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Going to the chapel: weddings for non-members

Going to the chapel: weddings for non-members

The Rev. Laurie Brock reflects at Dirty Sexy Ministry on allowing non-members to be married in the church:

While January is not wedding season, it is the season for those who got engaged over the holidays to begin planning their weddings. The first few weeks of January for many churches includes numerous phone calls inquiring about weddings. Lots of phone calls. Often from brides or mothers of brides who are not members of churches or have come “a few times, and it’s close to the reception, so we were wondering…”

I absolutely understand the desire to have one’s wedding in a beautiful setting, and many churches are elegant and beautiful. And I understand the deep desire, perhaps almost unknown, to have such a momentous event in one’s life blessed by God or, if you don’t actually confess a belief in God, blessed by something larger than you.

Brock offers seven points to consider when thinking about a church wedding:

2. If you aren’t a member of the church, be prepared to explain why you want God (and, by extension, God’s representative in the clergy person) present at your wedding. Why is that blessing important to you and your future spouse? Are you not particularly religious or spiritual, but is a church wedding important to your family? Also, please don’t say you’re going to be active members after the wedding if you truly haven’t made that commitment.  My experience is that if you aren’t active for at least a year before the wedding, you likely won’t be active after the wedding – although I know there are exceptions. I’d rather you be honest.

3. Expect to pay a fair amount for use of the church. You’re paying for the dresses and suits, you’re paying for the catering and flowers. The church is not free, either. Maintaining church buildings involves insurance, cleaning, and utilities, among other things. The church staff is working for your special day. To prepare for a wedding involves preparations just like any other building preparing for a special event. One rabbi I know told his couples the fee to the temple was 10% of what they spent on the wedding.

Read the rest here.

What are your thoughts? Experience?

Image: By Allan Ajifo via Wikimedia Commons

posted by Ann Fontaine


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Eric Bonetti

The point about being honest with your priest is particularly important. My parish pretty much welcomes all persons who wish to be baptized, married, or buried, which is good. But I cringe when I hear folks reciting the baptismal covenant, knowing that the last time we had any contact at all with the family was when we baptized their previous child. And it’s doubly bad when family members, who already know the church’s guidelines on flash photography, etc., creep out into the aisle to take flash photos during the service, disrupt the procession, etc. I get that professions of faith vary, but a little respect wouldn’t hurt.

Laura Darling

I wrote a post in a similar vein a few years back, emphasizing some thoughts on choosing a minister for your wedding if you do not have a regular place of worship or are from out of town.

Ann Fontaine

Thanks for the link Laura.

Michael Hartney

Title I.17(a)
All persons who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism … and whose baptism are recorded in this Church, are members, thereof.

Title I.17(c)
It is expected that all adult members (over 16) of this Church, after appropriate instruction will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received … by a Bishop of this Church

Jennifer Caldwell

Title I.17(a)
All persons who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism … and whose baptism are recorded in this Church, are members, thereof.

Is this really true, or do you have to keep up your membership?

The Episcopal Church refused to even say prayers for my brother when he died even though he had been baptized in the church.

Chaz Brooks

Baptism is enough for membership in the Church. This is understood to impose certain responsibilities on a person–confirmation, attendance at Sunday service, etc, but none of that invalidates membership in the Church.

I don’t know why the church wouldn’t say prayers for your brother, and indeed I’m rather shocked that they didn’t. But that was the decision of the local priest or parish, not part of the canons of the Episcopal Church.

Jennifer Caldwell

Correction: He was baptized and confirmed in the church.

Chaz Brooks

Do we have a requirement for membership in the Church besides baptism?

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