Planning a wedding is a joyful undertaking, and we are delighted that you are interested in being married in Grace Church. The Episcopal Church takes marriage very seriously: it is a sacramental rite in which two 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.” (Book of Common Prayer, p.861)
A wedding is a sacred service, and at Grace Church all weddings are done according to the rite prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer (1979) or the approved Episcopal liturgy for same-sex marriage, with appropriate dignity and order. All marriages are performed by the clergy of Grace Church, occasionally assisted by another member of the clergy (Episcopal, or of another denomination or faith), at the Rector’s discretion. No weddings are permitted at Grace Church during the penitential season of Lent.
It is not necessary to be an Episcopalian to be married at Grace Church, but at least one of the persons must be a baptized Christian. Episcopal canon law requires a minimum of thirty days between the official declaration to the Church of intent to marry and the wedding. If one or both of the persons is divorced, the clergy must obtain the permission of the Bishop of Newark in order to perform the marriage. If there has been more than one divorce for either of the persons, the Bishop may request a personal interview with the couple.
Premarital counseling is required of all couples married at Grace Church. In some cases, the counseling will be done by the clergy person who is to preside at the marriage; in other cases the couple will be referred to the Grace Counseling Center. If the couple do not both reside in the Madison area, counseling elsewhere can be arranged.
Music for the service is chosen by the couple in consultation with the Grace Church organist, who will normally play for all weddings and will arrange for soloists and instrumentalists as desired. Any unusual musical requests must be submitted to the Rector for approval. Non-sacred music should be reserved for the wedding reception.
Members of the Wedding Committee of Grace Church assist at the rehearsal and at the wedding. These are volunteers who love weddings and want to ensure that every wedding at Grace is beautiful and goes as smoothly as possible. The Altar Guild of Grace Church must approve all decorations, including flowers. Members are happy to consult with the bride and/or florist about what is appropriate and permitted.
Still photography and video are permitted with certain important restrictions. All photographers must report to the officiating clergy before the service for instructions. Flash photography, whether by the professional photographer or wedding guests, is not permitted during the service. With clergy approval, a stationary video camera (but no special lighting) may be used. If the professional photographer or videographer interferes with the service in any way, moves from his or her assigned position, or blocks the congregation’s view, the clergy person may stop the ceremony until the offending person has left the church. Competent professionals are capable of doing an excellent job without disrupting the wedding service. The clergy are happy to cooperate in re-staging any part afterward for additional photographs.
The use of confetti, rice or birdseed is prohibited in the church or on the grounds, as is the release of balloons. Because of the highly polished floor in the aisle of Grace Church, it is strongly recommended that a runner of the type supplied by florists not be used, since it increases the risk that bride or attendants may trip or slip. For the same reason, flower girls may not sprinkle flower petals in the aisle.
Grace Church is a beautiful worship space, and little in the way of extra adornment is necessary. The eight candles at the altar may be supplemented with two seven-branch candelabra at no additional cost. Candles in the windows will be provided for a fee that will be given to the Altar Guild, whose volunteer members prepare the church for the wedding.
One of the parish halls may be used for a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception. Arrangements should be made at the time the wedding and rehearsal dates are placed on the church calendar.
The rehearsal is usually held on the evening before the wedding, although it can be scheduled at a different time if necessary. The couple are responsible for obtaining their marriage license, which is to be brought to the rehearsal and given to the clergy.
A program for the wedding service, similar to those used at other services at Grace Church, can be produced by the church office. The clergy will provide the couple with a sample of what should be included if they wish to produce a more elaborate “souvenir” program on their own.
Grace Church is a busy place, and a wedding effectively precludes the use of the church and parish house (even if the reception is held elsewhere) for any other purpose for at least half a day. It requires many hours of “behind the scenes” preparation by clergy, organist, Altar Guild, Wedding Committee, office staff, and custodians, beyond their usual responsibilities. Every effort is made to accommodate the needs of the wedding party. In return, we expect that time commitments will be honored and that church staff, volunteers and property will be treated with respect.
Fees for Weddings
A Communicant of Grace Church is one who worships regularly at Grace, has received Communion here at least three times in the past year, and has contributed to general parish support in the past year in an amount at least equal to the church and clergy fees charged to non-parishioners ($1200 – $1500, depending upon whether the clergy perform the premarital counseling). If at least one member of the couple, or the parents of one member, fit this definition, the “Communicant rate” applies. If the required contribution has not been received y the church one month prior to the wedding, the rule for non-members applies.
Standard Fees (payable by all)
- Organist fee: $300.00
- For the organist (music consultation, rehearsal and wedding). If there is special music, an extra rehearsal with soloists, or more than one consultation, this is increased to $350.
- Soloist(s): fees vary and should be paid directly to them. Our music director will arrange and advise.
Church musicians depend upon wedding fees for part of their compensation. If a couple wishes to bring in an outside organist or other instrumentalists, and the Grace Church organist would have been available to play for the wedding, the basic music fee must still be paid.
- Sexton’s fee: $75.00
- Reservation fee
- Communicants: no fee
- Non-communicants: $100.00
Payable at the time the wedding date is placed on the church calendar; applied to other fees owed at the time of the wedding; fully refundable up until six months before the wedding date if the wedding is cancelled. Check payable to Grace Church.
- Use of Church
- Communicants: no fee
- Non-communicants: $800.00
- Use of window candles: $100.00
- Use of Grace Hall: Negotiated separately with the rental committee
- Standard Format: Free
- (8.5 x 11 paper, folded and booklet-stapled to make 8 – 12 page booklet)
- All Other Formats: Consult with Parish Administrator
Services include basic design, printing and folding only. Collating or attachment of decorations such as ribbons not included. White and ivory paper are available. If another color is desired, it must be provided by the bride and groom.
- Communicants: no fee. It is traditional for the couple to give the priest an honorarium. The size and nature of the wedding, other fees, and the amount of time required of the clergy should be taken into account when determining the amount. (The fees charged to non-communicants can be used as a guideline.) The couple should consult with the clergy person about how to make out an honorarium check (i.e., to him or her personally, or to his or her discretionary fund, or to another church fund or charity).
- Non-communicants: If the clergy person does the premarital counseling: $700.00. If the counseling is done at the Grace Counseling Center or another approved site: $400.00 If the priest is required to spend an unusual amount of time in preparation (additional counseling sessions, coordination with other clergy, extra correspondence, etc.) the amount of the fee will increase commensurately.
Fees are due in the Parish Office no later than one month prior to the rehearsal.
- For communicants, this includes the music and sexton fees, the candle fee if the window candles are to be used, and the fee for the use of Grace Hall or Nieman Hall, if applicable.
- For non-communicants, this includes the church, music, sexton and clergy fees, plus the candle fee if the window candles are to be used, and the fee for the use of Grace Hall or Nieman Hall, if applicable, less the amount of the reservation fee paid.