In Christian marriage partners enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and their Christian community, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. At St. Columba’s we take marriage seriously and understand that loving and committed relationships are a gift from God. To be married in a church community is to indicate a desire to live one’s married life in the context of a community of faith, whether that is St. Columba’s or another parish.
All weddings at St. Columba’s are conducted according to the Book of Common Prayer and our theological understanding of marriage is embedded in the marriage rite itself. The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (found in The Book of Common Prayer, p. 423) begins with these words:
“Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of these two people in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation . . .”
Marriage is a covenant made between two people not a ceremony performed by a priest. God established marriage to be a joining of two people into a union of “heart, body and mind.” The church, represented by bishop or priest, blesses the union; but the couple, through the exchange of vows and rings, makes a marriage.
The clergy and parish staff will work with you to create a meaningful service of worship and a good beginning for your marriage.
St. Columba’s seeks to be a community that is open in spirit. In accordance with the laws of the District of Columbia and the guidelines of the Diocese of Washington, partners of the same gender are able to marry at St. Columba’s, if at least one of them is a member of the parish and both are residents of the District of Columbia. Click here for more details on the diocesan guidelines for marriage.
The blessing of a civil marriage can also be performed. Preparation for this is made in consultation with one of the clergy, to whom a couple should speak directly. Click here for the clergy directory.
The wedding application requests all the information we will need to consider your request to hold your ceremony at St. Columba’s. Requests for wedding dates should be made at least 90 days prior to the desired date of the ceremony. (It is the policy of the Bishop of Washington that this time requirement not be waived.) Once we have reviewed your application and confirmed that the wedding date you request is available we will confirm the date with you and assign a member of the clergy to serve as officiant for the wedding.
After the wedding date has been confirmed one of the parish clergy will contact you to set up an initial meeting to get acquainted, go over basic wedding details and plan for pre-marital counseling. A priest from another parish with whom the couple has a close personal relationship may assist in the ceremony and preparation by prior arrangement with the St. Columba’s clergyperson. The couple will have several meetings with the priest to discuss the spiritual significance of the wedding ceremony as well as scripture selections, music options, flowers and other logistics.
St. Columba’s requires couples that wish to marry to take part in pre-marital counseling with a licensed therapist at the couple’s expense. We will provide a list of therapists we have worked with in the past, but you may use a therapist of you own choosing as long as he or she specializes in marital counseling. We feel it is important that each couple begin their married life with a solid understanding of what it takes to have and maintain a healthy relationship.
Questions about the use of the Great Hall and/or the Common for wedding receptions should be directed to Paul Barkett. Please note, however, that we do not allow Saturday evening receptions that last beyond 6 pm, as we must prepare for services in the Great Hall and the Church Nave on Sunday morning.
All weddings are worship services. It is important that efforts to capture the ceremony in photography or film be unobtrusive, so that everyone—bride, groom, wedding party, family members and guests—can give their complete attention to the ceremony.
• Flash photography is not allowed inside the Church Nave at any time during the service—from the entrance of the first member of the bridal party in the opening procession until the last member of the wedding party exits the Church Nave at the end of the service.
• Photography is permitted during the service from unobtrusive locations using available light. Photographers must set up where they cannot be seen by the congregation seated in the Church Nave.
• Once the bride enters the nave, only those engaged in the liturgy are to move about. To shoot from the gallery, the photographer must be in place before the bride comes into the Church Nave and remain there until the wedding party exits.
• Video may be taken from one fixed camera in the gallery, positioned at the far right (as you face the gallery), so as not to be readily seen from the pews.
• The church is available for photography, with or without flash, 45 minutes before and 30 minutes following the ceremony.
• If either of the parties is divorced, a copy of the divorce decree must be given to the clergy during pre-marital counseling. The priest will apply to the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington for permission to officiate. The application is not onerous and is designed to offer a way to reflect on the relationship that has ended and the well being of children (if any) from the previous marriage.
• The couple is responsible for securing a marriage license in the District of Columbia.
• The celebration of marriage at St. Columba’s is normally reserved for our members, adults who may live elsewhere but grew up in the parish and members of other congregations who would like to be married in Washington. Of course, one may become a member of the parish as part of the marriage process. In addition to the marriage preparation we will be delighted to introduce you to parish life and witness.
• The canons of the Episcopal Church require that at least one of the parties to the marriage be a baptized Christian and the wedding ceremony is attested to by at least two witnesses.
• Clergy from outside the District of Columbia may need to be licensed to officiate at weddings. It is the visiting clergy’s responsibility to arrange for licensing. Information about marriage licenses and clergy licensing is available at the District of Columbia License Bureau.
• We do not ordinarily celebrate marriage in places other than the Church Nave.
• In accordance with ancient church custom, marriage is not celebrated in the season of Lent.
• The Episcopal Church requires that the vows be stated precisely as they appear in the Book of Common Prayer.
Photo: Wayne C. Fowler