Congratulations! We are delighted that you are considering entering married life in a worship service at Grace Presbyterian Church. Your wedding is a sacred occasion. Careful planning will assist in making it meaningful to you, your family, and friends. We are here to help. For this reason, we are pleased to offer this booklet outlining the accepted customs, policies, and procedures relating to weddings at Grace Presbyterian Church.
Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community. (Book of Order, W-4.9001)
The rite of Christian marriage is an act of worship with the purpose of expressing praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of marriage. It embodies the Trinitarian faith of Christian community and assumes that at least one of the marriage partners is a member of a Christian community. Moreover, it assumes that the promises of marriage are to be made in response to the Word of God, in the context of prayer, and in the presence of the community of faith.
These guidelines and policies have been prepared to help bring a sense of ease to your planning and to help you understand some of the important issues surrounding a church wedding. Hopefully your questions will be addressed by the information that follows, however, if you have any questions remaining after reading this, please feel free to discuss it with the Pastor.
Members and Non-member Weddings
Throughout the first 1400 years of Christianity, no weddings were performed by Christian churches. Weddings were considered to be the duty of the state, not of the church. Only in the late Middle Ages did devout Christians—wishing to pledge their married life to God—ask the church to conduct their wedding services.
Today, persons may be married by civil authorities or by ordained clergy. Since Christian marriage focuses on the couple deliberately committing their new married life to God in Jesus Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expects that at least one member of the couple will be a professing Christian—that is, a baptized and confirmed member of some Christian congregation (Book of Order W-4.9002a (1)). Exceptions to this may be granted by our pastor in consultation with the couple.
Setting the Date for your Wedding
In order to provide ample time for premarital counseling with the pastor, as well as for plans to be made for your wedding day, you are encouraged first to speak with the pastor to be sure the date you desire is available, complete the Wedding Information Form at the back of this booklet, and turn it in to the church secretary with the required deposit. Then and only then will the date be recorded on the church calendar.
Weddings may be scheduled at almost any time except during Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday), Thanksgiving Eve or Day, Christmas Eve, or Day, and New Year’s Eve or Day.
In selecting the date for your wedding service, remember that at various times of the year major seasonal decorations are in place in our sanctuary that, depending on the item, may remain in place during any wedding. Among these are Advent (late November and most of December), Christmastide (December 24 through January 6), and the festival of Pentecost (May or June).
The current pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church will officiate at any wedding in our building and shall be in charge of and responsible for the service. Occasionally a family may wish to have another clergy person share in the service. This is permissible, but only after consultation with and by invitation of the current pastor may another pastor be invited to participate or officiate.
Those desiring to be married at Grace Presbyterian Church will be expected to meet with the pastor for pre-marriage counseling conversations. Approximately two to four months before your planned wedding date, the pastor will begin a series of four to six sessions with both of you. The number and length of sessions may vary depending on the topics being discussed and available schedules. Only a part of this time will be spent planning your wedding service. The remaining time will be spent preparing you for your marriage.
The Location of the Service
Grace Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary seats approximately 250 on the main floor plus additional guests can be seated in the balcony if needed. At-home, destination, and garden weddings are also choices, but caution should be exercised by the couple due to facility options, the possibility of inclement weather in such locations, and availability of the pastor.
The Marriage Service
The wedding ceremony typically takes place in a special service which focuses upon marriage as a gift of God and as an expression of the Christian life. The marriage service may take place during our Sunday morning Worship service upon approval of the pastor and authorization by the session. In such case, it should be placed in the order as a response to the proclamation of the Word (Book of Order W-4.9003).
Celebration of the Lord’s Supper at the marriage service requires the approval of the session. Care shall be taken that the invitation to the table is extended to all believers present (and not limited to just the couple marrying).
Ordinarily the wedding service will follow one of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Marriage Rite I, Rite II, or Rite III found in the Book of Common Worship. The first of these is a brief and simple liturgy for any couple being married. The second rite is also for any couple but is a more elaborate service that follows the pattern for the Lord’s Day Service. The third rite is intended for couples who have been married in a civil ceremony and who now wish to make their vows in a Christian context. All three are worship services and it is most appropriate to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in any of the three.
The Christian wedding is foremost an act of worship. God is the focus as the couple places themselves before the Eternal One to make their covenant and to seek God’s help.
Outline of Christian Marriage: Rite 1
Sentences of Scripture
Statement on the Gift of Marriage
Declarations of Intent
Affirmation of the Family
Affirmations of the Congregation
(Psalm, Hymn, Solo)
Readings from Scripture
(Psalm, Hymn, Solo)
Exchange of Rings (and other symbols: Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony, etc.)
Announcement of Marriage
Introduction of the Couple
A printed liturgy (bulletin) is recommended so that all present may actively worship with the couple. It may be prepared by our church office for a modest fee. (Should the couple desire to prepare their own bulletin, please DO NOT PRINT one until it has been approved by the pastor conducting the marriage ceremony.) The order of worship will be planned by the pastor and couple during one of their meetings. The couple will be asked to choose from the three rites available and the options within them, as well as to select several lessons from Scripture upon which to base their service.
Music suitable for the marriage service directs attention to God and expresses the faith of the church (Book of Order W-2.1004, W-4.9005). A sense of reverence and discretion should guide the selection of all music. Selections shall be guided by the Pianist/ Organist and Pastor. Hymns may also be chosen for singing during the service, which adds a wonderful sense of participation for the congregation.
The church pianist will play for all weddings conducted in the church. (In the event that another musician is desired, the request must be made to and approved by the pastor.) A consultation with the church pianist/organist should be scheduled concerning choice of music. If a soloist is to be used, it is the couple’s responsibility to purchase the music for both the musician and soloist and arrange and pay the organist fee for a rehearsal with the soloist.
Normally, ushers are in addition to the groomsmen. We recommend at least two ushers, depending on the number of guests. Ushers escort guests to their seats, distribute the printed liturgy, handle special escort duties, care for guests who may arrive late, and assist those who may become ill. Groomsmen may assist the ushers in their seating duties until shortly before the wedding is to begin.
Ushers are expected to be on duty at the sanctuary door 45 minutes before the service.
The Marriage License
Each couple is responsible for securing their marriage license from any county clerk within the State of Indiana. In Indiana, persons 18 or older may apply for a marriage license. Application for a marriage license is made to the County Clerk where one or both parties reside, or in the county where the marriage is to be performed. A marriage license shall be come null and void unless a marriage is solemnized within 60 days of its issuance.
Contact the Clerk of the Allen County Circuit and Superior Courts for updated details located at Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802, or call the Clerk at (260) 449-7890. License application can also be started online at: http://www.allencounty.us/marriage-licenses.
Couples are expected to deliver the marriage license and any additional paperwork and envelopes, plus all church fees at least a full week prior to the wedding. No rehearsal or wedding will take place until all fees to the church are paid.
Rooms can be provided for dressing at the church should you wish to do so. The wedding party is responsible for collecting all their belongings and place in their cars prior to the wedding service. The church will not assume responsibility for valuables that are left in these rooms during the service. Valuables should be left at home or locked in the trunk of a car during the service.
A rehearsal normally occurs the evening prior to the wedding. It is crucial that all members of the wedding party be present at the rehearsal; this includes both members of the couple being married, all attendants, the ushers, and the parents of the wedding couple as well as any soloist. The pastor, and pianist/organist, and sound tech will also be present. The length of the rehearsal will depend on how long it takes for everyone to be comfortable in what they are expected to do for the service. Though it may not take one hour, the couple should plan on it lasting an hour when making their rehearsal dinner plans.
Out of consideration for staff members and wedding participants it is imperative that the rehearsal begin promptly at the set time. Please inform all participants regarding the rehearsal time and punctuality. A good rehearsal goes a long way to having a good wedding ceremony.
Alcohol and smoking
Grace Presbyterian Church does not permit alcoholic beverages on the premises or smoking in its building. Should any member of the wedding party appear to be intoxicated, they will not be allowed to participate. If either member of the wedding couple is intoxicated the wedding cannot take place.
If you choose to use a guest book, please assign an attendant to be in charge of the book. The guest book may be placed in the narthex for your guests to sign before being seated. The guest book will be closed ten minutes before the service if it appears a delay in seating is occurring, but may be opened again during the recessional so others may continue to register their presence as they leave.
While many couples no longer make use of a formal receiving line, should you choose to have one you may do so either in the narthex as guests exit or at the entrance to the reception. Some couples enjoy greeting guests as they leave the pews. Some prefer to greet guests at tables at the reception. Plan your reception start time according to how you wish to greet your guests.
Rice, Confetti, Birdseed, Real flower petals, etc.
The policy of the church is that there is to be no rice, confetti, birdseed, “silly string,” or similar items thrown or sprayed in the church building or on church grounds. This is for safety as well as for cleaning reasons. Silk Flower petals may be used by flower girls.
Invitation to your Rehearsal Dinner and/or Reception
Grace Presbyterian Church’s pastor and pianist/organist do not assume they are invited, or their presence desired at either your rehearsal dinner or reception. You, therefore, have no obligation to invite them. However, if it is important to you that they be present, it is appropriate that you send them a written invitation well in advance that also indicates whether their spouse or a guest is also invited. They should reply, as would any other guest, as to whether or not attendance is possible. If you desire the pastor to pray at either the rehearsal dinner or the reception, advance notice is always appreciated.
Wedding Receptions at Grace Presbyterian Church
Couples planning a reception following their wedding may wish the event to occur in Grace Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall. Please indicate your wishes when you schedule your wedding, or as soon as possible afterwards. We provide the space, tables and chairs, but do not offer any additional food or decorating services. It will be up to you to decorate and arrange the tables and then return them to their normal set up following the reception. It is up to you to contract with a caterer to provide your meal, or other refreshments.
Wedding Consultants and/or Caterers
You are responsible for making the necessary arrangements with others who might assist you on your wedding day; however, it should be clear that all persons and functions are subject to the direction of the Pastor and these guidelines.
A.If a wedding consultant is employed, understand that this will be for areas not related directly to the wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony and rehearsal are under the direction of the Pastor.
B. If a caterer is employed the caterer will be responsible for all the equipment used and for the complete cleaning and putting in order of the kitchen and fellowship hall. Any damage or loss of equipment will be billed to the caterer. The caterer will work under the rules and regulations governing kitchen use as established by Grace Presbyterian Church.
Guidelines for Flowers
Florists may be hired to decorate the sanctuary. However, it is to be remembered that decorations should be planned in accordance with church furnishings and equipment. Simplified decorations that harmonize with the symbols of the sanctuary are most appropriate. Decorations must not interfere with the movement of the wedding ceremony and care must be taken to see that floors and furnishings are not damaged.
Florists or decorators will be held responsible for damage caused by their work.
It is the responsibility of the couple to arrange with a florist for decorations. The church building is kept locked for security reasons. The couple must make prior arrangements with the church staff for access to the building after office hours.
Ribbon or simple arrangements of flowers may be used on the pew ends. Using every other pew, you would need 15 pew bows beginning with the front divider.
Flowers may be placed on the shelf under the cross. The shelf is 8.5” wide at the center, widening as it goes out to the end of the shelf which is 13 ¼“ wide. There is a distance of 28” from the top of the shelf to the bottom of the cross. The shelf is 97” long.
While it is thoughtful of you to want to give the pastor a boutonniere/corsage, please know that flowers are considered inappropriate to wear on a clerical robe or stole.
- All decorating and arranging must be completed 2 hours prior to the start time of the service.
- Placement of special equipment for the service (i.e. unity candle or kneeler) must be approved by the pastor.
- No sanctuary appointment (i.e. paraments) is to be moved or altered by the florist. Design of floral arrangements should take into consideration the appointments and their locations.
- Tape, gum, tacks, nails, pins, or screws are not to be used to fasten decorations to the walls or any wooden surfaces.
- Proper protection against damage caused by candle drippings must be provided by the florist or decorator.
- Because the sanctuary is carpeted, aisle runners are not allowed.
- All decorations are to be removed immediately following the end of the service or immediately following all photos.
- The church is not obligated to make available or to furnish equipment not owned by the church at the time of the wedding. All items supplied by sources outside the church must be approved by the pastor one month prior to the ceremony.
The church owns 14 candle torches that may be affixed to the end of the pews. The couple wishing to use these must provide smokeless, dripless taper candles for use. The glass globes are 8” tall. The taper candles must be ¾” wide. (Wal-Mart currently lists a 7-pack 7” candle but does not give the circumference of the candle. I suspect it would fit the candle holder.)
The church also owns two brass candelabras as well as two large candles affixed to the back wall on either side of the cross. The candles in these are oil filled. They may be used at no extra cost to the wedding party.
If a Unity candle is used, all the candles involved in the Unity candle ceremony must be provided by the couple. The church does own very simple glass candle holders if the couple wants to make use of them.
All candles used for the candle torches and unity candles should be both smokeless and dripless.
Every couple wants a pictorial record of their wedding. The following guidelines of Grace Presbyterian Church allow photographs and videos to be made without distracting from the sacredness of the occasion. Because it is the responsibility of the couple to instruct the photographer of the following guidelines, the guidelines are presented on a separate page so you can hand them to your photographer.
- If pictures are to be taken before the service, they must be completed and the sanctuary vacated 1 hour before the wedding is scheduled to begin so guests may be seated as they arrive.
- If pictures are to be taken in the sanctuary before the service, we ask that you not light candles or move any furnishings in order to do so.
- The photographer may photograph the Wedding Procession, but should not delay or otherwise interfere with its progress.
- To avoid distraction and preserve the dignity of the ceremony, no flash pictures are permitted during the wedding service. The only pictures permitted during the service are those taken using the available lighting.
- The photographer may not move freely about in the sanctuary during the service. Photos may be taken from the back of the sanctuary or from the balcony (assuming no guests are seated there).
- Pictures are permitted as the wedding party recesses down the center aisle at the conclusion of the service, but these must be taken from the rear of the center aisle.
- If the couple desires that the pastor pose with them, it is customary for photos with the pastor to be taken first so as not to interfere with his/her other duties.
- Videotaping of the service is permitted, but all equipment to do so must be confined to the balcony or other location that does not detract from the service or block the view of invited guests.
Guests as well as hired photographers are expected to abide by these rules so as to preserve the dignity of the wedding service. It is the responsibility of the couple to instruct their photographer regarding these guidelines.
When you submit your Wedding Information Form a $100 non-refundable deposit will be required. This deposit will be applied toward the total charges.
Fees Member Family Non-Member Family
Use of Building
Sanctuary – 0 – $400.00
Reception in Fellowship Hall – 0 – $200.00
Use of Kitchen (dishwasher, stove, etc.) – 0 – $100.00
Counseling, Rehearsal, Wedding honorarium accepted $300.00
Consultation, rehearsal, ceremony $100.00 $150.00
Soloist consultation, rehearsal $50.00 $75.00
If Extra rehearsal time with soloists is needed $50.00 $75.00
Sanctuary, Wedding & Rehearsal $50.00 $50.00
Reception in Fellowship Hall (3 hours) $100.00 $100.00
Dressing room clean-up $50.00 $50.00
Kitchen clean-up (should the custodian need to clean up after you an additional fee will be charged.)
Required at both rehearsal and ceremony $100.00 $100.00
When responsible for broadcasting the music $150.00 $150.00
Please Note: If the church grounds receive a large quantity of snow or ice on the day of the wedding and there is no other church event scheduled there will be a $100.00 snow removal Fee to have the parking lots and sidewalks cleared.
All fees are to be paid to the Individual listed as appropriate and should be given to the Pastor or Church office for distribution. Cash placed in envelopes with the individual’s name on it will also be accepted.
Grace Presbyterian Church will then see that all church personnel are paid.
Pianist/Organist: Sue Creager 387-6730
Custodian: Tim Bauman 482-7734
Sound Engineer Fee: payable to Grace Presbyterian Church
Interim Pastor: Rev. Ann L. Pitman 260-267-1196
Soloist: All arrangements for soloist are the responsibility of the wedding couple and are not provided by Grace Presbyterian Church.
Office Hours: 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Thursday
Church office: 260-426-4712
If you are unable to reach the church office during Office hours, please leave a message on the answering machine with your full name and a number and time where you may be reached.
Church office email: email@example.com
Pastor’s office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing address: 1811 Fairhill Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46808
Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the office or pastor. We will return your call or email as soon as we can.
We look forward to celebrating with and helping you as you plan for your wedding and marriage. We pray this will be a time you will find joyful and memorable.
The attached Wedding Record Sheet is to be completed and returned to the Pastor along with the non-refundable $100.00 deposit. When both are received your wedding date will be confirmed.