Weddings at St. John's


The following information is designed to help answer frequent questions that are asked about wedding services at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex. Couples who desire to discuss the topic further are asked to please contact Chelsea DiDonato, our Parish Administrator, at the church office (860-767- 8095 / A minimum of sixty days notice is required and, if this is not the first marriage, a minimum of six months is necessary.


Whom May Be Married at St. John’s


Active parishioners of St. John’s and children/grandchildren of parishioners may be married at St. John's. If you currently are not a member, and would like to learn more about St. John’s, we invite you to give us a call, make an appointment to visit with the clergy, come worship with us, develop friendships with other members of the parish, and help us serve God in this particular part of the kingdom!


When Can Weddings be Scheduled


The scheduling of wedding services at St. John’s depends upon the availability of the clergy and the worship space. Only one wedding service will be scheduled for any given day. Weddings will not be scheduled during Holy Week, on Easter Day, on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day, Rummage Sale weekend, or when the Episcopal Church in Connecticut is having their annual diocesan convention (which is usually in the fall).


Pre-Marital Counseling


The Episcopal Church requires that all couples who desire to be married to meet with the clergy for pre-marital counseling. Marriage holds the promise of great joy and, at the same time, there are obstacles that can cause problems down the road if they have not been discussed beforehand. Normally, a couple should plan on three sessions, with each session lasting an hour and a half to two hours. It is preferred that these counseling sessions take place during regular office hours. If this is not possible, evening appointments may be scheduled based upon the availability of the clergy.


Weddings Costs for Members of St. John’s and their Children


Organist stipend: $325.00. Please make this check payable to “St. John’s Episcopal Church.” If you wish for the Organist is to be present at the wedding rehearsal, an additional $125.00 will be required. Please note, too, that if extra music or extra musicians are required, the organist’s stipend will be higher.


Sexton stipend: $50.00. Please make this check payable to “Craig Larson.”


Altar Guild stipend: $50.00. Please make this check payable to “St. John’s Episcopal Church.”


All checks are due on or before the day of the wedding rehearsal.


Commonly Asked Questions


1.     How many people does the church seat?

The church seats 200 comfortably; the aisle is 36 feet long.


2.   Can we have our wedding service elsewhere?

Certainly, but talk with the clergy first. 


3.     Can we write our own service or write our own vows?

All wedding services, including the vows, must be according to the liturgical rites that are found in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.


4.     Can we rent the church and have our own denominational or civil service?

St. John’s is not available for rent and all services held at St. John’s must be according to the Episcopal rites.


5.     Can the Episcopal priest from my childhood assist at the wedding in St. John’s?

Yes, with the Rector’s permission. If your priest is from another diocese, he or she also will need to receive permission of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.


6.      I’m not Episcopalian. Can a minister from my denomination take part in the service?

Yes, with the Rector’s permission. 


7.     I’ve been divorced. Can I re-marry in the Episcopal Church?

Yes, although there are a few more requirements. Permission of the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut is required before the wedding may take place. After the pre-marital counseling sessions conclude, sixty days is required between the time permission is sought from the Bishop’s office and the time when judgment is rendered by his office. If this is the third marriage for either party, a written analysis from a professional counselor must be provided to the Bishop along with the forms required by his/her office from the Rector.


8.  How long does the wedding ceremony last?

That depends on several factors.  A very simple wedding will last about twenty minutes. A wedding with Holy Communion, lots of music, etc. may be an hour or more.


9.  May Holy Communion be a part of the service?

Yes. In the Episcopal Church, all baptized people are welcome to receive Holy Communion. Those who are not baptized are welcome to receive God’s blessing.


10.     What about a marriage license?

The marriage license may be delivered to the church at any time before the wedding ceremony takes place.  Please note: Without a valid marriage license in hand, the wedding may not take place. 


11.     How soon can we send out wedding invitations?

As soon as the clergy has given consent for the marriage to take place. We are aware of the time pressures that you are under and will not be unreasonable about giving you plenty of time. If there is a previous divorce, the Bishop’s consent must be obtained before invitations are sent out.


12.  Can we have printed service bulletins?

Yes, but plan well-ahead on this — and be advised that not many people tend to pay much attention to a bulletin when they come to a wedding.


13.  Should I hire a wedding consultant?

That’s up to you — do please keep in mind that that person will have very little to do with the planning of the actual wedding service, which will be done by you and the clergy.


Photographers / Videographers


Weddings are well worth preserving on film. However, it is very important that the photographer is not a disruptive and distracting presence during the worship service. 


Professional photographers and videographers are welcome to call the Parish Administrator to set up a time to “scout out” St. John’s and determine where the best places are to set up their equipment.  It is acceptable for them to take photos (with or without flash) when the bride or groom is entering the church as long as they do so halfway down the aisle.  Standing directly in front of the bridal party and taking pictures as the bride or groom walks in is not permitted.


During the wedding itself, photographers may take non-flash photos from the back of the church or from the sacristy door.


Photos of the wedding party and families may be taken in the church prior to and after the wedding.


Please note: out of respect for God and the sanctity of the church’s sacred space, and in order for your guests to participate fully in the worship service, the taking of photos by those attending will not be permitted after the bride or groom has finished walking up the aisle. When the couple walks out, the congregation may again take pictures.




Music for the ceremony will be decided upon in consultation with Darlene James, the parish organist, with the clergy giving final approval. Soloists and other instrumentalists should plan on rehearsing with the organist at a mutually agreed time before the day of the wedding and need to provide their own music along with a copy for the organist. Music during the wedding should be Christian, implicitly or explicitly, or classical in nature.


Decorating the Church


A couple should give careful thought to the use of candles, flowers, and greenery. In a church, the size of St. John’s, too many flowers and candles detract from the setting and make it appear cluttered. The Altar Guild of St. John’s will be an excellent resource for you to use. Your florist should arrange a mutually convenient time to deliver flowers to the church prior to the wedding.


If your wedding is held on a Saturday afternoon or evening, it is expected that the flowers from your wedding will remain on the altar for Sunday services in thanksgiving to God for your marriage. Flowers may not be taken from the church on Saturday evening and returned on Sunday morning.


The Wedding Rehearsal


The wedding rehearsal is usually held the evening prior to the wedding day. You should allow one hour for the rehearsal to take place. If you are planning a rehearsal dinner, it is advisable to schedule the rehearsal at least an hour and fifteen minutes in advance.


If, after having read this guideline customary, you would like to visit with us about your marriage service, please contact Chelsea DiDonato at 860-767- 8095, ext. 10 and she will help you set up an appointment with a clergyperson on staff.

© 2019 St John's Episcopal Church

Mailing: PO BOX 422, Essex, CT 06426 | Physical: 3 Cross St, Essex CT, 06426

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