Holy Matrimony is a sacrament of the Church, in which a couple enters into a life-long union, make their vows before God, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. In order to be married in the Episcopal Church, one member of the couple needs to be a baptized Christian. All couples planning to get married are required to take pre-marital counseling.
Those desiring to be married must meet with one of parish clergy before a date can be placed on the parish calendar. At this meeting, the officiating priest will discuss the couple’s request to be married, answer any questions, set out the preparation process, and clarify church teachings regarding Christian marriage. If either party has been previously divorced, specific requirements of the Church must be met before an Episcopal priest may perform the Blessing and Celebration of a Marriage. This includes submission of a remarriage petition to the bishop. Episcopal canon law requires a minimum of 30 days notice before a wedding can be solemnized.
Weddings follow the liturgy for The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage found on page 423 of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer or one of two additional trial liturgies approved at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The use of music for all Episcopal Church services is governed by the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal under the direction of the parish director of music and parish organist.
Normally, the clergy of the parish preside at the celebration of marriages in that parish. If the couple prefers another cleric to preside at the marriage, consent must be given by the ecclesiastical authority of the parish: the rector, interim, priest-in-charge, or churchwardens.
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 a serious, pressing or compelling pastoral need.
Each Episcopal parish will have unique guidelines and local coordinators so the initial call should be to the church in order to connect with the clergy and wedding coordinator.