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Guidelines for Weddings at Gethsemane Lutheran Church

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Marriage is a glad occasion overflowing with joy, and those who celebrate it rejoice in the gifts of God — life, health, love, sexuality, the family — all that the Creator declared to be “very good.” The Gethsemane community of faith is happy to be able to affirm and support those who wish to commit their lives to one another in life-long faithfulness and love.

The following suggestions will help you to make your wedding a spiritual experience filled with meaning and joy.

1. Schedule Your Wedding

  • Please contact the church office to schedule the tentative date on the church calendar, at 885-4319 or email. (The wedding rehearsal should also be scheduled at this time.) All forms and wedding documents are available at our website.
  • Please familiarize yourself with the procedures for weddings at Gethsemane described in the wedding guidelines.
  • Complete the wedding information form. The pastor will confirm with the church office that he/she is available for that date once your wedding form is completed. The wedding date will not be confirmed until one of the pastors agrees to conduct the wedding or gives approval for clergy participation from outside the congregation. Should there be a conflict with the pastor for that date, you will be notified.
  • Provide a non-refundable $50 deposit to secure the church for that date. Otherwise, it will be treated as tentative and you may lose that date if there is another request.

Your plans will go much more smoothly if you schedule your wedding at least six months in advance. If a wedding is already scheduled on the date you want, it will be necessary to have your wedding at least four hours before or after the wedding that has been scheduled.

The church facility and pastors are primarily available to members of the congregation. Requests of others will be considered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the pastors.
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2. Prepare for Your Marriage

As in most churches, preparation for a wedding at Gethsemane includes preparing for a happy and fulfilling life-long marriage. Pre-marital counseling prepares both of you for the challenges of married life. It also takes into consideration those situations where the couple has been living together before marriage or were previously married or where children are part of the new relationship.

The pastor will meet with the couple for 3–4 sessions. Issues that are known to be crucial to successful marriages are covered, such as communication, problem-solving, family relationships, finances, and spiritual values. The couple is expected to complete a relationship inventory called, “Prepare.” This can be completed on-line or arrangements can be made through the church office for a paper copy. “Prepare.” is neither a test nor an indicator of the success of your marriage. It does, however, provide a ‘picture’ of your relationship so that you may continue to build on the many strengths you do have!
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3. Plan your Wedding Service

Your wedding will be a worship service. In fact, some weddings have happened during Sunday morning worship. (This works best when many of the guests would be members of the congregation). The point is that every wedding has the worship of God as its object, centered in Jesus Christ. This is the basic theme that should influence decisions you will be making about what happens during your wedding.

We follow a Lutheran order of worship. A copy of the marriage service is attached to the guidelines when you pick them up at the church office, or you may access it online. This assures Christ-centered worship while allowing for creativity and choice on your part as well. Such options include:

  • Writing your own vows or choosing from options available
  • Selecting from the options for the introduction, declaration of intention, prayers, and blessings
  • Choosing the Scripture readings
  • Participation of parents, family members, and friends as ushers, readers, etc.
  • Choosing the music
  • Deciding whether to include Holy Communion (in which case all guests will be invited to participate)

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4. Meet with the Organist

It is your responsibility to schedule your meeting with the organist. It is assumed that if you are using an organist, the church’s organist will play at your wedding. If the church organist is unable to play, he/she will be able to arrange for a substitute. The organist needs to be consulted about the following:

  • Music to be played and sung
  • Instruments other than organ
  • Vocalists and/or congregational singing
  • Involvement at the rehearsal
  • If you want to use your own organist

It is our desire to cooperate with you in every way possible. Deciding on music in advance will assure a quality celebration. If you do not have any in mind, the organist may be able to help you arrange for a soloist, instrumentalist, or ensemble, at your own cost, if you so desire.

Because your wedding is a worship service, your music should be chosen with that in mind. The organist will be happy to discuss the various possibilities and consider your requests. It is the responsibility of the couple to provide music for the organist for unfamiliar or specific selections. Illegal photocopies of music cannot be accepted.

If you have a family member or friend who desires to provide music for your wedding, whether it is a guest organist or other instrumentalist or vocalist, the pastor would be happy to work out those details with you during your worship planning session.
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5. Meet with the Wedding Coordinator

It is also your responsibility to schedule a meeting with our wedding coordinator and it is required that our coordinator be involved in the planning of your wedding at Gethsemane. Questions concerning various other details about your wedding can be answered by our wedding coordinator, who will be able to help you with the many details; including:

  • Candles, including: candelabras (candles will be furnished by the church at the expense of the couple) or unity candle (a brass holder is available for use with candles furnished by the couple)
  • Placement of flowers
  • Use of banners
  • Use of kneeling cushion
  • Other decorations in the sanctuary
  • Dressing rooms for the bridal party
  • Access to building
  • Rehearsal
  • Use of the lift for wheelchair accessibility
  • Use of an aisle runner (which for safety reasons, is discouraged)
  • Additional help with church reception if desired

Note: If you wish to decorate the sanctuary or reception hall one day in advance of the wedding, this needs to be arranged with the wedding coordinator to ensure that there are no other activities in these facilities.

Additional note: Most of the chancel furnishings are permanent items and are not to be removed or covered.

The coordinator is also willing to be present and available to help with last-minute details and emergencies on the day of your wedding. If you hire an outside coordinator to help plan, the church’s wedding coordinator will handle all the aspects of the worship service. The church’s wedding coordinator is necessary, as there are specifics to the building and resources that would only be known by the church.
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6. Additional Information

Wedding rehearsal
Most rehearsals happen on the evening prior to the wedding and last 45 minutes to an hour, depending upon the size of the wedding party and nature of the ceremony. Everyone taking part in the wedding service is expected to be present and on time for the rehearsal. Parents of the bridal couple should also be present. Normally the pastor or wedding coordinator conducts the rehearsal. It is not necessary for the musicians to be present. The couple should bring their wedding license to the church either before or at the time of the rehearsal.

Special notes for photographers
We know how important it is to have great pictures of this special event. We want this to happen, while maintaining the spirit of worship at the same time. Please talk with the wedding coordinator or officiating pastor about the best vantage points for photos and videos to be taken during the ceremony.

Ordinarily, no flash photography, additional lighting, or movement around the sanctuary is permitted, except at the time of the processional and recessional. Videotaping is permitted if it remains in a stationary position either at the side of the chancel or in the rear of the sanctuary. The officiating pastor will remind guests of these guidelines at the beginning of the service.

Of course, the sanctuary is available for photography both before and after the ceremony. The pastors will not remain for photography unless requested before the service.

Special notes for florists
Please consult our wedding coordinator about flower stands, candelabras, pew and chancel decorations. The coordinator may provide those items we do have well in advance of the ceremony. In addition, care needs to be taken with decorating so as not to cause any damage to the church furnishings.

Cleaning up
Please restore all rooms to their condition prior to the wedding. The wedding party is responsible for disposing of all runners, flower boxes, wrappers, bulletins, and to remove all decorations from the church building that belong to them. Please consult the wedding coordinator as to any flowers to be left for the congregation’s worship service. Most couples find it helpful to appoint a friend who will be responsible for checking all the rooms at the end of the wedding celebration for any items left behind. The custodial services include the cleaning of the church building before and after the ceremony. Cleanup includes vacuuming, dust mopping, removal of trash and boxes, and tending to the restrooms.

Receptions and rehearsal dinners
The Great Hall is available for your reception, if there is no conflict with the church calendar. Various options are available to you, including having your own catering service or doing it all yourself. Options should be discussed with the wedding coordinator. Fees include the use of the kitchen, tables, and chairs. You are responsible for providing, serving, and cleaning up all food. Kitchen Guidelines will be provided if you choose to use the Great Hall.

Additional rooms are available for a rehearsal dinner. Please consult with the church office as to the availability and fee schedule.

Odds and ends!

  • The throwing of rice is prohibited.
  • The entire building is a smoke-free facility.
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the church building, with the exception of a champagne toast or table wine at the wedding reception.
  • Animals are not to be included in the wedding, with the exception of assist animals.
  • While it is not necessary or expected, if you desire the pastor(s) and/or organist to attend the reception or rehearsal dinner, invite them in advance. The pastor is normally not available for wedding receptions.
  • The use of bulletins/worship folders is an option. You may purchase these at a church supply store and have them printed by the church secretary or by a printer.

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7. Fees

Understandably, the fees for those who are members and have participated in the financial support of the congregation will be different from those for non-members.

All fees are to be paid two weeks in advance of the wedding date to the church secretary. You may write one check payable to Gethsemane Lutheran Church or write individual checks for the pastor(s), musicians, etc. See fee schedule below.

The Wedding Ceremony (Capacity: 300) Member Non-Member
A. Use of sanctuary No charge $300
Non-refundable deposit $50 $50
B. Pastor (including pre-marital counseling and rehearsal)**   $250
C. Organist/pianist (ceremony only) $125 $125
Rehearsal $50 $50
Additional rehearsal time $35/rehearsal $35/rehearsal
D. Additional musicians TBA TBA
E. Custodian (ceremony only) $30 $30
(Ceremony & reception) $90 $90
F. Candelabra (including candles) $25 $25
G. Printing of bulletins (optional) $25-$50* $25-$50*
*(Consult with the secretary)    
H. Wedding Co-ordinator (ceremony only) $100 $100
(Ceremony & reception) $150 $150
I. Pre-marital Counseling Inventory $35* $35*
*($30 if taken on-line)    
J. Refundable Security Deposit $50 $200
The Reception (Capacity: 250)
A. Use of reception hall $100 $350
B. Set-up and take-down of chairs/tables $50 $50
C. Custodian: (See above)    
Note: Use of the Great Hall requires completion of a Facility Use Application

** Many couples do gift the pastor. It is customary that these gifts range from $150–$250, which acknowledges the time spent in pre-marital counseling, wedding rehearsal, planning and the wedding itself.
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