Weddings

A Guide to Weddings at The Presbyterian Church

This guide is written for you if you are considering a wedding in the Christian tradition at The Presbyterian Church, and is designed to answer some of the more frequently asked questions and to assist you in your planning.

The first question you will want to ask yourselves is whether you want a Christian marriage or a secular marriage.

Historically, people have come to the church because they want the Christian faith to be a part of their coming together as husband and wife, and as a means of providing a meaningful basis for their future life together. There is a risk that the deep and wonderful meaning of Christian marriage can be lost when we think that the Church is only a beautiful setting for the ceremony. It is vital for persons planning to be married within the Church to understand that Christian marriage implies belief that God, through Jesus Christ, will play an important role in the relationship – both at the time of the wedding and into the future. Unless you understand and feel comfortable with the disciplines and dedication required in Christian marriage, the Church is not an appropriate place for your wedding.

The Church is the people of God, the Christian community which supports, encourages, and prays for the couple in their life together. Therefore, we hold weddings only for couples in which at least one is a committed Christian who seeks the guidance of Christ throughout the pre-wedding preparation period and beyond, and seeks the fellowship of the people of Christ wherever he or she may be.

Who may be married at The Presbyterian Church?

As mentioned above, at least one of the two must be a professing Christian. However, neither needs be a member of our congregation.

Christian Marriage

“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. . . . For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made. . .publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.” Book of Order, W-4.9001

Before your wedding, you will spend time discussing the nature of Christian marriage, as well as your particular relationship and the elements of the marriage ceremony, with the pastor who will officiate your marriage. You will likely have a minimum of three pre-marital guidance sessions with the pastor.

Officiant

Ordinarily, one of the pastors of The Presbyterian Church will conduct all weddings in our Sanctuary. Any invitation for another minister to take part in the service must come from the pastors of the church. If you would like for another pastor to participate, please consult the pastors of our congregation. Other congregations may request to use the Sanctuary by a formal letter from their governing body to our Session. In such cases, one of the pastors will still participate.

Wedding Advisor

The Presbyterian Church provides a Wedding Advisor who must be used at all weddings (except the most informal of weddings with few guests and no music or decorations). One of your first responsibilities, after meeting with one of the pastors of the church, is to meet with the Wedding Advisor assigned to you. The tasks of the Wedding Adviser are:

  • To interpret the wedding policies of the church
  • To be available for consultation with those responsible for planning the ceremony
  • To arrange for custodial service, as well as for room usage
  • To assist the pastors at the wedding rehearsal and direct members of the wedding party and those involved in the ceremony (florist, photographer, videographer, etc.) during applicable times of the wedding day
  • To ensure that all involved parties have concluded their business

The Wedding Advisor serves as the primary church staff liaison and is the one to whom questions regarding church facilities and wedding policies should be directed. Please inform your florist and photographer where they can direct their questions. The use of the church’s Wedding Advisor eliminates the need for a professional bridal consultant for the rehearsal and ceremony.

Scheduling

Scheduling your wedding ceremony involves both the schedule of the officiating pastor and the church activities calendar. A tentative date and hour for a wedding service may be reserved on the church calendar by making initial arrangements with the church secretary; however the date and time will only be confirmed after one of the pastors has met with you and approved and agreed to officiate at the wedding. Members of The Presbyterian Church will be given priority over non-members in the scheduling weddings. Non-member weddings may be tentatively scheduled, but cannot be confirmed prior to 6 months before the wedding date. For purposes of this wedding policy, a wedding is considered a “member” wedding if either the bride or groom or the parents of either the bride or groom are active members of the congregation.

Ordinarily, weddings may not be scheduled during Holy Week or on the week before or day of Christmas.

Sanctuary and other Buildings

You will be in good company having your wedding in our Sanctuary. Couples have been married here for over 170 years. If you would like to include a historical sketch about the congregation and its sanctuary in your Order for Worship, you may ask our church secretary for an information sheet.

Because it is a sacred space and an historic building, we ask that you respect the intended purpose of all that is within it and that you take special care in your decorating not to damage or risk damaging the building or its furnishings.

No alcohol or tobacco use is allowed anywhere on church property. Food and drink are not permitted in the Sanctuary Building. Because they are safety hazards, rice and birdseed may not be thrown inside or outside of the buildings.

Music and Organist/Musicians

“Music suitable for the marriage service directs attention to God and expresses the faith of the Church. The congregation may join in hymns and other musical forms of praise and prayer.” Book of Order, W-4.9005

The officiating Pastor and the church organist must be consulted regarding the selection of music. As a wedding is a service of worship, hymns are appropriate. Secular music should not be used.

As a courtesy to our organist, the privilege of performing any organ or piano music should be offered to her first. The Wedding Advisor will provide you with her phone number. If the organist is unavailable, the Wedding Advisor will provide a list of other organists. If other types of musicians are desired, recommendations for them can also be provided.

Flowers and Other Decorations in the Sanctuary

“Flowers, decorations, and other appointments should be appropriate to the place of worship, enhance the worshipers’ consciousness of the reality of God, and reflect the integrity and simplicity of Christian life.” Book of Order, W-4.9005

Please discuss with the Wedding Advisor all plans for decoration of the sanctuary, including everything from candles to flowers to banners. Keep in mind that tacks, tape, and nails are not permitted. Please share this information with your florist. Hymnals, Bibles, and attendance pads should not be removed from the pews.

Photographers

During the service, photography and videotaping are allowed. However, flash photography is not allowed during the ceremony. If you would like to have photos taken in the sanctuary after the service, we recommend that you send your guests directly on to the reception.

The Wedding Party

The couple being married in the Church is responsible for the actions of their wedding party. It is expected that all member of the wedding party will refrain from the use of alcohol or other drugs immediately prior to the rehearsal and the wedding.

We encourage the participation of family in marriage ceremonies. A mature five year-old is quite capable of performing the duties of a ring bearer or flower girl. For others it is a difficult job for their little legs and attention spans, and their responses would be a distraction for all involved from the sacred purpose of the ceremony. If you include someone under the age of six, please be sure there is a designated caregiver to bring the child back to the pews if he or she becomes a distraction.

The Rehearsal

Except in the case of the most informal weddings, a rehearsal is required. This normally takes place on the evening preceding the day of the wedding. The officiating pastor will run the rehearsal. It is most helpful if all members of the wedding party are present and on time for the rehearsal. Introductions among the wedding party should be made before the rehearsal is scheduled to begin.

The rehearsal will not be held if the fees, honorarium and marriage license have not already been given to the appropriate parties.

Marriage License

The Marriage License is due to the church office at least one week before the wedding. The license is issued by the Clerk of the Court of the county in which either the bride or groom resides in Virginia. If you both live outside of Virginia, you may get a license at any county courthouse in Virginia. A driver’s license is sufficient identification. The cost is $32.50 in cash. No blood tests are required and there is no waiting period. The license is valid for 60 days.

Fees and Honorarium

All Fees and Honorarium AND the Marriage Certificate are due to the church office at least one week before the wedding. Please bring them during office hours, 9:00 am to 3 pm Monday,- Thursday, and 9:oo am to noon on Friday and write separate checks for everything. (All applicable custodial fees may be combined.)

Fees and Honorarium Members Non-Members
Non-refundable Deposit(To reserve wedding date on the church’s calendar) N/A $100
Wedding Advisor $150 $150
Use of Sanctuary for Ceremony $0 $500
Use of Church House Parlor or Fellowship
Hall for Reception
$0 $250
Refundable Damages Deposit (To be refunded if no damage is done, or a portion based upon damage claim. Additional charges may apply.) $200 $200
Organist*
Custodian** (see below) (see below)
Sanctuary $50 $50
Church Parlor (Reception) $50 $50
Fellowship Hall (Reception) $50 $50
Use of other rooms for dressing $25 ea. $25 ea.
Other Miscellaneous; i.e. musicians, soloists, etc.*

Pastor honorarium***

* Fee should be discussed with the organist and any other musicians.
** The Wedding Advisor will provide you with the name of the custodian.

***Fee should be discussed with the officiating pastor.