Congratulations to you both on your engagement!
This is a huge step for any couple. Marriage is a relationship between two people who join together in love and who seek mutual growth and unity in that love. If your faith is part of your life, and you want to develop a relationship with the Anglican Church — as evidenced by regular participation in Sunday worship and by making a commitment to the work of the church — you are welcome to have your wedding with us. We believe that you will find the beautiful architecture and lush green gardens of our church to be most suitable for your very special day.
There is an expectation that a wedding at St John’s would include:
- That either the bride or the groom is a member of the parish, or otherwise demonstrates a commitment to the Anglican Church or has a desire to become a member of the parish.
- Either the bride or groom must be baptized
- As a couple, you must participate in a marriage preparation course. The rector would be very happy to help with this endeavour.
Planning a wedding can be a stressful activity so we hope that the following guidelines will help to answer your questions early on so that you can fully enjoy your special day when it comes.
Who may arrange for a wedding ceremony at St John’s?
A wedding ceremony at St John’s must satisfy the requirements of both the Province of British Columbia and the Anglican Church of Canada. Once you have been issued your marriage license, St John’s provides for two services that depend on the composition of the couple:
- A Christian marriage is a sacramental act between a man and a woman, who in the presence of God and God’s people, commit themselves to each other in body and spirit.
- A lifelong covenant is the union that a same-sex couple makes holy when, in the presence of God and God’s people, they commit themselves to each other in body and spirit.
Whether you seek the sacrament of marriage or the blessing of a lifelong covenant, it is not necessary that you be members of St John’s. However, all ceremonies will be conducted according to rites approved by the Anglican Church of Canada (see below, “What is Included in the Wedding Ceremony?).
Will there be pre-marital counselling?
The Anglican Church requires pre-marital counselling with the priest. This is usually accomplished in about three to five sessions, though in some cases the clergy may require the couple to seek additional outside premarital counselling prior to the ceremony. The focus of the meetings with the clergy is mainly to help the couple explore their relationship in the context of the church, and to prepare for the joys and challenges of life together.
How is the wedding scheduled?
Couples should first contact our parish administrator in the Parish Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, to check the availability of your preferred wedding date. We strongly suggest that you secure your wedding date with us before you book a reception venue. The Rector will then contact you to discuss pre-marital counselling and other details.
What is included in the wedding ceremony?
The Anglican Church is a liturgical/sacramental church. This means that it has set out the content of its services after careful, scripturally based review and expressed such content in language that is both meaningful and elegant.
- For the sacrament of marriage we use only the marriage service as set out in the Book of Alternative Service.
- For lifelong covenants we use only A Rite for the Celebration of Gay and Lesbian Covenants, approved by the Diocese of New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada.
Alternative prayers and readings may be accommodated. The officiating priest will arrange the details of the service with you both. A wedding coordinator may assist you with many other elements of wedding planning, but may not play any part in planning what is, at its heart, a religious ceremony. We strongly encourage participation by family and friends. Typical forms of this participation are doing one of the scripture readings or leading the prayers. The priest will conduct a rehearsal, usually the day before the ceremony.
May visiting clergy participate in the wedding?
Yes. Whilst the priest-in-charge of St. John’s will be the primary officiant of your wedding, and lead the ceremony, visiting members of the clergy may participate in various portions of the service at the discretion of the Rector.
Who selects the music?
The musical offerings in the Wedding Service are selected and arranged in consultation with the Rector. If you choose to include our Organist in the ceremony, he will be happy to help with the selection, and may be present at the rehearsal. No alternative musician is permitted to play our organ. Should there be interest in having guest musicians participate in the service, these individuals and their musical selections are also arranged in consultation with the Rector and Organist. The fees for guest musicians are negotiated by the couple and paid directly to those individuals.
How may the Church be decorated?
St John’s beautiful interior tends to require very little additional ornamentation other than flowers. Your florist may arrange with the Parish Office to visit the church during open hours to review the space in advance of the ceremony. On the day of the wedding, the florist will be granted access to the church up to two hours in advance of the ceremony. We will request any flowers to remain in the church. For evening weddings we do have elegant wrought iron candle standards for the ends of the pews, and arrangements for their use can be made with the church office.
How much time will we need at the Church?
The ceremony itself can last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, depending on the amount of music the couple chooses, and whether or not Holy Communion is included. Generally, we reserve a three hour time block for each wedding: one hour before the ceremony to arrive and prepare, one hour for the ceremony itself, and one hour after the ceremony for photos in the church and garden.
What is the fee for a St John’s wedding?
The fees start at $1,200.00, including the organist, and there are extra charges if your ceremony involves the choir (an additional $50 per choir member), other musicians, or special flowers. The fee includes the time the officiating priest will spend with you in counselling and at the wedding rehearsal.
When is the rehearsal?
The wedding rehearsal is usually in the afternoon or evening, one or two days before the wedding, at a time agreed upon with the priest. It usually takes about an hour. This should also be scheduled in advance. All members of the wedding party should attend.
May we take pictures during the wedding?
Photos and video of the ceremony must be done by a professional photographer, or designated person, who will work with the Verger and Officiating Priest. You may also take pictures during agreed upon hours before and after the wedding in the gardens surrounding the church. Once you have chosen your photographer(s), it would be ideal to convey contact information to the Rector. He will communicate directly regarding the policies and procedures for photographing the wedding.
What documents are necessary?
It is the bride and groom’s responsibility to obtain a marriage license, and to give the license to the priest prior to the wedding rehearsal.
The license can be picked up at a variety of locations in Vancouver, such as London Drugs Insurance locations, at a cost of $100. These licenses are valid for 3 months from date of issue.
The church will take care of mailing the license to the Vital Statistics Agency in Victoria. You should receive your official marriage certificate directly from Victoria by mail.
Are there reception facilities at your Church?
Yes, you can also hold your wedding reception in the Trendell Lounge for a separate fee of $600.00. The room can accommodate up to 120 guests for dinner, and is adjacent to a large garden area that is available for your guests’ enjoyment.
We live in Vancouver, but our wedding will be in my parents’ Anglican Church in Calgary. Is it possible to have our pre-marital counselling with your priest?
Yes, this may be arranged. There is no charge for pre-marital counselling, and we look forward to hearing from you.