On the surface, Christian marriage simply looks like a bride and groom standing before the altar on their special day. At St. Anne’s, we believe it is much more.
At its core, Christian marriage is about love: not the kind of love we see in movies, but the kind we see in God. The love required in a marriage—much like the love of God—is selfless, unearned, and undeserved, which means it is not always easy. It is less about happiness as our culture defines it, and more about the blessing and joy found in mutual support, encouragement, and self discovery. It takes seriously the lifelong need we all have for forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation, and it finds strength in being rooted in the larger Christian community.
For these reasons and more, we understand Christian marriage to be a sacrament. A wedding, therefore, is more than a lovely social occasion; it is an act of worship. To that end, all weddings at St. Anne’s are conducted in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer, the canons of the Episcopal Church, and the policies governing worship at St. Anne’s.
Who May Be Married at St. Anne’s?
Christian marriage assumes that the couple intends to live out their married life within the context of the worshipping community. For that reason, it is preferred that the bride or groom—or a parent of the bride or groom—be an active, baptized member of St. Anne’s. Those who wish to be married at St. Anne’s should be regular in worship attendance not only in the months preceding their wedding, but in the months and years afterward as well. This requirement is not a ploy designed to gain more members for the church, but simply a reflection of our belief that Christian marriage goes hand-in-hand with life in the Church.
If you are not a member of St. Anne’s but have a strong desire to be married here, your first step is to come worship with us several Sundays to get a sense of who we are and what we believe, then speak with the Rector. For those who have no intention of regular involvement in this or any church, a civil marriage performed elsewhere by an agent of the state is often more appropriate.
- Call the Church Office. Before you do anything else, your first step after engagement is to call the church office at (229) 382-7505. During this call, the Parish Administrator will set up your initial appointment with the officiating priest and will pencil in your preferred wedding date on the parish calendar. Please do not assume the date you want is available until you have confirmed it with the church office.
- Read and Sign St. Anne’s Wedding Customary. Download, read, and sign St. Anne’s Wedding Customary, then bring it to your first session with the officiating priest. It contains information for which you are responsible, and it answers many questions you may already have.
Because the Episcopal Church believes in the importance of deliberate preparation for marriage, it requires premarital counseling for all couples regardless of age or circumstance. At St. Anne’s, that typically involves:
- 1 or 2 initial sessions with the officiating priest to discuss the role of Christ and the Church in their marriage, as well as expectations, timelines, and preparations for the wedding. The wedding date is not considered “firm”—and the wedding date should not be published—until completion of these initial sessions.
- A minimum of 3 sessions with a professional marriage counselor to explore topics such as effective communication, conflict management, mutual expectations, family histories, etc.
- 1 or 2 final sessions with the officiating priest to reflect on learnings from counseling and to make final preparations.
The couple will likely incur counseling fees in their sessions with the professional marriage counselor and should plan accordingly. Suggestions for marriage counselors can be obtained from the officiating priest.
Remarriage after Divorce
In the Episcopal Church it is necessary for the officiating priest to apply for and receive the Bishop’s consent prior to officiating at a marriage in which either party has been divorced. The bride and groom do not need the Bishop’s permission to be married; rather, the priest must have the Bishop’s permission to officiate. The priest is required to submit a written request to the Bishop including an account of the preparation of the couple for the new marriage. These steps, along with the additional premarital counseling required, usually add significant time to the process of preparation. The couple should plan accordingly.
To learn more about diocesan policies on this topic, visit the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia’s Remarriage after Divorce page.
Generally speaking, weddings may occur any time of the year at St. Anne’s except during the penitential season of Lent. Due to practical reasons for the clergy and parish volunteers, Sunday weddings are discouraged.
Three facilities are available for weddings at St. Anne’s:
- Main Sanctuary: Seats up to 250. Most weddings at St. Anne’s take place in the main sanctuary.
- Historic Chapel: Seats up to 40. Ideal for small, intimate weddings.
- Parish Hall: Available for receptions. See St. Anne’s Wedding Customary for details.
Due to the unpredictable extremes of south Georgia weather and the plague-like persistence of the local gnat population, outdoor weddings are not offered at St. Anne’s.