There Oughta' Be a Law

Guidelines for weddings from two congregations

What kind of music is permitted? Do we have to be members? How much does it cost to use the church? How many people does the sanctuary seat?

Because all couples have questions like these as they plan for their wedding, many congregations have developed policy statements for the weddings that take place in their church. The following samples from churches in California and Kansas may be helpful to congregations who are interested in developing such guidelines.

Bellflower, California

I. General information
A. For members

  1. All weddings performed in the church facilities must first be approved by the pastor according to the regulations found in Church Order Article 69.
  2. One of our pastors (or another pastor approved by the consistory) must perform the ceremony.
  3. The couple must have premarital counseling as directed by the pastor.

B. Facilities of First Bellflower CRC are available to members of other churches according to the following arrangements:

  1. The couple must provide character references from their pastor(s).
  2. The officiating pastor must be approved by the consistory.
  3. The couple must have premarital counseling as directed by the officiating pastor.

II. Setting the date
A. Requests for using the facilities must be placed in the church office.
B. Rehearsal date and time can be placed tentatively on the church calendar, but the time and date must remain flexible for thirty days.

III. Wedding hostess
A. The church provides a wedding hostess for members of other churches.
B. Notify her when the date is set.

IV. Responsibilities of the applicant
A. Make your own arrangements for an organist and soloist (organist, soloist, and all vocal music used must be approved by the Music Committee).
B. Provide your own caterer.
C Report damage (breakage of dishes, etc.) to the custodian.
D. Remove personal items immediately after the program.
E. End program by 11:30 P.M. on weekdays, 5:00 P.M. on Saturdays.
F. Limit seated guests to 550 in the Sanctuary; 350 in the Fellowship Hall.
G. Keep rules for "use of sanctuary" as outlined below in VI.

V. Rooms 16,17,18, and 19 may be used for dressing, provided they are left in good order so that no custodial service is required.

VI. Rules governing the use of the sanctuary
A. Notify the church office as to the number of tables or chairs needed, as well as arrival and leaving time. The custodian will have the church ready for weddings and rehearsals, and will be responsible for unlocking and locking the necessary doors as well as supervising the lights. She is NOT responsible for personal property such as gifts, dresses, etc.
B. Flashbulbs are permitted only during the processional and recessional. No flash pictures are to be taken during the ceremony. Videos must be taken from the balcony or from the floor level near the piano or organ.
C. The pulpit furniture and equipment are not to be moved except under the supervision of the custodian and are to be replaced immediately after the ceremony.
D. Decorations shall be limited to flowers, bows, and ribbons. No thumb tacks, nails, screws, tape, or hooks may be used at any time. All flowers, potted or cut, must be contained in waterproof containers. Nothing is to be attached to the ends of the pews without the use of protectors, to prevent damage to the wood.
E. Please make every effort to keep our utility costs down by appropriate use of heat, air, lights, and doors.
F. The applicant must adhere to the City Fire Codes: No. 25, and No. 25.116.
These codes state
No person shall use or allow to be used, any open flame, burning candle or candles in connection with any public meeting or gathering for purposes of deliberation, worship,…without first obtaining a permit from the Chief.
No person shall use or allow to be used any open flame, burning candle or candles… in such a manner as to create a fire or life hazard.
Candelabra with flame-lighted candles shall be securely fastened in place to prevent overturning and located away from occupants using the area and away from possible contact with drapes, curtains, or other combustibles.

VII. Fees for Use of the Church by:

  Members Non-members
A. Sanctuary $20.00 $300.00
B. Fellowship Hall $45.00 $225.00
C. Nursery  $15.00 $20.00
D.Sound System $30.00 $40.00
E. Courtyard $25.00 $75.00
F. Fireside Room   $25.00
G. Custodian (Sanctuary only)   $ 30.00
H. Custodian (Fellowship Hall)   $ 50.00
I. Wedding hostess (Wedding only)   $ 40.00
J. Wedding hostess (Wedding and Reception)   $ 75.00

VIII. Requests for use will be granted by the Property Committee Chairman.
All fees must be paid prior to use of facilities. Make checks out to:
The First Christian Reformed Church of Bellflower.

Overland Park, Kansas

The use of the church facility shall ordinarily be limited to members of the church. Any exceptions must be approved by the Worship Committee.

Grace Covenant Church is governed by the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Therefore, guidelines applying to weddings performed within the sanctuary can be found in the Book of Order section S-5.0400 on the Christian Service of Marriage (available upon request).

The pastor requires at least three conferences with the couple prior to marriage to discuss those things that are important in our Christian understanding of marriage and to plan the service itself.

Grace Covenant's wedding coordinator will be working with the pastor to assist the couple in any way. It is requested that all correspondence (with the exception of the conferences) be done through the wedding coordinator.

In consultation with the wedding party, the pastor will direct the rehearsal and the wedding service.

Inasmuch as a wedding is a service of worship, it is expected that all music will be in keeping with the standards of Christian worship, placing the emphasis on the glorification of God. Some music which is very appropriate for a reception (such as popular or secular songs) is not fitting for the marriage worship service.

Make an appointment with the church organist as early as possible to select wedding music. Should the church organist not be available to play for your wedding, you are responsible for hiring a substitute who has been approved by the church wedding coordinator. If you choose an organist other than the church organist, you must obtain approval from the wedding coordinator.

It is recommended that wedding decorations be simple, thus utilizing the beauty and symbolism of the sanctuary itself. Only the chalice and paten may be placed on the communion table. No decorations may be glued or tacked to furnishings, and none of the chancel furniture may be moved without permission of the pastor.

Use of any type of candles must be approved by the wedding coordinator. It is the responsibility of the wedding party to make sure that the florist and caterer understand that they are to remove decorations from the sanctuary and leave the facility in good order. Also, the florist and caterer should understand that they are responsible for any damages incurred through the misuse of the facility.

Arrangements should be made with the church wedding coordinator concerning times when the building will need to be locked and unlocked.

It is advisable to schedule a rehearsal prior to the wedding service. Depending on the size of the wedding party, it usually takes approximately an hour to place people and go through the service a few times. It is advisable to have the organist present for at least the last half of the rehearsal.

Because the wedding is a service of worship, the contents of the service as well as the attire and behavior of the wedding party and guests should reflect an attitude of reverence befitting the occasion.

Taking pictures inside the sanctuary during the service is prohibited except for still shots (no flash) or a videocamera on a tripod in the back of the room.

The use of children under the age of four as members of the wedding party is discouraged since often they become frightened by the crowd and music.

All arrangements are subject to the approval of the Worship Committee through the wedding coordinator.

Heartland Hall, which seats approximately two hundred, is available for the wedding reception and/or rehearsal dinner. Should you desire to use the hall, you must reserve it in advance through the wedding coordinator. As you plan your reception, remember that our kitchen facilities are very limited at the present time. Also note that the church does not allow the serving of alcohol at receptions and that the throwing of birdseed, exclusively, is restricted to the parking lot.

(Membership must be received prior to the wedding date.)

Because members of the congregation support the church through their pledges, their expenses are limited to the following:

  1. Organist: $75 for rehearsal and wedding service
  2. Custodian: $25 for rehearsal and wedding service
    $25 for rehearsal dinner
    $25 for reception
  3. Wedding Coordinator: $75 for wedding only (includes
    all prearrangements, rehearsal, 2 hours before the wedding, wedding service, and staying until wedding party leaves)
    $125 for wedding and reception (includes the above, plus reception and staying until the reception is over).
  4. Pastor: The performance of weddings is a part of the pastor's regular duties, and therefore no fee is expected.

The wedding service and music for the ceremony must be approved by the wedding coordinator prior to finalizing the use of the building.

  1. Organist: same as above
  2. Custodian: same as above
  3. Wedding Coordinator: same as above
  4. Pastor: $200 for premarital counseling, rehearsal, and
    wedding service.
  5. Sanctuary: $200
  6. Heartland Hall and Kitchen: $100

Wedding Coordinator:____________
*Payment of fees is due at the time of the rehearsal.

Reformed Worship 16 © June 1990, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.