in New York
Congratulations on your decision to marry. We are pleased that you are considering Grace Church for your wedding and believe that you will find the magnificent architecture and lush green spaces to be among the most picturesque settings in all of New York City. What follows are the questions that are most asked by engaged couples. Our guidelines have evolved over time and are not meant to be restrictive, but to answer your questions about what is appropriate for a Grace Church wedding ceremony. We hope these guidelines help to answer your questions early so that you can fully enjoy your day when it comes.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jennifer Metz or call 212.254.2000.
Who may arrange for a wedding ceremony at Grace Church?
A wedding ceremony at Grace Church must satisfy the requirements of both the State of New York and the Episcopal Church. It is not necessary that you be members of Grace Church. However, all services will be conducted according to authorized rites approved by the Episcopal Church. In addition, the national canons of the Episcopal Church require that one person be a baptized Christian, and, when one or both parties have been previously divorced, that permission to remarry be sought from the Episcopal Bishop of New York. This permission must be sought at least four months in advance, in consultation with the priest performing the wedding.
May same-sex couples be married at Grace Church?
As provided by the laws of the State of New York and the canons of the Episcopal Church, Grace Church does indeed marry same-sex couples.
Will there be pre-marital counseling?
The Episcopal Church requires pre-marital counseling with the priest. This is usually accomplished in about three to five sessions, though in some cases the clergy may require the couple to seek additional outside premarital counseling prior to the ceremony. The focus of the meetings with the clergy is mainly to help the couple explore their relationship in the context of the church, and to prepare for the joys and challenges of life together.
How is the wedding scheduled?
Couples should first contact Jennifer Metz or call 212.254.2000 to check the availability of your preferred wedding date. She will collect your pertinent information and you’ll secure your date on the calendar with a small deposit. The date for the wedding should be secured before you make any date for a reception hall. Weddings are often held on Saturday, but other days are acceptable. Next, one of the clergy will be assigned to officiate your wedding and will contact you to discuss pre-marital counseling and other details. Clergy are assigned according to availability.
May visiting clergy participate in the wedding?
Yes. While a priest on the current clergy staff of Grace Church will be the primary officiant of your wedding and lead the service, visiting members of the clergy may participate in various portions of the service at the discretion of the Rector.
What is included in the wedding service?
The Episcopal Church is a liturgical church. This means that it has set forth the content of its services after careful, scripturally-based review and expressed such content in language that is both meaningful and elegant. In order to retain the integrity of these liturgies, alternative prayers, vows, and readings may not be used. Additionally, since the liturgy identifies the ring(s) as the physical symbol for the union, competing symbols — unity candles, etc. — cannot be accommodated. The officiating priest will review the liturgy and arrange the details of the service with you both. A wedding coordinator may assist you with many other elements of wedding planning but may not play any part in planning what is, at its heart, a religious service. We strongly encourage participation by family and friends. Typical forms of this participation are doing one of the scripture readings or leading a psalm. The priest will conduct the rehearsal assisted by a member of the parish altar guild and the parish organist.
Who selects the music?
The musical offerings in the wedding service are selected and arranged in consultation with the Rector and Organist of Grace Church. In addition to the Wedding service, the organist also attends the rehearsal. Should there be interest in having guest musicians participate in the service, these individuals and their musical selections are also arranged in consultation with the Rector and Organist. The fees for guest musicians are negotiated by the couple and paid directly to those individuals.
How may the church be decorated?
Grace Church’s beautiful Gothic interior tends to require very little additional ornamentation other than flowers. We can provide the names of neighborhood florists already familiar with the space. Alternatively your own florist should arrange with the Parish Office to visit the church during open hours to review the space well in advance of the service. Two arrangements placed directly on the altar on either side of the cross are traditional and preferred. On the day of the wedding, the florist will be granted access to the church up to two hours in advance of the service. It is the custom that flowers remain for Sunday services. Finally, for safety reasons, aisle runners may not be used.
Nathan Smith for Ira Lippke Studios
How much time will we need at the church?
The service itself can last anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, depending on the amount of music the couple chooses, and whether or not Holy Communion is included. Generally, we reserve a three hour time block for each wedding: one hour before the ceremony to arrive and prepare, one hour for the ceremony itself, and one hour after the service for photos in the church and garden. During peak wedding season it is possible that more than one wedding will be scheduled on the same day. On such occasions in the past, couples have communicated with each other beforehand and shared the cost of flowers if they have similar preferences.
What is the fee for a Grace Church wedding?
Chantry or Church: $5,000 ($6,000 on Sunday afternoons)
What this cost includes is the time the officiating priest will spend with you in counseling, an honorarium for our organist, security for your wedding day in this intensely urban setting, and, quite frankly, a much needed boost for the ongoing upkeep of Grace Church. The superlative architecture that will add incomparable beauty to your wedding has been a labor of love for this parish for over 170 years: first for those who dared to build it, and then for all the succeeding generations who have sacrificed to maintain it. To ensure that Grace Church is here to uplift the spirits of brides and grooms for the next 170 years and beyond, it is appropriate that you join hands with those who have made this place available, even as you join hands with each other on your wedding day. Wedding fees are not tax-deductible, and can be reduced in consultation with the Rector only for parishioners in regular Sunday attendance who have been pledging members of record for at least one full year. For others, we invite you to consider an advance payment plan through the church business office. We also accept most major credit cards. In all cases, fees must be paid in full no later than one week before your wedding day.
When is the rehearsal?
The wedding rehearsal is usually the afternoon or evening before the wedding, at a time agreed upon with the priest. It usually takes about an hour. This should also be scheduled in advance. All members of the wedding party should attend.
Where should we have the wedding book?
Receiving lines and wedding books, in which guests sign their names, should be located at the reception. Placing them in the narthex of the church creates problems for the usher and often leads to a “logjam” just before or after the wedding service.
Nathan Smith for Ira Lippke Studios
May we take pictures during the wedding?
Photos and video of the service must be taken by a professional photographer or designated person who will work with the Verger and Officiating Priest. You may also take pictures during agreed upon hours before and after the wedding in the beautiful gardens surrounding the church. Once you have chosen your photographer(s), it would be ideal to convey contact information to the Parish Office, and we will communicate directly regarding the policies and procedures for photographing the wedding. At the very least, the Verger will meet with the photographer before the wedding to review the guidelines.
What documents are necessary?
A marriage license must be obtained from the Office of the City Clerk within sixty days of your wedding date. Visit the Marriage Bureau for complete information. You are to give the license to the priest prior to your wedding rehearsal. You and your witnesses will sign the license on your wedding day. The church will take care of mailing the license to the City Clerks office. You should receive your official marriage license directly from the City Clerks office about two months after your wedding. As a reminder, if you were previously married, additional paperwork must be completed and sent to the Bishop for approval. This can take up to two months.
Are there reception facilities at Grace Church?
Yes, you can also hold your wedding reception in Tuttle Hall for a separate fee. The hall can accommodate up to 200 guests, and we can refer you to a caterer.