Wedding Policies


Congratulations on Your Upcoming Marriage!  The Session (the church’s governing board), ministers, and staff of First Presbyterian share your joy concerning your engagement and upcoming marriage!   The purpose of this brochure is to help you understand the steps you will need to take to prepare for your wedding ceremony.

Who Can Be Married at First Presbyterian   While the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) does not stipulate that people married in our church be members of our congregation, or even of our denomination, it is our fervent desire that either the bride or groom be an active member of First Presbyterian Church.

Through baptism, we are marked as God’s people and introduced to our church family, which publicly acknowledges its role in supporting the discipleship and spiritual development of those who are baptized.  Through the covenant of marriage, a man and woman pledge publicly to live a life of faithful discipleship as husband and wife, a promise most readily kept with the support of the church family in whose presence the couple makes their vows.

When Are Marriage Ceremonies Performed at First Presbyterian?   Most weddings take place at the church on Saturday.  Occasionally, weddings can occur on Fridays if the schedules of the church and minister allow.  Our church does not perform weddings on Sundays or on any of the following dates:

           New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Holy Week including the Saturday before Easter, The Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day         

What Do I Need To Do Next?   To plan for your wedding ceremony at First Presbyterian Church, please do the following:

  1. First, call the church office and ask to speak with the minister you would like to perform your wedding ceremony. You should make this call as far in advance as possible to insure the availability of the church and minister.  You must make this call at least three months before your wedding date since the minister will require at least two pre-marriage counseling appointments with you.  If neither the bride nor groom is a member of the congregation, this call will also determine whether our church will be able to perform your wedding ceremony.
  2. Once you and the minister have agreed upon a date, you should contact the church office to complete and submit a Wedding Reservation Form with the required deposit.
  3. As soon as you have reserved the date for your wedding, please call the church’s Director of Music to have an initial conversation about music choices.
  4. Shortly after confirming your wedding date, you should contact the minister and schedule the first of your pre-marriage counseling appointments. The purpose of these appointments will be to help the minister, you and your fiancé get acquainted, discuss the joys and challenges of Christian marriage, and plan the details of your wedding ceremony.
  5. You will also want to schedule an appointment with the First Presbyterian Church Wedding Consultant, who will discuss with you details about your ceremony (flowers, photographers, etc.).

What about the Ceremony Itself?   According to the teachings of the Presbyterian Church, the wedding ceremony is a service of worship and should incorporate the grace, beauty, and reverence of our Sunday services.  The liturgy for our service is drawn from the Presbyterian Church’s Book of Common Worship.  The minister will discuss with you the details of the wedding ceremony during your pre-marriage counseling sessions.

Can I Invite Another Member of the Clergy to Perform the Ceremony?   Almost always one of the ministers of First Presbyterian will preside at wedding ceremonies at our church.  However, outside clergy may be invited to assist in the ceremony by the officiating minister from First Presbyterian Church. 

What about Music for the Wedding Ceremony?    The music director of First Presbyterian Church is responsible for all wedding music.  Normally, the organist will play for all weddings.  If he/she is unable to play, the music director will play or find a suitable replacement.  The music director is also responsible for approving all arrangements for music and musicians for the marriage service.  He is available to help the wedding couple plan their music selections.  Furthermore, our music director has affiliations with the very best musicians (trumpeters, harpists, string groups, etc.) in Hampton Roads and can help the couple procure their services.  You should call him at the church as soon as your date is set to discuss your plans.

When selecting music for your church wedding, it is important to remember that the wedding ceremony is a worship service.  Music is an integral part of the liturgy; it should glorify God and inspire all participants. Wedding music should be of a style similar to our Sunday worship services.  Hymns sung by the congregation can add meaning to the service.

Music with taped accompaniment is not permitted.  Music with a secular association – Broadway tunes, ballads, popular and sentimental favorites – is not allowed during the church service.  It is in the couple’s best interest to consider trained singers for the ceremony.  There are four professional vocalists (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone) on the First Church staff who are available for weddings, and their services can be arranged through the music director.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

Couple’s Responsibilities   You are responsible for obtaining a marriage license, required by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You obtain it from the Clerk of Circuit Court no more than 60 days prior to the ceremony. 

You are also responsible for making provisions for the florist, decorations, music, wedding program, caterer, and photographer.  The First Presbyterian Wedding Consultant can assist with arrangements.

Finally, you must inform all decorators, florists, and/or wedding planners of all guidelines and policies in this brochure.  Any deviations from these policies must be approved by the First Presbyterian Wedding Consultant. 

Rehearsal   We will hold a rehearsal (which typically lasts 45 minutes) the evening before the ceremony.  The rehearsal is directed by the minister and First Presbyterian’s Wedding Consultant.  Please make sure all members of the wedding party attend and arrive on time. Please bring to the rehearsal your marriage license and at least three copies of any wedding program you have prepared for your wedding ceremony.

Decorations   Decorations that would in any way mar the walls, floor, or furnishings may not be used, and all chairs and furnishings in the sanctuary must remain in place. If you wish to use flowers as pew markers, they may not be adhered with thumbtacks, nails, or tape.  

Aisle sconces are not permitted; however, wall sconces are available in the sanctuary provided you purchase candles from the church for a nominal fee of $2.50 per candle ($40 total).  Please let the wedding consultant know of your desire to purchase these candles. 

Candles flanking the flowers are included with the use of the church.  Again, the wedding consultant will answer any questions the couple may have.

Flower   Flowers are a very important part of the worship services in First Presbyterian Church and their use is encouraged.  Chancel flowers from weddings at First Church will be left for Sunday services.  The bride and groom will be acknowledged in the church bulletin for their gift of flowers.  Artificial flowers are not permitted except in the basket of the flower girl, who must scatter silk flowers. 

The Wedding Consultant and the flower guild chairperson will coordinate the use and placement of the flowers.  A large brass container (26″x7½” outside; 24¾x5½” deep) is typically used for flower arrangements in the sanctuary; two brass vases (6¾” deep) are available for your use in the chapel.  Please inform the wedding consultant if you plan to use these pieces.

Your florist should contact the church office during the week prior to the wedding to make arrangements for delivery.

Photographs and Videotaping   Because your wedding ceremony is a worship service, no flash photographs may be taken while the ceremony is in progress.  During the ceremony, photographs (without flash) and/or videotapes are allowed if taken from the balcony or from a stationary tripod positioned in the chancel.  In keeping with the wedding service, appropriate attire should be worn by the photographer or videographer.

To determine if your plans coincide with what is permissible, you should check with the Wedding Consultant during the planning stages to insure that neither the rehearsal nor ceremony is interrupted.


The fee schedule is as follows:
  Members Non-Members
Wedding in Sanctuary 0 $750
Wedding in Chapel    0 $450
Honorarium for Minister $325* $350
Fee for Music Dir./Organist $300 $300
Fee for Wedding Consultant $200 $200
Fee for Sexton           $175 $175


* The minister’s honorarium will gladly be reduced in the case of financial hardship.  You may discuss with the minister during the pre-marriage counseling sessions. 

* Please do not feel obligated to invite the minister to your reception; however, if you choose to do so, please send an invitation as you would to other guests.

In addition, you may procure the following optional services:

– Candles for the sixteen wall sconces in the sanctuary are $2.50 each.  Please let the wedding consultant know at least three weeks before your wedding if you will use the wall sconces.

– Stanton Hall may be used for the Reception or Rehearsal Dinner at a cost of $750 for non-members ($300 for members) and an additional $300 for the Sexton.  This fee allows use of the room for two and one-half hours before the wedding or rehearsal and three hours after the scheduled time of the wedding or rehearsal.  If you have caterers using our kitchen, they must have a professional business license to serve and handle food.  They should provide their own paper products, serving trays, ice, and utensils.  All food should be pre-cooked and stored in coolers for prepping.  No use of our appliances, stoves, refrigerator, and freezers is permitted, with the exception of our warming oven.

You will be asked to pay a deposit of $100 (applied to the wedding sexton’s fee) when you submit your reservation form.  The deposit is refundable in the event of cancellation up to 60 days before the scheduled wedding date. 

All fees and honoraria should be paid by separate checks and be drafted to each individual assisting with the ceremony.  The First Presbyterian Wedding Consultant will provide the couple with the names and the amounts for the checks.  These checks should be mailed or brought to the church office at least one week prior to your ceremony.

Dressing Rooms   Rooms will be available two and one-half hours before the wedding for members of the wedding party who wish to dress at the church.

Following the ceremony, please gather your belongings, leaving the rooms in neat and serviceable condition for our Sunday classes, and depart the building as soon as possible to allow our staff time to prepare for Sunday services.

Specific Information Regarding Use of Our Facility   Our church building is a house of worship and shall be treated as a special place.  Accordingly, activities not in keeping with our Christian beliefs shall not be allowed.  Our wedding consultant will assist the couple with any questions that may arise concerning Presbyterian traditions and beliefs and will be a valuable resource in planning the wedding, as well as clarifying guidelines in this brochure.

No alcoholic beverages are permitted on church property.

Bird seed, confetti, and similar materials must be used outside the building.

For additional information, please contact the church office at 757-428-6332