A Statement of Guidance on Weddings
at First Lutheran Church
Marriage is a gift which God has given to the human family, and a wedding is one of the most important events in life. God’s Word of promise connected with this solemn event is that he who has established marriage, will continue to bless it with his presence and support. In marriage you will offer yourselves to one another in a new relationship. You will also offer yourselves to the community of God’s people, the Church. In turn, the Church will offer you its love, prayers and support.
In the Lutheran tradition, a Marriage Rite is first and foremost worship. It is the worship of God’s people and not the private domain of a bride and groom. As a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, our parish is bound by certain rubrics (guidelines for the conduct of worship) which have been formulated through centuries of Christian tradition and teaching. These rubrics are not arbitrary rules and restrictions but the teaching of the Church on the matter of true Christian worship.
Setting the Date
Those who plan to be married must first contact one of the pastors to set a date and time for the wedding. It is unwise to finalize a date and time without first checking on the availability of the church building and one of the pastors. Naturally, every effort will be made to celebrate your marriage on the date you select, but unavoidable conflicts can and do occur. Marriages are not celebrated during Holy Week because of the solemn character of that time.
Planning the Wedding
Couples should plan to meet with the pastor two or three times before the wedding. In these sessions, the nature of marriage and the content of the marriage liturgy will be discussed. Within that liturgy, there are many options which can be exercised. A service will, therefore, be designed that will truly be your own, while preserving the elements essential to a liturgy of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
Announcement of your wedding (“the Banns”) and/or general invitations to the parish will be published in the Sunday bulletin at your request. You may want to welcome members of the congregation to share in your joy and offer prayers on your behalf.
The presiding minister at a wedding is , except in special circumstances, one of the pastors of the parish. The rite used must be that of the Lutheran Book of Worship. Assisting ministers are welcome and may be either ordained or lay persons. Our Marriage Rite encourages family members, members of the wedding party, and others to carry out functions not reserved to the ordained clergy.
Readings used at the wedding must be approved by one of the pastors of this parish.
The Holy Eucharist is a beautiful and meaningful context for the Marriage Rite. If you choose to be married within the context of a celebration of the Eucharist, it must be with the understanding that reception of the Sacrament is open to all baptized believers who trust that Christ is present in the Holy Meal. The order of worship can be abbreviated to suit the needs of a wedding while still remaining the liturgy of the Church and retaining all of its special integrity.
Music is an important element in the marriage service and adds to the beauty and meaning of the liturgy. However, wedding music often presents difficult problems. Most of these problems can be avoided if the essential character of a church wedding is kept in mind. It is worship, and every element of the service should contribute to the worship of God. The use of secular music is, therefore, inappropriate and is not permitted in the worship of the Church. Music which focuses on the God who gives his children to one another in love, which offers him praise and thanks, and which celebrates his love for his people, is the only music appropriate to the Church at weddings. There are many fine musical selections available to couples which meet these standards and which cover a wide range of musical styles and periods.
The cantor will serve as organist for all weddings in the church. Exceptions to this policy may be made only with the consent of the cantor and Senior Pastor. Be sure to contact (or ask the pastor to contact) the cantor to clear the date and time of the wedding on her calendar. It is also desirable to set up a time with her for the purpose of selecting music. If the cantor is not available to play for the wedding, we will assist you in locating a competent organist. Music sung by soloists must be selected in cooperation with the cantor and must have her approval. She will secure a soloist if you desire one. Other soloists must be competent musicians who require only the accompaniment of the cantor. It is not her responsibility to teach soloists how to sing what has been selected.
The bride and groom are responsible for providing any candles, other than altar candles, which are to be used.
Wedding bulletins (if desired) are the responsibility of the bride and groom. The church will provide an outline of the service which can be commercially copied at a small cost.
Dressing at the church is sometimes helpful for the wedding party. Rooms are available for this purpose.
Every effort should be made to be on time, both for the rehearsal and for the wedding itself. Consideration for those taking part in the service and for their time is a simple courtesy. Photographers are asked to consult with the Presiding Minister prior to the Marriage Service.
Photography is not permitted during the service itself. For the benefit of photographers, any wedding scenes can be posed before or following the service. Weddings may be videotaped from a stationary position with existing light.
The church can provide space for small wedding receptions. Food catering and serving must be arranged by the bride and groom. The parish does not provide this service. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in the church, including by members of the wedding party, is strictly prohibited.
A schedule of fees currently applicable to weddings in the church is available from the church office. Fees are to be paid in advance of the wedding, no later than the date of the rehearsal.
The staff of First Lutheran Church rejoices with you as you anticipate and plan for your wedding. We pray that God will bless you as you prepare for it. Feel free to call upon us for any assistance we can provide.