Planning a Wedding at Evangelical Lutheran Church–Congratulations!
You are, “By your promises” planning to bind yourselves together in the presence of God and the congregation as husband and wife. This is a wonderful experience that you are planning for your family and friends. The following will help you with your planning.
Not only is the ceremony for family and friends, but God is pleased when you make it a service of worship that is centered in Christ and is dedicated to His glory. A couple desiring a church wedding wants more than a legal ceremony. Standing before the altar, a couple wants their wedding to be:
- A statement of faith, that marriage is part of God’s plan
- A prayer for God’s blessing
- A celebration for the whole family and guests
- An expression of the couple’s desire for God’s life long presence in their home
You are to be commended for planning to have your wedding in a church. What a wonderful witness! It is in the church that Christians live out much of their lives. Confession, forgiveness, prayer, hearing of the Word, offering of our gifts, serving—all of these take place among the people of God. You have chosen to begin your married life in that setting. Thank you! We wish you God’s richest blessings as you look forward to your wedding day!
Please contact the church office as soon as possible to request a date for the marriage service, preferably six months or more before the anticipated wedding date. Once you have 1) confirmed availability with the pastors, 2) filled out the “request for wedding reservations” (available at the church office) and 3) returned it with the appropriate deposit, the secretary will place the wedding on the church calendar. The wedding date is not “reserved” until all these steps are taken.
At the heart of Christian marriage is a promise to reflect and receive God’s abiding love towards one another within the marriage relationship and outwards in service to the world. This love is reflected in a mutual passion and care for one another, a respect for each individual in the relationship and a commitment to one another and the relationship over time that establishes trust and stability.
A good marriage begins when both partners know each other well, when they have spent much time discussing their hopes and plans for marriage, and when they promise with their whole heart to “love, comfort, honor and keep” each other for the rest of their lives.
Your pastor will want to meet with you for pre-marriage counseling well in advance of the wedding; as well as discuss plans for the marriage service itself. A “Prepare” questionnaire will be used which will assist you in identifying strengths and growth areas in your relationship. Normally, you will meet with the pastor 4 times for these sessions.
Pictures are taken before the ceremony. Any departure from this must be approved by the pastor. It is imperative that all picture taking is stopped 30 minutes before the service is to begin to allow for ushering people and other preparations. Also, no FLASH pictures are allowed during the ceremony. Photo taking should not interrupt or distract from the ceremony in any way. Please inform your photographer and have them speak with the pastor if there are any questions. If you or your photographer move anything for the pictures, it is your responsibility to see that items moved are put back in their proper place. Video cameras must be mounted on a stand (no moving around with the camera). If you wish to have a video made, the videographer should speak to the pastor prior to the service for further directions.
Please make every effort to work with the pastor regarding the use of the sound system. Never attempt to change any settings.
Evangelical will print a 2 page marriage service bulletin for a fee. If you choose to have ELC print/copy your bulletin, all information must be to the office 2 weeks prior to the wedding. Payment is due at the time of proofing. You are welcome to make other arrangements for the bulletin. Please speak to the pastor to plan the content. DO NOT print copies of the bulletin until it has been
proofed by the pastor.
Because your marriage service is centered in Christ and is intended to praise God it is a worship service. Your plans will want to reflect careful planning of a worship service that will assist you and your guests to bring glory to God. Below is a general guide for the shape of the worship service. Additional elements may be added to the worship service in consultation with the pastor.
Declaration of intention
Prayer of the day
Hymn of the Day
Giving of Rings
Prayers of Intercession
The scriptures you choose to have read at your marriage service are a way of telling others about your own faith, love, and understanding about marriage. Please choose your scripture readings with prayer as you decide that to which you want to bear witness. Following are some suggested scripture readings for you to keep in mind, or speak with the pastor for assistance.
Genesis 1:26-28 woman and man created in the image of God
Genesis 2:18-24 companionship rather than loneliness
Proverbs 3:3-6 loyalty and faithfulness written on the heart
S. of Sol. 2:10-13 the voice of the beloved
S. of Sol. 8:6-7 many waters cannot quench love
Isaiah 63:7-9 God’s steadfast love lifts up the people
Jeremiah 31:31-34 the new covenant of the people of God
67 may God be merciful to us and bless us
100 we are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture
117 the steadfast love of the Lord
121 the Lord keeps watch over you
127 unless the Lord builds the house
128 blessed are those who walk in the Lord’s ways
150 let everything that breathes praise the Lord.
Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 if God is for us, who is against us
Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 a living sacrifice and genuine love
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 the greatest gift is love
Ephesians 3:14-19 the breadth, length, height & depth of Christ’s love
Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33 walk in love, as Christ loved us
Philippians 4:4-9 rejoice in the Lord always
Colossians 3:12-17 clothed in compassion, kindness…. Patience
I John 3:18-24 let us love in truth and action
I John 4:7-16 let us love one another for love is of God
Matthew 5:1-10 the beatitudes
Matthew 5:14-16 you are the light, let your light shine
Matthew 7:21, 24-29 a wise person builds upon the rock
Matthew 19:3-6 what God has united must not be divided
Matthew 22:35-40 love, the greatest commandment
Mark 10:6-9 they are no longer two but one
John 2:1-11 the wedding at Cana
John 15:9-17 love one another as I have loved you
The vows you choose to make to each other are shared publicly with your guests. They reflect your commitment to each other, but also make a statement about what your relationship will be like in the future.
Following are possible vows for you to choose from, or speak with the pastor for assistance.
I, ________, take you, __________to be my wife/husband from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come, and I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us.
In the presence of God and this community, I, __________, take you, ___________, to be my wife/husband; to have and to hold from this day forward, in joy and in sorrow, in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.
I, ________, take you, __________ to by my wife/husband, and these things I promise you: I will be faithful to you and honest with you; I will respect, trust, help and care for you; I will share my life with you; I will forgive you as we have been forgiven, and I will try with you to better understand ourselves, the world, and God; through the best and worst of what is to come, as long as we live.
I, ________, take you, __________ as my husband/wife in Christian marriage. I take you for what you are, what you will be and what we will become together. I will love you and trust you above all others as long as I live, and I will seek to become one with you as we live together sharing God’s love.
__________, I take you to be my wife/husband from this time onward, to join with you and to share all that is to come, to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, and in all circumstances of our life together to be loyal to you with my whole life and with all my being.
I take you, __________ to be my wife/husband. I promise before God and these witnesses to be your faithful husband/wife, to share with you in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, to forgive and strengthen you, and to join with you so that together we may serve God and others as long as we both shall live.
Music selected for weddings should embody high standards of quality and reflect the praise of God, God’s steadfast love in Christ as the foundation of and model for marriage, and the asking of God’s presence and blessing. Whenever music is employed in the service, and by whatever instruments or voices, it should be high quality examples of the art of composition, not cloud communication of the content and the mood of the service with musical triteness or associations bordering on sentimentality, and be within the ability of the performers at hand to play or sing with assurance.
When you keep in mind the worship of God and the Christ-centered orientation of the wedding service, the music you choose needs to lift up the presence of God in our lives and relationships. You will want to watch closely such things as themes and messages in the music, quality of the music, and difficulty for soloists and instrumentalists. Music will greatly enhance the wedding service as it proclaims the loving God who blessed
Secular music (that which does not lift up God’s presence and blessing) may not be used during the wedding service. It may be used sparingly during the prelude or postlude. Arrangements for musicians and music are the responsibility of the couple to be married. Plan ahead! Spend
time with your organist, soloist, and pastor in choosing the very best music you can. The following pages offer you a start on choosing various appropriate pieces. ELC has several accompanists. Please check with the pastor for contact information; and be sure to notify the pastor your plans for musicians.
Suggestions for Processional:
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” -Bach
“Jesus Shepherd Walk Beside Us” -Bach
“Beautiful Savior” -arr. Christiansen
“Trumpet Tune in D Major” -Purcell
“Trumpet Voluntary in D Major” -Purcell
“Water Music Suite” -Handel
“Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” -Manz
“Praise to the Lord” -Manz
“Canon in D” -Pachelbel
Suggestions for Recessional
“Wedding March” -Mendelssohn
“Trumpet Tune in D Major” -Purcell
“Trumpet Voluntary in D Major” -Purcell
“Tocatta in F Major” -Buxtehude
“Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” -Manz
“Praise to the Lord” -Manz
“On our Way Rejoicing” #537
“O Happy Day When We Shall Stand” #441
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” #836
Suggestions for Congregational Songs
* denotes could be used as a solo
“Beloved, God’s chosen” #648
“Come, my way, my truth, my life” #816
“O Morning Star, how fair and bright” #308
“Lord Jesus Christ Be Present Now” #527
“Hear Us Now, Our God & Father” #585*
“O Christ Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire” #604
“Love Divine All Loves Excelling #631*
“O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” #658*
“The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want” #778*
“The King of Love My Shepherd Is” #502*
“O Holy Spirit, Enter In” #786
“Children of the Heavenly Father” #781*
“Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us” #789*
“Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” #802*
“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound” #779*
“Give to Our God Immortal Praise” #848
“All Creatures of Our God and King” #835
“Now Thank We All Our God” #839/#840
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty’ #858
“Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” #836*
“Let All Things Now Living” #881
“Praise God From Whom All Blessings” #884/#885
“I Was There To Hear Your Borning Cry” #732*
“Jesus, Come! For We Invite You” #312
“Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love” #708
Evangelical provides the Christ Candle and Altar Candles. Evangelical also has candelabras for the front and along the aisles. You will need to purchase 36 standard taper candles, 5” high to be used with them. Glass globes (provided) for the aisle candles will need to be washed prior to the rehearsal. If you choose to have a unity candle, it will be placed on a unity candle stand in the front area of the church to the right of the chancel.
Unity candle tapers should be 12 inches long. Couples are responsible for setting up and putting away candelabras. Flowers are not placed on the altar. Stands are available for flowers. If flowers are going to be donated to the church for Sunday worship, please indicate on the information sheet. An aisle runner, if used, is to be furnished by the couple and can be obtained from a florist. The aisle runner
needs to be 55 feet long. There are 36 pews in the main sanctuary and approximately 275 people can be seated. Additional seating is available in the chapel and balcony. Wedding banners are available. Please indicate on the information sheet if you wish to use them, and which
one you have selected. Any decorations that are attached need to be done using soft wire. Tape cannot be used on the pews, woodwork, or painted surfaces because it removes the finish. Please keep in mind that anything moved in the sanctuary, entrance, changing rooms, (including the altar rails), will need to be moved back to its original place.
Bring the license to the church office no later than 1 week before the wedding. A Wisconsin marriage license is required if you wish to get married in Wisconsin (even if you live in another state). Normally you will obtain the license at the county courthouse in the county that you reside. The couple must be present in person to apply for the wedding license.
Be prepared to provide:
- Proof of residency (drivers license, utility bill)
- Your parents full names (first, middle, last, maiden) spelled correctly.
- If under 30, a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- If you have previously been married, bring the divorce decree or death certificate.
- Your social security number.
- Who will be performing the wedding and where.
A license is good for 1 month and takes 1 week to process. The minimum age at which you can marry with parental consent is 16. The minimum age at which you can marry without parental consent is 18. You must have 2 witnesses to the wedding ceremony. This usually means that your “best man” and your “maid of honor” will sign your marriage license. The marriage license is the document you get prior to your wedding; the marriage certificate is the document you may purchase from the Register of Deeds after the wedding. Witnesses must be at least 16 years old. If your “best man” or “maid of honor” is under 16, it simply means another witness will be needed to sign the marriage certificate.
The bride and her attendants will use the choir room for dressing. The groom and his attendants will use the office behind the chapel and/or the library. Rice and birdseed are not allowed because of safety and difficulty in cleaning. Please do not throw either on the church property. The use of alcoholic beverages on the church property or in the church is not allowed. Smoking on the church property or in the church is not allowed. Guests who are smoking will be informed of this policy.
Please inform the pastor if you wish to have the reception at ELC. The family will then need to coordinate the arrangements with the W/ELC. Please check with the office manager for a form, “Request for special occasions” to be completed and returned to the office at least one month in advance of the reception. Fees for reception do not include the cost of the food. Even if you use a caterer, your reception must be planned with the knowledge of the coordinators, as they must make arrangements to have a W/ELC member present at all receptions. The family is to take remaining food from the reception immediately following the reception. All other details regarding receptions need to be discussed with one of the reception coordinators (obtain name and telephone number of the individual to contact from the church office.).