Wedding Policy of the New Hempstead Presbyterian Church

Adopted June, 2013

Preparing for a Service of Christian Marriage at the
New Hempstead Presbyterian Church

The Meaning of Marriage

The wedding service is an act of worship. It counts on that special presence of the Lord which is promised to all who gather in His name. Reverence and sobriety are therefore expected of all who are in attendance. The guest should be deeply concerned with what is happening. Marriage is literally an act of God. Legally it could be ratified at the courthouse; but for Christians, that would leave out the essential part.

Therefore, every aspect of the wedding service shall reflect the presence of God, and be ordered so that God is the center of the service.

A Three-Way Decision about a wedding in the church depends on:

  1. What the two of you decide after reading this guide, talking with the pastor and becoming familiar with the church setting.
  2. The pastor’s decision about performing the ceremony, taking into account your readiness for marriage and your commitment to a Christian marriage service.
  3. A decision by the Session (governing board), which is responsible for the use of the church’s building and its worship. The pastor will take your application to the Session with a recommendation for approval.

Steps to Take in deciding on and planning a wedding:

  1. Talk to the Pastor: To this discussion bring:
    • The proposed date and time for the service
    • Your ideas and feelings about what it means to take part in a service of Christian marriage and your reasons for desiring to do so.
    • A “family tree”, a list of your respective families back to grandparents. This will form the basis of our premarital pastoral work, and will normally require 3-4 one-hour long sessions.
    • If you have been married previously, your thoughts on what you learned from that marriage and the similarities and differences in the marriage you are now considering.
  2. Session Approval: The pastor will let you know soon after this meeting whether she/he will recommend Session approval of the use of the church. After the monthly Session meeting, you will be informed of the Session’s decision. If either pastor or Session does not approve, the pastor will discuss the reasons with you and talk about additional steps you might take for approval or about alternate wedding plans.
  3. License: Be sure to apply at least one week prior to your wedding to allow for the five day waiting period required by law. Please bring your marriage license to the wedding rehearsal so the pastor has it in hand for the wedding. It is illegal for a pastor to perform a wedding without a license to do so.
  4. Service Content: Schedule a meeting with the pastor to talk about the content and arrangements of the service itself.  The pastor will provide you with several possible orders of service.  Know whether you will have one or two rings, bring number and names of attendants and an estimate of number of guests, including number of family members that will need special seating.
  5. Scripture Readings:Think about reading from the Scripture or other sources that have special meaning to you, if there are personal affirmations you wish to make as part of your marriage vows. The pastor will be available as a resource person for planning the service. If you desire to have the congregation to join in prayers or litanies, arrangements will need to be made for printing a program at the church or elsewhere.
  6. Church Organist: The Church Organist, plays at all weddings. Another musician may be used only with the express permission of the Organist and the concurrence of the pastor.
    • The bride and groom should consult with the Organist at least one month before the wedding regarding the music, number of pieces and soloist(s). Music appropriate to a Christian worship service and wedding will be used, bearing in mind that a wedding is a service of worship. Please call Ms. Lois Anderson, Music Director. (Contact information available upon request) A list of appropriate music is available upon consultation with Ms. Anderson.
    • The following rule from the American Guild of Organists’ Code of Ethics shall be upheld:
      • No member shall accept a performing engagement in any institution unless such an engagement has been approved by the incumbent musician. In cases where such a performing engagements, for a wedding, funeral or other service, has been requested by a third party, it is appropriate for the third party to offer the incumbent the customary fee as a professional courtesy.
    • Soloist: Arrangements are to be made with said soloist and the church organist.
  7. Flowers: Arrangements for floral decorations should be made through the florist of your choice. Your florist should be told that it is not permissible to put nails or tacks into the woodwork or the church furniture (ie:  pews, floor, communion table, baptismal font, etc.) They should also make sure that the church will be available and open at the hour desired for setting up the decorations. (If you wish to leave your floral decorations at the church, the church will be happy to make use of them. Please inform the church secretary of your wishes in this regard.)
  8. Church furnishings (Table, Font, Pulpit, Cross) are to remain in place.  These are the central symbols of the Reformed Christian faith.
  9. Rehearsal: Let the pastor and organist know the rehearsal time. The best time for the rehearsal is between 5:00 and 8:00 pm the evening before the wedding. Forty-five minutes to one hour should be allowed for the rehearsal. Please be prompt. Attentiveness to the pastor’s leadership is expected.
  10. Photography/videos: Because a wedding is a service of worship, photography is limited to the processional and recessional. There is one exception to this rule: after making arrangements with the pastor, the professional photographer may take a few unobtrusive photographs without a flash. Please ask guests not to take photos during the service. All are free to photograph during the processional and recessional. You and your bridal party can return to the sanctuary for photos after the service. Your wedding ceremony may be video-taped if the camera does not require supplemental lighting. The placement of the video camera must be discussed with the pastor. A roving camera is not permitted.
  11. Leaving the Building: The throwing of bird seed is permitted, if done outside. Rice is not permitted.
  12. Cleaning: The bride and groom are responsible for the clean-up fee of our contracted sexton, Ms. May Lie

Absolutely no alcohol will be permitted on the property of New Hempstead Presbyterian Church.