Wedding Customary

Congratulations on your upcoming Marriage! We are delighted you are seeking God’s blessing on your marriage here at St. John’s. May God continue to bless you and your new holy commitment.

Marriage is not a uniquely Christian institution. Wedding ceremonies may take place in completely secular settings, following the laws of the state and under the supervision of an officer of the state. In this setting, it is a legal contract between two parties, in force until it is dissolved by the state.

The Church understands marriage between Christians as more than a contract and expects more of the parties involved. Christian Marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and the woman in the presence of God (Book of Common Prayer p. 422). The celebration of a marriage is not a private act, but a public service of the church in the context of the community of faith.

The following guidelines have been established for wedding ceremonies celebrated at St. John’s Episcopal Church. While elements of the customary may appear stringent, please remember that the Church and clergy are bound by Canons, or rules, of the Church. Holy Matrimony, while joyful and celebratory, is also a sacrament and is to be entered into reverently and deliberately. While some elements of the service or guidelines concerning pre-marital counseling are fixed, the church is also flexible concerning some parts of the service. The overriding concern is to make this a joyful celebration of your marriage in the context of Holy Matrimony. So, with that in mind, we hope the following helps answer some of the questions and concerns you might have for your memorable day ahead.

Considerations before setting a wedding date

  1. The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage in St. John’s is intended primarily for members of the parish; therefore, either the bride or groom or their parents must be involved in some way in the life of this parish. At least one of the parties must be a baptized Christian and an active member in the Episcopal Church. If neither person is an active participant, the priest will be happy to discuss with you how you might become a member of St. John’s. When someone is new to the area, the priest will consider scheduling a marriage for the couple after they have begun attending St. John’s.
  2. The parish priest will normally officiate at all weddings. In order to be married, the couple is required to meet with the priest for several hours of premarital counseling. Other clergy, either of the Episcopal Church or of other denominations, who have a special relationship with either the bride or groom, may be invited by the officiating priest to assist in the service. The parish priest should be consulted before communicating with other clergy with regard to the wedding.
  3. Requests for wedding dates should be made as early as possible, but must be made to the parish priest no less than 4 months prior to the proposed wedding date. Divorced persons who desire to be remarried by a priest of the Episcopal Church should consult the parish priest at least 6 months in advance of the contemplated wedding date, at which time the priest will explain Title I, Canon 18 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church.
  4. Please make no public announcement of your marriage until arrangements with the church office and counseling with the officiating priest have been finalized. Please do not make any formal arrangements, place deposits or have anything printed with a date for the wedding until you have met with the priest and the priest has agreed to preside at the wedding and has placed the wedding on the parish calendar. All arrangements for the wedding rehearsal and ceremony must be made in consultation with the parish priest. No dates will be placed on the parish calendar until the priest has had at least one meeting with the couple, sometimes two, before giving consent to preside at the service. It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to solemnize any marriage (Title I Canon 18; sec. 4).
  5. The scheduling of weddings is not allowed during Lent, on Sundays, or for the two-week period beginning one week before Christmas and ending one week after Christmas. In addition, during other seasons of the year when particular decorations are present, these will remain in the church.
  6. Not more than one wedding per day will be scheduled in the church.
  7. If a wedding service bulletin/program is desired, this is a cost of the bride and groom and not the parish. However, any bulletin or program must be approved by the priest before it is printed.
  8. In addition to the wedding party, the church seats 157 on the main floor and 20 in the choir loft. Wheel chair seating is also available on the main floor. Additional guests may be seated in Whitlock Hall and watch the ceremony on a video feed. It is strongly requested that no more than 4 attendants each be asked to participate due to space limitations at the front of the church.
  9. Be aware that St. John’s is a non-smoking campus. Any person under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be allowed to participate in the rehearsal or wedding. They may be dismissed from the rehearsal or the wedding at the sole discretion of the priest.

Consultations and Premarital Counseling

The Canons of the Episcopal Church provide that the parties of the marriage shall be instructed “as to the nature, meaning, and purpose of Holy Matrimony.” This is usually done in the form of discussions between the prospective bride and groom and the priest about some of the essential elements of a Christian marriage. This normally requires several sessions with the priest to discuss a variety of topics, including relationships, finances, children and family as well as aspects of the wedding service itself. The counseling should be completed 30 days before the wedding. The Canons also require the parties to sign the a Declaration of Intention following the completion of their counseling:

We, __________ and __________, desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the liturgical forms authorized by the Church.

We believe it is for the purpose of mutual fellowship, encouragement, and understanding, for the procreation (if it may be) of children, and their physical and spiritual nurture, for the safe-guarding and benefit of society.

And we do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.

Marriage License

The Marriage License must be given to the priest no later than one week before the rehearsal. The Montgomery County Clerk of Courts will process your application for a Marriage License. Indiana State Code 31-11-4 governs the issuance of licenses and may be found on the internet through this reference:

Wedding Coordinator

Having a wedding coordinator can help the couple in planning for their special day, but it is not required. If you have a wedding coordinator/consultant, advise them that the priest shall handle all matters pertaining to the rehearsal and the service. The coordinator’s services at the church will be strictly confined to the wedding day only in helping and preparing the bride and wedding party for the ceremony. If you do select a wedding coordinator, please make sure the coordinator agrees to these guidelines as part of their contract.

The Service

The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is the service used in St. John’s Episcopal Church. No personally composed or other denomination’s liturgy may be used. The service offers several options for scripture readings found on BCP p. 426 which should be discussed with the priest. The vows of the man and the woman are exchanged using the form found on BCP p. 427. The vows may not be altered. The marriage liturgy from an authorized Anglican Communion member may be considered upon discussion with the priest and for good cause shown.


The parish organist should be contacted as soon as the wedding date is set, but at least 60 days before the wedding to ascertain availability and begin work on the music selection. If you plan to have music selections performed by vocalists and /or instrumentalists, please discuss it with the parish organist who must approve use of the piano or organ to be played by another musician. The organist’s fee is $250 ($50 for consultation and $200 for rehearsal and wedding day). Any fees for other musicians are the responsibility of the couple.

If you wish to use an organist who is not the organist of St. John’s, and if the organist of St. John’s is available to play at the wedding, the $250 fee described above is still due to the organist of St. John’s as well as any fee for such other organist (this is known as a “bench fee”).

Title II, Canon 6, Section 1 states, in part: “It shall be the duty of every minister to see that music is used in his congregation as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to people in worship. It shall be his duty to suppress all light and unseemly music…”

A church wedding is a Sacrament in the Episcopal Church. It is a religious service and music should be in keeping with this act of worship. A church wedding is made sacred and holy by being performed before the Altar. Therefore, every effort is made to provide music that expresses both the reverence and the joy of the occasion.

Examples of appropriate music are found under Music Resources at the end of this customary. The list of music suitable for a church wedding includes pre-wedding music during the seating of guests, choral selections, processional and recessional pieces. Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” from “Lohengrin” and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as well as popular secular music are not considered appropriate and shall not be permitted.

The 1982 Hymnal and other authorized hymnals of The Episcopal Church contain many appropriate hymns for use during your wedding, any of which may be played or sung as solos or by the congregation.

The bride and groom are likely to have the best possible music for their wedding if they rely upon the experience and judgment of the parish organist. If the parish organist is unable to play, an alternate organist may be found. No prerecorded tapes, CDs or soundtracks are permitted.

The following should be understood in regards to vocalists: Popular, rock, or commercial music styles are not appropriate. The vocalist should plan to practice with the organist several days in advance of the wedding ceremony. This should be arranged with the organist directly. It is appropriate for the vocalist to be robed as are all members of the church choir. Therefore, the vocalist should plan to find an appropriate fit prior to rehearsal. Admittance to the robing room can be arranged through the church secretary or organist.

Holy Communion

The church offers the bride and groom, if baptized, the privilege of receiving Holy Communion as part of the marriage ceremony. The Book of Common Prayer provides a collection of Collects, Lessons and Gospel readings from which selections may be made for use during the celebration of Holy Communion. If Holy Communion is not celebrated as part of the wedding service, the couple is urged to participate in a Communion Service soon after the day of the wedding. A simple celebration of Holy Communion can also be scheduled at the conclusion of the rehearsal. If communion is part of the liturgy, all baptized persons in church are invited to partake.


Rehearsals of weddings are entirely under the direction of the priest officiating at the service. Rehearsal is an integral part of the event and is generally scheduled the afternoon or evening before the wedding. All members of the wedding party, parents, grandparents, others who are assisting as readers and the organist are present at the rehearsal which is conducted by the officiating priest. Arranging for more than four attendants for the bride and the groom is discouraged because of space limitations at the altar. All other persons who might be present are subject to the direction of the officiating priest in order that the rehearsal may proceed in an orderly and uninterrupted fashion. Rehearsals last about one hour, providing that all members of the wedding party arrive at the scheduled rehearsal time. All in attendance are expected to dress tastefully. If a wedding coordinator/consultant is used, s/he should consult with the priest prior to the rehearsal.


Any photography involving members of the wedding party, either inside or outside the church, prior to the service must be completed no later than 30 minutes before the start of the service. Photography is welcome at the entrance of the wedding party and the bridal party. No photography, flash or otherwise, with camera or cell phone, or the use of extra lighting is permitted during the ceremony. Only video taping and non-flash photography may be done from the choir loft during the ceremony. Photography is permitted after the ceremony is over and should be concluded within 30 minutes to allow the wedding party to proceed to the reception and to allow the sexton and altar guild access to perform their duties. The bride and groom are responsible for advising all photographers, lay or professional, of these guidelines.

Flowers and Decorations

Flowers are not required at a wedding but may enhance the day at the discretion of the bride and groom. Flowers may be placed in the following locations:

  1. At the east wall behind the altar.
  2. In the church windows
  3. In the narthex
  4. Attached to the ends of the pews. No tape, nails, tacks, screws, staples or pins may be used for such attachments)
  5. On the front doors of the church

The Altar Guild will work with the person(s) providing floral arrangements to assure that design and placement will not interfere with the conduct of the wedding service. Only fresh flowers and greenery are to be used. Artificial/silk flowers and greenery are not appropriate. Flowers may not be placed on the altar or beside it. Two floral arrangements may be placed on the shelves that flank the Cross. These will be a gift to the church, paid for by the couple and left in the church for Sunday services. There will be a notice in the Sunday bulletin indicating that the flowers are from your wedding. Should the couple wish to have the flowers back, they will be available after the Sunday services. Any other floral arrangements may be removed for use at the reception. The torches flanking the Cross will be lighted for the service. The two large communion candles will be placed on the altar only if there will be Holy Communion with the wedding. No other candles are permitted in the church. A “unity candle” or similar symbol is not permitted.

Safety Considerations

An aisle runner may not be used for reasons of safety. Confetti, rice, rose petals or other things thrown may not be used in the church, Whitlock Hall or outside. Bird seed may be thrown outside or bubbles might be used to greet the couple as they leave the church. There is handicapped parking in the lot north of Whitlock Hall by the Youth Service Bureau building. Only the wedding couple’s car/limo may be parked in the restricted area in front of the church. Since the church has no parking lot of its own, the couple may be able to obtain permission from the First United Methodist Church to use their parking lot south of St. John’s (it is the couple’s responsibility to contact First United Methodist Church to inquire about parking). Otherwise, the invitation should advise guests that only street parking near and city parking lots north of the church are to be used.

Arrival at Church Prior to Beginning of Wedding

All members of the wedding party are expected to be at the church no later than 1 hour before the service begins. This permits time to gather in quiet in advance of this sacrament. St. John’s does not have a “bridal parlor” but does have a library/conference room available for the bride and her attendants to prepare for the wedding ceremony. The suitability of this room for the bride’s purpose is strictly the bride’s decision. Similarly, a room for the groom and his attendants may be made available in the undercroft.

Use of Whitlock Hall

The couple is welcome to use Whitlock Hall for a rehearsal dinner or for a reception following the service according to the Rules for the Use of Whitlock Hall which may be found here. The rearranging of furniture is permitted and appropriate decorations that are not affixed to the walls are approved. The extent of the sexton’s services required for set up and clean up should be arranged through the church office. The church sexton should be consulted and paid in advance for any such services. If a caterer is employed to assist with the reception, the Rules for the Use of Whitlock Hall are to be followed and the fees specified in the Whitlock Hall Reservation Form (found here) are to be paid in advance. The use of alcoholic beverages is restricted to wine, champagne or wine punch. Additionally, a non-alcoholic beverage must be offered as an alternative (this is in addition to water and tea). No charges for alcohol are permitted.


The Nursery room is available for young children of the wedding party or guests (infant to 6 years of age) for the rehearsal and wedding. The couple may wish to offer this service to their guests. The couple is responsible for arranging and paying for nursery care attendants..


There is no fee for the use of the church for active, pledging parishioners or their children. If the priest agrees to schedule a wedding for a non-parishioner, the fee is $500. The use of Whitlock Hall by parishioners and non-parishioners for either the rehearsal dinner or the reception will require the payment of additional fees for the sexton. Any fee for the sexton does NOT include the washing of dishes, silverware, glassware, etc. nor the orderly replacement of any church owned items into the St. John’s cabinets. The church organist will play for all weddings at St. John’s unless the organist agrees otherwise (see “Music” above). If the wedding party chooses to use different instrumentalists, the fee for the church organist remains the same, and the wedding party would then pay the church organist in addition to any additional instrumentalist. The church does not set the fees nor collect fees for outside instrumentalists or vocalists.

All fees for use of the church or Whitlock Hall and all other fees due others who are assisting are to be paid by check no later than the Monday preceding the wedding. The check should be given to the parish administrator who will distribute the monies.

Use of Church$0.00$500.00
Use of Whitlock Hall$15.00$100.00
Clergy Honorariumcontribution$250.00
Altar Guild$50.00$75.00
Altar Flowers$75.00$75.00
Two Nursery Attendants $50.00$50.00
Sexton (for church usage)$50.00$50.00
Sexton (for Whitlock Hall usage)$50.00$50.00

Music Resources

Since the available music that is suitable for the Sacrament of Marriage is so extensive, the list given here is of compositions that enhance and emphasize the joy of the Celebration. The bride and groom are encouraged to make an appointment with the church organist so that selections can be heard and decisions about the music be made as early in the planning process as possible.

PRELUDESJesu, Joy of Man’s DesiringJ.S. Bach
Canon in D MajorJ. Pachelbel
Aria in F MajorG.F. Handel
Air for the G StringJ.S. Bach
Alleghretto - from Four Seasons (“Spring”)A. Vivaldi
TRUMPET TUNESPrince of Denmark’s March (Trumpet Voluntary)J. Clarke
Trumpte Tune (Martial Air)H. Purcell
Trumpet MarchJ.B. Lully
Rondeau (Festival Fanfare)J.J. Mouret
Festival Te DeumM.A. Charpentier
MARCHESRiguadonA. Campra
Festival MarchG.F. Handel
Postlude in G MajorG.F. Handel
RECESSIONALSTrumpet VoluntaryJ. Stanley
Allegro Maestoso (“Hornpipe”)G.F. Handel
Psalm XIXB. Marcello
Allegro PomposoRoseingrave
Processional of JoyBeethoven/Hopson
POSTLUDESLa RejouissanceG.F. Handel
Organ Symphony V-ToccataC.M. Widor
Organ Symphony I-FinaleL. Vierne

End Notes

Please assign someone to clean up items brought into the building such as boxes for flowers and decorations. Please have someone do a walk through after the service and/or reception to make sure no items have been left in any rooms used throughout the building as well as in the church itself. All rooms should be returned to the same arrangement in which they were found. St. John’s is not responsible for receiving deliveries or storage of any property, items or material goods damaged or left in the facility. Any physical damage to the church or its property resulting from the wedding activities is the responsibility of the wedding couple.

Any exceptions to any of the guidelines in this customary are at the discretion of the priest.

Return to beginning of Customary

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Last Updated Tuesday 30 April 2013