Guidelines for the Solemnization of A Relationship

Committed, loving relationships are a true gift of God. They form a sacred bond between two
persons. The public recognitions of such relationships within the setting of a Christian congregation are not intended to be private ceremonies, but rather are true worship services gathering
together the entire Christian community. Those desiring to have their relationships solemnized
at St. Matthew’s are requesting that they might celebrate their relationship with their family in
Christ. As such, the Pastor of St. Matthew’s Church will not normally officiate at such a worship service unless that couple demonstrates a desire to be an active part of St. Matthew’s family by regular attendance at worship services. Of course, exceptions can be made for those who
now live out of the area, those who are attending another house of worship with their intended,
those with special circumstances, etc. The Pastor of St. Matthew’s may also, at times, be willing
to officiate at ceremonies outside of the normal worship setting. All such decisions shall be
made by the Pastor on a case-by-case basis.
Date and Time
After you have selected a tentative date and time for your service, it is important that you
schedule an initial appointment with the Pastor. It is advantageous to have an alternate date and
time in mind in case the sanctuary is in use or the Pastor is not available. Please do not plan any
part of the service until after you have spoken to the Pastor. The Pastor of St. Matthew’s will
preside at all such services; however, if you wish another clergyperson to assist, you may consult with the Pastor as to what options might exist. Such other clergypersons shall be compensated by the couple for their services directly, above and beyond all fees mentioned below.
St. Matthew’s Director of Music Ministries is in charge of music for all worship services at St.
Matthew’s and serves as the chief musician. If she/he is not available, she/he will secure a substitute. All music, both vocal and instrumental, shall be coordinated with, and approved by, the
Director. As the service is a worship service, only sacred music will be used. Secular favorites,
while meaningful at times, may be appropriate at the reception but not during the worship service. Recorded music of any kind is never allowed.
St. Matthew’s does not ordinarily host receptions or rehearsal dinners; however, exceptions may
be made for a very limited number in very special circumstances. Please consult with the Pastor. If staff members of St. Matthew’s Church are invited to any outside rehearsal dinners or
receptions, printed invitations are in order; however, in general, staff will not attend such functions so as to allow the attendees to truly relax and enjoy themselves.
The Pastor is assisted in preparations for all services by the Hostess/Host who is a part-time
staff member of St. Matthew’s Church. The Hostess/Host is to be consulted in the details of the
service (candles, decorations, flowers, etc.). Outside “wedding consultants” (when contracted
by the couple) will work under the supervision of St. Matthew’s Hostess/Host.
Processional, Recessional, Standing, Seating, Receiving Lines, Etc.
All matters related to: the order of the processional; the order of the recessional; where participants and/or relatives and others will stand or sit; receiving lines; etc. are to be discussed with
the Hostess/Host in advance. The Hostess/Host will make final decisions on such matters based
on past practices and current policies.
St. Matthew’s Church requires an average of 4-6 counseling sessions before the Pastor will solemnize any relationship within the sanctuary of St. Matthew’s Church. These sessions are designed to facilitate communication between the couple on a variety of sensitive issues. All sessions are confidential. Sessions will be conducted by the Pastor. In addition, the Pastor will
meet with all couples one time to discuss the details of the service. These sessions will ordinarily be conducted in the Pastor’s Study. Other counseling opportunities are to be encouraged
(Engagement Encounter, Etc.) but will not take the place of counseling with the Pastor of St.
Matthew’s Church.
Controlled Substances
No illicit drugs or tobacco products are permitted on the campus of St. Matthew’s Church. Additionally, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted.
Decorations, Flowers, Etc.
No rearrangement of sanctuary furnishings is permitted. No decorations of any kind may in any
manner be attached to any woodwork or carpet. St. Matthew’s does own special wedding candelabra as well as a “unity candle” which are available for use. St. Matthew’s does not own a
wedding “runner;” however, you may consult the Hostess/Host as to approved options from
outside sources. Florists are allowed to deliver arrangements to the sanctuary no more than 90
and no less than 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. The practice of throwing confetti, rice, birdseed, etc. is not permitted due to cleaning, safety, and environmental concerns.
Pre and Post Service
The church campus will be opened 90 minutes prior to the start of the service and will be closed
30 minutes after the service ends. All preparations, decorations, dressing, etc. are to be done
during this time frame.
Gifts and Valuables
Bringing gifts to the church campus is to be strongly discouraged; however, if gifts are brought
they are to be removed immediately after the ceremony. Valuables should not be left unattended
anywhere on the campus including in dressing areas. St. Matthew’s assumes no responsibility
for the safety of any gifts or valuables.
Photography and Video Taping
No photography shall be permitted during the service by anyone beyond the first pew of the
nave. Flash photography is to be discouraged as much as possible out of courtesy to the couple,
the attendants and the Pastor. Video taping may be allowed from the balcony and/or the entrance to the sacristy. All photographers are required to meet with the Pastor 60 minutes prior to
the beginning of the service. If any photographer ignores the rules and/or instructions of the
Pastor, the service will be stopped and the photographer will be escorted out of the sanctuary.
Smaller Ceremonies
Small ceremonies in the Prayer Chapel or Gazebo of St. Matthew’s Church, or in an off-site
location, may be scheduled at the discretion of the Senior Pastor. Options, fees, requirements,
locations may be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
A non-refundable deposit of 50% of the total fee shall be required at the time of the submission
of the “Information Form” which shall be given to the Pastor prior to the first counseling session. “Information Forms” may be obtained from the church office. All checks shall be made
payable to St. Matthew’s Church.
Cancellation for any reason, either by one or both members of the couple or by the Pastor of St.
Matthew’s (with cause), shall result in the forfeiture of all deposits paid. The Pastor at all times
reserves the right to postpone or cancel any public recognition of a relationship for any of the
following reasons:
If he/she feels that the couple is incompatible or unprepared to solemnize their relationship;
If the couple fails to attend worship regularly in the weeks prior to the ceremony;
If the couple fails to attend any of the scheduled counseling sessions;
If any member of the wedding party behaves inappropriately during the rehearsal or service
or attends either while under the influence of a controlled substance.
Item Member* Non-Member
Church Facility $200 $550
(includes Custodial fees, candles, etc.)
(includes 4-6 counseling sessions & 1 planning session) $250 $450 Organist (includes one rehearsal and two one hour planning sessions) $250 $450
Wedding Hostess
(includes one rehearsal and two one hour planning sessions**) $250 $450
Sound Technician $50 $100
(includes one rehearsal)
TOTAL $1000 $2000
*Fees are based on large scale wedding ceremonies and may be adjusted commensurate with eh
size of the ceremony planned. Additionally, fees may be adjusted on a sliding scale in case of
financial need.
** Phone calls, etc. shall be considered as part of the time devoted to planning sessions. Hours
required for planning beyond those indicated above shall be billed at the rate of $50 per hour.
We here at St. Matthew’s pray God’s richest blessing upon your relationship and upon your special day. The public recognition of your
relationship is meant to be a sacred event, but it is also meant to be a
time of celebration and enjoyment. If there is anything that the staff
of St. Matthew’s Church may do to assist you with your planning
and preparation please feel free to call the church office.