Marriage ceremonies at WPC are distinctly Christian services designed to give glory to God. Therefore, all weddings should be planned and conducted with that objective in view. The following policies and guidelines are intended to answer the most common questions couples ask as they seek to be married in the church.
The Meaning of Marriage
Westminster Presbyterian Church is firmly committed to the Word of God, contained in the Old and New Testament, as the only infallible rule for faith and practice. Therefore, only marriages conforming to biblical standards may be hosted on the property and using the facilities of the church. In the same way, pastors and staff may only participate in weddings and or solemnize marriages that conform to biblical standards. These standards are summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 24, entitled “Of Marriage and Divorce:”
“Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It is not lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time. Marriage was ordained (by God) for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the legitimate propagation of mankind, for raising up a holy seed to the church, and for the prevention of moral purity.” Cf. Genesis 1:26-2:25 and Matthew 19:4-6.
When the Bible refers to “man” and “woman,” it is properly understood to be referring to the biological sex assigned to each person by God at conception. Therefore, gender reassignment of any type cannot meet the definition of a ‘biological man’ or a ‘biological woman.’ Any individuals who have undergone any type of gender reassignment therapy must declare this to the pastor at the initial interview, and will not be eligible for marriage at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Participants and Officiants
Only church members in good standing or their immediate family members may be married at Westminster. Adult family members of church members may be married in the church or by its pastoral staff, provided they meet all other qualifications for marriage as set forth in this policy.
Those wishing to be married in the church should contact the church office to determine the availability of the facility at least three months (preferably six months) prior to the desired wedding date. While a wedding may be tentatively placed on the calendar at that time, final confirmation of the date cannot be made until an initial interview with a WPC pastor has taken place to determine the couple’s eligibility for marriage.
Once a pastor has determined that the couple may be married in the church and that sufficient time has been allowed to complete the premarital counseling required by this policy, the couple’s wedding and rehearsal dates will be placed on the church calendar. Final wedding plans should not be made until the dates have been confirmed by the pastor.
Guest ministers may be allowed by the Session to co-officiate with a WPC pastor at a wedding, provided they are of a denomination and/or of such personal reputation as are compatible with the Presbyterian and Reformed faith. The officiating WPC pastor must conduct a personal interview with a guest minister before recommending him to the Session. An approved guest minister may be allowed to serve as the sole officiant at a WPC wedding at the discretion of the pastor.
Any request for marriage by someone who has been previously divorced must be reviewed by a pastor and the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church. In all circumstances, final approval will rest in the hands of the Session and will be in line with the summary of the Scripture’s teaching on divorce and remarriage as set forth in Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 24.
If a couple is living together or pregnant at the time a request for marriage is made, the pastor and the Session will work with the couple to determine the proper course of action. The objective in cases like these is to offer sound counsel on how to be obedient to God under the circumstances. This counsel may involve asking a couple to separate for a time to demonstrate the fruits of repentance.
Occasionally, the facilities of a sister church may be inadequate to hold a wedding. In such cases WPC may allow the members of that church to hold their wedding at Westminster, provided that both the bride and the groom are professing Christians, at least one is a member in good standing of the church requesting to use our facility, and that they and the officiating minister accept and abide by the requirements set forth in this policy. While a couple is welcome to inquire about the possibility of having their wedding at WPC, only a representative of the church may officially request to use the facility. All such requests must be approved by the Session upon the recommendation of the pastoral staff.
All couples must complete pre-marital counseling with one of Westminster’s pastors or their designee. If counseling uncovers problems that may threaten the health of the marriage, the pastor may, at his discretion, advise the couple to postpone the wedding until the issues are resolved. Therefore, pre-marital counseling should ideally begin three to six months before the wedding and invitations should not be printed or mailed until the conclusion of the last session.
Any costs incurred during pre-marital counseling for materials and books will be borne by the couple. Couples who live out of town and cannot arrange to be in the area for counseling will be required to seek counseling equivalent to that which is provided by Westminster. All equivalent counseling arrangements should be made in consultation with the pastor who would ordinarily conduct the couple’s pre-marital counseling.
Wedding Dates and Times
Weddings may be scheduled for any date that does not conflict with the items on the church calendar. Saturday weddings may be no later than 7:00 PM to allow time for the building to be cleaned and prepared for Sunday worship. There will be no more than one wedding per week.
The Wedding Director
The use of Westminster Presbyterian Church’s Wedding Director is required. She will supervise and assist the wedding party during rehearsal and wedding ceremony. The wedding party needs to contact the Wedding Director with sufficient time to plan the wedding.
Rehearsal time is limited to two hours. All members of the immediate wedding party should attend the rehearsal. All ushers should be present since special instructions will be given at that time. The parents of the bride and groom are encouraged to attend. Musicians should attend to lessen the confusion of the wedding day. The officiating minister(s), in conjunction with the Wedding Director, will be in charge of the rehearsal.
Since the wedding ceremony will take place in the WPC sanctuary, all elements of the service should express reverence and joy appropriate for the occasion. Therefore, wedding ritual and the marriage vows must follow one of the standard forms for a wedding service provided by the officiating pastor and be consistent with that which is found in the Appendix to the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America. Theme weddings (i.e., Western, Medieval, Confederate, etc.) are not permitted.
Any changes to the traditional form of service or the traditional wedding vows should be discussed with the officiating WPC minister during the counseling and wedding planning process.
In keeping with our doctrinal beliefs about the sacraments, we do not offer communion to the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony.
All songs and music, both vocal and instrumental, should be fitting for a service designed to glorify God, honor the sacred institution of marriage and be in keeping with Protestant and Reformed standards. Classical music, traditional hymnody, and contemporary Christian music would all be considered appropriate for the wedding ceremony.
All music choices must be approved by the officiating WPC minister when planning the ceremony. All arrangements with musicians should be made by the families of the wedding participants.
The Sound System and Musical Instruments
The sound system may only be operated by an approved church sound technician. No member of the wedding party should enter the sound booth or attempt to adjust the audio equipment at any time.
The church will provide the following for weddings:
- Lapel microphone(s) for the minister.
- Microphones for readers, singers and musicians.
- Music stands for readers, singers and musicians.
- A video recording of the ceremony.
- Access to the sanctuary piano.
A list of all sound equipment and musical instruments needed for the wedding must be submitted via email through the church office prior to the rehearsal so that the church’s sound technician may have everything ready in advance of the wedding party’s arrival.
Photography and Videography
No flash pictures are to be taken once the ceremony begins. The only exceptions are the bride’s entrance and exit. Pictures may be taken before and after the ceremony, and from the wings during the ceremony if done unobtrusively. At no time should the photographer be on the platform or at the front of the church while the wedding is in progress.
Video recording, done discretely and without auxiliary lighting, is permitted. The videographer and his equipment must not impede or detract from the ceremony in any way.
- The pulpit will be moved against the back wall of the platform and discretely covered. The communion table, baptismal font, and chairs will be removed from the platform by WPC. Temporary steps will be placed at the front of the platform to allow access from the floor for wedding participants. The communion table is not to be used for flowers under any circumstance.
- Seasonal church holiday decorations, particularly Christmas and Easter decorations, will not be removed for weddings.
- Only dripless candles may be used in the sanctuary.
- If potted plants are utilized, plastic must be used to protect the flooring from moisture.
- Nails, tacks, screws, or fasteners that could possibly cause marks, holes, discoloration, or leave a sticky residue are not to be used to attach decorations to any furniture or part of the building.
- Florists are expected to clean up and remove all debris after working in the building.
- Decorating may be done at any time before the wedding provided it does not conflict with regular church functions. The wedding party must inform the Wedding Director of the intended decorating time in order to confirm availability of the facility.
- If real flower petals are strewn by the flower girl, an aisle runner must be used.
- No birdseed, rice, or confetti of any kind may be thrown inside or outside the church facilities.
- All decorations are to be removed from the sanctuary and narthex following the ceremony. In no case may decorations be left in the sanctuary, parlor, or lobby after 10:00 PM on a Saturday evening. However, if the wedding is held on a Friday evening, the wedding party may leave decorations overnight and remove them by 11:00 AM Saturday morning.
- All personal items should be removed from the bride’s room and the groom’s dressing area after the ceremony.
- No food or drink may be served or taken into the sanctuary. All refreshments served in the church building must remain in the lobby and/or the parlor at all times.
- The use of tobacco products or vaping products in any indoor church facility is prohibited.
- Apart from the wine used for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the consumption of alcohol and/or the use of illegal drugs is not allowed on church premises, including the parking lot. If anyone is found drinking or using drugs, he/she will be asked to leave the premises immediately.
- Damages to church property are the financial responsibility of the wedding party.
PLEASE NOTE: This policy and fee schedule applies only to Westminster Presbyterian Church and its property and facilities. Requests to use the property and facilities of Westminster Christian Academy (e.g., cafeteria, gymnasium, school building) should be directed to the school’s administration and will be subject to its policies and fee schedule. For information regarding WCA property and facilities, please call the school office at (256) 705-8000.
Schedule of Fees
WPC members are not charged a Facility Usage Fee for the use of the sanctuary or any other part of the church. Honoraria for officiating ministers, singers and musicians are at the family’s discretion. However, you are asked to pay the following fees to offset the church’s costs in hosting an event the magnitude of a wedding:
Sanctuary Custodial Fee……………………… $250
Sound Technician Fee ……………………….. $150
Wedding Director Fee ………………………… $200
Members of sister churches requesting to use the facility will also be required to pay a Facility Usage Fee of $500.
A $100 refundable deposit will be due at the time the wedding date is placed on the church calendar. The balance must be paid to the church office no later than two weeks prior to the wedding.