The Sacrament of Marriage

The Sacrament of Marriage at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
A Celebration of Christian Marriage is a significant event in your life, as well as an important moment in the life of the Church. In the Episcopal Church, Holy Matrimony is a sacrament and service of worship. The staff believes we have a responsibility to help you prepare for this joyous event and what it means for the rest of your life. The following customs and practices of this parish will give some basic information, and we ask you to read them carefully. If there are questions, we hope you will let us know.

  1. Who may be married here: The canons of the Episcopal Church state that at least one of the parties has been baptized in some Christian tradition. Marriages are performed for couples in which one (or both) is a member of this parish, or is in the immediate family of an active member, or has been given special permission by the Rector. There are canonical provisions concerning previous marriage ending in divorce. If one or both parties have been previously married and the former spouse is still living, the Bishop must grant permission.
  2. How to get started: Contact Ms. Sue Cloud in the Parish Office (410) 489-2800, to give the name, address and phone number of the prospective couple, and the month desired for the marriage. You will need to make an appointment as soon as possible with the Rector.  Firm arrangements for date, time and place of your service will be made after discussion with the priest. This meeting should take place before arrangements are made for the reception. We do not schedule marriage services on Sunday. 
  3. Officiating clergy: The Rector will officiate at the rehearsal and service. Clergy from another parish, including those of other denominations, are most welcome to assist. If you wish this, please speak to the Rector at your initial meeting. The Rector will then extend the appropriate invitation.
  4. Holy Matrimony: A sacramental rite of the church. Although it is the couple’s special day, it is also an important part of the ministry of the church. Couples who are actively involved in the church are strongly encouraged to include the Eucharist in the worship.
  5. Church attendance: Since Holy Matrimony is a sacramental rite of the church, we encourage couples to worship together while preparing for marriage.
  6. Premarital Preparation: According to the canons of the Episcopal Church, the priest instructs “both parties as to the nature, meaning, and purpose of Holy Matrimony.” This generally means three or more meetings to discuss all aspects of a Christian marriage. These discussions also enable the priest and the couple to know each other better, adding to the significance of this union being celebrated before God’s altar. Under normal circumstances marital counseling must be completed one month before the wedding.
  7. Music: The couple must consult the Director of Music, to plan the music for the marriage service. All arrangements for music should be made no later than two weeks before the wedding. If the organist does not hear from the couple by that time, they will select appropriate music.  The service of worship may include two congregational hymns.
  8. Marriage License: Only a Howard County license is valid for use at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Applications are filed with the Circuit Court for Howard County located at 6095 Marshalee Drive, Suite 120, Elkridge, MD 21075. The telephone number is 410-313-5850. Applications for marriage licenses are not accepted after 4:00 p.m. The application process takes about 15 minutes. There is a 48-hour waiting period before the license is issued. One party of the couple must make the application in person. The license must be brought to the priest at the last counseling session.
  9. Wedding Rehearsal: The date and time should be set during the initial interview with the Rector. They will conduct the rehearsal with the assistance of the wedding coordinator if there is one. The following people participate in the rehearsal: the bride and groom, parents, all attendants, readers and ushers.
  10. Flowers and decorations: One or two arrangements of flowers for the altar are appropriatein the Church Flowers should be delivered no later than three hours before the service. They will be placed on the altar by the altar guild. The head of the Altar Guild can advise you or your florist about proper proportions for flower arrangements. Flowers are left on the altar for Sunday morning. Candles – Please make arrangements with the head of the Altar Guild. Runners are NOT permitted, as they create a serious safety hazard.
  11. Photographs: Because Holy Matrimony is a sacrament, no flash pictures are permitted in the Church during the service. Pictures or videos taken in available light are permissible from the back of the Church or from the balcony by one professional photographer. If the balcony is to be used, photographic equipment must be in place at least 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the liturgy. Because the wedding is a service of worship, guests should be requested in advance not to use cameras during the service
  12. Confetti: Rice, confetti, rose petals, bird seed, etc. cause maintenance and safety problems, and are not permitted on church grounds.
  13. Bulletin: The layout of the service bulletin can be prepared by the Parish Administrator if it is the standard 2 fold. Printing is not done by the Parish. The couple needs to provide music and reading selections to the church no later than two weeks before the wedding so that there is sufficient time for preparation and printing.
  14. Costs: There is no fee for pledging members and their immediate family. The wedding fee is $500 for non-pledging members which is brought with the Howard County license to the Rector at the wedding rehearsal. The standard fee for organists is $250. When additional soloists, instrumentalists or choristers are requested, and additional rehearsal time required, there will be an extra charge. The check for the church should be made out to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church with “wedding” in the memo line. The check for the organist should be made out to the organist. An offering of thanks to the officiant is customary.