Parish Customs

It must be understood that anyone getting married in our Church must follow the customs of the parish. Please do not make any plans concerning the ceremony until you have spoken with the Rector. Each parish and each priest has a different way of performing the ceremony. Needless to say, Church Weddings are not like they are on television! If a Wedding Co-ordinator is used, their authority stops at the doors of the church for rehearsals or weddings. Some of our customs may be unfamiliar to you. Here are a few:

(Prior to the Wedding:)

1. Banns - The Reading of the Banns of Marriage is an ancient English custom still observed in most Episcopalian churches. Three consecutive Sundays anytime prior to the wedding, the priest will ask the public if they know any just cause why a couple may not be married. Many couples like to attend those Sundays - just to make sure!

2. No "posed" photographs may be taken inside the Church one hour prior to the service.

(At the Wedding:)

3. All members of the wedding party enter the Church together: Bride & Father, Maids/Matrons of Honor, Flower girl/Ring boy. In cases where the bride is of mature years, and "giving her away" would be inappropriate, she may be escorted by the groom, or another male family member, or may walk up the aisle by herself.

4. At the front will be only: the Priest, Bride & Groom, Father, Maid of honor, and Best Man. After the procession, all Maids/Matrons of honor and Groomsmen will be seated in the front pews.

5. After the Nuptial Blessing at the High Altar, the couple and the witnesses (Best Man and Maid of honor) will go to the Sacristy for the signing of the Register. Special music will be provided for the guests (usually 5-6 minutes).

6. No Rice is allowed to be thrown. Rice makes a terrible mess and can be slippery underfoot. Bird seed, bio-degradable paper, (tomatoes, eggs,..) are allowed - but only outside the church.

7. The receiving line: It is a long-standing custom for couples to greet guests following the ceremony. This custom often includes all the members of the wedding party. We strongly suggest that this receiving line be set up at the reception and not at the church. It requires a long time for all the guests to pass through the line - leaving the guests waiting in the church. Alas, the Church does not offer cocktails for the guests whilst waiting to greet you.

8. "Posed" photographs may be taken after the service (limit 45 minutes).

Please note: We will not deviate from these customs.

The Episcopal Church of St Mary-in-the-Highlands
1 Chestnut Street
Corner of Routes 9D and 301 Cold Spring, New York 10516
(845) 265-2539


A beautiful historic stone church nestled in the Hudson Valley at the center of Cold Spring, New York. Within walking distance of Metro North and spectacular views of the Hudson River, Storm King Mountain, and West Point.