An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage

Rite for holy matrimony in the Episcopal Church (BCP, p. 423). Marriage is a solemn public covenant between two persons in the presence of God. At least one of the couple must be a baptized Christian. Prior to the marriage, the couple sign a declaration of intention. It states that they hold marriage to be a lifelong union; that they believe this union in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy, for help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity, and for the procreation (when it is God’s will) of children and their Christian nurture. There must be at least two witnesses for the ceremony. A priest or bishop normally presides at the marriage. If no priest or bishop is available, a deacon can preside if permitted by civil law. A deacon presiding at the marriage would omit the nuptial blessing. The marriage may be celebrated and blessed in the context of a nuptial eucharist. The marriage service then replaces the ministry of the word, and the eucharist begins with the offertory. Any authorized liturgy for the eucharist may be used with the marriage service. Prior to the service, the Banns of Marriage may be posted to announce the upcoming marriage and insure that there is no impediment. The title “Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage” in the 1979 BCP replaces the earlier title, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.” See Marriage.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.