Christian marriage is a joyful, heartfelt and public covenant between two people made in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that at least one of the parties must be a baptized Christian, that at least two witnesses attend the ceremony, and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the Canons of this Church. At Washington Memorial Chapel we do welcome ordained ministers of other nationally recognized denominations and interfaith marriages to join our Episcopal clergy in the ceremony.
An Intimate Setting
Washington Memorial Chapel is an elegant stately setting. The spectacular inspiring views accompanied by beautiful grounds create a romantic and memorable atmosphere for your wedding day. Inside Washington Memorial Chapel, extraordinary stained glass windows illuminate the historic setting in vivid light. Intricately carved detailed wooden pews lead to the magnificent altar to highlight your wedding. Superb acoustics enable musicians to perform flawlessly, and there are incredible photographic opportunities.
Marriage in the Church is a Sacrament
That is, the ceremony is an outward sign of the invisible work God accomplishes in joining two human lives together in one common bond. We rejoice to be the ministers of this Sacrament when two people seek to join their lives together in love, and in God’s Name.
Who may be married at Washington Memorial Chapel? Members of the Parish in good standing are welcome to marry in their parish church! Couples who are not members of the Parish are also welcome by permission of the Rector. The Episcopal Church requires that at least one of the parties be baptized. To determine if marriage at Washington Memorial Chapel is possible, couples should contact our Rector to arrange for an introductory meeting to discuss the couple’s background and both the couple and Parish’s expectations and the couple may learn about the Parish’s expectations.
What kind of preparation is required?
The clergy are required to ensure that “both parties have been instructed as to the nature, meaning and purpose of Holy Matrimony.” At Washington Memorial Chapel we generally try to accomplish this preparation in discussions between the couple being married and the priest over two separate one-hour sessions which cover topics ranging from the church’s theology of marriage to specific arrangements of the couple’s ceremony. The discussions are meant also to provide the priest an opportunity to get to know a couple (and vice versa) and to assess their readiness to enter into a life-long covenant, requiring a measure of openness and self-disclosure on the part of the couple, as well as fairness and discretion on the part of the priest. Our Rector retains the right to decline to perform any marriage as a matter of personal judgment and discretion.
How do we make arrangements for music at our wedding?
All musical arrangements must be made with Washington Memorial Chapel’s Organist and Choirmaster. Our Choirmaster will assist with the selection of music and with the hiring of additional musicians, should you wish to have a soloist, choir, or other instrumentalists. In most cases, our Choirmaster will also play the organ for the wedding. All music for weddings must be strictly sacred, in keeping with Washington Memorial Chapel’s usual liturgical customs, and all music requested is subject to approval by our Rector and the Organist and Choirmaster. Details about your wedding music must be worked out well in advance of the date of the wedding. Please note that only soloists approved by the Organist and Choirmaster are permitted to sing as part of liturgies at Washington Memorial Chapel. Our Carillonneur also plays at your wedding. When people think of wedding bells, they may be imagining the kind of sound that rings out from the 58 bells of the carillon in the massive stone bell tower at Washington Memorial Chapel. If you have any questions regarding music at your wedding, please contact the Organist and Choirmaster.
Flowers & Decorations
Altar Flowers and other adornments are placed in the church as offerings to God in thanksgiving for the marriage of two people. Altar Flowers are required for all weddings at our chapel but elaborate displays of flowers tend to be unnecessary in such a beautiful church. We have well-established relationships with several area florists whose use we recommend. Before contracting with a florist other than those we recommend please be in contact with the Parish Office. The Episcopal Marriage rite does not include the lighting of a Unity candle.
A wedding rehearsal, lasting about one hour, conducted by the officiating priest, is normally held on the evening before the wedding at 4 p.m.
How do we plan the wedding ceremony?
Wedding ceremonies at Washington Memorial Chapel must conform to the regular pattern of the church’s worship as laid out in the Book of Common Prayer, The somewhat traditional structure of the marriage rite laid out there allows for some significant variation, which is discussed with the priest performing the ceremony. The priest is required to use the vows as they are set out in the Prayer Book and does not have discretion to allow the couple to write their own vows. The priest will work with the couple to help select readings and make other choices about the service.
The chapel seats 125 people comfortably. There are smaller Boutique Weddings available which allows for about 20 guests.
We ask that photographers and videographers respect some limits, remaining discreet and unobtrusive throughout the ceremony. This generally means that they should remain in the side aisles or at the back of the church except during the procession when the photographer may be in the center aisle. We request that photographers not take flash photos during the ceremony. If you desire time in the church before or after the ceremony for picture-taking, please be sure to arrange this time in advance.
May a divorced person be married at Chapel?
Yes, with the consent of the diocesan bishop. As a part of the preparation for marriage the priest will inquire about previous marriages and the circumstances that resulted in divorce. If appropriate, the priest will request permission from the diocesan bishop to perform the marriage.
May a same-gender couple be married at Chapel?
Yes, same-gender couples may be married at Washington Memorial Chapel.
May we have Communion as part of the wedding ceremony?
We offer two types of wedding ceremonies. The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, a shorter service that includes a procession, readings, prayers, a homily, the exchange of vows and rings, and a blessing of the marriage. Within the service described above, Communion may be added and includes everything in the Wedding Office and then continues with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist offered in thanksgiving for the couple’s marriage. At Washington Memorial Chapel we are happy to perform either version of the marriage service in keeping with your needs and desires.
We are happy to recommend trusted local caterers, restaurants, florists, photographers, and musicians who are familiar with the Chapel and go above and beyond to make your special day incredible! Please contact Nicole Marie, our Parish Administrator, for our list of recommendations. You may contact her by phone at: 610-783-0120 Ext 10 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org