We are delighted that you are considering having your wedding here at the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana, Ohio. We wish to offer the full benefit of the Church’s ministry to its members and regular participants. A wedding is a sacred occasion and a service of worship. Everything that is planned as a part of the service should be with this objective in mind and in accordance with the doctrines, beliefs and regular worship practices of the First Presbyterian Church. The Session (the elders of the First Presbyterian Church), has approved the following policies and procedures.
In the United States, marriage is a legal, civil contract that is binding upon the two parties involved. Everywhere, marriage is to one degree or another an interpersonal relationship between two people forming a social unit. For Christians who are identified with the Presbyterian Church (USA), marriage is first and foremost a covenant between the couple and God, witnessed by a congregation and approved by the Session.
The Directory for Worship, found in the Presbyterian Book of Order (2017-2019), states the following with regard to Christian marriage: “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” (W-4.9000).
Christian marriage is a covenant through which two persons are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. It will be expected that at least one of the partners is a professing Christian and that, ordinarily, both will share a common Christian faith or at least be open to prayerfully considering a profession of faith. We also believe that marriage was given as a medium through which persons can serve God and be a witness to the Christian faith.
As a church, we seek to help establish a family that is Christ-centered. In choosing our sanctuary as the location of their wedding, a couple begins their married life in the sight of God among a larger family of Christians. Therefore, the pastor will work together with the couple to prepare them for this sacred vocation and order the wedding ceremony as both a service for the worship of God and a witness to the covenant of Christian marriage.
Ordinarily, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church will officiate all weddings held on the church property. If the couple would like an outside minister to assist in the service, the invitation to that person should be extended by our pastor with the approval of the Session. The officiating minister is involved in all phases of the plans for the wedding. The date and time for the wedding should be determined in consultation with our pastor.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment, so we believe that we have a responsibility to help prepare couples to face the challenges of marriage. Premarital preparation is mandatory for all couples married at the the First Presbyterian Church. Normally, the couple will schedule four (4) sessions with the pastor. These sessions are required, but scheduling may vary depending on the circumstances.
The process for scheduling a wedding is as follows:
- The couple contacts the minister and asks for a meeting.
- At the scheduled meeting, the couple shares the desire to be married at the First Presbyterian Church. The pastor discusses the information in the wedding packet with the couple and schedules another meeting with the couple. At this point, the wedding date will be placed on the church calendar, pending Session approval.
- At the second meeting, the couple submits their Wedding Information Form and deposit. This meeting will serve as the second of four premarital preparation meetings.
- After premarital preparation is complete and satisfactory, the pastor asks the Session to officially authorize the wedding.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church, children/grandchildren of members, and regular participants in the life of the church may reserve the facility up to one year in advance. Due to the full schedule of worship on particular days, weddings will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
Our custodian will help with the setup and cleanup for the wedding. If there are special requests regarding the setup of the Sanctuary, a Custodial Request Sheet must be submitted to the church office prior to the wedding date. These requests should be written on the custodial form which is available in the wedding packet. The custodian will make sure the facilities to be used are clean and in order prior to the wedding. Following the wedding and/or reception, the custodian is only responsible for vacuuming or sweeping the floors in the facilities used. The couple is responsible for ensuring all facilities are returned to their pre-wedding/reception setup. All personal items should be removed as soon as possible after the service and/or reception so that cleanup may begin.
Rehearsals will be scheduled at the time wedding reservations are made. Wedding rehearsals are normally scheduled at 5:30 pm the Friday before the wedding. The entire wedding party should be present at the rehearsal (i.e. couple, parents, grandparents, attendants, ushers). The couple should obtain their marriage license in advance so that it may be signed by the minister at the rehearsal. Rehearsals are typically one hour in length and should begin promptly at the scheduled time.
All decorations should be kept very simple in order to preserve the beauty and dignity of the sanctuary. Decorations should never be used to cover those marks of identity that establish the room as a place of Christian worship, such as the cross. The communion table is a central symbol of our faith and no decorations may be placed upon it. During Advent, Christmas and Easter, the sanctuary is decorated for the season. These decorations shall not be moved or altered in any fashion.
The beauty of the wedding service is greatly enhanced by the use of appropriate music. It is requested that our organist/pianist play for all weddings unless they will be unavailable on your selected date. The organist/pianist should be contacted as soon as possible after the wedding is on the church schedule. (A helpful letter from the organist/pianist is attached to this policy.) If the couple would like to use recorded music, there will be an extra fee for the services of an audio technician.
Reproductions of the Service
Photographer: We ask that photographers not walk around or stand in the chancel area from the point at which the procession ends until the Declaration of Marriage at the end of the service. Photographs taken before the service need to be completed at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled beginning. We request that no flash photography be used during the ceremony.
Video Reproductions: Video recording is allowed with the following requests: no additional lighting, only one camera operator, no movement of the camera, and location of the camera in an unobtrusive place.
For the Ceremony:
The Sanctuary will seat approximately 300 people. Beginning up to three hours before the service, the Parlor and Library may be used for dressing and preparation.
No rice or confetti is to be used within any part of the church building, nor on the church grounds. Birdseed may be distributed after the ceremony to be used outside the building only.
No member of the wedding party should be under the influence of alcohol or any illicit substance at the rehearsal, wedding, or reception (if held at church). The couple is requested to advise the wedding party of this policy.
For the Reception:
Space is available for receptions in the fellowship hall and upstairs dining room. A kitchen is available for caterers to use for setting up. The caterer must bring all food items prepared in appropriate self-contained equipment, as the kitchen is not available for food preparation. The caterer or wedding party must supply all serving utensils, dishes and equipment. The caterer is responsible for all kitchen cleanup.
The church is open during weddings and the possibility exists that personal items may be taken or moved. The church cannot be held responsible for such items if lost, stolen or damaged.