Weddings at St. John's
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Planning for your wedding is a time consuming and intense activity. Preparing for your marriage as husband and wife is critical and essential. We pray that both go well as you seek the Lord’s blessings on your life. God desires to bless you with His guidance, patience, and especially His love. The following information is provided so that you can be as prepared as possible for your wedding day and married life together. If any questions arise, please call the church office (219-362-3726).
As soon as you have discussed your desired wedding day, PLEASE contact the church office to make sure the date is open. Do not make any other reservations for reception, photographers, florists, etc., until you have verified that the church is open for that day and time, and that the Pastor is available to conduct the service.
Wedding services are for Communicant Members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in good standing or those currently enrolled in membership class. At least the bride or the groom must qualify for this privilege of membership. Wedding ceremonies during the penitential season of Lent (Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday) are discouraged as in this somber and solemn time we are reflecting and meditating on the Lord’s Passion.
Marriage Preparation Sessions:
Upon verification of your wedding day, Pastor will contact you to arrange a series of Marriage Preparation sessions. During these sessions, Scripture study will be made to identify the verse or verses that are significant to you. These will help form the foundation of the wedding service. Other topics of discussion include: communication, finances, family and future in-laws, priorities, habits, personal and marital boundaries.
Couples who are living together and not married will be given opportunity to immediately have a private service with Pastor, or live separately until the wedding day. This will bring the proper spiritual and Scriptural faithfulness and directive to marriage. It will bring honor and respect to the institution of marriage. The couple will still be able to plan for and have a full and complete church ceremony in celebration of their marriage. Living together outside of marriage is a sin. Through confession and forgiveness, the couple amends their lives and honors God by desiring to be faithful to God and His promises and to one another. Unwillingness to share in the private service (i.e., getting married by the Pastor in his office) or to separate will forfeit the privilege of a church wedding.
1. Building Use:
The latest a wedding can be performed on a Saturday is 3:00 P.M. This allows time for transitioning for the 6 P.M. regular worship service. All photography, decorations, gowns, tuxedos, and clothing must be removed and the building cleaned up by 5 P.M.
There is no smoking and no consumption of alcohol in the building or on the church and school grounds during the rehearsal and on the day of the wedding. Due to insurance reasons, there is to be no throwing of anything after the wedding: birdseed, rice, confetti, etc. Bubbles are approved, with the understanding that all empty containers be properly disposed. It is necessary for proper decorum that the wedding party refrains from alcoholic drink before the rehearsal and the wedding.
The building will be unlocked approximately 2 hours before the start of the wedding.
2. The Ceremony:
The Wedding service is a worship service. Everything done in this time is to be to the glory of God. Therefore, all music is to be of a worshipful, Scriptural, and Christ-centered nature. Popular ‘love songs’ without any reference to God are not appropriate. (This kind of music is best suited for the reception.) All vocal music must be approved by the Pastor. Instrumental music should also be appropriate for worship. If you desire an organist, please contact our Music Director, Mrs. Susan Rosselli (393-8613). If you have another organist in mind, please confirm this with the Pastor.
Our Lutheran Service Book has a couple of appropriate hymns that can be sung by the congregation that speak of the blessings God grants in marriage. The hymn selected by the bride and the groom is sung after the exchange of vows and during the time of the lighting of the Unity Candle, or immediately following the Unity Sand Ceremony.
Optional part of the Wedding Ceremony:
The Unity Candle. The Church has a unity candle stand, a place for the central (wide base) candle symbolizing the marriage and two holders for individual candles, representing the individual lives of the bride and groom. The couple can use the candles available for use (Cost $10) or they may bring their own candles. This Unity Candle is lit after the vows have been spoken. The mothers of the bride and groom light the candles prior to the procession of the wedding party.
Unity Sand Ceremony: An alternative to the Unity Candle is the Unity Sand Ceremony, consisting of vessels of different colored sand that are poured into one larger vessel. A narration is spoken to explain this newer ceremony, and the congregation witnesses how the sand is poured and the different color variations that result. Like the Unity Candle, this ceremony is done after the vows have been exchanged. The couple must supply their own vessels, containers, and sand.
Please inform your photographer, videographer, and guests that no flash photography is allowed between the Invocation (the beginning of the service) and the Benediction. Cell phones, texting devices, and pagers must be turned off or set to vibrate. (The only rings we want to hear about are the rings worn by the bride and groom!) Close up photos can be staged after the ceremony is over.
The color of the paraments is determined by the liturgical season and are not changed. The Church’s wedding banners may be placed in the chancel.
4. Marriage License:
At least two weeks before the wedding, apply for the marriage license at the courthouse. Bring the certificate to the church office, as there will be some additional preparations needed before the wedding day. A commemorative certificate may also be presented. At the conclusion of the ceremony, and before any post-service photos are taken, the bride and the groom must sign the certificate, as well as the best man and maid/matron of honor on the commemorative certificate.
5. Fee Schedule:
Building use (Church):$150 $50 is for 3 hours of Custodian Fees
Building use (School Cafeteria) $250 (for reception)
Wedding Bulletins$ 25 for 100, $35 for 200
A check payable to St. John’s Lutheran Church should be remitted one week prior to the wedding date.
6. Organist’s services:$ 75
This covers consultation with our organist for selection of approved music, rehearsal time, and the day of the wedding. Payment should be made directly to the organist by the time of the rehearsal. Should a vocalist sing a solo during the service, and the organist is to accompany this individual, please consider an additional $25 for practice and rehearsal time.
7. Vocalist services:
This is optional, but payment for this person is made directly by the bride or the groom. Contact our Music Director to schedule times for rehearsals. Also, if someone other than our regular organist is used for the service, approval must be given by the Pastor and the Music Director. This person must also meet with the Music Director to be shown the workings of the organ.
8. Pastor’s Services:
While the role of the pastor is to give counsel with the Word of God, the couple preparing for marriage arranges several appointments to meet with the Pastor. During these sessions, the couple reviews several Bible passages that speak to the couple in their life together as husband and wife. Other topics include Priorities, Roles and Responsibilities, Finances, Problem Solving, Forgiveness, and Family Obligations. Scripture readings for the wedding service are also examined and selected, and a verse from Scripture is selected by the couple as their wedding text. The Pastor would use that verse as the source for the message given at the Wedding. Knowing the additional time required for meetings and preparations, an honorarium of a cash gift should be considered for the Pastor and given the day of the wedding.
A suggested minimum honorarium is $100.
The bride and the groom are expected to provide flowers for the vases. The Church office should also be notified if the flowers are to be left for the weekend’s worship services. Flowers used at the altar should be cut flowers, not silk or artificial. Flowers to be placed in the chancel by the altar must be real flowers. Two arrangements are needed for both sides of the altar. Local florists know the style of our flower stands. Please contact the Church Office for information on which florists we generally use.
Recalling the simplicity of the wedding and the reverence for God’s House of worship, selection of other decorations should be at a minimum. Bows may be attached to the ends of the pews in the aisles that are in good taste. Consult with the Pastor on the appropriateness of the decorations you select. No tape is to be used; however ribbons may be used to secure the bows to the pews. There are 58 pews in the main sanctuary and 24 pews in the chapel. This is an optional item.
11. Wedding Bulletin:
Although not necessary, it does serve as a memento to guests and family of the wedding day. Selection of appropriate covers can be made with the Pastor. The Order of Service is discussed and personalized for each couple. Self-written vows are not permitted, as the traditional vows simply and clearly convey the essence of the marriage commitment. The listing of the Wedding Party is the responsibility of the bride and groom; emailing the list saves time in copying the information, and avoids typing errors in the processes. Information for printing must be brought to the Church office at least one week prior to the wedding date. The cost of the bulletins and printing is $25 for the first 100 copies, $35 for 200, and $10 for each additional 100 bulletins.
12. The Wedding Party:
The bride and the groom are the principle people in the ceremony, along with the Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honor. These four must meet with the Pastor immediately after the receiving line on the day of the wedding to sign certificates. Other attendants may be added as the bride and groom invite. Participation of others in the ceremony should be discussed with Pastor in the Preparation sessions. Concerns for parents who are no longer married to each other need to be discussed and decided prior to the rehearsal.
If you will be having a flower girl or ring bearer, please give careful consideration to the age of the children. Generally children under age 5 have a difficult time with the expectations placed on them in connection of a wedding service.
Ushers are strongly advised to be included as they will help with escorting guests to their seats, distribute the wedding bulletin, and, at the conclusion of the service, dismiss the guests row by row in an orderly fashion to join the receiving line. These ushers can ‘double duty’ by being groomsmen.
The wedding rehearsal is generally conducted the evening before the day of the wedding. The procession, ceremony, and recession will be practiced twice. All participants to the wedding should be in attendance so that positions, preparations, and practice walking and moving can be done the day before to ‘put the butterflies into formation.’ Places for the parents of the bride and groom should be determined at this rehearsal. Please be on time for the rehearsal.
14. The Reception:
If you desire the Pastor and his wife to attend either the rehearsal dinner or the wedding reception, please make written invitation well in advance of the date. Keep in mind that with the Saturday service, the Pastor is obligated to conduct the evening service and will not be able to attend until after the service at Church. It is suggested that the Best Man or father of the bride/groom offer the dinner prayer at the reception hall in his absence.
15. The Marriage Policy:
The marriage policy of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of La Porte, Indiana, Inc., a member congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), is and always has been consistent with the Synod's beliefs in marriage. We believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24-25), and that God gave marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride the Church (Eph. 5:32). The official position of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod as set forth in 1998 Res. 3-21 ("To Affirm the Sanctity of Marriage and to Reject Same-Sex Unions"), is that homosexual unions come under categorical prohibition in the Old and New Testaments (Lev. 18:22, 24; 20:13) 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10) as contrary to the Creator's design (Rom. 1:26-27). These positions and beliefs can be found on the LCMS website, along with other statements, papers and reports on the subject of homosexuality and same-sex civil unions and 'marriage.' Our pastors will not officiate over any marriages inconsistent with these beliefs, and our church property may not be used for any marriage ceremony, reception or other activity that would be inconsistent with our beliefs and this policy.
Slide show courtesy of Holly Russell-Lady and the Lens