Established Policies and Suggested Procedures
Weddings and Receptions
Plaza Presbyterian Church
Charlotte, North Carolina
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has declared that
Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.
In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part, and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges.
If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. A couple requesting a service of Christian marriage shall receive instruction from the teaching elder, who may agree to the couple’s request only if, in the judgment of the teaching elder, the couple demonstrate sufficient understanding of the nature of the marriage covenant and commitment to living their lives together according to its values. In making this decision, the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.
The marriage service shall be conducted in a manner appropriate to this covenant and to the forms of Reformed worship, under the direction of the teaching elder and the supervision of the session (W-1.4004–.4006). In a service of marriage, the couple marry each other by exchanging mutual promises.
The teaching elder witnesses the couple’s promises and pronounces God’s blessing upon their union. The community of faith pledges to support the couple in upholding their promises; prayers may be offered for the couple, for the communities that support them, and for all who seek to live in faithfulness.
A service of worship recognizing a civil marriage and confirming it in the community of faith may be appropriate when requested by the couple. The service will be similar to the marriage service except that the statements made shall reflect the fact that the couple is already married to one another according to the laws of the civil jurisdiction.
Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God. (The Directory for Worship, W-4.9001 - 4.9006)
A Christian wedding is the service of worship and dedication by which a couple enters this meaningful relationship and can be one of the most sacred and happiest moments in all of life. It is a time when two people come to pledge themselves not only to each other but to Christ.
It is not necessary that a wedding be elaborate to be beautiful. The true beauty lies in the spirit and attitude of the participants.
It is essential that the wedding service be scheduled well in advance. The following are procedures and policies authorized by the Session for guidance in planning wedding services.
I. FACILITIES. Weddings at the church will ordinarily be held in the Sanctuary. The facilities of the Church will be made available for receptions in accordance with established rules and procedures. In the building, the Fellowship Hall and the Conference Room are available and suitable for receptions. The John A. Howard Memorial Rose Garden is suitable for outdoor use when weather permits.
II. ARRANGEMENTS. All arrangements for weddings and/or receptions will be made through the Church Office and in consultation with the Pastor and the Wedding Coordinator. Tentative dates may be cleared by telephone with the Church Secretary, but final arrangements must always be made in personal conference with the Pastor. (See sections III. and IV.)
W-4.9006 marriage license should be given to the Pastor at least one week prior to the wedding.
III. PASTORS. It is the policy of Plaza Presbyterian Church that a Pastor of this church be in charge of all weddings held for members of this congregation. The only exceptions to this rule shall be if the Pastor is to be on vacation or is otherwise unavailable, or if the Church should temporarily be without a Pastor. When requested, it is permissible, and in order, to have another Minister assist. The Pastor will make the necessary contacts with other Ministers and will extend the invitation for them to assist.
As soon as the wedding date is confirmed on the Church Calendar, the Pastor shall schedule with the couple a series of counseling sessions concerning the nature of their Christian commitment, assuring that at least one is a professing Christian; the legal requirements of the state, the privileges and responsibilities of Christian marriage; the nature and form of the marriage service; the vows and commitments they will be asked to make; the relationship of these commitments to their lives of discipleship; and the resources of the faith and the Christian community to assist them in fulfilling their marriage commitments.
Because of the investment of time weddings require, the Pastor may not be available for social functions attendant to the wedding.
IV. WEDDINGCOORDINATOR. It is the policy of Plaza Presbyterian Church that one of the church’s wedding coordinators assist with the wedding and the reception (when the reception is at the church). The responsibilities of the Wedding Coordinator include, but are not limited to
• working with the couple concerning decorations in the Sanctuary;
• assisting the Pastor with the rehearsal and the wedding service;
• explaining the rules and regulations concerning the use of the kitchen, facilities, and utensils for receptions held at the church;
• arranging for use of all Church supplies;
• assisting with the reception when held at the Church; and
• coordinating the use of rooms (for dressing and the like).
V. MUSIC. Music suitable for the marriage service directs attention to God and expresses the faith of the church. The congregation may join in hymns and other musical forms of praise and prayer. It is our Organist’s responsibility to assure that all wedding music is appropriate for worship. The Pastor has the final authority for the ordering of worship and the selection of music to be used.
ORGANIST. It is expected that our Church Organist will play for all weddings. Any exception to this rule must be approved by the Pastor in consultation with the Organist. Should a guest organist be granted permission to play instead of our Church Organist, the basic fee will still go to our Church Organist. Should our Organist have a schedule conflict, he/she, in consultation with the Pastor, will secure an organist to play for the wedding. As soon as the date for the wedding is cleared, the Pastor will call and notify the Organist. The couple and the Organist should then work out a suggested list of music to submit to the Pastor for final approval. A list of selections which need no further approval is available through the Church Office. The Organist’s fee is $200.00 and must be given to the Organist at the rehearsal. This fee includes one planning session with the Organist, the rehearsal, and the wedding. Whenever the Organist works with a soloist, there is an additional $50.00 fee.
VI. CUSTODIAN. The Church requires that a custodian be on duty during the wedding. The fee is $150.00 for member and non-member alike, and is due in the Church Office one week prior to the wedding. If the reception is to be held at the Church, there is an additional $100.00 fee for a maximum of four hours. $50.00 per hour is required for each hour over four. The Custodian is under the direct supervision of the Pastor. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to,
• opening the building one hour prior to the wedding – if it is necessary for the building to be open earlier than this, special arrangements will have to be made;
• turning on lights and being sure that rooms are ready for the wedding;
• being available in the Fellowship Hall/Kitchen to assist the Wedding Coordinator, Caterer, or Pastor as necessary;
• moving furniture and supplies (e.g., dishes for reception) as necessary;
• cleaning up and preparing all rooms for their next use; and
• closing and securing the buildings.
VII. PHOTOGRAPHSANDRECORDINGS. Cameras with lights or flash attachments will not be allowed during the wedding service. Photographs may be made in the Narthex or Fellowship Hall preceding the service, and the wedding party may return to the Chancel after the service to pose for pictures. Flash pictures are allowed during the Processional and the Recessional.
If recordings are to be made, all instruments, including microphone and recorder, and also the person making the recording must be thoroughly concealed from the sight of the congregation. Video cameras shall remain stationary and be placed in the balcony.
VIII. DATESEXCLUDED. No weddings may be scheduled for the Sanctuary during Holy Week, or on Sundays when evening services are scheduled. Because of difficulties in securing adequate help, every attempt should be made to avoid such days as New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
IX. USEOFROOMSFORDRESSING. The Church provides appropriate rooms for dressing at the church for the couple and their attendants.
One room is immediately off the Fellowship Hall and adjoining the Church Parlor. This room has a full-length three-way mirror, closet rods for hanging clothes, a dressing table, and comfortable chairs. Persons desiring to use this room should so indicate to the Wedding Coordinator in conference and it will be made available.
Another room, the Church Library, is located just off the Sanctuary, and may be used for dressing prior to the ceremony.
While every possible precaution to safeguard personal items will be made, the Church cannot be liable if such items are lost, stolen, or damaged.
X. DECORATIONS. Our Sanctuary is a place designed for worship. Flowers, decorations, and other appointments should be appropriate to the place of worship, enhance the worshipers’ consciousness of the reality of God, and reflect the integrity and simplicity of Christian life. All decorations should be discussed with the Wedding Coordinator. For your assistance, we make the following suggestions:
A. Candles. Two candelabra may be used in the Chancel. The candles on the Communion Table are reminders of the presence of the Holy Spirit and are appropriate for use in the service. The Church provides the candles.
B. Kneeling Bench. A kneeling bench may be used in the Chancel.
C. Floral Arrangements. Not more than two floral designs may be placed in the Chancel. The Church will provide Brass Urns (using a number four papier mache liner) when requested.
D. Aisle Cloth. An aisle cloth may be used, but it must be fastened with tape or pins.
E. General. No tacks, staples, nails, or glue may be used to fasten any decorations to the furniture or the building. The furniture and floor must be fully protected from moisture or other damage at all times. Florists will be held responsible for damage to the building and furniture resulting from use of these items.
F. Removal of Decorations. All decorations must be removed from the building immediately following the wedding unless special permission has been sought and granted – by the Wedding Coordinator – to postpone removal and cleaning. The building must be left in the condition in which it is found.
A. Members. The Sanctuary and other facilities are available for rehearsal, wedding, and reception for members without fee.
B. Non-Members. The Sanctuary and other facilities are available for rehearsal, wedding, and reception for non-members for a fee of $700.00. This fee is due in the Church Office one week prior to the wedding.
C. Custodian. The fee for the Custodian is $150.00 for member and non-member alike, and is due in the Church Office one week prior to the wedding. If the reception is to be held at the Church, there is an additional $100.00 fee for a maximum of four hours. Each hour over four costs an additional $50.00.
D. Organist. The fee for the Organist is $200.00. When there is a soloist, the Organist receives an additional $50.00.
E. Wedding Coordinator. For Members, there is no fee required for the Wedding Coordinator. A “thank you” note is appropriate, however.
For Non-Members, the fee is $100.00.
F. Pastor. For Members, there is no fee for the Pastor as this is a normal and regular part of the Pastor’s privileges and responsibilities.
For Non-Members, the fee is $300.00.
A. Smoking. Smoking is not permitted in the Church buildings.
B. Alcohol and Drugs. Members of the wedding party must understand that under no circumstances may any of them come to the rehearsal or the wedding service under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Pastor has authority to cancel a wedding at any moment for any deviation from this rule.
C. Conduct. The same regulations as above apply to any boisterous conduct, or actions unbecoming to a Christian service.
D. Rice. Rice is not permitted on the Church premises. Bird seed may be thrown outdoors.
XIII. RECEPTIONS. As previously stated, receptions may be held in the Fellowship Hall, the Conference Room, and/or outdoors in the John A. Howard Memorial Rose Garden when weather permits.
A. Church equipment. Kitchen equipment, utensils, dishes, and tables are available for use on Church premises only.
B. Cleanup. Specific details, arrangements, and responsibility for the cleanup of the kitchen, equipment, dishes, and the rooms and/or area where the reception is held must be coordinated with the Wedding Coordinator.
C. Supplies. Arrangements for the use of Church supplies for the reception will be handled by the Wedding Coordinator. A list of these supplies is available through the Church Office.
Revised, February 2017