Christian Marriage and Weddings
“God has ordained that a man and a woman may enter into the estate of marriage, pledging their love and promising fidelity to one another, as long as both shall live. As Jesus Christ has blessed this relationship, and it has been declared holy throughout the life of His Church, those who pledge themselves each to the other in the sight of God are promised His help as they enter into the joys and duties of life together. Seeing that their love for each other may be expected to increase according to the increase of their love of God, they are called upon with God’s help to create a home in which they and their children can truly grow in grace. The Christian marriage ceremony is a service of worship before God, normally conducted within the house of God.” —The Directory for the Worship of God, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Christian Wedding
A wedding is a service of worship in the context of which two persons enter into the covenant of marriage. Praise is offered to God for the gifts of life and love, and God is asked to strengthen and bless the marriage being celebrated. The teachings of Jesus about marriage are recalled as part of the service. One or more passages of Holy Scripture are read. Prayer is always offered. At First Presbyterian Church, all weddings are Christian in their theological orientation, and therefore at least one member of the couple must be a baptized Christian, and a member of a Christian congregation.
A pastor of FPC will preside at all weddings held at First Presbyterian. In consultation with the pastor, non-FPC clergy may be invited to preside.
Member and Non-Member Weddings
A member wedding is defined as one in which at least one member of the couple is a member of First Presbyterian Church or an immediate family member (child, grandchild, parent, or sibling) of a church member.
Both members of a non-member wedding couple are required to respond in writing prior to their first wedding planning meeting to these three questions: 1. What is your religious background? 2. Why do you wish to be married in a Christian wedding ceremony at First Presbyterian Church? 3. What do you envision your future religious practice to be?
Non-Presbyterian Christian Partners
If either the bride or groom is a member of a different Christian denomination, appropriate elements drawn from that tradition may be introduced into the service. Ministers or priests from the denomination of the non-Presbyterian partner may also be invited to participate in the leadership of the service.
If either the bride or groom is a member of another, non-Christian religious tradition, appropriate elements from that tradition may be introduced into the Christian wedding service. Clergy from the tradition of the non-Christian partner may also be invited to participate in the leadership of the service.
Wedding Planning and Counseling
After contacting the church office you will be given a copy Marriage Application Form. The completed form, along with a non-refundable deposit, should be returned as soon as possible, so that an appointment with the pastor can be arranged. Following that appointment, if the way is clear, the wedding will be scheduled on the church calendar. No wedding can be scheduled prior to this appointment. At least one additional appointment with a pastor will be arranged.
All couples are required to participate in a marriage preparation workshop. Since these are only offered twice during the year, advanced planning is necessary.
Time and Place of Weddings
Weddings are normally held in either the sanctuary or the chapel. The former seats approximately 500 persons, the later approximately 75 with additional chairs. Weddings, though usually scheduled for Fridays or Saturdays, may be held on any day except Sunday and major Christian or civil holidays. It is recommended that weddings be scheduled well in advance of the date of the service.
A wedding rehearsal is normally scheduled for the afternoon or evening prior to the wedding. All members of the wedding party, plus readers or other special participants, if any, should attend. All must arrive promptly, as it is difficult to conduct the rehearsal if all are not present. The parents of the couple should attend if it is convenient.
Music plays an important and essential role in the service of marriage by providing an atmosphere that is both festive and worshipful. The minister of music, if available, will play for all weddings. Exceptions to this must be cleared by him and the pastor, and a Bench Fee will be applicable in such situations. The bride and groom must plan to meet with the minister of music in order to discuss music appropriate to a Christian wedding. The church reserves final say as to what music is appropriate.
The bells can be pealed following the ceremony, or with prior arrangement with our Carillonneur, special music can be played. Please speak to the wedding coordinator if interested.
Ordinarily, a single floral arrangement is all that is needed for sanctuary decoration. Contact your own florist, and ask that flowers be delivered one hour before the wedding, clearly marked with the bride's name. Petals, rice, birdseed, bubbles and confetti are not permitted to be thrown in the building or on church property.
Photography and Videography
Because a wedding is a service of worship, it is inappropriate for photos to be taken, either by guests or professional photographers or videographers, during the wedding ceremony, with the exception of non-flash photography or videography from the rear of the sanctuary or balcony. Photographers and videographers are not permitted to come down the aisle during the wedding processional or wedding ceremony. An instruction sheet for the photographer and videographer is included. It must be signed and returned prior to the wedding.