Wedding Guidelines and Policies
Scheduling the Wedding
Wedding Date and Time
Diocese of Atlanta Weddings
Marriage after Divorce
Flowers and Decorations
Photography and Filming
Wedding Fee Structure
Dear Engaged Couple:
The entire Cathedral family celebrates with you as you prepare for the sacred union of Holy Matrimony. This page is designed to inform you of the wedding guidelines and policies of the Cathedral of St. Philip. It contains the answer to many of your questions!
The Cathedral of St. Philip is a holy and majestic place to have your wedding. The Cathedral is holy because it is a house of prayer in the Episcopal tradition. It is important to know that your wedding will be an Episcopal worship service, as outlined in The Book of Common Prayer. Things you have seen done at weddings in other places might not be a part of the Episcopal liturgy and theology, or the customs of the Cathedral.
Please read through the policies and procedures of this handbook before signing the consent, especially if you are new to St. Philip’s and The Episcopal Church. The policies contained herein are firm. We send them to you before you begin making plans to avoid any disappointment or confusion later on.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Hillary Jones, 404-365-1038.
We hope that the next few months will be filled with much joy and anticipation as you begin to prepare for your marriage and new life together.
The Cathedral of St. Philip
Clergy, Staff, and Wedding Guild
Questions about these guidelines and policies should be directed to the officiating priest or Hillary Jones, 404-365-1038.
Scheduling the Wedding
To be married at the Cathedral of St. Philip it is expected that one or both of the couple to be married (or at least one of their parents) be an active member of the Cathedral of St. Philip for at least one year prior to their wedding date. (Canon Law requires that at least one of you must be a baptized Christian). If you have not transferred your records from another church, or you are not sure of your membership status, please contact Janie Harris, Membership Coordinator.
When a member desires a wedding at the Cathedral of St. Philip, the first step is for the couple to make contact with the priest whom they wish to solemnize their marriage. This can be done by calling the priest’s office directly. Priests’ contact information is here.
Only an Episcopal priest in good standing with the Church may officiate a wedding at the Cathedral of St. Philip. A minister of another denomination may take part in the service, but may not officiate.
Many couples want to verify that a particular date is available before contacting the priest. This can be done by contacting Hillary Jones, 404-365-1038. Your wedding date will be set once the priest is contacted and date verified through him/her, your consent to wedding guidelines and policies is signed, and a deposit of ½ the total fee is received.
Wedding Date and Time
The Cathedral of St. Philip requires a minimum of a 90 day notice for a wedding, and allows scheduling up to one year in advance.
Weddings are scheduled only on Saturdays, at a time agreed upon (2 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., or 7 p.m.), by priest and Worship Coordinator. Because it is not feasible to have a wedding in the Cathedral and the Chapel at the same time, only one wedding is scheduled at each of these times. We do not schedule weddings during the season of Lent (40 days before Easter).
Diocese of Atlanta Weddings
Members of other Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Atlanta who wish to be married at the Cathedral should make arrangements through their own priest, usually the rector of their parish.
The priest involved should contact Hillary Jones to reserve the Cathedral or Chapel for a wedding. An invitation to the priest to use the Cathedral or Chapel for a wedding will be extended by the Dean confirming the location, date, and time of the wedding and rehearsal. This date will be confirmed after contact from the presiding priest, the consent is signed, and the deposit is received. Please note that all of the Cathedral policies apply to your wedding.
Holy Eucharist can be a special part of your wedding celebration. It is also a powerful symbol to have your first meal together be at the Lord’s table. Private Eucharist (wedding party or couple only) during the wedding ceremony is not a part of our tradition. The Holy Eucharist is a public sacrament to which all are invited and encouraged to participate.
The Church requires that the couple be instructed as to the nature of Holy Matrimony. One of the opening lines of the service goes as follows: “Marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God” (BCP, 423).
The Cathedral clergy take these words seriously and require that couples participate in The Cathedral Counseling Center’s Premarital Workshop, held once a month in the Lanier House (on Cathedral grounds). For more information and to register, contact Christy Gituku, Director of the Cathedral Counseling Center, at email@example.com.
Marriage after Divorce
Canon Law prohibits solemnizing the marriage of anyone who has been divorced, except with the consent of the Bishop. The norm is one year from the date of the final decree of the divorce prior to remarriage in the Church.
The divorce decree will be sent to the Bishop with a Petition for Remarriage form and a letter of recommendation for the union by the presiding priest. This paperwork must be completed at least 90 days prior to the wedding date.
Flowers and Decorations
The Cathedral Flower Guild oversees flower arrangements for all weddings. No one other than this guild may arrange the flowers for the worship spaces, including but not limited to the altar, chancel, pews, and aisle. If there is more than one wedding on the same day, the guild will coordinate with each bride.
The only decorations behind the chancel rail are the altar flowers. Due to very limited space, no decorations other than the altar flowers are allowed in Mikell Chapel. It is the responsibility of the wedding party to remove any decorations other than the altar flowers or pedestals.
Couples should contact the Flower Guild co-chairs to discuss floral selections at least 60 days in advance of the wedding date. The Flower Guild chairs can provide advice on colors and flowers that work well in the Cathedral as well as information on seasonal availability.
The Cathedral will make its best efforts to accommodate specific floral requests, but reserves the option to substitute as necessary and appropriate. If the couple would like to use expensive or out of season flowers, there may be an additional charge.
The wedding fee for the Cathedral and Mikell Chapel includes standard floral arrangements for the altar area. The couple may choose between arrangements in two traditional style urns or arrangements set in ceramic boxes. Examples of these options are available on the Cathedral website.
If there is more than one wedding on the same day, the Flower Guild chairs will coordinate the floral selection with the couples and make the final determination of the flowers used. Special liturgical holiday decorations (such as greenery during Advent, Christmas flowers during the Christmas season, and red during Pentecost) will take precedence over weddings.
The Cathedral Flower Guild can arrange additional flowers on the altar, pedestals arrangements to be located at the front of the church, and pew sprays and candelabras down the center aisle for an additional charge. The Flower Guild requires at least 90 days’ prior notice to assemble these types of arrangements.
Additional Flower Arrangements:
The Flower Guild can provide additional arrangements for wedding ceremonies, including large pedestal arrangements, pew sprays, wreaths, floral garlands on the chancel rails, and sprays for the candelabras.
The Flower Guild can also create alternative altar designs such as gardens and festival arrangements spreading the length of the altar.
The Flower Guild co-chairs can meet with brides or grooms to review photos of weddings at the Cathedral and discuss the options available. There will be additional charges for the additional arrangements and the alternative altar designs.
Candelabra: The Cathedral has a set of 14 wrought iron candelabra, which may be leased for weddings. These candelabra were custom designed for the Cathedral. The candelabra are placed at the end of each pew with a fleur de lis. For smaller weddings, typically 6 or 8 candelabra are used. For larger weddings, 8 candelabra or the full set of 14 is used. A set of two free standing iron candelabra are available to be used in Mikell Chapel.
Pew Markers: The Cathedral has satin cords, which can be draped across the pews to reserve family pews if desired. If bows are being used, they must be attached with ribbon. Bows on wires are not permitted.
The couple’s florist is responsible for all personal flowers such as bouquets and boutonnieres. The florist may install arrangements in the narthex, atrium, or outside doors. The florist must provide their own stands or pedestals for the arrangements.
Flowers should be delivered at least one and a half hours before the wedding time. The bouquets and corsages should be delivered to the Bride’s Room. If the room is not open, they should be placed on the pew outside the Bride's Room. The boutonnieres should be delivered to the Gould Room.
Flower Removal: The altar flowers for worship at weddings are also used for worship on Sunday morning. The congregation will celebrate and give thanks for the wedding in the Prayers of the People on Sunday morning.
The couple may take any additional flowers that the Flower Guild has created. They may also choose to leave the flowers for the following Sunday services.
It is the responsibility of the couple and/or their florist to remove any florist decorations and all personal flowers immediately following the ceremony. The Cathedral staff will dispose of any remaining containers and flowers.
Aisle Runners, Tossing Petals, etc.: Aisle runners are not permitted in either the Cathedral or chapels. Nothing is permitted to be thrown or scattered either inside or outside the Cathedral including but not limited to rice, birdseed, sparklers, and flower petals. Bubbles may be used outside the Cathedral.
Cathedral Wedding Flowers and Decoration Checklist
- After reserving date: Optional meeting with Flower Guild chair
- 90 days in advance: Contact Flower Guild co-chair to request any additional flower arrangements
- 60 days in advance: Contact Flower Guild co-chair regarding flower selections
- 30 days in advance: Make payment for additional flowers or candelabra
- Provide florist with a copy of Cathedral wedding flowers and decorations.
Flower Guild Co-Chair Contact Information
Additional Floral Services Offered by Cathedral Flower Guild
- Additional Flower Cost (For expensive or out of season flowers): To be determined
- Alternative Designs or Festival Arrangement on High Altar: Final price will be determined based upon style chosen. $300 to $500 additional charge is typical.
- Pedestals (placed in front of church and/or narthex)
- Floral Pedestals: $350 to $500 each
- Greenery Pedestals: $250 each
- Floral Garland on Chancel Rail: $600 (total for both sides)
- Aisle Candles, Complete Set of 14: $350 (If both couples are using on the same day: $200 for each couple)
- Price Per Aisle Candle: $25 a piece
- Pew Sprays (Price per spray)
- Floral: Full Floral $125
- Touch of Flowers: $100
- Greenery: $85
Photography and Filming
The couple is expected to inform the photographer and videographer of the following guidelines.
If the photographer or videographer has not filmed at the Cathedral before, it is expected that he/she attend the rehearsal in order to be familiar with the setting and to eliminate the possibility of any confusion on the day of the wedding. The priest is in authority regarding all matters pertaining to the service, including photographing it.
Pictures may be taken of the bride, groom, and wedding party after their arrival at the Cathedral but must cease thirty minutes prior to the ceremony as guests begin arriving.
Flash photography is prohibited during the service, and photographers must refrain from making conspicuous movements or causing any noise which may interrupt or detract from the ceremony.
Flash pictures may be taken as the couple draw near the door to the narthex after the ceremony. Pictures may be taken of the wedding party at the altar for 20 minutes following the ceremony, after the church has been emptied. Pictures which include the priest should be taken first so that he/she may leave to prepare for their Sunday responsibilities.
There are two places in the Cathedral where a videographer may stand while filming: in the balcony, and behind the reredos (behind and to one side of the altar). Due to space restrictions, the only place in Mikell Chapel for a photographer to stand is in the back.
Video cameras and videographers must be stationary. They may be manned but may not be moved during the services. There may be no distracting noise, movements or lights. Blinking lights must be covered.
Music is an important component of Episcopal worship. It is the responsibility of our music department to provide music for all Cathedral worship services, including weddings. All musical arrangements for your ceremony must be made in consultation with the Cathedral musician assigned to play for your service, and no musical arrangements may be made without the music department’s prior approval.
Our organists preside over one of the finest Cathedral organs in North America and will ensure that the music for your ceremony is beautiful. The organist assigned to your wedding will play for 15-20 minutes immediately prior to the ceremony, so that your guests will arrive to the strains of joyous music.
As the couple to be married, the only music you need to select is the music to be played during the entering and retiring processions of the wedding party. Our Cathedral musicians play for dozens of weddings each year. They have identified a variety of musical options that work particularly well as processional music on the Cathedral’s organ and in our acoustically resonant space. It is from this approved list that you will need to make your selections. To help you make your choices, recorded excerpts of these works are available our Wedding Music Selection Form, so that you can get a sense of how these pieces will sound in the Cathedral.
Entrance procession: For weddings in the Cathedral nave with a bride processing, you may choose one piece for the wedding party and a second piece for the bride alone, unless you have opted to have an intimate wedding party of only one or two attendants, in which case it may be better to choose one piece for the entire wedding party, including the bride. The organ, by its size and might, is quite able to create a special moment at the entrance of the bride without changing to a different piece of music. For services in Mikell Chapel, where the aisle is short and the number of attendants usually fewer, choose only one piece for the entire entering procession.
Retiring procession: Choose one piece for the entire wedding party to depart. If necessary the organist will play an additional festive piece after the retiring processional music.
Hymns: You may include hymns during the marriage service if you anticipate that your guests will sing heartily. If hymns are to be included, they are usually sung immediately before the Ministry of the Word (BCP, page 425), and/or between the readings from scripture, and/or as the table is prepared for Holy Communion.
Hymns should be selected from The Hymnal 1982 and your selections will ideally be well known by your guests. Some good choices would include 657, 376, 390, 410, 400 (select stanzas), 365, 353. Be sure to read the entire text of your hymn selection(s) carefully, to be certain that the content is wholly appropriate to the occasion.
Additional music at your wedding: Having made the choice to be married within the context of Christian worship at the Cathedral of St. Philip, all of the music you wish to include in your marriage ceremony must meet the standards and policies of The Book of Common Prayer and the Cathedral. These policies include, but are not limited to:
- All music in worship must be performed live and without amplification. Recorded music is not allowed under any circumstances.
- All music must be sacred. Music with prominently secular connotations is not allowed.
- All texts that are sung must be taken from scripture or The Book of Common Prayer, or from texts congruent with them (BCP, page 14).
- In matters musical, the decision of the Canon for Music will be final. There may be music that you will have heard at other church weddings which, for a variety of reasons, is not allowed at the Cathedral. If you have questions about what is or is not allowed, the organist assigned to play for your wedding will be happy to guide you to choices that will make your ceremony here memorable.
- All arrangements for vocal or instrumental music are made by the Cathedral musicians. Please do not invite any musicians, friends, or family to perform during your ceremony without prior approval from the organist assigned to play for your service.
Instrumentalists: If you would like to have additional instrumentalists play for your wedding, please include your wishes on the wedding form. All additional musicians will be arranged for you by your organist. Additional fees will apply, payable directly to the musician(s) contracted to play.
Cathedral Choir: One of the many things the Cathedral of St. Philip is widely known for is the extraordinary quality of its choirs. Occasionally members of the Cathedral Choir are asked to sing for weddings. If you would like to request them, indicate that on the form and be in touch with the Canon for Music as far ahead of the wedding as possible. Because of their vast liturgical responsibilities, the choir’s availability is limited. If they are able to sing for your ceremony, anthems must be chosen from their active repertoire. Additional fees will apply, payable to the Cathedral.
Soloists: If you wish to have a vocal solo during your ceremony, one of the Cathedral’s staff singers will be engaged to sing. Many of these singers have a list of their own, appropriate repertoire, from which you may make your selections. Please consult your assigned organist if you wish to make these arrangements. Additional fees will apply for the staff soloist and the organist, payable to the Cathedral.
Organist: The basic organist fee is included in the Cathedral fee. Additional rehearsal with soloist or instrumentalists: $50
Staff soloist: $200 (one or two solos)
Small ensemble of staff singers $2500
Chamber ensemble $3500
Cathedral Choir $5500
The purpose of the wedding rehearsal is to give the wedding party the opportunity to become familiar with the service ahead of time so they can be comfortable during the actual ceremony.
Wedding rehearsals are normally held on the Friday evening before the wedding at 5, 6, and 7 p.m. and will last an hour. This time is scheduled at the time your wedding is put on the Cathedral calendar. All members of the wedding party are expected to attend and should arrive at least fifteen minutes early. Your rehearsal will end at its scheduled time.
The marriage license needs to be brought to the rehearsal. The license will be signed and returned to the appropriate county office by the Worship Coordinator the week following the wedding. A copy will also be sent to the couple. The original license will be returned to the couple by the county office four to six weeks after the wedding.
The Cathedral Wedding Guild is charged with the responsibility of assisting the priest at the rehearsal and for coordinating preparations prior to the ceremony on the wedding day. A member of the Guild will call the couple in the weeks prior to the rehearsal to discuss the details of both the rehearsal and the wedding.
The Wedding Day
All members of the wedding party should arrive at the Cathedral at least one hour before the wedding. The Bride’s Room will be available two hours before the wedding. Early entry is not available.
The bridal party should have hair and make-up done before arriving, but may leave final preparations for the Bride’s Room. The groom and groomsmen should arrive dressed and ready. It is expected the Bride’s Room be vacant no later than one hour after the wedding.
It is suggested that arrangements be made to remove all personal items immediately after the wedding to have it available for the next couple. The Cathedral cannot be responsible for lost or stolen items.
The Cathedral Wedding Director is responsible for assisting all members of the wedding party and the families in taking their places at the proper time. He/she will also give all other directions prior to the ceremony. Outside wedding coordinators may assist the Bride’s Room, but may not give any directions related to the ceremony.
Wedding Fee Structure
A non-refundable deposit of half of the fee is required at the time the wedding is booked. The balance together with any additional or music fees is due 30 days prior to the event.
Active, Pledging Cathedral Members:
One or both of the couple have been a member for at least one year prior to the wedding, are involved in parish activities, and have made a financial pledge during the annual stewardship campaign.
Mikell Chapel: $2365
Cathedral Members and Diocesan Episcopalians:
For Cathedral members the fee includes the priest’s fee, premarital counseling, the organist’s fee, wedding guild directors, one acolyte, basic altar flowers, and the use of the Cathedral or Chapel for the rehearsal and wedding. If an outside counselor is used, a $400 credit will be applied to the balance.
Diocesan Episcopalians need to pay their officiating priest and outside counselor directly.
Mikell Chapel: $3775