Introduction: The Christian Wedding Ceremony is a religious service where all of the elements have special meaning and significance. Your wedding will mean more to you, your families, and your friends when careful consideration has been given to all of the important aspects of this occasion.
In order that you may have a sacred and dignified wedding ceremony, you are urged to make thorough preparations – both spiritual as well as the ordinary matters. The Pastor and staff of the church wish to extend every possible assistance to you in making these preparations; toward the result that your wedding in the church will be a very enjoyable, memorable, and blessed event.
A great deal of serious thought has gone into the preparation of this document. It should be understood that the policies and guidelines offered here have been approved by both the Pastor and the Diaconate Board as being official and definitive regarding what is required for our church in terms of matters such as premarital counseling, officiating, scheduling, music, rehearsals, decorations, the wedding ceremony, photography, fees, receptions, and liabilities.
You are urged to read the following material carefully and to cooperate fully with the church in upholding the high standards which the church desires. Any desired alterations to these policies and guidelines must be agreeable to both the current Pastor of Watsontown Baptist Church and the Diaconate Board.
General Requirements: Because we are a Christian Church, we are concerned with the establishing of Christian marriages (meaning one Christian to another Christian). We understand the wedding ceremony to be the official joining of a man and woman in holy matrimony before God, who is the Author of marriage.Therefore, the wedding ceremonies that take place here are to be in accordance with Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14-15), and are to be dignified and reverent occasions.
We do not require that you be members of our church in order to have your wedding here. However, active membership/affiliation with some Christian congregation is considered to be one good witness of a person’s faith commitment to Jesus Christ.
If you are divorced, you need to understand that divorce is a violation of God’s will and intention for marriage. However, it is not the unforgivable sin. In the Scriptures, God allows for divorce and remarriage under certain conditions. We invite you to discuss the matter with the pastor.
If you are living together outside of marriage, you need to understand that this also is a violation of God’s will, and goes against what He has said in His word (For example – Heb. 13:4). This sin, while not being unforgivable, needs to be addressed and resolved in order: a) for your wedding service to have integrity, and b) for you personally to truly experience God’s best in life.We invite you to discuss the matter with the pastor.
Scheduling: You should plan well in advance for obtaining the use of the church. Permission to use the church building/facilities should be secured AT LEAST ONE MONTH (preferably 3-6 months) in advance by a written letter of request to the Diaconate Board. The church prefers that weddings not be scheduled for late Saturday evenings, Sundays, or major holidays. You will also need to meet with the pastor well in advance in order to set times for counseling meetings and set the date of the rehearsal and the wedding. DO NOT SET THE DATE OF THE REHEARSAL OR THE WEDDING BEFORE MEETING WITH THE PASTOR to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts.
No evening weddings should be scheduled to begin later than 8:00. All rehearsals are scheduled for the day preceding the wedding ceremony. All receptions should be concluded by 10:00 p.m. (8 p.m. on a Saturday). Any changes from these times must be agreeable to both the church and the officiating minister.
Officiating: All wedding ceremonies taking place in the church building shall be conducted by the current pastor of Watsontown Baptist Church. In the event that other clergy may be desired to perform or be part of the ceremony, this request must be approved by the host pastor before the other clergy are invited. The normal procedure is that invitations to other clergy are to be given by the host pastor, not the wedding party.
The pastor will meet with the wedding party for rehearsals and explain all procedures. Please be prompt at all rehearsals.
The Marriage License must be in the minister’s possession before the ceremony takes place. It should be given to him by the rehearsal at the latest. Please MAKE SURE the Marriage License is filled out correctly by the courthouse. The pastor cannot legally perform the wedding ceremony without the license, nor if the license is incorrect.
Premarital/Remarriage Counseling: Any couple wishing to be married or remarried must agree to an initial meeting with the pastor plus a minimum of four (4) sessions of premarital/remarriage counseling. If the pastor determines during the counseling sessions that there are serious psychological, spiritual, or other significant barriers greatly hindering or preventing the establishing of a successful Christian marriage, the pastor has the right and the authority to recommend postponement of the wedding, or refuse to marry any couple at any time.
Securing the Organist/Sexton: It shall be the responsibility of the wedding party to secure your own pianist and/or organist for the wedding ceremony, and also to secure the services of the church sexton. It is required that only qualified musicians will be using the piano and/or organ.
Choosing Wedding Music: Music is an important part of a wedding ceremony, and the music chosen for this special service should be in keeping with the dignity and reverence one observes in the House of the Lord. You are responsible to arrange for your own pianists, organists, instrumentalists, and vocalists. All music to be used for the ceremony must be presented to the pastor for review at least 2 weeks before the ceremony date in order to determine its appropriateness. This evaluation includes any and all preludes, hymns, solos, instrumentals, recordings, and postludes.
Decorations: It is customarily the responsibility of the bride’s family to make arrangements for the decorations. The church suggests simplicity with a minimum of decoration. Ribbon or simple floral arrangements may be used to mark aisles. No staples, nails, or tacks are to be used anywhere. We request that no decorations be placed on the walls, woodwork, or doors without prior approval from the pastor. If you are using candles, only the non-drip kind may be used.
Rehearsals: Rehearsals are usually scheduled for the day immediately prior to the wedding ceremony. The rehearsal should begin promptly at the time scheduled. Delay in the beginning consumes the time of the minister, the organist, and everyone else.The bride and groom therefore should insist on members of the wedding party being as prompt for the rehearsal as they are to be for the wedding ceremony itself.
The following guidelines will help you prepare for your rehearsal:
- The minister is in charge of the rehearsal and the actual ceremony. If the bride and groom have secured the services of a wedding consultant, it is their responsibility to make this policy known to the consultant.
- Plan on the rehearsal taking about an hour. It may not take that long to go through the ceremony and work out all the details, but it’s best to be prepared.
- Both sets of parents, all musicians, ushers, bridesmaids, and any other members of the wedding party should be present.
- The Marriage License should be given to the minister at or before the rehearsal.
- No smoking or alcoholic beverages are permitted anywhere in the church building or on the church property.
- The pastor of this church has the right and authority to refuse to perform the ceremony if in the event that any member of the wedding party shows inappropriate behavior at the rehearsal or prior to the wedding service.Inappropriate behavior would include the following: being under the influence of alcohol or drugs; excessive use of foul language; destruction of church property; and any other behavior that would be of hindrance to the integrity of the wedding service.
Picture Taking During the Ceremony: Pictures may be taken before or after the ceremony in any part of the building. Because the wedding service is to be a dignified and reverent occasion, flash pictures are NOT permitted during the actual ceremony, with the exception of the processional and the recessional. If the wedding party has secured services of a photographer (either amateur or professional), it is their responsibility to make this policy known to the photographer. Video recordings may be permitted as long as they do not disturb the ceremony. Please have your photographer consult the pastor if he/she has any questions on this.The wedding party may return to the sanctuary following the official ceremony for pictures, and parts of the ceremony may be reenacted if desired.
Receptions: Because of building space limitations, most receptions are held elsewhere. Receptions are permitted in the church under the following guidelines:
- No more than 60 people can be permitted downstairs due to space restrictions and fire safety code.
- No smoking or alcoholic beverages are permitted anywhere in the church building or on the church property.
- No rice is to be thrown in or outside of the church building (we suggest bubbles outside).
- Set up and clean up arrangements (and rearranging the furniture if it has been moved) shall be the responsibility of the wedding party, and must be pre-arranged with the church sexton. There is a required fee of $100.00 for the services of the sexton for both members and non-members.
- The wedding party assumes responsibility for the proper care of the church’s facilities and equipment that are used during the ceremony and/or reception.
Fees/Honorariums: For non-members, the fees are as follows:
Use of the church/facilities: $500.00
Pastoral services: $250.00
Services of Sexton: $100.00
All fees (Building, Sexton, Pastor) are to be paid one week before the wedding ceremony takes place. Failure to comply with this may result in the cancellation of your wedding.
For members: There will be no charge for the use of the church building and facilities for members of the church or their immediate family. A fee of $100.00 will be charged to both members and non-members for the services of the sexton for whatever setting up, arranging and rearranging furniture, and whatever cleanup may be needed.
For members, the church suggests an appreciative honorarium for the Pastor’s services (minimum of $100.00), taking into account the amount of counseling sessions, rehearsal time, etc. (NOTE: Certified Marriage Counselors can charge $90.00 PER HOUR (or more) for the same services the Pastor provides.)
For both members and non-members: Concerning the pianist/organist and other musicians, the church has no set fee, since the bride and groom are responsible for arranging for organists, instrumentalists, and vocalists. However, an organist/ pianist these days is commonly given an appreciative honorarium of at least $100.00 for his/her services. Your honorarium should take into account things such as the number of pieces desired, the amount of rehearsal time (both private and public) needed, etc.
Wedding Dresses and Personal Valuables: The bride and groom are responsible for determining when flowers, dresses, tuxedos, and other items are to arrive at the church, and to make the sexton aware of this delivery. The church’s responsibility is limited to receiving the dresses, tuxedos, and other items, and providing a room where they may be left.
The church will not be responsible for personal items, such as wedding dresses, wraps, purses, silver, and glassware brought to the church for use in a wedding or a wedding reception; nor will it be liable if such items are lost, stolen, or damaged. However, the church will use every reasonable effort to assist the wedding party in protecting such property.