Marriage at St. John’s

St. John’s Church in the Wilderness provides rich history, a beautiful natural backdrop and multiple options for you to have the wedding of your dreams. The church/ sanctuary itself is available for ceremonies, and our barn* and adjacent meadow for wedding receptions. Please see below for more information about marriages at an Episcopal Church, and please contact us for pricing and more information.

*Please note due to COVID-19 protocols our barn is currently unavailable for private events*

Should you/Can you get married in an Episcopal Church?

The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is an expression of Christian community in which a couple makes their vows before God and the Church, and the priest blesses the marriage on behalf of the Church. Marriage in church is, therefore, much more than a matter of mere form. Churches are not marriage factories, and those who are not active members of an Episcopal parish should not assume that they will be able to marry in it. If you are from outside a parish in which you wish to get married, it is, therefore, very important that you do not announce a date for your marriage in one of our Churches until you and your future spouse have met with the priest and the suitability of the celebration of your marriage in our Church has been determined.

Place and Ministers of Marriage

Normally, the clergy of the parish preside at the celebration of marriages in that parish. If you want another cleric to preside at your marriage, you must obtain the consent of the ecclesiastical authority of the parish–the rector, interim priest in charge, or churchwardens. Our Church discourages weddings outside of the physical church building because having a wedding in a church asserts the importance of the Christian community in the marriage, while having it outside tends to diminish the role of the Church and to dilute its rules and traditions. If you do get married outside the church building, you need to bear in mind that Canon law requires that your marriage be celebrated with the consent of the ecclesiastical authority of the parish (i.e. its rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge) within the boundaries of which it takes place, and recorded in that parish’s register.

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

The Church views Holy Matrimony as a sacrament, because you are asking God’s blessing upon your marriage. By being married in the church, you are also choosing to be part of a community of faith that will support and nurture you in your married life. To that end, we encourage all couples wishing to be married at St. John’s to become active members of the church (this normally means regular weekly attendance).

Who may arrange for a wedding ceremony at St. John’s Church in the Wilderness?

A wedding ceremony at St. John’s Church in the Wilderness must satisfy the requirements of both the State of New York and the Episcopal Church. It is not necessary that you be members of St. John’s. However, all services will be conducted according to authorized rites approved by the Episcopal Church. In addition, the national canons of the Episcopal Church require that one person be a baptized Christian, and, when one or both parties have been previously divorced, that permission to remarry be sought from the Episcopal Bishop of New York. This permission must be sought at least four months in advance, in consultation with the priest who will be performing the wedding.

May same-sex couples be married at St. John’s in the Wilderness?

As provided by the laws of the State of New York and the canons of the Episcopal Church, St. John’s does marry same-sex couples. All are welcome here.

Will there be per-marital counseling?

The Episcopal Church requires per-marital counseling with the priest. This is accomplished in three to five sessions, though in some cases the clergy may require the couple to seek additional outside premarital counseling prior to the ceremony. The focus of the meetings with the clergy is mainly to help the couple explore their relationship in the context of the church, and to prepare for the joys and challenges of life together.

Seasons for Marriages

Marriages are not traditionally celebrated in Advent and in Lent because these are penitential seasons during which times festal liturgies, such as weddings, are not appropriate. Diocesan policy is that weddings during Advent or Lent should only happen in the case of serious, pressing, compelling pastoral needs. Some years ago, the Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of New York prepared a detailed discussion of the issues surrounding marriage, and the liturgies appropriate under different circumstances (e.g. inter-faith marriages, Roman Catholic-Anglican marriages).

Flowers and Decorations
You are welcome to purchase your own floral arrangements from the florist of your choice. We suggest two arrangements be placed behind the altar. Pew bows and small pew flowers are also acceptable. You are not required to leave your flowers in the church after your wedding, but may do so if you wish. If you do choose to leave your flowers, please inform the church office prior to the wedding.

We do not permit the following:

  • Unity Candles
  • Confetti & Rice
    (Rose petals and bird seed are alternatives)

Photographs and Videos
Photos and videos are allowed inside St. John’s in the Wilderness. It is the responsibility of the couple to ensure their selected photographer does not disrupt their ceremony.

Music
Wedding music at St. John’s should be sacred in nature, meaning your selections should come from the vast collection of classical music which was written specifically for use in the church. Vocal music should draw its text from either the Bible or the Hymnal 1982.

Marriage License
It is the responsibility of the couple marrying to obtain a valid New York State Marriage License. The license may not be used until 24 hours after it has been obtained and is valid for 60 days from the date of filing. Please note: If the license has not been given to the clergy person taking the service, there can be no wedding. You should bring the license to the wedding rehearsal.

Other

Non-members of St. John’s are required to pay a $500 cash deposit for lost or damaged church property. The deposit shall be paid before the wedding date is set aside on the church calendar. The deposit shall be refunded within two weeks after the wedding upon determination by the church’s advisory board that loss or damage has not occurred. This deposit in no way limits the financial responsibility of the wedding party for loss or damage to the church. The couple accept full responsibility for any and all loss or damage resulting from activities involved in and surrounding the wedding ceremony, the rehearsal and any other activities related to the wedding.

Clean-up of the church facilities, including all areas used by the wedding party is the responsibility of the wedding party.

Please contact us for additional information, and for wedding pricing.

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