804) 598-5660 to inquire about forms and procedures at least two months before the wedding date if not already registered in Virginia.
Music at the Wedding
It is anticipated that if you desire music for your service, you will use the services of the Organist at St. Luke’s Church. If the St. Luke’s Church Organist is not available, you may arrange for a substitute. When employing the services of our church organist, the minimum fee is $200, with an additional $50 if the organist attends the rehearsal. If there are soloists with special practices, a larger fee is appropriate. We will be happy to make suggestions.
As stated earlier, the choice of music should be appropriate for the Episcopal liturgy. You should plan to meet with the organist and plan the music together. Other instrumentalists are welcome, at the organist’s discretion, but you are responsible for their fees. Please remember to coordinate the rehearsal time with the organist, since, in most cases, the organist is present for the wedding rehearsal.
It is a strong pastoral recommendation that the Holy Eucharist be a part of your wedding service, particularly if you are a communicant of this church. However, this service is optional. All of your baptized family and guests are welcome to receive Holy Communion if you decide to have a Eucharist.
We recommend that you have all photographs taken prior to the service so that you do not delay your guests after the service. All pre-service photography should be completed 30 minutes prior to the service. Because of the sacredness and beauty of your wedding service, no photos are allowed during the ceremony. Video photography during the service is allowed but strongly discouraged.
Flowers and Decorations
The only flowers permissible are two arrangements on either side of the altar and they must be of appropriate height to conform to the space. It is expected that the flower arrangements will be left on the altar for the Sunday service in thanksgiving for your marriage. The Altar Guild at St. Luke’s will coordinate with your florist on the specifics of the flowers. You may provide white bows to indicate pews reserved for your families or special guests. All materials used must be flame-proof. Candles with glass globes are available for the windows. Free-standing candelabras are not permitted. Any special decorations that you may use must be approved by the Rector and taken down after the service. The church building will be open two hours before the service.
Use of the Parish House
The Parish House next door to the church will be open prior to, during, and after the wedding service. The wedding party may choose to dress and gather there if prior arrangements are made. They are responsible for removing all personal items and for leaving the rooms in good, clean condition. Restrooms are located on the upper and lower floors of the building. It is not our intention to host wedding receptions in the Parish Hall. However, you may inquire about this with the Rector.
Service bulletins are not necessary. If desired, they are entirely your responsibility. The order of service in the bulletin must be approved by the clergy before printing.
Alcohol Use and Smoking
Alcoholic beverages and smoking are usually not permitted on church property. If there is an indication that either the bride or groom is not absolutely sober at the time of the wedding, the service will not be performed.
For safety reasons the throwing of rice, birdseed, or any other substitute at the bride and groom is prohibited. Please make sure that your ushers are available to assist anyone requiring assistance and that they are aware of our handicapped access. Our church building can accommodate up to 95 persons. There is no overflow capacity.
Fees total $1,100 which includes the following (but does not include the $50 reservation fee):
$450 – Church building use fee* (payable to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church)
$300 – Rector’s Honorarium* (payable to Rector’s Discretionary Fund)
$200 – Organist’s fee (An extra $50 is required if the organist attends the rehearsal; payable directly to the Organist.)
$150 – Parish Wedding Coordinator’s fee (payable directly to person)
*These fees are waived for members and their immediate family since they support the parish on an ongoing basis. Any honorarium that is given to the priest will go to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. These funds are used by the clergy for works of charity in the community.
A Final Note
We at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will do all that we can to make your wedding the beautiful start of a lasting and fulfilling marriage, for it is your marriage we truly care about. Please contact us at the church office if you have any questions or require more information.