Holy Matrimony (Weddings)
At Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea we believe that our buildings and the people who carry out ministry through them are a gift from God. We also believe we are called to exercise a ministry of hospitality that welcomes those seeking the sacrament of marriage. At the same time, however, we choose to set responsible standards that insure the integrity of our ministry.
Marriage is a Sacrament and one of the most important commitments in life. A Christian Wedding is to be celebrated in the context of the Christian community. Here at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea our practice is to celebrate weddings in the place where the Christian community normally gathers: the church building. Our clergy do not officiate at weddings anywhere other than the Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea church or chapel.
Some form of Marriage Preparation is required in order to be married in an Episcopal Church. Our priest offers marriage preparation using a format called ‘Prepare/Enrich’ which can be learned about online and takes place in a series of meetings. Marriage preparation by any other person must be pre-approved by our Rector.
In order to be married in The Episcopal Church you must also meet one of the following criteria:
- At least one party must be a member in good standing of Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea. A ‘member in good standing’ is defined as someone who is known to the clergy and wardens, exhibits regular attendance in worship, and maintains a monetary gift or pledge of record.
- The couple are residents of the Ocean City area, are baptized Christians (or are willing to become so), and are willing to attend worship at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea while preparing for their marriage.
- We receive many inquiries from non-residents about holding their wedding at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea. Under these circumstances we require that marriage preparation be done at the person’s local Episcopal Church and that a member of the clergy from that congregation provide written assurance that the preparation was complete.
- All weddings at Saint Paul’s by-the-Sea are conducted according to the form found in The Book Of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church, starting on page 423 or using the rite “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing”, which may be used by both heterosexual and same-sex couples in accordance with the laws of the state of Maryland and the Church’s blessing of these unions. These are the clergy and couple’s primary tools in planning a wedding.
- The canons (laws) of The Episcopal Church require a minimum of thirty days notice before a wedding can take place. Additional time is required if one or both of the parties are divorced. We require that a wedding be booked at least six months in advance to allow enough time for pre-marriage counseling and wedding planning.