Planning to have a wedding at Our Savior’s? Here’s information you’ll need to answer your initial questions, explain our policies and procedures, and help you take the next steps.
Guidelines for a Christian Wedding at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Mankato, Minnesota
This guideline is written for the bride and groom who wish to have their wedding before the Altar of God at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Mankato. We believe that a Christian wedding is a Divine Service in which Christ Himself is serving us with His Word and Gifts. We therefore respond to Him with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
At the same time, your wedding day is a very special occasion and you may have particular ideas for music, customs, and involvement in the service. We will be happy to accommodate your ideas into the wedding service insofar as it does not distract from the presence and promises of Christ as will be further explained below.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this material before officially setting your wedding day. Once you have read this material, contact the church office to formally set the day and time for your wedding. Only then should you go ahead with other arrangements and commitments.
A Christian wedding is not merely a wedding which takes place in a church building, but rather one which involves Christians. Therefore, to have your marriage solemnized in the Church it is necessary that at least one of the marriage couple be of Lutheran background and a member in good standing of our congregation or a sister congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The other must be willing to respect the teaching and practices of our congregation. In rare cases, the Pastor may agree to perform a Church wedding for those who are not members, but have already begun or have completed a course of instruction leading toward Confirmed Membership in the congregation.
While it is not a “requirement” in order to be married in our congregation, we do strongly suggest that any non-Lutherans agree to go through adult Confirmation instruction as soon as possible so that they will at least be acquainted with the perspectives and beliefs of Lutheran Christians. This is not only beneficial in preparing for a Christian wedding, but especially in preparing for a Christian marriage. If you are not of a Lutheran background, expect the Pastor to invite you to attend this class.
Pre-marital counseling is not intended to determine your compatibility or your readiness for marriage. Instead, it involves four parts:
- An initial meeting with the Pastor to get to know each other, to discuss the process of preparing for your church wedding, and to answer any of your initial questions.
- An opportunity to use and review PREPARE, a professionally certified Pre-Marital Personal And Relationship Evaluation. Your Pastor has been certified to provide you with this survey which will help you to build a strong and lasting marriage by getting to know each other better. More information about PREPARE will be provided by the Pastor at your first meeting. The survey can be completed by each person online or in person at the church. About two weeks later, you’ll meet with the pastor again to go over your overall results and determine any additional time you might like to spend reviewing the results. Your wedding fee includes the use and computer scoring of the PREPARE inventory whether or not you use it in order to encourage you to do so.
- A short study of about one hour with the Pastor concerning God’s institution and purposes for marriage as given in the Bible.
- Preparation for the marriage service where we will determine together the details of your marriage day; such as including special music, unity candle, arranging for a worship bulletin, and so forth. Plan for a two-hour meeting about three weeks prior to your wedding day. We’ll go over nearly every word so you’ll have no surprises.
Once you have selected a tentative date and time for your wedding, it is important that you call or visit with the office secretary to verify that the Pastor and the church building are available at that time. Please do not publicize your wedding date, contract with any vendors, or have your invitations printed until you can be sure that the church may be reserved and the Pastor is available for the times you have chosen. The church secretary will then see that the date and time for your wedding is reserved on the Church calendar. Together with the church office you may select several alternate dates if necessary. Any final plans should be verified with the Pastor.
Please resist the temptation to consider holiday weekends for your wedding: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the week between and including Christmas Day and New Years’ Day. It is important to our congregation that our Pastor and staff be able to enjoy holidays like most others. If the Pastor should choose at his discretion to allow an exception, the fees for your wedding will be doubled. For religious and other reasons, weddings are not allowed seven days before or seven days after Easter Sunday.
Types of Weddings
- A “Public” wedding in the Church Sanctuary is one in which you announce your marriage and send invitations to friends and family members to observe your wedding ceremony. This is usually a formal occasion.
- A “Private” wedding is held with the Pastor and a few witnesses, usually involving a limited number of guests, usually fewer than 30 people or so. The bride may or may not have a wedding dress. Private weddings are normally held in the chapel at Our Savior’s. These are usually less formal occasions.
- A “Civil” wedding is legal marriage ceremony that takes place outside the church building although a Pastor of the congregation may officiate. These may be formal or informal but do not fall under the guidelines of the congregation since it does not occur in our facility. Please speak with the Pastor directly to make arrangements for a civil wedding.
An important consideration for many couples is the cost of their wedding. Some congregations may not charge for the use of the church, but require you to make separate arrangements for individual services like custodian, using the audio/video system, and so on. At Our Savior’s, we’ve lumped these services together for your convenience. Before comparing this fee to other churches, find out what these additional costs will be with other churches.
MEMBERS: $400 provides
- Up to 8 hours of custodial service and use of the facility.
- An audio/video technician with DVD recording of your ceremony
- Use of PREPARE survey
- Honorarium for the Pastor’s services
- Photocopying your wedding bulletin and other related expenses
- A gratuity to the church’s wedding fund for miscellaneous expenses
ADDITIONAL FEES as needed (for members and non-members alike)
- Additional use of the church. $50 each additional hour.
- Church organist or pianist. We recommend $125 payable directly to the musician.
- Vocalists or instrumentalist. We suggest $50 payable directly to the musician.
- Fireplace room rental. $50 (bring in your own food with minor kitchen use)
- Full Fellowship hall rental. $100 (for catered receptions with minor kitchen use)
- Full Kitchen Use. $100 (full food preparation, place settings, tableware included)
- Candle abra rental. $15 for one or $30 for two candle abras (15 oil candles each included)
The Worship Service
We join you in wishing to make every effort to maintain a reverence about your wedding service. A church wedding is a worship service. The Christian wedding is a ceremony in which Christians, particularly you as bride and groom, come together to offer God special thanks and praise and to ask God’s blessings upon your life together as husband and wife. In order to preserve this atmosphere of reverence, please observe the guidelines provided for music, pictures, video taping, and so forth.
Texts of vocal or choral selections should be in harmony with the themes and moods of the marriage service itself; for example, the praise of God, God’s steadfast love in Christ for his Church, and Christ as the foundation and model of God’s presence and blessing. It is proper and acceptable to have the congregation join in the singing of an appropriate hymn of praise and thanksgiving or a hymn dealing directly with marriage and the Christian home. Since the marriage ceremony is a service of Christian worship, the music used throughout the wedding ought to be distinctively Christian. This quite naturally eliminates such songs as recent popular hits, show tunes, or music generally associated with television or movies. In a desire for good taste, the Hollywood “Wedding March” from Wagner’s Opera Faust is explicitly prohibitted.
The organ and pianos in our church are available for your use, provided that they are used by a qualified musician upon approval by the church organist. Once the date for your wedding is set, you should contact the congregation’s Music office to arrange for an organist or pianist or have your own approved. Your musicians can also help you select appropriate music. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with an organist, pianist, or other musicians.
Prerecorded music may be used in your service, provided that it maintains the same standards for music. Your wedding fee includes the services of an audio/video technician who is available to assist you in playing CDs at the appropriate time in the service as well as setting up microphones for your musicians.
Please see the list of solos and hymns at the end of this document as representative of selections that are appropriate Christian music. Our staff musician can also assist you with additional titles and with special requests.
Photography and Videos
Propriety and decorum have become the sign of good wedding planning. Please share the following guidelines with your photographer.
- Flash pictures are permitted as the wedding party enters and leaves the sanctuary, but not during the ceremony. Similarly, the photographer is free to move about during the entrance and exit of the wedding party, but should remain unobtrusive during the wedding service.
- Time exposures from the back of the sanctuary are permitted during the service.
- Pictures in the sanctuary may be taken either before or after the ceremony according to your schedule and desires. Please inform the pastor of any pictures which involve him so that he can plan to be available.
- Excessive informality or poses in poor taste are to be avoided and the photographer is to see that individual members of the wedding party remain outside the chancel (altar area) except when they are involved in a picture.
You may video record your wedding ceremony provided that the videographer does not wander about the sanctuary during the service. Consider placing a stationary camera unattended in the chancel which will capture both picture and sound without undue distraction. Camera lights are not permitted during the ceremony.
Your wedding fee includes the services of an audio/visual technician for the church equipment. You will receive a DVD recording of your service from him. The DVD recording may be a one-angle recording from a fixed camera without turning or zooming the picture. It will also provide an excellent audio recording of everything that passes through our sound system.
Flowers, Special Candles, and Decorations
Be sure to check with the Pastor or the person to whom he will refer you in making plans with your florist. Cut flowers or artificial flowers of good quality are allowed on the altar in moderation, although potted plants or anything with dirt in them should not be placed on the altar. The use of candles, garlands, bows, or any other special arrangements or decorations should be approved by the Pastor or the custodian.
Rice and Bird Seed
Throwing rice over the bride and groom is a tradition which is swiftly falling out of favor since birds which eat the uncooked rice soon die. Since it is nearly impossible to clean up all the rice which is thrown, it creates a mess and a hazard on the sidewalks. Therefore, the use of rice is not allowed. Some couples have turned to using bird seed to shower the bride and groom as they leave the church. While this keeps the birds happy, it does still tend to track back into the church. Furthermore, the use of rice and seeds stem from pagan fertility rights. While the throwing of bird seed is permitted, we ask that you please do not schedule the throwing of bird seed until after any additional pictures have been taken and the bride and groom are ready to leave the church for the reception so that it is not carried or tracked back into the church building.
The rehearsal is normally scheduled for the evening before the wedding. Its primary purpose is not to insure perfection on the part of those participating, but rather to acquaint the members of the wedding party with the facilities and the wedding procedure in order to make them less nervous during the wedding.
The rehearsal appointment should be kept promptly so that your schedule and that of your guests, attendants, and pastor may also be kept. Every member of the wedding party should be present including those who will be grouped around the altar, the ushers, the parents of the bride and groom, and the musicians. If all are present on time, a rehearsal should not require more than 45 to 60 minutes. All those attending the wedding rehearsal should be seated in the back of the church for preliminary instructions. The custodian and audio vision technician will also be present at the rehearsal which is already included in your fees.
Ushers have a very important task. Their chief responsibility is to maintain reverence and dignity for a Christian marriage. Thus it is their responsibility to seat guests as soon as they arrive and to keep congestion to a minimum in the entrance way of the church. Ushers should be ready at least 30 minutes prior to the wedding. It is good church custom for the usher to precede those being ushered rather than to have the lady take his arm. It is not necessary to ask those entering if they are friends of the bride or friends of the groom though this may be done if you so choose. Places are designated for immediate family members of the couple. For the rest there is no special side.
Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church has a strict policy prohibiting smoking in any part of the building and prohibiting the use of alcohol, other than sacramental wine, anywhere on the premises. Smoking is allowed outdoors. Persons who consume alcohol on the premises or exhibit drunkenness while on the premises will be asked to leave immediately.
Since our congregation holds numerous weddings each year, please do not assume that the Pastor will be available to attend the Reception after your wedding service unless he is invited and is able to attend. If you desire a prayer before the meal at your reception, feel free to ask a respected family member or guest to do so. However, these arrangements should also be made in advance.
Your wedding fee includes eight hours of custodial services to include opening the building and turning on lights, etc., locking and unlocking rooms, tending to any general church inquiries, and cleaning up after your rehearsal and wedding so that the facility is presentable for Sunday services. As a rule of thumb, you may plan that the building will be available to you four hours before the start of the wedding service. For example: if your wedding is scheduled for 4:00, the custodian will open the building at noon and should be finished cleaning up the facility by 8 p.m. If access to the building is needed at other times, please arrange this through the Church office or the Pastor.
The Marriage License
Only the couple to be married may apply for or pick up their marriage license. It is your responsibility to see that it is delivered to the Pastor prior to the wedding ceremony. Under no circumstances will a wedding service be performed without a valid marriage license. We suggest that you apply for your license well enough in advance to allow for delays in the county offices and yet not so early that it expires on the day of your wedding. You should deliver your marriage license to the church office by the Wednesday prior to your wedding if you would like it typed, or to the Pastor no later than the time of the rehearsal if you do not want it typed.
The State of Minnesota has a lower cost for a marriage license for couples who receive at least 12 hours or premarital counseling. Your time with the Pastor in preparing for your wedding can only contribute up to 6 hours to this total, but cannot provide the full 12 hours required. We will not misrepresent this premarital counseling to the state.
The marriage service contains three readings as part of the Order of Worship. These are: Genesis 2:18-24, Ephesians 5:21-33, and Matthew 19:4-6. Additional texts from Holy Scripture may also be added or substituted, provided that they are appropriate for the marriage ceremony as determined by the Pastor. Among these resources, you will see a link to “Suggested Readings” from which you may choose as the basis for the sermonette or brief meditation from the Word of God. If you prefer not to select a special text, the Pastor will be glad to select one for you.
A Final Note
Preparing for a wedding can involve a great deal of planning and detail. It is our intention to work with you in whatever way we can to make your wedding day enjoyable and memorable within the traditions of the Lutheran Church and Our Savior’s congregation. The keys to a successful wedding day are PREPARATION and COMMUNICATION. The Pastor is here to help you make your Christian wedding a God-pleasing and blessed event. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the wedding service, counseling, use of the building, church policies, fees, or special requests, please feel free to contact the church office or the Pastor directly. We’re here to help. Thorough advance planning can prevent unwelcome surprises and unnecessary confusion.
God bless you in your preparations for marriage and for your marriage service.