The Christian Wedding
A Handbook for Couples
Easthampton Congregational Church
United Church of Christ Easthampton, Massachusetts Revised: September 2005
Easthampton Congregational Church
United Church of Christ CHURCH OFFICE: 112 Main Street Easthampton, MA 01027 (413) 527-4790 email@example.com www.easthamptonucc.org Monday - Friday 9am-3pm
HOURS: OFFICE HOURS:
CHURCH STAFF: Pastor: Rev. Audrey Walker (cell phone ~ 413-530-1447) Organist: Ellen Cogen (home phone ~ 413-582-0441) Secretary: Linda Kennedy Sexton: Aileen D'Ambrosia TABLE OF CONTENTS Church Information Table of Contents Introduction The Date Guest Ministers Premarital Counseling Planning the Ceremony Music Marriage License Rehearsal Photography Arrivals After the Wedding General Considerations Expenses Questions? 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 6 7 7 8 9
INTRODUCTION Congratulations on your decision to be married and to solemnize your vows here at Easthampton Congregational Church. The essence of marriage is a covenanted commitment that has its foundation in the faithfulness of God's love. The marriage ceremony is a glad occasion on which two people unite as husband and wife in the mutual exchange of covenant promises. The church wishes to provide you with an atmosphere of worship for your wedding ceremony and the continuing support of a community of faith for your new family. This handbook has been prepared in order to assist you in making your wedding plans. It is an expression of our pastoral concern and part of our ministry to those who are married at Easthampton Congregational Church. A wedding brings with it many details for you to consider: we have tried here to deal with the questions, which arise most frequently. The purpose of this handbook is to be helpful to you, and all of its suggestions are designed to assist in making your wedding day a joyous and spiritually meaningful time for you, your families, and your guests. THE DATE It is important that you clear the desired wedding date with the pastor and the church secretary as far in advance as possible. At this time you may also make arrangements for the first premarital counseling session. No weddings will ordinarily be scheduled during Holy Week, especially the day before Easter, due to the increased special worship services and the placing of Easter floral decorations. Weddings during the Christmas season will also be limited due to special activities and decorations. Although weddings are sometimes held on Sundays, the regularly scheduled uses of the church for that day have complete priority. Often it is difficult to find sufficient time to prepare the church and other rooms for a Sunday wedding. If, due to unusual circumstances, the wedding must be held on a Sunday, it should begin no earlier than 3pm unless there are special circumstances that require an earlier wedding.
GUEST MINISTERS If you should wish to have another minister participate in your marriage ceremony, the invitation should come from the pastor of this church. It is church policy that the pastor must participate in all weddings held at this church unless special circumstances arise. PREMARITAL COUNSELING The marriage ceremony is one of life's most significant occasions. Therefore, unhurried and careful planning is essential. This is true whether one anticipates a small service with only a few relatives and friends in attendance, or a large service with several hundred present. Because of the importance of planning and the church's concern for the seriousness of marriage, each couple married at Easthampton Congregational Church is required to meet with the pastor for a minimum of three premarital counseling sessions. The first session will involve introductions and preliminary conversation about the marriage service and to introduce some of the various tools that will be used to facilitate the counseling process. The second session will provide the opportunity to discuss marriage issues in greater depth. The final session will continue the discussion of marriage issues and then finalize details of the marriage service. PLANNING THE WEDDING CEREMONY We believe that weddings are, to an extent, personal and may rightly be individualized in style and format. During the third premarital counseling session, your wedding service will be planned in detail. You are encouraged to give serious thought to the wedding ceremony that would best express your love and faith. Many couples desire to choose special scripture readings, provide special music, or create original vows. You will be given a copy of the wedding service, which allows for a choice of prayers. The wedding ceremony is, of course, a service of worship. The pastor acts as an official representative of the church and gives the marriage the church's blessing. The congregation joins in affirming the marriage and in offering support and thanksgiving for the new family. All additions to
the service should be a means of enriching and making more meaningful this atmosphere of worship. The pastor encourages you to share your ideas and will strive to incorporate them into the service whenever possible. MUSIC Cogen, Ellen Cogen the organist for Easthampton Congregational Church is available to play the organ/piano and be a soloist for you wedding (413-582service. Please contact her directly (413-582-0441) to see if she is available to play at your service and to discuss your wedding music. Please be sure to contact her early in your planning so she can get your date on her calendar. If she is not available, she will be able to provide you with names of other organists, or you can consult the pastor about this issue. Ellen sets her own wedding fees. Her minimal fee is $150 (which includes a consultation to chose music), but that will vary according to your needs. There is an extra fee if a rehearsal is needed. Music sets the tone of a wedding and is an important part of making your wedding a unique and special event in the life of your relationship. However, as with the rest of the ceremony, the music should be a part of the worship of God. The music selected for your service should be appropriate to a church ceremony. Secular music needs to be chosen with great care. Please discuss your musical selections with the pastor or the organist to ensure appropriateness of content and style, and well in advance of the service. The couple is invited to arrange for special musical ensembles and soloists (at extra cost). Often family or friends are invited to perform at weddings. If a soloist is needed, please discuss this with the pastor or the organist, as there are musicians in the area who are available to provide special music (vocal, strings, guitar). Ellen is an accomplished vocal performer as well as organist and keyboardist, and is very willing to work with you to choose an appropriate vocal piece for her to sing, if you wish. Should you wish to choose an organist other than the organist of the church, an organist consultation fee of $50 is required. Pipe organs are required. very expensive and delicate instruments that require careful handling. To insure the proper handling of our organ, our organist will be
responsible for meeting with your chosen organist to familiarize him/her with our organ. Our organist reserves the right to deny the use of the organ by an individual if she determines that person is not sufficiently experienced with the playing of pipe organs. MARRIAGE LICENSE It is your responsibility to obtain a valid marriage license. To do so, the bride and groom must appear together at the office of the clerk in any city or town in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and file a marriage intention. (A blood test is no longer required in Massachusetts.) There is a threethree-day waiting period after filing this application. To avoid a crisis, make the application at least two weeks in advance. The license is valid for 60 days. The license becomes the legal wedding document after it is signed by the pastor and returned to the town clerk, who will, on request, then provide a copy with an official seal. The license should be in the pastor's hand ON THE NIGHT OF THE WEDDING REHEARSAL. The pastor will not conduct a marriage service without a valid license. THE REHEARSAL For all but the smallest weddings, a rehearsal will be necessary to insure a smooth and meaningful service. The rehearsals are usually held the evening prior to the service at 5pm or 7pm. ALL PARTICIPANTS in the service (Don’t forget the parents of the couple) should arrive promptly as to conserve time. THE PASTOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO CANCEL THE REHEARSAL IF ANY PARTICIPANT ARRIVES INTOXICATED. PHOTOGRAPHY The pastor is happy to make herself available to the wedding party for posed photography either before or after the wedding. However, wedding there are no pictures allowed during the actual wedding service itself. Pictures of the wedding party as they come down the aisle are permissible, but no flash pictures once the service has begun. (WHEN THE WEDDING PARTY ARRIVES AT THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH, THERE WILL BE A TIME WHEN THE GUESTS ARE INVITED TO
TAKE FLASH PICTURES TO ENSURE THAT ALL WHO DESIRE CAN GET A GOOD PICTURE OF THE WEDDING PARTY.) Exceptions: Exceptions: Natural light pictures or videotape can be taken at any time during the service, but we ask that you remain at a respectful distance from the couple. If the couple has a designated photographer to videotape the service, that person is invited to sit either in the front pew or in the balcony. After the benediction, and just before the kiss, all pictures are welcome. Photographers often choose to reenact certain parts of the service to capture each special part. Experience has shown that any pictures taken during the service detract greatly from the dignity of the service, especially since flash pictures often temporarily blind a reader, or have been known to bring on seizures. Your ushers should make this request to wedding guests with cameras. ARRIVALS AND LENGTH OF SERVICE Ushers should be at the church 45 minutes before the wedding service to make early guests welcome. The groom and best man should be at the church 15 minutes before the appointed hour. The bride and her attendants may choose to dress in a designated room at the church and may arrange to do so. If they arrive dressed for the wedding, they may want to come exactly at the wedding hour to avoid congestion in the narthex. It is important that wedding participants are not late for the service. (REMEMBER TO ADD EXTRA TIME IF YOU NEED TO CROSS THE COOLIDGE BRIDGE AND/OR TRAVEL THROUGH DOWNTOWN NORTHAMPTON ON SATURDAY AFTERNOON!) The standard wedding service lasts about 30-35 minutes. Add to 30this, time for special music, for a receiving line, for picture posing (45-60 minutes altogether) then add travel time from the church to calculate the best time for wedding and reception. (A good rule of thumb is to have your reception scheduled 1 – 1 ½ hours after the start of your wedding service, depending upon the number of guests and the location of the reception)
AFTER THE WEDDING In good weather, the front of the church building provides an ideal setting for a receiving line after the service. In the event of poor weather, the narthex can become quite crowded. You may want to have your receiving line at the bottom of the stairs at the entrance of the church. A suggested order for a receiving line is as follows: Bride's mother, Groom's father, Groom's mother, Bride's father, Bride, Groom, Maid/Matron of Honor, Best Man, Other Attendants Arrangements should be made for someone in the wedding party to remove flowers and decorations after the service has ended. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS Smoking is not permitted in the church buildings. Unfortunately the Easthampton Congregational Church cannot be responsible for valuables and personal belongings during the ceremony. Members of the wedding party should make appropriate arrangements. The bride and groom will be responsible for any damage done to the building, grounds, furnishings or equipment. Confetti or rice must not be thrown in or about the church buildings because of the difficulty in cleaning for other church activities. Birdseed (instead of rice, which can be fatal to small birds) may be thrown outside the church. You may want to consider providing small bottles of bubble solution to be used as a unique alternative to birdseed.
EXPENSES It is not the policy of this church to look upon weddings as source of income. However, a wedding does result in extra expenses for the church and extra work time for the staff. The following fees help to defray these extra costs: Sanctuary Use of the Sanctuary $250.00* (includes rehearsal) (with PrePastor's Honorarium $300.00 (with Pre-Marital Counseling) Sexton Sexton (custodian) $100.00 (includes rehearsal) (with Organist $150.00 (with consultation ~ no rehearsal) (Non(Non-member total = $800.00 - plus any additional music fees) ) For Receptions: Use of Kitchen & Meeting Room Meeting Room (only) Kitchen & Fellowship Hall Fellowship Hall (only) $100.00* $40.00* $175.00* $125.00*
*Optional Fees for church members
(If you are experiencing extreme financial difficulties and these fees present an overwhelming financial burden for you, please feel free to discuss this with the pastor so an alternative fee schedule can be arranged.)
Individual checks should be made out to the pastor organist and pastor, custodian by name, and for the use of the church, to Easthampton Church. Congregational Church. These fees , along with the marriage license, are required at the license, time of the rehearsal.
QUESTIONS? If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the church office at 413-527-4790 or the Pastor at her cell phone at 413530-1447. Easthampton Congregational Church wants your wedding day to be a special and meaningful experience for all involved. Please view this handbook as a GUIDELINE for your wedding. If there are special concerns or circumstances, please discuss them with the pastor and every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. We want your wedding to be as perfect as possible. NOTES