Congratulations on your engagement! As you prepare for your special day, First Baptist invites you to explore the amenities we offer for creating a wedding that will celebrate the sacred union you are making together in God's presence. We pray that your marriage will be a life-long celebration of love, commitment and faithfulness. Click the text in the box "Weddings at First Baptist" to jump ahead at any time.

Meeting the Pastor
To arrange for your wedding to be held at First Baptist, first you must contact our pastor and make an appointment to meet with him. At this meeting you will discuss the nature of a Christian marriage, including your religious backgrounds, past and present involvement in church life, where you two are in your spiritual journeys and why you wish First Baptist to be the location for your wedding. Both members and non-members, including those of non-Baptist backgrounds, are welcome to be married here. The final determination as to who may be married at First Baptist is left up to the discretion of the pastor.

The Date
If the pastor agrees to officiate and is available on the date you have chosen, contact the church office to schedule the event. Reservations should be made well in advance of your wedding to ensure the availability of your date. The exact time for the rehearsal, the ceremony, and reception (if being held at the church) must be established when the church facilities are reserved. Your reservation will be confirmed and the wedding day officially scheduled when your date has been approved. No announcements should be made publicly or invitations sent out until the date has been confirmed to you by the church. Weddings cannot be scheduled that will conflict with church services or prior scheduled events. Weddings may be held during certain special events, such as the Christmas season, with the understanding that any decorations already in place cannot be removed or changed. Once a wedding is placed on the calendar, church activities will not be scheduled which will conflict with or disturb the wedding or reception.

Ceremony Facilities
Both the Sanctuary and the Hull Chapel are available as possible sites for your wedding. The Sanctuary seats up to 300 people, while the Hull Chapel's more intimate setting holds a maximum of 60 people. Brides and their bridesmaids may dress for the ceremony in the church library. The pastorís study is available for the use of the groom and his party. Both the Sanctuary and Hull Chapel may be heated, as weather permits. There is no central air-conditioning.

Role of the Pastor
Weddings at First Baptist are performed by our pastor. The marriage ceremony is a worship service and is one of the most sacred rites the pastor performs under the authority of the church. We do allow guest clergy to assist or perform the service on a limited, pre-approved basis. If our pastor is unavailable for your wedding date or you wish for another minister to perform the service, either jointly or singly, permission must first be granted by our pastor and the Board of Deacons. Please remember that allowing a guest clergyperson to officiate is the exception, not the norm. If a joint service is held, our pastor reserves the right to set the order of the service, the theological content and the responsibly for assisting or leading the ceremony. An honorarium is expected for the pastor's services, which includes pre-marital counseling.

Pre-Marital Counseling
In the rush to prepare for the wedding day, sometimes it is easy to forget that marriage is a gift from God and signifies the beginning of a new life together, founded in your Christian faith. Preparation for the deep and loving commitment you are making is an investment in each other. To offer you support and encouragement in developing skills that will promote a strong Christian marriage, a minimum of four sessions of counseling with the pastor is an essential part of preparing for your marriage. The pre-marital conferences you will embark on will be spent not only talking about the specific details and the significance of your wedding ceremony, but will also focus on your marriage relationship within the context of the Christian faith. The bride and groom should arrange sessions with the pastor as far in advance as possible in order to enjoy an adequate period of time for planning and consultation regarding the wedding ceremony. If another clergy-person is performing the ceremony, our pastor will consult with him or her to ensure counseling has been completed.

Wedding Host
To ensure that your wedding service goes smoothly, we provide at least one church host to assist with the rehearsal and your wedding day. The host is a liaison between you and the church. They will assist the minister prior to the ceremony, care for church property, and ensure that appropriate communication regarding the churchís policy takes place. The host may direct the ushers before the ceremony, as well as guests unfamiliar with the church building. Additionally, they are on hand to assist with any last-minute emergencies. If you choose to hire a wedding consultant or coordinator, that person will work directly with the church host.

Rehearsal
The wedding rehearsal should be scheduled when the wedding date is set. Rehearsals are usually held the day or evening before the wedding, and typically last one hour. The purpose of the wedding rehearsal is to assure that each participant in the wedding party can contribute to the spirit of worship during the wedding ceremony. As such, all persons involved in the service should be present and on time. The bridal party, speakers, parents and anyone else directly involved with the wedding ceremony should be present to learn of their special responsibilities and to ensure that everyone is well-prepared for your wedding day. The rehearsal is held under the direction of the pastor, assisted by our wedding host and any wedding consultant you may provide.

Music
Our church organist and choir director coordinates the music for weddings at First Baptist. All music used in the wedding ceremony needs to be approved by her. A pre-wedding consultation with the director will help you in selecting appropriate pieces to enhance your special day. It is your responsibility to contact her for an appointment, and we ask that you do so well in advance of your wedding, preferably soon after the wedding date has been cleared. Any vocialists or instrumentalists may be of your own choice. The use of an outside organist is possible at the director's discretion, but our director has the right of first refusal. Any guest organist will need contact ours to set up a rehearsal time for use of the organ.

Sound System
If you would like a sound technician to be available during the ceremony, appropriate arrangements can be made with the director. Special materials, such as a CD of music, must be approved by her beforehand and coordinated with the sound technician assisting in your wedding. We ask that no equipment be used without a sound technician or the director present.

Photography & Videography
Flash photography is not allowed during the wedding ceremony, but is permitted during the processional and recessional. Professional photographers should be inconspicuous during the service. Videotaping of the ceremony is allowed as long as the camera is stationary and unobtrusive. We recommend the view from the balcony if you are using the Sanctuary. No artificial lighting is allowed. Please arrange to have your photographers and videographers meet with the wedding host prior to the ceremony to ensure the best positions can be accommodated. Following the service, photographers are welcome to pose any portion of the wedding ceremony. If interested in taking portraits prior to the wedding ceremony, we ask that you inform the pastor and schedule a time that would be appropriate in advance. Also, the pastor will be available for posing, if desired. Pictures with the pastor in them should be taken before group photos of the wedding party and families.

Decorations
Decorations for the wedding ceremony should be kept within the bounds of simplicity and good taste to enhance the quiet beauty of the Sanctuary or Hull Chapel. Only candles may be placed upon the altar table. Two pairs of altar candelabras with 14 tapers per set and a white linen runner in several different lengths are available for rental. Please use protective coverings on the floor to ensure that candle wax does not damage the carpet. Other equipment should be provided by the florist or families. No pins, tacks, staples, glue or tape are to be used, as they damage the finish and paint on the furniture. We encourage the use of plastic hooks for hanging decorations, which can be obtained from the church office. Additionally, the microphones hanging above the choir loft and in the front of the church may not be touched (pulled back, tied up, etc.), nor can pews or chairs be removed. All decorating materials and debris should be removed from the Sanctuary or Chapel at the conclusion of the wedding service. If any floral arrangements are being donated to the church, please inform the pastor in advance.

Program
You are welcome to arrange for the printing of a wedding bulletin to pass out prior to the ceremony. Although the church does not provide this service, the pastor will consult with you in outlining the order of service and otherwise assist you with the content of the program.

Marriage License
A valid marriage license must be obtained from the office of the Register of Wills at the Washington County Courthouse. The license must be received by the church office no later than one week prior to the date of the wedding. This is an important detail, so be sure to obtain the marriage license well in advance of your wedding date.

Reception Facilities
If you are interested in holding your reception at First Baptist, our Fellowship Hall and commercial-sized kitchen are available for use. The church has both rectangular and round tables available, as well as folding chairs. The Hall can seat up to 125 people. Caterers should provide all other items, according to your preferences. Please note that no dancing, tobacco, or alcoholic beverages are permitted, and music played at the reception should be "dinner music" only. Unless special arrangements have been made, the kitchen is not to be used for the cooking or preparation of food. Some couples choose to serve refreshments and a light luncheon prior to the wedding for their families and/or the wedding party. If you wish to use the facilities for this purpose, necessary arrangements can be made. For custodial reasons, all food and drink needs to be confined to the Fellowship Hall. Out of consideration for our custodial staff, we ask that receptions conclude at a reasonable hour. Please consider that although most weddings are on Saturdays, the custodian must prepare the church facilities for Sunday morning use. Thank you for your understanding of the needs of the church in these regards.

Security
While theft is a very rare occurrence, you should not leave purses or other valuables unattended in the church during the wedding ceremony. Unless the wedding reception is being held in the Fellowship Hall, wedding gifts should not be brought to the church. If your reception is being held at the church, gifts brought by guests should not be left unattended. First Baptist is not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged items.

Additional Policies
Tobacco and alcohol in any form are not permitted on the premises. Food and drink are not allowed outside of the Fellowship Hall. Throwing confetti, rice, or releasing balloons are not permitted for custodial and environmental reasons. We recommend using flower petals, birdseed or bubbles, and ask that any remnants be used only outside and swept up after the service. Often, couples wonder what hospitality should be extended to the pastor. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to invite the minister to your reception, and because of time demands he is sometimes unable to attend. If couples wish to have the pastor attend their reception, with or without his spouse, please be sure to send an invitation as you would to any guest. If possible, he will attend your reception, and if desired, provide a blessing for the meal. Any other special requests for your wedding ceremony must be granted by the pastor prior to the wedding rehearsal.

Please contact us for further details regarding
the fee schedule and date availability.

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