Wedding Policies & Guidelines
To inquire about dates, please fill out the interest form. Weddings take place in the cathedral (comfortably seats 400) and may be scheduled between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday weddings may be scheduled only with permission from the dean. Weddings are not scheduled the week after Easter, the week before Christmas, or on national holidays. A deposit of half of your wedding fee is due in order to confirm the date and time.
You can easily pay your wedding deposit or final wedding fee online by selecting "Wedding Payment."
The fee for weddings is $5,500. Discounts are available at the dean’s discretion for active, pledging members of the Episcopal Church. The fee includes the use of the cathedral and the services of the wedding coordinator, music director, and other staff, all of which are required. A deposit of half of your wedding fee is due in order to confirm the date and time. The remaining fees are due two weeks prior to your wedding date.
If a member of the couple has been previously married, the fee for the bishop's judgment is an additional $200.
Officiating Priest and Ceremony
All weddings at St. James Cathedral will conform to the rules of The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage in the Book of Common Prayer. The vows exchanged will come from those texts as well. In most instances, a St. James priest officiates at the ceremony. Other Episcopal clergies are welcome to officiate, with the permission of the dean. The possibility of guest clergy from a different Christian denomination or faith may serve as preachers at the discretion of the dean.
If you have a wedding consultant, please inform them that they will not play an active role in the ceremony or the rehearsal.
Pre-marital & Pastoral Counseling
The rules and regulations of The Episcopal Church require that each couple preparing for marriage must participate in pre-marital counseling. Clergy cannot marry couples who have not completed this counseling.
If a member of the couple has been previously married, they need the permission of the bishop to proceed with the wedding, ensuring that the previous marriage has achieved appropriate closure and that all concerns and duties regarding former spouses, the care of children, and personal property have been justly and charitably engaged.
After a couple has made a reservation for a wedding at St. James, the counseling process can begin. We recommend the Cathedral Counseling Center for all Chicago-area couples. All fees are paid by the couple directly to the Cathedral Counseling Center. In addition to counseling, each couple will meet at least twice with the officiating priest.
Music is arranged in consultation with the director of music, who will guide you in suitable choices. Additional singers or instrumentalists are engaged solely through St. James.
A marriage license must be obtained from the Cook County Clerk's Office and be given to the St. James wedding coordinator at the rehearsal. The license is valid the day after application and will expire sixty days later. Your wedding or rehearsal will not take place without a marriage license.
Rehearsals are lead by the priest and St. James wedding coordinator and will last 45 minutes. The rehearsal time must be scheduled with the priest.
A bridal dressing room is available in the lower level of the church and is accessible to the cathedral.
Art installations in the cathedral will not be removed for weddings. Floral arrangements may be made with the florist of your choice. Flowers are limited to two large arrangements on either side of the altar and two arrangements behind the altar. Your florist will have access to the church 90 minutes before the wedding and must be finished 60 minutes before the service.
Only altar candles may be used. The popular custom of lighting a Unity Candle is not part of the Episcopal service. For safety and aesthetic reasons, aisle runners are not permitted. Throwing rice, birdseed, rose petals, blowing bubbles, or releasing balloons is not permitted, either inside or outside the cathedral. Immediately after the wedding, all decorations must be removed from the cathedral. Altar flowers will remain in the cathedral for the following Sunday's services.
Photography & Videotaping
You may engage a professional photographer to take posed portraits inside the cathedral. Photographs taken before the service must finish 45 minutes before the service. Photos taken afterward are to last no longer than 30 minutes after the ceremony. Because Christian marriage is a sacred ceremony, the use of flash photography is strictly forbidden.
The ceremony may be videotaped from the press box gallery or from the rear of the cathedral only. The videographer is not permitted to move from place to place during the ceremony. Photographers and videographers are required to meet with the St. James wedding coordinator 30 minutes before the service.
Please note that all scheduling of photography before and after the liturgy must be cleared with the wedding coordinator.
Questions about the process?
Email St. James wedding coordinator Nancy Bieschke.