A Message to the Bride and Groom
Congratulations from St. John’s United Methodist Church on your upcoming marriage! A wedding is one of the happiest and holiest moments in life. As you join your lives to establish a Christian home, our church rejoices with you and is eager to provide a setting that upholds the joy and sanctity characterizing the ceremony of Christian marriage. The church staff and the members of St. John’s are willing to do all they can to make your wedding an event worthy of the significant and sacred commitment you bring to your marriage.
This page has been prepared to assist you in the preparation of your wedding. It explains fully St. John’s wedding policies, and is designed to enable you to experience as little confusion as possible in planning the wedding service. Please read it carefully before meeting with the pastor.
Before any plans are made or dates set for your wedding, contact the church office. Be certain that the date you are looking toward is available and our pastor is available. St John’s is a large parish and many events are scheduled in the church and fellowship hall. We would encourage you not to place an order for invitations until your chosen date has been placed on the church calendar by the Office Manager of St. John’s in consultation with the pastor.
The staff of St. John’s Church (Pastor, Music Directors and Sexton) is charged with the responsibility of rendering a faithful ministry to those who request it. The staff is completely familiar with Methodist tradition and worship practices and the operation of this church. If you have questions not answered in this material, please do not hesitate to contact churchoffice [at] stjohnsdover [dot] org or 603-742-3046.
The fact that you wish to be married at St. John’s Church indicates your desire for a Christian service. At the first consultation with the pastor, the couple will be instructed on how to develop their own wedding ceremony using “Words for Your Wedding” by Peter Misner and David Glusker (available for purchase at bookstores or online). Those who are a part of your wedding are not simply spectators or witnesses. They are participants and worshipers. This includes those who are in the wedding party, as well as your families and guests who come before the altar of the church to celebrate this experience with you.
A celebration of Communion is an optional part of the service and can be arranged during the planning with the Pastor.
It is the policy of St. John’s United Methodist Church for one of the ministers (whether active or retired) to be in charge of any wedding in this church, although another minister may assist, provided the minister in charge is consulted.
As soon as the date is confirmed on the church calendar and with the officiating minister, the bride and groom are asked to consult the minister in charge regarding a pre-marital conference (conferences). We believe that the first session should be scheduled as near as possible to the beginning of the engagement.
During your preliminary meeting with the pastor, an information sheet will be completed for planning purposes. Also, an “inventory” containing one hundred and twenty-five questions will be given — the results from this will become the foundation of the next one or two meetings. The inventory carries of fee of $35. This preliminary meeting usually takes 1 ½ - 2 hours. There will be two or three additional meetings to follow.
Normally, the pastor who officiates at the wedding will lead the pre-marital counseling. If, however, for reasons of distance and circumstance, this is not possible, another person, whose qualifications and skills the presiding minister recognizes, may be called upon.
If you wish to have the pastor attend either the rehearsal dinner or the reception you should extend the invitation well in advance of the wedding.
For Members - The minister’s fee is left to the discretion of the bride and groom.
For Non-members - $250.00
THE MARRIAGE LICENSE
The marriage license must be secured at the City or Town Hall where the couple live – or from the Dover City Hall if the couple lives outside the state of New Hampshire. It should be brought to the church at the rehearsal and given to the presiding minister.
No wedding will be performed without a license.
Once the date of the wedding is placed on the church calendar, one of our Music Directors should be contacted and an appointment made to discuss the music for the ceremony.
Sacred music selected for this service shall be that which is considered appropriate to the traditions of this parish and the Christian Church. Secular love songs, ballads, etc. are not appropriate to be included within the service itself. If the couple desires that one of these styles of music be played and/or sung, it can take place either before the spoken portion of the service begins, or after it is concluded.
All music selected is subject to the approval of the participating Music Director in consultation with the pastor. Congregational singing is appropriate at a wedding, enabling the assembled worshipers to participate in the service more fully.
Should you desire to have the historic Charles Brown Memorial Carillon – the twelve-bell tower of bells – played either before the wedding or at the conclusion of the wedding, you must contact one of our Carillonneurs to make arrangements. The Office Manager will provide contact information.
In order to ensure that all who attend the wedding will be able to hear adequately, the sound system for the congregation will be used. Individual “listening devices” are available for those with hearing challenges. A Sound Technician from the church will arrange for this detail.
Sound Technician’s Fee
The sexton will be informed by the pastor and/or the Church Office that a wedding has been scheduled, and he/she will ensure that the church is open, lights are on, heat on before the rehearsal and wedding.
An additional $25.00/hour charge for the sexton may be incurred if additional set-up or clean up time is required in conjunction with rehearsal, wedding, or reception needs.
SCHEDULING OF THE FACILITIES
Reservations for the use of the church facilities should be made through the Office Manager in the Church Office, with the approval of pastor.
Weddings and rehearsals will not be scheduled for the following holidays: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Holy Week (the week before Easter), July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Weddings on the same day will be scheduled at least four (4) hours apart. This enables the church staff to properly prepare the building(s) for each wedding, and gives each wedding party ample preparation time.
The church facilities will be open at least two (2) hours prior to the ceremony.
All articles of clothing and items of personal property are to be removed immediately after the ceremony. St. John’s Church is unable to assume responsibility for any items of personal property prior to, during, or following the ceremony.
Sanctuary - Seats about 250
Fellowship Hall - 115 Seated at tables
Sanctuary - Members: $0 - Non-Members: $150.00
Fellowship Hall - Members: $0 - Non-Members: $175.00
To qualify for no rental fee for use of buildings, the bride, groom or their parents, must be active members and have been on the membership rolls of St. John’s Church for at least one year prior to application.
NON-REFUNDABLE SECURITY DEPOSIT
Non-members are required to complete the “Facility Use Application” and submit a non-refundable deposit of $50.00 to secure their desired date on the St. John’s wedding calendar. If a wedding is cancelled, the security deposit will be forfeited.
Final payments for the facilities and all services must be made by the rehearsal date, at the latest. Checks for the facilities should be made payable to “St. John’s UMC”. The pastor will provide the names of the individuals who will provide specific functions for the wedding service, so checks can be made out directly to those individuals, and given to the pastor for distribution.
A photographic record of your wedding day is something you will always cherish. Take care in selecting your photographer and plan well in advance. All persons – including professional photographers – planning to take photos will be expected to adhere to church rules regarding picture taking. They are as follows:
- Flash photos may be taken of the wedding party as they are entering and leaving the sanctuary. No photos may be taken during the service itself. The bridal party may return to the church after the ceremony for as many pictures as they wish.
- The pastor will gladly pose with the wedding party and re-enact portions of the service for photographic purposes at the conclusion of the ceremony.
- Video cameras may be used but must remain stationary during the service at the location designated by the pastor
No photography will be taken inside the church during the ceremony.
The following regulations are given to preserve the proper atmosphere of the church and to safeguard the furnishings.
No pew or regular furniture may be moved. Under no circumstances will the pulpit, communion table, cross, or candle sticks or candelabra be moved.
Within the Chancel proper, there should be no decorations except Altar candles and if desired the two (2) 7-branched candelabra (furnished by the church) and up two (2) vases of flowers on each side of the Altar. These flowers will in no way hide or overshadow the Cross. The church’s brass vases are not to be removed from the building; however, if approved, may be used in the reception area after the wedding.
No decorations may be used on the pulpit or piano.
St. John’s candelabras may be used and the church will supply all candles used for the wedding. No nails, tacks, wire, gummed or scotch tape, or thorny vines or evergreens, may be put in or on the walls, woodwork, pews, chancel rail, or furniture, of the church building.
All wedding decorations whether in the sanctuary or elsewhere, must be done under the supervision of and with the approval of the pastor. The florist/decorator must contact the Church Office concerning the time desired for decoration. The bride must also inform the florist/decorator of rules for the floral decorations.
An aisle cloth/runner may be acquired through your florist.
Additional decoration such as greenery in the windows is the responsibility of the bride or her florist.
All decorations should be removed from the sanctuary immediately after the wedding unless special permission is sought, and granted, to postpone removal and cleaning until the following day.
If the couple desires to leave the altar flowers for the following day’s worship service, this should be cleared well in advance with the church secretary so that proper recognition may be given in the church bulletin.
No alcoholic beverages or smoking are allowed on the church campus at any time.
No rice may be thrown in the church or on the grounds. Some people find bird seed to be an acceptable alternative.
Getting married in an outdoor setting is lovely, but it requires some thinking and planning that need not be done when a service is in a church. While much of the arrangements will be made through the owners or management of the ceremony location, there are some additional things about the ceremony itself to consider.
Without the benefit of a building’s acoustics and sound system, much of the spoken ceremony can be lost outdoors. This is especially true if the location of the wedding party is more than a few feet from the seating for the guests. It might be nice to actually have the ceremony under the waterfall, but if the guests have to be over a bridge on the other lawn, you would do well to rent a sound system for the occasion. Families, especially, can feel deprived if they cannot hear the ceremony. If the day is windy and the guests are upwind, they may not be able to hear even if they are close.
A sound system is also strongly suggested in any setting where you will have readers other than the person performing the ceremony. Often friends or family doing a reading are a bit nervous and might have difficulty speaking loudly enough to be heard outdoors. Check with the management of the facility or the person doing music for your reception to find out what would work best in your setting.
The Unity Candle is a wonderful and meaningful symbol of your new life together. For that reason, it is an awkward moment when the wind blows it out six seconds after you have lit it. Many couples choose not to include this element in an outdoor ceremony. If it is extremely important to you, however, there are some ways to handle it.
Depending on the particular setting, there might be a more sheltered place to locate the candles. You could also provide some sort of screen that might go around three of the four sides to keep away wind. Another option would be to include that piece as the kickoff to your reception. In the usual ceremony there are no words spoken during that moment and no official need be present. As you are introduced into the hall, you could proceed to the head table, and have a brief ceremony there before the reception proper begins. Your pastor can give you some ideas about how to arrange this.
A Religious Ceremony
Since you have asked a pastor to perform your service, you have asked for a religious ceremony. That means that although the setting will tend to be more informal than inside the church, you are still participating in a religious service. The professionals you engage to help with other parts of the ceremony (musicians, photographers, etc.) should be aware of this.
Photographers and videographers, especially, should be told that their work should not interfere with the dignity of the ceremony. Those taking video and/or still shots should not be planted in the aisle during the procession, although they are welcome to dart out quickly to get a straight shot. Anything that they are not able to capture live can be restaged for them at the conclusion of the ceremony. They should in no case come within about 10 feet of where the pastor and groomsmen are standing during the procession or where the ceremony itself takes place. Please be sure that family members providing these services are also aware of the proper etiquette.
While gazebos, tents, and other structures can make for a romantic wedding scene, you will need to think about visibility for your guests in these situations. Work with your florist to be sure that large bouquets will not block the view of the ceremony for your guests. If you plan to erect a tent so that the ceremony can be held in inclement weather, you will have some extra things to think about.
At a wedding at Cottage By the Bay in Dover, one couple decided to hedge their bets on the weather with a tent for the guests. The ceremony, however, was still to be held in the gazebo with the tent placed just in front of the gazebo. The gazebo, however, was elevated. With the wedding party in the gazebo and the guests under the tent, all the guests could see was the wedding party from the waist down. The overhang at the top of the tent combined with the elevation of the gazebo, prevented a view of the entire ceremony. The problem was solved by doing the ceremony on the steps of the gazebo, but it was not the look that the couple had hoped for. It also added anxiety about falling off steps; and the soloist and musicians (who were in the gazebo) could not be seen at all.
Each setting will provide unique challenges, and the day will be more comfortable for all involved if those are explored ahead of time.
Since the ceremony is not at the church, it is up to each couple to contract for ceremony music. Sometimes a DJ doing the reception can provide pre-recorded music, or there are a number of musicians who hire out for weddings. Be sure you find out their needs for power supply as you plan the layout of the ceremony.
Travel and Honoraria
If the wedding is near Dover, the usual pastoral honorarium of $250 for non-members is sufficient. If your location is out of town, however, an honorarium of $275 for non-members is suggested. For significant distance that might require an overnight stay or travel of beyond 100 miles, travel compensation should be figured accordingly.2be