Holy Matrimony

Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.

Please look at the information below if you are interested in getting married at Good Shepherd. Once you have done that, please call the parish office at 914.248.5631 to schedule an appointment with the priest.

About Weddings in the Episcopal Church
In the Episcopal Church Holy Matrimony is the sacramental rite in which a woman and man enter into a life-long union, making their vows before God and the Church, and receiving the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.

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, or official rules, of the Episcopal Church.

The canons of the Church require the man and woman to make the following declaration of intention before the service

We, desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a life-long union of husband and wife as it is set forth in The Book of Common Prayer.

We believe that the union of husband and wife, in heart, body, and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.

And we do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.

The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, as found in the Book of Common Prayer (1979) of the Episcopal Church is the normal service used for weddings at Good Shepherd. The Holy Eucharist is a central part of this liturgy and all baptized persons are invited to receive the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ. Members of other Christian denominations who are baptized and who receive the Holy Communion in their own congregations are warmly invited to share in receiving communion. Marriage is a sacramental rite, and as such, the content of the wedding service is under the supervision of the officiating priest. Within the liturgy the couple selects scripture readings (see below) and may ask family members or friends to serve as readers. If music is used, this is another area in which, under the supervision of the organist and music director at Good Shepherd, a couple may help to shape the liturgy.

In addition to the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, a man and woman who have already been married legally in a civil marriage may wish to have The Blessing of a Civil Marriage.

Arranging for a wedding at Good Shepherd
The church seats 200 and is appropriate for any size wedding.

Weddings must be scheduled well in advanced. The time of the year may be a consideration since our church is not air-conditioned.

As soon as you think you might be interested in having your wedding at Good Shepherd, call the parish office and ask to make an appointment with the priest.  Once a date has been cleared and a deposit of $250 has been received, we will arrange the first of several pre-marital conferences and answer whatever questions you may have about the service or its preparations.

Music may be a part of the service. All music for weddings is under the supervision and direction of the rector and the music director at Good Shepherd. Our organist is the usual organist for a wedding, but if she is unavailable we may be able to arrange for a substitute organist. Outside music is perfectly appropriate with consultation from the rector and music director at Good Shepherd.

If flowers are desired, two large arrangements may be placed behind the Altar. For a wedding that takes place on a Friday or a Saturday, it is assumed that flowers will remain in the church to be used for the services on Sunday. The newly married couple will be listed as donors for the flowers in the church bulletin on that Sunday. Finding a florist is the responsibility of the couple – although the church will be happy to recommend local florists. Runners, whether of fabric or paper, are not used in weddings at Good Shepherd. Bird seed, bubbles, flower petals and such things also are not used inside Good Shepherd – though bubbles can certainly be used outside before or after the service.

Formal photographs of the wedding party can be taken, by arrangement with the church staff, before or after the wedding ceremony. Photographers and their assistants should be discreet and not draw attention to themselves. If the photographer or videographer is uncooperative, the officiating priest may ask him or her to leave. Photographers and videographers should acquaint themselves with the natural lighting at Good Shepherd well before the ceremony. Flash photography and/or video lights are not permitted in weddings at Good Shepherd during any part of the service, including the procession and recession. Photographers and videographers may shoot only from designated stationary positions on the floor of the church or from the balcony. Those who take pictures are not permitted to obstruct the central aisle or intrude into the sanctuary itself during the ceremony. They must abide by the flash/light policy in all circumstances. We ask that the couple ensure that the professionals they engage adhere to these policies.

Good Shepherd has lots of parking behind the church for guests. There is also a scenic drive in the church front lawn from which limos can arrive and depart from conveniently, if desired.

Good Shepherd has a large hall and professional kitchen attached to the church. This can be rented out for use – we do not supply a caterer. Additionally, if the weather permits, the scenic front lawn of the church can be used for receptions during daylight hours.

Good Shepherd has adequate space for the bride to change, but arrangements must be made well in advance. In general we recommend that all members of the wedding party arrive at the church dressed for the service. Remember that photographers are interested in taking as many photographs as possible—this is their business—and they will continue to press for “one more shot” and can cause you to be late. Please be disciplined with these people for the sake of your guests.

The officiating priest will arrange a rehearsal with the couple. Typically, the rehearsal is held in the evening the day before the wedding. It is expected that all members of the wedding party attend the rehearsal, unless excused by the priest. The wedding license should be brought to the rehearsal. Rings, if they are to be used, also may be brought to the rehearsal and given to the officiating priest for safekeeping until the service.

The following readings are particularly appropriate for use in the service. The bride and groom should read through the selections so that when they meet with the priest, they may select one Old Testament lesson, one Psalm, one Epistle reading and one Gospel reading. Non-scriptural readings are not used.

Old Testament Readings
Genesis 1:26-28 (Male and female he created them) ¨
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-24 (A man cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh) ¨
Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7 (Many waters cannot quench love)
Tobit 8:5b-8 (That she and I may grow old together)

Psalm 67 ¨
Psalm 127 ¨
Psalm 128

Epistle Readings
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (Love is patient and kind) ¨
Ephesians 3:14-19 (The Father from whom ever family is named) ¨
Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33 (Walk in love, as Christ loved us) ¨
Colossians 3:12-17 (Love which binds everything together in harmony) ¨
1 John 4:7-16 (Let us love one another for love is of God)

Matthew 5:1-10 (The Beatitudes) ¨
Matthew 5:13-16 (You are the light…Let your light so shine) ¨
Matthew 7:21,24-29 (Like a wise man who built his house upon the rock) ¨
Mark 10:6-9,13-16 (They are no longer two but one) ¨
John 15:9-12 (Love one another as I have loved you)

Please speak with the priest about the fee schedules. If you are interested in joining the parish before your wedding, please contact us. We will be extremely happy to help you learn more about church membership.

Frequently Ask Questions about Weddings in the Episcopal Church and at Good Shepherd
One of us is Christian and the other comes from another faith tradition. Can we be married at Good Shepherd?
Interfaith marriages require particular care and counsel. If a couple is considering such a marriage, they should seek the counsel of their religious leaders long before attempting to plan a marriage service. Questions regarding relatives, the upbringing of children (if this is desired) and plans for the observance of religious holy days should be discussed thoroughly. If the priest is confident that the couple can continue to express their faiths while fulfilling the expectations of Christian marriage, then the priest will be glad to officiate at such a wedding.

Does Good Shepherd permit divorced persons to marry?
Yes. The Gospel is not about punishing people for their pasts, but about inviting them to new life in Christ. However, it is necessary that before moving ahead, there should be an honest assessment of the past with an eye toward growing toward the future. In the Episcopal Church, the officiating priest applies to the bishop of the diocese to request permission to re-marry. The purpose of this application is to ascertain the intention of the couple with regard to their relationship to the Church, that the Bishop might give his consent in good conscience. For information, a copy of the form can be found at http://www.dioceseny.org/index.cfm?Action=AboutUs.FormsWeUse

Who can serve as an officiating minister at a wedding at Good Shepherd?
Normally, only a the rector of Good Shepherd officiates at a wedding that is held in the church. If there is a guest priest the couple would like to involve, this should be discussed with the rector at the very beginning of the planning.

Can we include family and friends in the wedding?
It is most appropriate for family and friends to participate in the wedding by reading one of the Lessons from Scripture or leading a portion of the prayers. Non-scriptural readings are not used, and outside musicians who are not associated with Good Shepherd may only be used with consent of the rector and music director. Most couples find that by keeping the number of ushers, groomsmen, bridesmaids and other attendants to a minimum, a kind of dignity and solemnity is preserved for the occasion.

Does the church require pre-marriage counseling?
Yes. When a couple makes a commitment to be married at Good Shepherd the wedding date is established and reserved. Shortly thereafter the officiating priest will contact the couple to arrange for counseling, which will vary in number and frequency according to the couple. Sometimes it is appropriate for the priest to recommend a therapist or other counselor for the couple.

Is the Holy Eucharist always included in a marriage at Good Shepherd?
The normal form for Holy Matrimony includes the Holy Eucharist. Good Shepherd welcomes all baptized Christians to participate in the Holy Eucharist, regardless of religious affiliation. Those who are not baptized Christians often come forward to receive a blessing from the priest. If there are compelling reasons, the marriage ceremony can be conducted without the Eucharist.

How long is the typical wedding at Good Shepherd?
The typical wedding, including the Holy Eucharist, usually lasts just under one hour. Music, if selected, will naturally lengthen a service.

Is there parking available near the church?
Yes. There is lots of parking behind the church. In addition, there is a scenic drive in front of the church which is perfect for limousine drop-offs and pick-ups… and photo-ops!

Does the church have facilities for a reception following the service?
Yes. The Parish Hall, the room adjoining the church, and its kitchen can be rented in addition to the church space. Good Shepherd can recommend a caterer who is accustomed to the space. No smoking is allowed in the building. Alcoholic beverages are allowed.