On this page:
- A Word to the Bride and Groom
- Marriage and the Church
- Preparing for the Pre-Marital Interviews
- Check List for Planning
- Responsibility for the building
- Standard Order of Worship For A Marriage Service
- Receiving Line for Weddings
- Financial Responsibilities
- Interior views of church spaces
A Word to the Bride and Groom
As you plan your wedding, one thing is certain; it will mean many hours of careful thought and preparation. In the days and weeks ahead you will be busy taking care of a thousand things. This guide is provided to help you prepare. It will answer, and ask, questions. It will offer suggestions, and perhaps, remind you of a few things that you might otherwise forget. Both of you want your wedding to be the significant event you are anticipating. This church wants this too, and hopes that your wedding day will be among the most memorable days of your lives.
Marriage and the Church
In all Christian churches throughout the world, marriage is recognized as a good and noble relationship. It was established by God as the first of all institutions. God honors it so highly that it is protected by one of the Ten Commandments. Through love and faithfulness, honor and trust, Christians glorify God in their marriage.
Preparing for the Pre-Marital Interviews
Because marriage has such a great potential for happiness as well as unhappiness, it is important for the bride and groom to weigh carefully what it means. It is important for you to consider your own preparedness, your relationship and your expectations. The following list of questions is foundational to the pre-marital interview with the minister.
1. How well do I know my partner?
- What things do I like about him/her?
- What things bother me?
2. How well are we suited for each other?
- What areas of potential problems do I or do we anticipate?
- How do we resolve disagreements?
3. What does “love” mean to me?
- How do I express my love to my partner?
4. Are we ready to establish a home of our own?
- Am I “independent” or ready to be independent from my family? How do I know?
5. Do we have a sound spiritual foundation?
6. Are we emotionally, mentally, and physically ready for the full meaning of sex in marriage?
7. Do we wholeheartedly accept the marriage vows?
- Is marriage for life?
Check List for Planning
Date and Time: Contact the church office to check on the date and make the deposit before making any public announcements. After the date and deposit have been taken care of you will be asked to fill out an information sheet and return it to the church. This does not have to be the final plans, just preliminary, so we have some idea of what your wedding will entail. Until we receive the deposit, the date is not reserved.
Invitations: When ordering invitations, the suggested form of the church address is:
First Congregational Church
100 Maple Street
St. Johns, MI 48879
Pre-Marital Interviews: These are a significant part of your preparation. The minister will contact you about the dates and times for these meetings.
Rehearsal: The rehearsal is usually scheduled for the evening before the wedding. All participants, including ushers, should be present and the rehearsal should begin promptly at the scheduled time. Plan on approximately one hour for the rehearsal. Dress, or casual clothes, is appropriate attire for this event.
License: It is recommended that the license be obtained from the County Clerk’s office at the courthouse, at least two weeks in advance of the wedding. The marriage license must be delivered to the church office the evening of the wedding rehearsal, or anytime the week before the wedding.
Responsibility for the building
When a couple decides to have their wedding in this church, they assume the responsibility of leaving it in the same condition as they found it. Any damage to the building is the responsibility of the couple. Cost of any repair of damage is not included in the building use fee.
The building will be open at the time you request on the day of the wedding. The church representatives will lock the building approximately one hour after your wedding.
There are dressing rooms for the bridal party in the lower level of the church. The Church Representative will show these areas to you the evening of the rehearsal. Please do not leave cameras, money or any other valuables in the dressing rooms downstairs. We cannot be responsible for lost or missing items. Please see that the dressing rooms are cleaned up after the wedding.
Food and beverages are not permitted in the sanctuary for either the rehearsal or wedding.
Music: Vocal or instrumental solos are appropriate and the soloist needs to be secured by the couple. Music selections should be discussed with the minister at the initial interview.
We have a list of available organists in the church office that we can recommend to you. We prefer you use one of the organists on our list as they are familiar with our pipe organ. You are responsible for contacting them and setting up meetings, music, etc. You are responsible to pay their fees directly to them.
We ask that the musicians you select make prior arrangements to set up practice times through the church office. They must also make prior arrangements for use of the sound system with one of our trained personnel.
Decorum: No rice, confetti, grass seed, or birdseed may be thrown either inside, or outside, of the church. Because of the hazard they pose to our environment, no launching of helium filled balloons is allowed.
Smoking is NOT permitted inside the church. Dancing and the use of alcohol or illegal drugs is not allowed in the building or on the church property.
Visiting Minister: The minister of this church shall serve as the officiant. If you wish to invite another minister to be a part of this service you may do so with permission of the senior minister of this church. Please discuss this with our minister on your initial visit.
Photographer and picture taking: Formal wedding pictures may be taken prior to the wedding ceremony but must be completed at least 30 minutes before the wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin. Please convey this to your photographer ahead of time. This will eliminate any last minute problems.
No flash or flood lights are permitted during the ceremony. Pictures using a flash may be taken as parties in the processional enter the aisle but at no other time during the service. Please inform the minister before the rehearsal if his presence will be needed for posed pictures following the ceremony.
Videotaping: So as to not be a distraction during the service, the video camera is to be positioned in one location through the service. This location will be determined during consultation with the minister or the Church Representative at the rehearsal.
Children in Weddings: Because of their age and distractibility, it is recommended that young children (3 years of age and younger) not be a part of the wedding ceremony as flower girls and ring bearers. If you choose to use young children in these roles, it is suggested that they be a part of the processional only and then be directed to sit with a parent or other adult they know for the remainder of the ceremony.
Decorating: Altar flowers and other decorations are the responsibility of the couple. Tape of any kind is not permitted on the church pews. We have found that heavy-duty rubber bands work best to attach pew bows.
The use of an aisle runner is the brides option. However, please note that due to the angle of the aisle they do not lay properly. The runner will tend to bunch up and overlap itself.
Church Representative: The Church Representative will receive a copy of your wedding information form. You will find her helpful as you discuss the numerous questions regarding the wedding. The Church Representative will be present to assist at the rehearsal and wedding. She will instruct the ushers, help the minister and is in charge of getting the parents, wedding party, etc down the aisle at the appropriate time. She is part of the church staff and does not take the place of your social host and hostess. You may call the church office and speak directly to the Representative at any time.
Sound System: The sound system personnel will run the tapes, CD’s, mikes etc. for the wedding. The person in charge of the sound system will be at the rehearsal and wedding service.
Each selection that is on a tape or CD must be clearly marked with the selection name. Please only one song per tape. (CD’s are preferable to tapes).
Reception: If Wilcox Hall is desired for the reception, arrangements must be made through the church office. Rental of Wilcox Hall is $300.00. Seating capacity of Wilcox hall is 125 –130 people. The church premises must be cleared and vacated by 11 PM. Any deviation from this time frame shall be agreed upon by all parties at the time arrangements are made.
Renters furnish their own food, decorations, and table covers. No tape is permitted on the poles or ceilings. Renters have the option of furnishing all paper service products or using the church china dishes or clear glass snack trays. However it is your responsibility to make sure the dishes are clean and put away, all trash is bagged up and removed from the building, and Wilcox Hall in the same condition you found it.
Standard Order of Worship For A Marriage Service
Words of Welcome
Declarations of Intent
Promise of the Parents
Exchange of Vows
Exchange of Rings
Prayers for the Couple
Announcement of the Marriage
Introduction of the Couple
Receiving Line for Weddings
Usually, only the mothers and the Bride and Groom stand in the receiving line, while the fathers circulate among the guests. This is the ideal solution to the problem of “who stands where” in families with divorced and remarried parents.
The order is as follows: The Bride’s mother is first, (she is the hostess for this party) so she can introduce the guests to the Groom’s mother. If the fathers are introduced in the receiving line, see the diagram below. The line continues with the Bride and Groom, honor attendants, bridesmaids and groomsmen. Ushers rarely join the receiving line. It is not necessary for the whole wedding party to be a part of the receiving line.
Another option for a receiving line is for the Bride and Groom to go down the aisle after the Recessional and dismiss guests, row-by-row, beginning with the parents.
The fee for a wedding at First Congregational Church is $500.00.
$200.00 Use of the Church/Candelabras
$75.00 Church Representative
$25.00 Sound Personnel
When a small, private wedding (25 people or less) is held in the church, either in the sanctuary, parlor or Countryman Hall, for which there is no rehearsal, the total will be $275.00.. This fee does not include music, Church Personnel, Sound Personnel or candelabras.
$100.00 Church Use
Payment: The wedding fee balance must be paid in full at the time of the rehearsal. The fee may be paid with a check made out to The First Congregational Church. The Church Representative will give you a receipt.
Deposit: There is a non-refundable deposit of $100.00 due at the time your wedding is officially scheduled.