Messiah’s Wedding Information and Guidelines
What does it mean to have a church wedding? A wedding is, first of all, a service of worship. We worship a God who calls a man and woman together in marriage. Recognizing this as you plan your ceremony will give you a clearer vision of what your wedding service should be.
It is appropriate that your marriage begin in the church, which is the community of faith gathered around God’s Word and Sacraments. When a couple is married in the church, the community is being asked to share in asking God’s blessing on this union and thank God for that blessing.
The marriage service is a reflection of the relationship of the bride and groom to their Lord. The service should be an act of joyful worship. As such it should not become a display or production to impress friends or to conform to social customs.
As you prepare to become husband and wife may God bless your preparations, your wedding, and the life-long commitment you are making to one another. We believe the Church has much to offer in enabling a strong, growing marriage relationship. In view of the many marriages that are troubled or have failed, your pastor and congregation wish to be a resource to help you. What follows are not hard and fast rules, but guidelines set forth by the Council of Messiah Lutheran Church to help couples prepare for an orderly and joyous life together.
All couples should complete some formal marriage preparatory program. A number of preparatory programs for marriage are available and may be utilized. The Pastor can provide the “Prepare” pre-marriage inventory which is designed to identify relationship strengths and work areas. The cost for the computerized processing of this program is $30 per couple. Please discuss your plans for this with the pastor.
A minimum of three meetings with the pastor will be necessary to make preparations for your wedding. Meetings may be used by the pastor to determine your readiness for marriage. If the pastor cannot in good conscience perform the marriage service, they will inform you of their decision.
Planning Your Wedding
The Pastor. All weddings performed in connection with this congregation will be performed by the pastor unless approved by them and the church council. You should let the pastor know of your marriage intentions, and coordinate the date to allow ample time for preparations.
The Organist. The church organist is to be the accompanist at the wedding unless special arrangements are made with her. No taped music will be allowed. Only music appropriate to a service of worship will be used. Most contemporary love songs do not fit into this category. The organist will be able to recommend appropriate songs and also may be able to recommend other soloists and/or instrumentalists. All musical selections will be approved by the organist.
The Altar Guild Representative. If you wish, a representative from the Altar Guild may be assigned by the pastor to work with you in planning the church aspect of your wedding. This person’s job is to relieve the pastor of some of the decorating and planning details so that he may be free to concentrate on your counseling sessions and your service of worship. Please direct all questions not relating to the service to her.
Details of a Church Wedding
Altar Paraments. The Altar paraments (the colored altar coverings) are always the liturgical color of the church season and cannot be changed to go with your color scheme. When you choose your date, the pastor can tell you what color will be on the Altar that day.
Flowers. Please coordinate all arrangements for flowers with the Altar Guild Representative. Flowers may be placed in many areas of the church. Our Sunday services use a shelf behind the Altar area to hold flowers. Flowers may be placed on the Altar but should not be so massive as to overpower the cross. You are free to choose any florist that you wish.
Candles and Candelabras. Candelabras may be rented for the ceremony. Unity candles are very popular. We do not have a candleholder for Unity candles, but one may be rented or arrangements for a table can be made. Please choose someone to light the candles. The Altar Guild representative can show him or her how to do it.
Other Decorations. Other decorations, appropriate for a Christian wedding, may be permitted as long as they can be attached without the use of scotch tape or nails. Delivery and pick-up of rented items should be discussed with the Alter Guild Representative. All items must be removed the day of or the day following the ceremony.
The Wedding Party. When choosing your number of attendants, please take into account the size of the front of the church. If your party includes a flower girl and ring bearer, they should be able to act in a dignified manner.
Ushers. All ushers should arrive ready for duty at least one hour prior to the wedding or at the designated time for pictures to be taken prior to the ceremony. It is good church custom for the usher to precede those being ushered, rather than to have the lady take his arm. However, you may choose whatever custom you desire. It is not necessary to ask those entering if they are “friends of the bride” or “friends of the groom.” (The night of rehearsal, ushers will be instructed to watch to the best of their ability to see that there are an even number of guests on each side of the church.) There are places designated for the immediate members of the families, but for all others, there is no special “side.”
Following the recessional, selected ushers are to return at once to escort first the parents from the nave and then the congregation. Ushers are responsible for lighting the candles unless the bride and groom have chosen this area to include other special friends or family members.
Pictures. In order to preserve the sacredness of the wedding service, no pictures by family or friends are permitted during the processional, the service, or the recessional. The official photographer may take pictures from the back of the church (no flash) during the service and from the back of the church by the double doors during the recessional. Altar pictures may be taken before or after the service. Photographs may be taken before the service. You look your best and are able to give attention to your guests and the reception following the service.
Videos. Videos of the service may be taken from the back of the church or from an inconspicuous location. To prevent distractions, the photographer should plan to remain in one spot during the ceremony.
Dressing at the Church. There are several rooms available for dressing at the church. The Altar Guild Representative will assist you in finding space. She knows where many items like irons and a full-length mirror are stored in the church so be sure to ask her if you need anything. Purses may be locked in the sacristy.
The Rehearsal. The time of the rehearsal will be set in consultation with the pastor and the organist. It is important that the entire wedding party and ushers be present at the scheduled time. The wedding license should be brought to the rehearsal and given to the pastor.
Wedding Consultants. The pastor is your primary wedding consultant at the church. If you choose to employ a wedding consultant please make sure she understands this.
The Reception. If you desire to have your reception at the church, please talk with the pastor.
Smoking. The inside of the church is a non-smoking area. Please ask your guests to go outside to smoke.
Alcohol. The church’s insurance policy prohibits the consumption of any alcoholic beverages on church property.
Rice Throwing. Rice throwing is not allowed at the church because it is dangerous to the birds. Birdseed may be substituted.
Clean Up. The Altar Guild will remove all items from the Altar area and will discuss with you where they will be stored. Remember that all rented items must be picked up the day of or the day following the ceremony. You are responsible for removing all items from the dressing areas after the service. Please assign a friend to make sure this gets done. The church janitor will be contracted to clean the facility after weddings.
The Pastor. The pastor is called by the congregation to preach and teach, administer the sacraments, serve as a counselor, and is paid by the congregation for his work. Normally the pastor will devote about 20 hours to a wedding. He is pleased to work with members preparing for marriage and to preside at the service. Any gifts to him are left to your discretion.
The Organist and Soloists. All couples should remunerate the accompanist(s) and soloist(s). Please talk with them about their fees or ask the pastor to make a suggestion on an appropriate amount.
Bulletins. If you wish to use bulletins you may purchase them from a separate source or through the church. The pastor can help you select something appropriate and inform you of the cost.
Janitor. The church janitor will be contracted to clean up after weddings. The charge will be determined by the size of the wedding and the facilities used. The pastor will let you know the amount of this service.
Facility Usage. The Church Council may require a deposit for the use of the church.