Marriage is a gift of God and a means of his grace, in which man and woman become one flesh. It is God’s purpose that, as husband and wife give themselves to each other in love, they shall grow together and be united in that love, as Christ is united with his Church. [1] Marriage is a glad occasion overflowing with joy, and those who celebrate it rejoice in the gifts of God – life, health, strength, sexuality, the family – all that the Creator declared from the beginning to be “very good.”

Marriage is not an exclusively Christian possession. It is a structure of social life which belongs to all humanity. It is essentially a covenant of fidelity between a man and a woman made with society’s sanction, grounded in the steadfast love of God. God’s abiding faithfulness is the model; as he is, so should we be.

Both church and state have an interest in marriage, and marriage is done in the presence of a representative of one or the other. But the marriage is concluded by the two partners – signified by the giving and receiving of a ring and the signing of the state issued marriage license, to which the minister is the principle witness to their action. Nonetheless, the couple is not left on their own to fulfil the promises they have made to each other, for God’s blessing and support are asked.

Marriage services at St. John’s:

Couples who plan to be married at St. John’s Latvian Lutheran Church or have asked that a minister of our church officiate at their wedding at another site, should contact the Minister of the Congregation, Rev. Dr. F.T. Kristbergs to discuss the nature of marriage, the form of the service as well as the confirmation of the date, time and place of the wedding.

The marriage service is designed to present a variety of options, suggestions and possibilities, which endeavour to meet the needs of the various situations resulting in the interactions of a pluralistic society yet maintaining a clear Christian proclamation of the Gospel. The marriage service in the Lutheran Book of Worship and the Anglican Church of Canada The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage should be regarded as guidelines from which a marriage service appropriate to the particular occasion might be constructed.

In the past both Advent and Lent have been regarded as “closed times” when marriages were not solemnized. Our pluralistic society is not governed by the church year, and so it seems undesirable in most places to forbid marriage for ten weeks of the year. Holy Week is the one week of the year when marriages are out of place and especially the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday when all the attention of the church is directed at the mystery of redemption. [2]

Some other considerations about marriages at St. John’s:

Bible readings. You may select Bible readings of your choice for your wedding. Family members and friends can be readers. Readings may be selected from any Bible translation. If it is your choice, readings may be done in a language appropriate for your needs.

Secular readings. Readings from secular literature are to be selected with great care and must have the approval of the Minister of the Congregation.

Wedding vows. The wedding vows used in services at St. John’s are traditional Christian vows and follow the texts of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church service (for Latvian language weddings), or the wedding order of the Anglican Church of Canada in The Book of Alternative Services (for English or English/Latvian language services). Couples desiring to write their own wedding vows should do so with great care, insuring that the vows conform to the principles of Christian wedding vows. A full and final text of the vows written by the couple must be sent to the Minister of the Congregation for approval at least two months before the wedding date. The pastor and the congregation have a right to refuse to participate ina wedding service for which the vows are not, in his/her opinion, in full conformity with the principles of a Christian wedding and marriage.

Organist. You may contract for the services of another organist. We do require that other organists obtain permission from Rev. Dr. Anita Gaide, principal organist at St. John’s, for the use our church organ. The Casavant organ at St. John’s is a valuable instrument and we entrust its use only to qualified musicians.

Music. The marriage service is a service of worship, and the music therefore must be carefully and discriminatingly chosen. It should embody high standards of quality and the texts of solos and hymns should reflect the praise of God, the steadfast love of Christ for his church as the foundation and model of love and fidelity in marriage, the invocation of God’s presence and blessing. Whenever music is employed in the service and by whatever instruments or voices, it should be of high quality and not cloud the mood of the service with triteness or sentimentality. It should moreover be within the ability of the performers at hand to play and sing with assurance.

Flowers and decorations: Decoration of the church, within the bounds of propriety and without altering the interior architecture and liturgical space of the church, is your choice and responsibility. Before making any arrangements for decorations, please contact the Minister of the Congregation and the church office.

Photographers. Photography during the service can be disruptive and detract from the solemnity and religious character of the wedding in a Christian church. However, if you feel compelled to have the wedding service filmed or photographed, the photographer must contact the Minister of the Congregation one week before the wedding so that the restrictions on photography can be fully explained. St. John’s reserves the right to ban photographers from the church if they interfere with the solemn and religious character of the service.

Rehearsal: It is recommended that a rehearsal be held one or two days before the wedding. The scheduling of the rehearsal may depend on the availability of the church. The rehearsal usually lasts about one hour and is meant to familiarize the members of the wedding party with their roles in the service. All persons participating in the service should attend the rehearsal.

Receptions and use of the church halls. *Arrangements for additional use of the church halls must be made in advance through the church office. The use of alcoholic beverages in the church halls before or after the rehearsal and/or wedding service is permissible only with the prior permission of the church council and with the appropriate LCBO licenses.

Honoraria:* Since the duties associated with weddings are not part of their regular responsibilities at St. John’s, there is an additional fee for the services of the organist and church custodian. The usual honorarium for the organist is $125.00; the honorarium for the custodian is $100.00. An increase in the honoraria is appropriate for special demands of time, work, and services. Clergy honorarium is at your discretion.

1 The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church in Canada: The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (Anglican Book Centre: Toronto), 21.

2 Philip H. Pfatteicher and Carlos R. Messerli, Manual on the Liturgy: The Lutheran Book of Worship, (Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, MN, 1979), 345 ff.