St. Thomas Church in Taunton
Wedding Policies and Information
Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between two consenting adults in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that one, at least, of the parties must be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by at least two witnesses; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the Canons of this Church.
Book of Common Prayer, page 422.
Welcome to St. Thomas Church! We are glad you have an interest in a wedding at St. Thomas and we want to invite you to contact the office at 508-824-9595 in order to schedule an appointment with the clergy. The information that follows is intended to provide you with general guidelines. We recognize that every wedding is unique and requires consultation between the clergy and the couple.
Those who come to the Church for marriage should do so with the intention of maintaining an active participation in the life of the Church. While there may be extenuating circumstances, it is normative that a wedding take place where the couple intends to worship, and where they have their membership.
The Episcopal Church requires preparation for marriage, generally referred to as “premarital counseling.” Because the needs of individual couples vary, the time required for premarital counseling is set by the officiating priest according to the situation. In circumstances where the couple is living out of town, arrangements can usually be made to have another priest do the counseling, but must be done so in a timely fashion.
Marriage Date and Time
A wedding at St. Thomas requires the efforts of staff and volunteers; therefore, adequate advance notice is essential. The couple will want to meet with the priest as far in advance as possible in order to reduce scheduling conflicts. Six months ahead of the wedding is a good time to meet with the priest.
Marriage after Divorce
The Episcopal Church does permit marriage after divorce. A copy of the Divorce Decree must be presented to the priest, and at least 30 days to process the paperwork is required.
Instructions for obtaining a marriage license are included in the wedding packet. After the service the priest and witnesses will sign the license and the priest will have it mailed to the city with an unofficial copy sent to the newly married couple. The Episcopal Church also requires a signing of the Declaration of Consent by the marriage partners, which is found in this packet.
The Altar Guild is charged with the responsibility of assisting the priest with all arrangements for the wedding. They will be present at both the rehearsal and the wedding to assist the priest, support the wedding party, and to insure the smooth flow of the service. The Blessing of a Marriage is one of the sacraments of this church. As such it must be conducted according to the policies and procedures of the Episcopal Church. Therefore, outside bridal consultants are not permitted to direct the rehearsal or the wedding ceremony. The priest will employ others for help, but this assistance will be done by a member of the Altar Guild, the Sexton, or another person designated by the priest.
St. Thomas Church is an historic building and has a beauty in and of itself. St. Thomas Church uses Taunton Flower Studio (508) 822-1236 – www.tauntonflowerstudio.com. The two flower arrangements on the high altar should be no higher than 36 inches and no wider than 34 inches. This includes the height of the vases, Taunton Flower Studio will know the correct flowers to use, please contact them to make arrangements for flowers. Two other arrangements of flowers are permitted at the base of the chancel steps, one on either side. It is expected that flower arrangements are the property of the church and will remain in the church for worship services on the following Sunday. The Sunday service leaflet will identify the flowers as given in thanksgiving for the marriage. Runners are not necessary at St. Thomas and can be hazardous, so we do not use them. We have a “wedding kneeler” for use at the High Altar.
Service Leaflets are the responsibility of the couple; however, the clergy will help you with the order of service. The Service Leaflets must be approved by the priest one month before the service is to take place. The priest has final say on what goes into the Service Leaflets.
While St. Thomas Church is sensitive to the desire of the bride and groom to preserve this important moment in their lives, it is also concerned that the dignity and reverence of the service be maintained, and that the worship experience of those attending the service not be compromised. The cooperation of the bride, groom and entire wedding party is sought and appreciated. First, no flash photography is permitted during the service except when the bride enters and exits the church. Second, a stationary video camera may be set up provided that no additional lighting or microphones are required and that set up is completed 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the service. If the videographer remains with the camera, he or she should not move around to distract from the liturgy. Finally, photographs may be taken prior to or after the service. Before the service the photography session must be completed half an hour prior to the service and not last more than half an hour. After the service the photography session should not last more than 45 minutes.
The St. Thomas Church organist/choirmaster has responsibility for all music played at St. Thomas. The cost for his/her direction is $250.00, whether he/she is the primary musician or not. The standard wedding lasts just over an hour; if for some reason the amount of time required for the organist/choirmaster to be present goes over two hours, the fee will need to be renegotiated with him. If the organist/choirmaster attends the rehearsal, the fee for that is negotiated with him, also.
The presence of a sexton is required at both the rehearsal and the wedding. The cost for the sexton at the standard rehearsal and wedding is $100.00.
Payment of Fees
Fees are expected to be paid at the rehearsal in one check made out to St. Thomas Church. They should be given to the clergy prior to the beginning of the rehearsal. The check should include the fees for music, sexton, and a donation to the church for ministry to the poor, the discretionary fund, or other needy groups. The amount of the donation is at the discretion of the Bride and Groom. Four options for a donation are as follows (1) the Rector’s Discretionary Fund, (2) the Haiti-Micah Fund at St. Thomas, (3) the Youth Group, and (4) the Soup Kitchen at St. Thomas. Clergy services and use of the church come with membership. As such, it is expected that those married at St. Thomas are pledging members of the parish. No checks should be made out to individuals. For your convenience an invoice is sent out a month prior to the service.