How Do I Prepare for Marriage or Holy Union?

We are delighted that you are seeking God’s blessing on your Marriage or Holy Union. In The Episcopal Church, Marriage is a sacramental rite, not a sacrament. The distinction is that we consider only two rites to be ordained by Jesus Christ: Baptism and Holy Eucharist.

In addition to these two, there are other spiritual markers in our journey of faith that can serve as means of grace. These include:

Confirmation: the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows
Reconciliation of a Penitent: private confession
Matrimony: Christian marriage
Orders: ordination to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopacy
Unction: anointing those who are sick or dying with holy oil

The first thing you’ll want to do is schedule a conversation with the Rector. From there the usual route involves several mutually agreed upon sessions of marital counseling.

As of The Episcopal Church 79th General Convention in July 2018, provision has been made through the approved resolution A085 Trial Use of Marriage Liturgy which affirms that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two (2) people enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.”

To the question, “What is required of those to be married?” the resolution states: It is required of those to be married that at least one (1) member of the couple be baptized and that they have been instructed that Christian marriage is an unconditional, mutual, exclusive, faithful and lifelong commitment intended for the couple’s mutual joy, for the help and comfort given to each other in prosperity and adversity, and, when it is God’s will, for the gift and heritage of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of God.

As noted in the Book of Common Prayer, “It is required that marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of this Church.” (p. 422) Further, according to The Episcopal Church canons, if one of the persons seeking marriage has previously been divorced, then permission must be granted by the diocesan bishop or the Canon to the bishop.

There are three authorized rites:
  • The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (1979)
  • The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2 (2015) authorized for Trial Use for all couples
  • The Witnessing and Blessing of Marriage (2015) authorized for Trial Use for all couples.

You may also wish to check out the list of Popular Readings for such occasions. These are not your only choices, only some we know are very popular.