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Church Weddings–Q & A

2011 November 11
by Linda


at First Congregational-Christian
Church, United Church of Christ, of New
Gloucester, Maine

WHEN SHOULD WE CONTACT THE CHURCH ABOUT OUR WEDDING?    As soon as possible, please.  Many wedding dates are on the calendar more than a year in advance.  At a bare minimum, the necessary preparation takes at least two months.

 WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE HEAR FROM YOU?  First, we’ll invite you to come and worship with us.  We consider every wedding that takes place in our church as part of our
ministry in Christ’s name—and an event important to the church family.  Our Sunday worship services are at 9:30 a.m. each week.  (Check out I’M NEW for details.) Then you will be better able to decide whether this is the faith community you want to have supporting you in your marriage.   After you visit, please call 207-926-3260 to make a first appointment to see Rev. Gard.  At this first meeting you and the pastor will get to know each other a little better, go over your early plans for the wedding, explore some of the issues of the relationship you are about to enter, and set the date on the church calendar.  She will give you a sample order of worship for a wedding, which will be used as a guide for planning your wedding.

DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO HAVE TWO MEETINGS?  It is rare that the necessary conversations can be handled in one meeting.  Usually we’ll agree to more than two.  The church has always said “marriage should not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly.” Psychologists call it, “a planned life crisis.”  Both are right.

CAN WE HAVE ANOTHER MINISTER ASSIST OR PERFORM THE SERVICE?   Assist, yes.  Perform, no.  By church policy, its pastor is the officiant for all weddings in the church.  She will meet with you, prepare the service with you, coordinate the  church staff, be the worship leader, and handle the legal recording of the  marriage.  It is possible for another
member of the clergy to assist by reading scripture, delivering a message, hearing the vows, and/or offering prayer during the wedding service.  It is customary church etiquette for the officiating pastor to contact the assisting clergy, formally inviting their participation.


CAN YOU PERFORM A SERVICE THAT IS NOT RELIGIOUS?  No.  All weddings in the church are, by definition, religious.  If you do not consider yourself to be religious, then you must think seriously about your reasons for wanting a church wedding.

 WHEN CAN OUR WEDDING BE HELD?  We can schedule any day and time of day that we agree upon and which is available on both the church calendar and the pastor’s schedule.  Be forewarned; we do not schedule weddings on the first Saturday of the months of September through June, unless the time of the wedding is before noon.

DOES OUR WEDDING HAVE TO BE IN THE CHURCH?  No.  The pastor often performs weddings on hilltops, in gardens, at banquet halls, and in private homes.   Just tell her what you have in mind.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? The church charges $400 to cover pastoral services, custodial services and facility use.  $100 of this fee must be paid as a non-refundable deposit when a wedding date is put on our calendar, and the remaining fee paid in full by one month prior to the wedding.

WHAT ABOUT MUSIC?  The church’s Minister of Music, Beth Barefoot, has the right of first refusal to play for all weddings held here.  Rev. Gard will give you her contact information so that you may make your arrangements with her at the same time you are scheduling your wedding at the church.  The Minister of Music will consult with you regarding your choice of music appropriate to the worship service.  We discourage the use of recorded music and karaoke systems in the sanctuary.

The Minister of Music’s basic fee is $150, to be paid directly to her.  If there is to be a soloist and/or rehearsals in addition to the Minister of Music’s own practice time, she will charge a higher fee accordingly.  If the Minister of Music is unavailable to play for your wedding, she can help you find a substitute.  As caretaker of our mid-19th century tracker organ and Baldwin grand piano, the Minister of Music must approve and orient the substitute musician to the instruments.

WHAT ABOUT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY?  If you engage the services of a photographer, then just before the processional, we will ask your wedding guests not to take pictures at all during the wedding ceremony. Professional photographers (or the person you designate as your official wedding photographer) must go to a stationary location once the processional has ended, either behind the congregation or in the balcony.  From that one spot they may take photos without flash during the service.

You may have a video recorded from the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary, or from a stationary tripod behind the choir rail at the front.  A video operator may sit with the equipment, and should be dressed to blend with the wedding party.  AC power in either filming location requires a long extension cord.

CAN WE CONSUME ALCOHOL OR ALLOW SMOKING ON CHURCH PROPERTY?  No, we do NOT permit ALCOHOL or SMOKING ANYWHERE ON CHURCH PROPERTY.  The alcohol prohibition includes the interior of a limosine prior to the wedding service.

Policies of the Board of Deacons, 3.7.2006

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