Finally! My fiancee and I nailed down a contract with our church for our wedding celebration. It’s a short, two page document, covering what the church will provide and how much renting the hall for the day will cover. An ordained pastor, an organist, and a sexton are provided to keep the ceremony legal. And with all of this roughly being 13% of our total wedding budget, it is a steal (we think). Sure there are space limitations (you try to get 250 people in a church basement for a lunch) but our church is perfect and we really couldn’t think about being married anywhere else.
One good thing about actually getting married at at our own church (and being active members of the congregation) means that we were able to negotiate a contract that provides us the flexibility necessary to make our wedding possible. Need to come in the night before and set up? Ok. Need to come in early and displace a diakonia class? Sure. Need to possibly displaced the Brazilian congregation that meets in the basement on Saturday nights? Being 14 months in advance, that’s gonna work. And since we’re members, we get a discount on the overall rate. Seriously, it’s a good deal here.
We tend at Trinity to get a bunch of weddings were couples, who merely want a church wedding, will pay big bucks to have their service performed at our church. We try to make them a part of the community, ask them to attend services before hand, but, by the time the wedding happens, we never see them again. Why? Because they merely wanted a wedding that fit into their internal vision – a wedding that was religious but was minus the religious commitment. They felt Trinity was pretty (which it is), maybe they grew up Lutheran and they were trying to please their grandmother with a religious ceremony but the couple was merely going through the motions to committing themselves to each other. Now, this is admirable and important but the vows are not just a commitment to one another – they exist to announce to the community, and God, your commitment to Him. There is a religious and historical weight to the words that are being said, the hymns being sung, and the structure that is being worshiped in. In fact, a wedding is a worship service even if it’s never viewed as such. You’re not only there to be the center of the ring but you’re also to redefine your relationship to the Divine. Now, I could argue for hours what that redefinition means (this is where my religious tradition, views, and such comes into to decry a lot of supposed redefinition to be cultural rather than religious) but the general view is that there is a reason why, at the end of service, my the assistant minister of the church announces “Share the Good News!”. A church wedding is worship and a wedding can be, and should be, one of those beautiful expressions of what that Good News is.