Humanly speaking, marriage is a civil contract among a man, a woman and the state. When a marriage is performed in the context of Christian worship, the proclamation of the Gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ is a promise of blessing to the marriage. As the man and woman respond affirmatively to this proclamation, their marriage is in the Lord...The Christian marriage ceremony is a service of worship before God, normally conducted within the House of God. (Book of Order, W-5.0400)
The following information is provided to all couples desiring to be married at Valley Community Presbyterian Church of Portland, Oregon. The purpose of this handbook is to provide you with all the relevant details and policies of this church as they relate to the wedding service. Please take time to read through this handbook. It is your responsibility to understand and adhere to the printed policies and guidelines. Items contained within this handbook have not been created to place undue hardship upon you; rather they exist for the purpose of insuring you a successful wedding. Never the less, items contained within this handbook are not negotiable.
Please contact one of the pastors of the church at least six months prior to your wedding to make an appointment for premarital assessment and to plan your wedding at the church.
Weddings will not be scheduled more than one year in advance of the desired date of the wedding. Weddings will be considered scheduled only when the officiating pastor has approved the request and when the wedding coordinator has received a deposit. No dates will be held without approval and deposit. The deposit for the wedding is $100.00 and is nonrefundable. All fees are to be paid in full by the time of the rehearsal. In the case of cancelation, fees, less the deposit, will be refunded. The deposit may be refunded at the officiating pastor's discretion.
Weddings will not be scheduled for the following dates and times: after 8:00 p.m. on Fridays; after 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays (if the reception is held at the church); before 3:00 p.m. on Sundays; from Thanksgiving day through the weekend; from December 15 through January 6; from the weekend of Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday; and special weekends as designated by the church.
Recognizing that marriage is ordained of God and that the church bears responsibility for providing education and counsel in preparation for marriage, the session of Valley Community Presbyterian Church requires that those desiring to be married on the church premises shall receive counsel prior to marriage.
Upon contact with the church for the scheduling of your wedding, you will be assigned to one of the pastoral staff, unless you otherwise request a particular member of the staff. That pastor will be responsible for deciding the Christian commitment and responsibility of the couple. This will be done through a meeting with that pastor and through the use of the Prepare - Premarital Personal and Relationship Evaluation or another such assessment tool. If such evaluation instruments are to be used the officiating pastor will inform the couple of this requirement and of any cost related to the use of the material. Any such costs related to the professional premarital counseling will be the responsibility of the couple.
During the initial interview general arrangements will be discussed and the required application will be completed. Should the couple desire to invite a second pastor to participate, this may be done, providing the pastor at Valley Community Presbyterian Church issues the invitation. If another pastor is invited, this guest pastor can give the vows and exchange of rings. Premarital assessment by a pastor of Valley Community Presbyterian Church is required, regardless of who performs the ceremony.
The session urges that the pastor meet with and counsels the couple at six months and two years after marriage.
The Wedding Coordinator
It is church policy to have the wedding coordinator involved in all weddings and receptions held at the church.
The wedding coordinator is a very important and helpful person at a wedding. The purpose of the coordinator is to assist in the many details related to your wedding. These details include, but are not limited to: providing answers regarding the wedding procedures and policies, assisting the minister at the rehearsal and the wedding, coordinating the details related to decorations, lighting, and candles, and making sure all persons are in their appropriate places at the appropriate time. It is your responsibility to contact the wedding coordinator, to discuss the details of your wedding before scheduling the date. Please call the church office for the wedding coordinator's information.
The Wedding Service
The marriage service shall begin with a brief statement of the meaning of Christian marriage. At appropriate times during the ceremony there shall be prayers for the couple as they enter their new relationship. There shall be an exchange of vows between the man and the woman; and if so desired, a ring or rings may be given. Scripture appropriate for the occasion shall be read and the minister shall deliver a charge to the couple, laying before them the privileges and obligations which they are about to receive and undertake. Before the conclusion of the service, the minister shall declare publicly that this man and woman are now joined in marriage according to the ordinance of God and the law of the state. This service shall conclude with a benediction. The couple is encouraged to actively participate in the component parts of the service. The pastor will provide models of services that can be used to personalize the wedding.
The members of Valley Community Presbyterian Church honor the sacred liturgical seasons of the church year. Paraments, banners, and furnishings are not to be removed. Consult your wedding coordinator for the season of your chosen date.
Flowers and/or adornments for weddings shall be in good taste and proper dignity and shall be the responsibility of the couple to provide.
For decorating the sanctuary, the service of a local florist is recommended. Please have all decorating completed three hours prior to the wedding service. Pew bows or bouquets may be placed on the forty-eight pews. They should be attached with ribbon or string. The use of scotch tape, nails, screws and wire in decorating shall not be used. No balloons are allowed in the church building.
The city fire code forbids the use of open flames from candles anywhere but in the chancel of the church. The church has two matching candelabra (seven twelve-inch candles each) and aisle candles for your use. Candles muse be dripless. The hurricane candle lamps require ten-inch dripless candles.
The Communion Table is a central element in the faith and worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); therefore, adornments other than a unity candle may not be used on the table. A shelf behind the Communion Table is available for large floral arrangements.
Thank you for respecting our sanctuary!
Music is an important part of your wedding. Such music as accompanies the ceremony should direct attention to God, who sanctifies marriage, and special care should be taken to assure that it is suitable and reverent. If desired, the congregation may be invited to join in the singing of hymns at the beginning and conclusion of the service. (Book of Order, W-5.0400)
When a wedding is arranged, the organist/pianist, Darlene Cusick, must be contacted. It is your responsibility to contact the organist/pianist. The church will provide phone and e-mail contacts. Appropriate music will be suggested and discussed. Taped music is not to be used. The sound system of the church is not equipped for this option.
The organist/pianist of the church will play for weddings except by special arrangement. If a friend or family member of the wedding party is asked to play the organ/piano for the service, the visiting organist/pianist must call and make an appointment with Darlene Cusick to arrange this. A vocalist may be invited to participate in your wedding. The organist/pianist may assist in securing the services of a vocalist or the couple may invite a personal friend to sing.
The wedding service is a worship service, therefore flash photography is not permitted during any part of the wedding ceremony by guests or professional photographers. Time exposures or available light pictures may be taken from the balcony. It is the responsibility of the couple to inform the photographer of this restriction prior to the ceremony. Ushers should instruct guests who bring cameras of this policy.
Pictures may be posed in the sanctuary prior to or following the ceremony. It is possible to take a picture of the bride and her father just as she prepares to enter the sanctuary. One may be taken as she and the groom lead the recessional into the narthex.
A stationary video camera may be operated from an unobtrusive location; this placement must be discussed and approved by the officiating pastor beforehand.
Ring Bearer and Flower Girl
Children participating in the wedding should be at least 5 years old. It is important that the child/ren chosen be able to follow directions and feel self-conscious. This addition to the wedding can greatly enhance the beauty and meaning of the service, but it has the potential for distraction. Care should be taken in choosing participants.
The pastor, wedding coordinator, organist/pianist, and the full wedding party will meet at the church at the designated date and time. The rehearsal gives the wedding party the opportunity to become familiar with the space and procedures involved in the service. All of the details concerning ushering, facilities for dressing, etc. will be explained. Please remember that all wedding participants are worship leaders; therefore, the rehearsal, as well as the wedding, will be conducted with reverence and dignity. It is expected that, like the wedding, the wedding party will refrain from the use of drugs and alcoholic beverages before the rehearsal.
The rehearsal takes about one hour from the time that the full wedding party is assembled.
A wedding reception following the marriage ceremony may be scheduled, providing the wedding occurs before 4:00 p.m. Arrangements for a reception are made at the time wedding is scheduled on the church calendar. The wedding coordinator will assist in the arrangements for your reception.
Arrangements for the food, including the wedding cake are the responsibility of the wedding couple. Please remember that alcoholic beverages of any kind may not be served or consumed on church property at any time.
Courtesy and Responsibilities
It is responsibility of the wedding couple to inform their wedding party of all the conditions for use of church facilities that are outlined in this paper.
- Alcoholic beverages of any kind are prohibited on church property at any time.
- Only rose petals and bio-degradable confetti may be thrown at the wedding and only outside the church building. Nothing is to be thrown inside the building under any circumstances, including flowers or parts of flowers. It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to see that these rules are made known to the wedding party and guests.
- Smoking is prohibited in the church building.
- Members of the wedding party and the bride may dress at the church if they desire. A room will be provided. A large mirror is available for women and men.
- Rearrangement of church furnishings is prohibited.
- The wedding party is expected to leave the church and its rooms as clean as they were found.
Written invitations to the ceremony and surrounding social events are customary for those whom you wish to be guests. It is awkward and unnecessary to consider the minister, organist/pianist, wedding coordinator and musician(s) as guests. These are people with whom you will be in frequent contact professionally who have agreed to serve you in a professional way.