St. Paul Church believes that the marriage of a man and a woman is a holy estate, ordained of God, and held in honor by all. Therefore, it is necessary for us to state clearly the principles and guidelines, which relate to marriage and the practices of this congregation in the use of the church building and services of the Pastor for those seeking a Christian marriage. We intend these guidelines to help provide a mature understanding of Christian marriage.
1. Couples seeking to marry at St. Paul Lutheran Church shall communicate this intention to the Pastor as soon as possible after their engagement, in order that proper counsel and planning may take place. The couple will receive a list of guidelines from the church office outlining their responsibilities in the wedding preparation process, including payment of fees and necessary arrangements.
2. Under normal circumstances it is expected that couples will regularly attend worship. At least one person will be or become a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church. Exceptions to this policy may be made by the pastor to allow for non-members to marry at the church.
3. Time shall be reserved for premarital counseling with the Pastor. An unwillingness to schedule such time may, at the discretion of the Pastor, result in his refusal to officiate the ceremony.
4. The number and content of such premarital sessions shall be left to the discretion of the Pastor. These sessions will focus on preparing the service, the couples’ relationship and their plans for marriage, address potential or current problems, and the nature of Christian marriage.
5. That either the man or woman has been divorced does not automatically exclude them from the possibility of marriage in the Church. However, a reasonable period of time should elapse between the finalization of divorce in the prior marriage and remarriage for reflection, healing, and amendment of life, so that the new marriage will not be burdened with the guilt or repetition of behavior patterns of the previous marriage. These issues will be discussed in the premarital sessions between the Pastor and couple.
6. The Lutheran order for marriage shall be used. Within this order there is room for flexibility in planning the service (for example, in choices of hymns, scriptures, additions to the service). The vows used in the marriage service must exemplify a Christian understanding of marriage.
7. The pastor always reserves the right not to perform a wedding if in his judgment the proposed union would not be advisable in the sight of God, or that the couple exhibits no intention to live out their marriage in light of Christian teaching and the life of the Church. Where it is apparent that a couple seeks use of the building facilities or the service of the Pastor for custom only, with little regard for the life of the Church and Christian teaching on marriage, the marriage service shall not be sanctioned by the Church and the Pastor shall not officiate at such a wedding.
8. Music shall be selected by the couple in consultation with the church’s organist and Pastor. It is understood that all music selected will be appropriate music for a service of divine worship.
9. The church’s organist will perform music at all wedding services; exceptions to this rule are at the discretion of the organist. The organist shall receive an honorarium at appropriate level of compensation for the services of an organist in a wedding. Additional musicians and soloists may be arranged in consultation with the Pastor in planning the service; responsibility for such services shall be the responsibility of the wedding couple.
10. The Pastor of St. Paul Church ordinarily will officiate at all weddings held in the church. Requests for other pastors to assist or co-celebrate the service will be considered in accordance with the guidelines of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and existing ecumenical agreements. In certain circumstances, with the approval of the Pastor, pastors of other ELCA churches may be allowed to perform the ceremony.
11. If the Sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated in the service, the elements must be made available to the entire congregation present, except for non-Christians.
12. Photographs will not be taken during the wedding service. It is contrary to the spirit of worship, and distracting. There are limited exceptions allowed for the designated professional photographer; the Pastor will discuss these with the photographer before the service. Similar consultation will take place prior to the service for arrangements to videotape the service.
13. Rice and confetti may not be thrown outside the building. Modern alternatives include bird seed, grass seed, and flower petals. None may be thrown inside the building. (Exception: the flower girl may toss flower petals during the processional.) The bride and groom and their guests assume all responsibility for injury.
14. Prior to the wedding service, a rehearsal will normally be held, at which time the entire service will be reviewed.
15. The church sexton(s) will be consulted in planning the service and shall receive compensation for their time in preparing the sanctuary for the service and cleaning up afterwards.
16. The church building may be used for the reception. The hosts of the reception are responsible for setting up the reception and cleaning up afterwards, including removal of all trash. No alcoholic beverages are allowed on church property. As St. Paul Church is a smoke-free facility, no smoking will be allowed at wedding receptions.
Approved by Church Council 17 May, 1999.
Amended Item #2 by Church Council 23 January, 2006.