Marriage is meant to be a sacred relationship. Scripture says marriage was instituted by God and blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage at its best is a joyful and challenging union which results in growth in faith and Christian formation for both partners. It is a relationship which requires faithfulness in each partner until the couple is parted by death. The relationship of marriage requires love, forgiveness and self-discipline to build a life-giving and lasting love. We Anglicans believe marriage signifies to us the mystical union between Christ and his Church. We expect that as a married couple “give themselves to each other in love, they will grow together and be united in that love, as Christ is united with his church.” (BAS p.528)
We believe marriages need the resources of the Christian faith if they are to approach Christian ideals. Therefore, we commend to you a deeper and fuller participation in the life of the Church. We believe your marriage will be deepened by regular prayer, Bible reading and worship within a Christian community.
Your wedding day is a happy and sacred event. You undertake tremendous responsibilities towards each other. Do remember, however, you are surrounded by a community of people who encourage, support and love you.
What is Marriage?
Marriage is a relationship between two people who join together in love and who seek mutual growth and unity in that love. That relationship is a spiritual one in which you take a personal responsibility for your partners' growth and well being as well as your own. It is also a relationship of a total and shared commitment in which the partners care for each other in good times and bad. Marriage is the gift of God for the support and growth of both partners as they give and receive love in their own relationship and in the world.
What are the requirements for Marriage in the Church?
- Civil Law requires that you be 19 years of age or have parental consent. (Parents sign a consent form at the time of licensing). You cannot have any legal impediment to the marriage such as either partner being already married or your being too closely related to one another.
- At least one of you is required to have been baptized in a Christian Church. Permission from the Diocesan Bishop is needed for an unbaptized person to be married in an Anglican Church.
- If you are not presently active Church attendees, the Priest will invite you to become involved (once again, or for the first time) in the life of the Christian community. If you desire it, your Priest will be glad to prepare you for Baptism, Confirmation, Reception into the Anglican Church or for the reaffirmation of your Baptismal vows. From God's infinite love, through the caring community of the Church, your marriage can be strengthened and given joy.
- Both of you must be willing to prepare yourselves carefully for your life together and undertake marriage preparation as determined between yourselves and the Priest who will officiate at the service.
Why Marriage Preparation?
Marriage Preparation is the Church community's way of giving support and guidance to you as you approach your wedding. We believe that couples contemplating marriage owe it to each other to think and talk through many important aspects of married life before the wedding. Issues such as the place of God in your marriage, communication, budgeting, and whether you will have children need to be examined. Also, you will have the opportunity to face honestly the potential stressors in a life-long relationship and to identify and celebrate the strengths of your relationship.
What if one or both of us is divorced?
For many years, those seeking marriage after divorce were, in accord with General Synod Canon XXI, Section IV, required to submit an application for permission to marry to a Marriage Commission. The Commission reviewed the case and made a recommendation to the bishop who, after due consideration of the same, would grant permission for the marriage. This was viewed as a means for providing comprehensive pastoral care for couples in this situation. The process was intended to ensure that there had been closure with respect to previous marriages and that other responsibilities regarding financial support, etc. were in order. It was also intended to help couples consider their new relationship and its capacity for long-term stability.
Canon XXI now makes Marriage Commissions an option in each diocese; and in each diocese, the bishop in his/her role as chief pastor and chief liturgical officer, decides whether or not a Commission is retained. In the Diocese of NS & PEI, we no longer have a matrimonial Commission.
What is a wedding service?
A wedding is a public service of the Church community in which two people make vows to commit themselves in a life-long relationship. The celebration of marriage is always in the context of the Christian community and takes place where that community normally gathers, rather than in a private home or garden. It is therefore always a public event. The two people are not simply making promises to each other, they are consciously making their promises to God in the presence of the people of God.
The service will include a statement of Christian marriage, readings from the Bible, and sometimes a sermon, after which follows the wedding and prayers. The service concludes with the blessing of the marriage, or continues with Holy Communion.
In the Anglican Church there are two official services; the traditional service found in the Book of Common Prayer and the service in contemporary language in the Book of Alternative Services.
The Location of a Wedding Service
There is now provision for marriages to be solemnized in locations other than church buildings. In considering requests, clergy are expected to bear in mind whether or not the location lends itself to the “public nature, dignity and solemnity” of the Celebration of Marriage. This should be discussed in full with the couple, and in making the decision, the priest, by provision in Canon XXI, must consult the bishop.
This provision is in effect in our diocese as of July 1, 2004. All requests for marriage in locations other than a church building are to be made in consultation with Bishop Moxley.
Photos at Weddings
Each Parish may have its own protocol regarding taking photos during the wedding service. Please discuss this with the Priest in advance. You may wish to inform your guest or include a notation in the service bulletin. You may also find this video of interest: Attending A Wedding Soon? Be Sure To Watch This Video (We checked out this link and found the video safe.)
Is there a fee?
Yes, these can include an honorarium for the Priest and payments to the organist and janitor as well as rental of the building space. Fees vary with each Parish.
How do we arrange for a marriage service?
The first step is to contact the Priest at least three months in advance of the desired date.
After the wedding?
The Anglican Church cares about your marriage beyond the wedding day. The church is a caring community in which both the joys and struggles of life are shared and celebrated. Parishes offer various events and programs for fellowship, learning and encouragement.
Problems can frequently arise in a marriage. If this happens, then the Church which blessed you in God's name is also willing to help you in God’s name. Marriage counseling may be provided or arranged and pastoral support will be given.
The weekly Sunday service offers focus for your lives, connection with people with common values, a time for families to be together, a space of quietness from busy schedules, and a source of spiritual strengthening and renewal.
"Almighty Father, giver of life and love, bless all those whom you join in holy marriage. Grant them wisdom and devotion in their life together, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a comfort in sorrow, and a champion in joy. So unite their wills in your will, and their spirits in your spirit, that they may live and grow together in love and peace all the days in their life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."