Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God in which they enter into a lifelong union for the purpose of: their mutual joy and spiritual nurture; the help and comfort given one another; and, when God wills, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of God. Christian marriage signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and His Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.
(Book of Common Prayer, pgs. 422-423).
Preparation for Marriage For those choosing to be married at Saint Michael’s, the expectation is that their choice is made from Christian conviction; therefore, at least one person in the proposed marriage must be baptized and a regular participant in the worship life of the parish. It is also expected that the couple’s intention is to live together as husband and wife within the life and love of the Christian community. It is important that the couple be known to the clergy and to the parish for a significant period of time before the wedding.
The Canons of the Church, which govern marriage, provide for pre-marital counseling. In addition, the marriage must be attested to by at least two witnesses and conform to the laws of the state of Connecticut.
The Bishop’s permission is required if either party has been divorced. Application for the permission to bless the marriage must be received by the Bishop at least 90 days before the marriage date. Psychological counseling, with a report to the bishop, is required in addition to pastoral counseling for any couple in which one person has been married twice before. As the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is a service of worship, a sacred event, plans concerning the ceremony, flowers and music are under the oversight of the Rector.
Arrangements Before any arrangements are made, be sure to speak with the rector regarding the use of the church and clergy availability. This is to be done at least three months prior to the wedding. Weddings may be held at most reasonable times, with the exceptions of Sundays and during Holy Week. Check what you have in mind with the Rector. Rehearsals are usually held the evening before the wedding.
Instruction The Rector will meet with the couple for pre-marital instruction and counseling. Topics for the sessions include: the Christian life and marriage; explorations of standard relationship issues such as finances, housing, intimacy, children, employment, etc., and planning a wedding service. If further counseling is indicated, the couple may be asked to seek professional marriage counseling.
The couple will be expected to sign a Declaration of Intention
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 this 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, and for the safeguarding 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.
The Service ordinarily includes the Holy Eucharist with hymns or other sacred music. Only sacred music is used throughout the wedding service (see more about music below). The couple helps the Rector in liturgical planning.
*Presentation or giving in marriage is optional.
If it is to be done, it takes place after the Declaration of Consent. There are several possibilities for its use:
- The parties are giving themselves to each other in the marriage, so there is no special presenting.
- Parents, or other relatives or friends present both the woman and man to be married. This recognizes that a larger community of love and support is involved in marriage.
- A parent, or other relative, presents the woman.
*The couple may select scripture readings from those listed in the Book of Common Prayer on page 426. The Old Testament and the Epistle passages may be read by friends or relatives.
Flowers If special flowers are desired, only the number of vases normally used at the altar are needed. Please be advised that dark flowers are hard to see against the reredos. If freestanding arrangements are preferred, various heights of pedestals are available. Pew torches and standing candelabrum are available for evening weddings only. Aisle decorations may be used but must be removed immediately following the service.
Photographs may be taken during the service by one person selected by the couple, provided that an appropriate camera is used and that the photographs are taken in a manner that does not risk distracting the congregation and the members of the wedding party from worship.
The same applies to anyone videotaping the service; we ask that the videographer remain stationary for the entire service. Flash and/or automatic wind cameras are not to be used during the wedding. Please inform your family and friends.
Music When music is desired, an appointment with the Music Director is made for the purpose of selecting suitable sacred music for the sacrament. As in all services of the church, music is an aid to worship. Secular music does not fit the serious nature of the ceremony and is far better used at the wedding reception. The Book of Common Prayer, or from texts congruent with them. If special soloists or additional musicians are desired, the Music Director will make those arrangements and rehearsal schedules.
Forms of music that may be used include: hymns sung by the congregation; organ music or that of another instrument; an anthem sung by a soloist or a small group.
Music should be used for the processional, at the offertory, and at the recessional. Music may be used just before the Ministry of the Word; between the first and second lesson; as a gradual before the Gospel; and during the administration of Holy Communion.
License The license required by the State of Connecticut must be obtained no longer than 30 days beforehand form the Town Clerk of the Town of Litchfield. The state requires that the man and woman have a blood test before applying for the license. The license must be in the hands of the Rector no later than the time of the rehearsal. After the service, the parish office will return the signed license to the Town Clerk for you. Copies of the license may be obtained later directly from the Town Clerk.
Fees Please contact the Parish Office for details.
All fees are due at the church before the rehearsal.
For more information on lections reading appropriate for weddings, please see the Lectionary Page for Marriages.