Congratulations! We are pleased that you desire to be married in a service of Christian worship at First Presbyterian Church. The church is here to minister to the people and we consider it a great honor and a sacred trust to share in this important event in your lives.
A wedding in the church is a service of worship, therefore, everything in the service should be done to honor God, and to be a blessing for you, your families, friends and guests. When we gather for a wedding we regard every marriage to be a gift of God, given for the well-being of a particular couple, as well as the entire human family. Marriage is a covenant relationship through which a man and a woman are called to live out their lives together as disciples of Jesus Christ. The wedding ceremony is thus: The beginning of such a new relationship between a husband and a wife lived actively and intentionally in the presence of God.
In order to fulfill our commitment to you and help you have a very meaningful wedding service, we have developed the following church rules and guidelines. This information is designed to help you plan your wedding. It contains all the procedures, policies and fee structures. Please read this information carefully. If at any point you have questions or concerns you may contact the church’s wedding coordinator or the church office. It is our earnest hope and desire that you will be glad for the ministry of First Presbyterian Church now and in the days and years to come.
First Presbyterian Church Wedding Guide and Policies
We have tried to develop a comprehensive policy regarding wedding services held at First Presbyterian Church. Every wedding is special and unique. If you have any questions or special requests that are not covered under our general guidelines, please feel free to discuss this with your officiating pastor.
While planning your service, we urge you to consider the following areas:
- Work closely with the officiating pastor on planning the service well in advance. Prior to meeting with the pastor and coordinator, you will need to consider your preferences for the order of the service, participants, the vows, music and scripture.
- You are responsible for calling the officiating minister to set up consultation appointments. We recommend you contact the minister as soon as your wedding date has been confirmed on the church calendar and scheduling/deposit fees paid. Prior to your visit with the minister fill in the Wedding Information Form.
- Work closely with the church wedding coordinator. This includes scheduling and conducting the rehearsal, procedures for ushers, arranging for use of candles and decorations, policies for photographers, and the use of church facilities. Typically, conversations between the wedding coordinator and the bridal couple start two months prior to the wedding.
- The installed minister of First Presbyterian Church will officiate the wedding service.
- Visiting ministers may participate only upon the invitation of the installed minister.
- A scheduling fee-security deposit is required within thirty days of reservation. If a deposit is not received within thirty days, the date you reserved will no longer be valid and will be considered open and available.
- Only church designated personnel are authorized to operate the church’s sound and projection systems. When necessary, special charges for staff expense will apply.
- Generally, not more than one wedding will be scheduled on a given day. The church building is available for each wedding for four hours on the day of the service. A second wedding may be scheduled on the same day at the discretion of the officiating pastor, but the first wedding party scheduled shall be assured adequate time before and after the ceremony.
- The church assigns paid staff, including custodial and technical employees to ensure the appropriate use and restoration of church facilities and equipment. When necessary, special charges for staff expense will apply.
- Scheduling a wedding in the church includes the use of the sanctuary, dressing areas and restrooms. Use of other space must be approved in advance and custodial fees may apply.
- The church has certain “no wedding” periods such as Christmas Eve, Easter week and Coast Guard weekend. Seasonal decorations that the church may have displayed will not be removed for wedding decorations.
- The organ, piano, pulpit and cross may not be moved. Unusual set up or custodial efforts will be subject to additional fees.
- The church does not allow alcohol on the premises.
- The church building is entirely non-smoking.
- Pets are not permitted in the building.
- The church requests that no rice, birdseed, flower petals or confetti be thrown anywhere on church property.
- No overnight parking.
The Wedding Coordinator
An indispensable part of wedding preparation and ceremony is the service of the wedding coordinator. Our wedding coordinators have special knowledge in the proper conduct of services concerning your wedding. His/her duties include:
- answering your questions regarding wedding procedures
- assisting in completing the Wedding Information form outlining the details of your service
- assisting the minister at your rehearsal
- arranging for set-up and clean-up of the church before and after the wedding
- checking the sanctuary for proper lighting, placement of flowers, candles, guest book, etc. prior to the wedding
- being available to bride and wedding party for their needs in getting ready for the wedding
- helping parents and other family members to know where to go and what to do
- assisting ushers, candle lighters, florists, photographers and others involved in the ceremony
- being responsible for the smooth operation of your wedding by coordinating time with the instrumentalist and minister and having all persons at their proper places on time
- supervising seating of family members, candle lighting, ushering, and timing of processional
- directing members of the wedding party after the ceremony
- picking up the “loose ends” that invariably come up
Photographer and Video Guidelines
As you make plans with your photographer, remember that your wedding is a worship service and nothing should distract you or your guest from worshipping the Lord.
It is important that you go over our policies with your photographer well in advance of your wedding day. Some photographers may not be willing to work within these restrictions and you will need to know that well in advance and plan accordingly.
- Posed pictures may be taken on the day of the wedding, immediately prior to or immediately after the ceremony. Please request in advance if the pastor is to be included.
- Still photographers must remain behind the last pew of the main sanctuary or in the balcony during the service. No flash bulbs may be used at any time during the service. Only natural light photography is permitted. At the end of the ceremony, the Narthex doors will be opened, and pictures may be taken from those doors at that time.
- Pictures may be taken during the service only from the balcony, but only if done quietly and with no flash.
- Photographers are not to walk forward on the main floor of the sanctuary at any time during the service.
- Permission to use video equipment must be discussed and approved by the officiating pastor (please do not set up equipment before discussing this with the pastor).
- All video cameras are to be placed in the balcony only.
- Those involved in videotaping and photography should be dressed appropriately for the wedding.
- We are aware that family and guests are often the worst offenders in the use of cameras during weddings. We do our best to eliminate this and regret when it occurs. Nevertheless, we insist on professional conduct from the professional photographers and those videotaping.
- Wedding bulletins should include a printed statement requesting guests to refrain from using cameras. Ushers will be asked to remind guests who arrive with cameras that they may not be used during the worship service.
As you are selecting the music for your wedding remember that only music suitable for a worship service may be used. Because the wedding service is an act of worship, music is provided by musicians at First Presbyterian Church. The couple will receive a sample recording of wedding music, and should contact the music director at FPC, who will help them choose appropriate music for their service. Musicians and soloists on the church staff are granted the privilege of playing or singing for all weddings, and arrangements will be made by the director of music after consulting with the couple. An additional fee will be charged for soloists and instrumentalists. If you would like to use a soloist and/or instrumentalist of your choice, you must obtain permission from the director of music. Please note that special charges may apply. Guest vocalists and instrumentalists must submit a sample tape or CD to the music director at least two months prior to the wedding, and must subsequently be approved by the music director.
Contact Maryanne Beery at least three months prior to your wedding to consult on arrangements. Work phone: 616-842-6760 ext. 20.
A rehearsal is needed for all but the simplest weddings, usually the evening before the service. The purpose of the rehearsal is to ensure the wedding itself is as free as possible from stress so we may concentrate on the real meaning of the event rather than being worried or distracted. It is important for all members of the wedding party to be present along with musicians, ushers, parents and worship leaders. The rehearsal normally lasts about an hour and it is vital you make clear to all involved that punctuality is critical.
The Day of the Wedding
The church building is available to you for four (4) hours on the day of the service – for two hours before the wedding begins and for two hours after the wedding begins. Weddings in a Presbyterian church normally last 30-60 minutes, which would leave at least an hour after the service ends for guests and the wedding party to depart for the reception.
We ask everyone in the wedding party to be at the church at least an hour before the wedding.
Thirty minutes before the worship service begins, the organist will start the prelude as guests are being seated.
The ushers will be stationed in the narthex to be available to light candles, distribute worship bulletins, and assist the guests to their seats. The wedding coordinator will direct their activities.
The groom, best man and groomsmen will wait in the church lounge. Ten minutes before the service begins, the pastor will escort them to the waiting area.
Ten minutes before the service begins, the wedding coordinator will escort the bride, maid or matron of honor, and bridesmaids to the narthex.
About five minutes before worship, the wedding coordinator will gather ushers, grandparents and parents in the narthex to begin the processional. The processional proceeds as follows:
1. The groom’s paternal grandparents/step-grandparents
2. The groom’s maternal grandparents/step-grandparents
3. The bride’s paternal grandparents/step-grandparents
4. The bride’s maternal grandparents/step-grandparents
5. The father and mother of the groom
6. The mother of the bride
7. Two ushers will extend aisle runner
8. The pastor, groom, best man and groomsmen enter
9. The bridesmaids enter
10. The ring bearer and flower girl enter
11. Maid or matron of honor
12. The bride and her escort
Typical Arrangements of the Wedding Party
Escort Bride Groom
Maid of Honor Best Man
Parents of the Bride Parents of the Groom
Grandparents and other family Grandparents and other family
Escort Bride Groom
Maid of Honor Best Man
Mother of the Bride and her escort Mother of the Groom and her escort Father of the Bride and his escort Father of the Groom and his escort
Grandparents and other family Grandparents and other family
The Wedding Service
The civil contract of marriage is a legal agreement made in the presence of witnesses and an authorized official that is recognized by the state. The wedding service in the church extends, deepens and solemnizes this and adds a vital spiritual component in which husband and wife join in covenant partnership under the sovereignty of God. They make a lifelong commitment to enter freely and equally into this blessed relationship, making solemn promises to each other in the sight of God and witnesses. The service focuses upon God and the Good News of the gospel. A Presbyterian wedding service normally contains the following elements:
- Seating of guests and family
- Call to worship
- Psalm or hymn
- Statement on the nature of Christian marriage
- Declarations of intent
- Scripture readings
- The exchange of vows and rings
- Prayers of intercession and thanksgiving
- Blessing and benediction
Optional elements include: secular readings, hymns, special vocal or instrumental music, video and the lighting of a unity candle. Usually a service lasts between thirty minutes to an hour.
You may invite family or friends to serve as readers in the service. It is best if they have experience in public speaking. The special qualities of the space require worship leaders to speak slowly and clearly, or they will not be heard.
Ring Bearer and Flower Girl
Ring bearers and flower girls are optional. If you would like to have children participate it is best if they are at least four years old. Past experience has shown that younger children will or will not follow cues and could disrupt the flow of the service. If they do participate, children precede the maid of honor in the processional and follow the bride and groom in the recessional. It is best if they have someone they know sitting on the aisle in the second or third pew so they can go there if needed.
The bride and groom are responsible for providing the worship bulletin (program) if desired. This is a listing of the elements of worship which also provides the names of worship leaders and members of the wedding party. It is important for the officiating pastor to see and approve the final copy of the bulletin before it is printed. Wedding bulletins should include a printed statement requesting guests to refrain from using cameras during the worship service.
Revised March 2009
Standard Services: $575 Includes the following services for the rehearsal and wedding:
Wedding Coordinator, Custodian, Sound Technician, Staff Organist/Pianist or Musician
Pastor’s Fee: $250 Includes: Pre-marital counseling, rehearsal, wedding ceremony
Soloist: $150 Includes rehearsal and wedding
Non-member: $500 In addition to the Standard Services fee
*fees are subject to change without prior notice
Reserving Your Wedding Date
Call the church office to check availability and to tentatively hold your rehearsal and wedding dates. The scheduling fee and security deposit must be received within thirty days of setting your tentative dates. Dates that are on hold status will change back to open and available if a deposit is not received within the thirty days.
A $300 scheduling fee and security deposit is required to confirm your reservation date. The check is to be made payable to “First Presbyterian Church”.
Scheduling fee: $100 Scheduling fee is applied to the total amount owed and will be deducted from the final billing.
Security deposit: $200 Security deposit will be returned within 30 days after the ceremony. A full refund will be issued pending no damage occurring to the church building and/or grounds. Payment for any damages in excess of the security deposit will be billed to the bride and groom.
Scheduling fee is forfeited if wedding is cancelled. The security deposit will be returned to the name and address cited on the Wedding Information Form.
The church will mail a total bill to the designated party approximately three weeks before the wedding ceremony. All fees are to be paid fourteen days prior to the rehearsal. Checks are payable to “First Presbyterian Church”.
Officiating Pastor’s Fee
The officiating pastor’s fee is $250. The fee for an offsite wedding is $350 plus travel expenses. The pastor’s fee is due fourteen days prior to the rehearsal. The check is to be made payable to the officiating pastor and is to be mailed to the church.