12 Church Wedding Guidelines You Need to Know
Having a church wedding is a wonderful option that allows you to commit yourself to your marriage while expressing the importance of your faith to your community. Like any venue, there are certain guidelines that must be followed set forth by the location. Rules vary from church to church, but we’ve gathered up some information for if you decide to have your big day be in a wonderfully sacred space.
Discover these 12 church wedding guidelines so you know what to expect on your big day
1. Meet with the priest, pastor, reverend, or any other necessary clergy member
Depending on the church, it may be mandatory for you to meet with specific members of the clergy. If this step is optional, we recommend you still meet with and interview churches you’re considering, because it’s your opportunity to feel out the location you feel most connected to. It’s also your time to figure out any and all rules and regulations that must be followed if you decide to have your wedding there. Make sure you take notes!
2. Research the church’s event calendar
If you’re looking to get married on a specific holiday, you may need to consider a venue other than a church since it will most likely be booked with services. However, if you’re open to tying the knot around, but not on a holiday, it can cut down costs on decor because the church will likely have special decorations up that you can utilize.
3. Keep in mind music restrictions
At a traditional church, especially a Catholic church, you will have limitations on what music you can play. Usually it’s limited to psalms and classical music. If the venue is modern, you may be allowed to play a string version of your favorite pop song, but before you lock in a venue, this is definitely something to ask.
4. Your photographer may need to abide by certain rules
Before you sign a venue contract, make sure both you and your photographer know the rules for photography. Common restrictions range from no flash photography to no moving around once the ceremony starts to even no photography at any time. Just be sure to get the rules on photography during your venue interview and you’ll avoid any potential issues.
5. Be sure to ask about dress code
Dress code varies and truly depends on the church and denomination. For instance, some churches require shoulders to be covered and others don’t. Regardless, make sure you ask before booking. As a general guideline, guests should wear what they would wear to a normal church service. Nice slacks, collared shirts, dresses and skirts that are modest in length are all appropriate for a church wedding.
What is needed for a church wedding?
6. Gather appropriate documents
Some churches require proof of baptism, confirmation and/or communion, so be prepared to attain the necessary documents. There are also some churches that will only perform second marriages if the first was properly annulled. In addition, some religions require the soon-to-be spouse to be of the same faith, so converting may be necessary.
7. Premarital counseling or Pre-Cana may be required
This can sometimes be completed in a weekend or during a weekly workshop over the course of multiple weeks. Some churches don’t require this at all. It all truly varies, so be sure to ask about this important requirement.
How much is a wedding at a church? Do you pay for a church wedding?
8. Cost is usually, but not always, donation based
Traditionally, the cost of using a church is donation based for members of the church. For non-members, there is usually a fee that can range anywhere from up to $2,000, with the average being around $200-400.
How to decorate for a church wedding ceremony
9. First, check the rules of the church
Because of the sacred nature of a religious venue, there may be rules on how you can decorate the space, so be sure to check with management before proceeding.
10. Less is more
In order to complement the natural beauty of the space, we suggest the less is more approach. One way to do this is with candles, either real or battery operated, depending on what the venue allows. Consider candles of different sizes placed in large clear vases lining the aisle. Adding a carpeted aisle-runner is also a great way to add your own taste to your church without changing the style too much.
11. Add greenery for a touch of warmth
Greenery is another fantastic way to elevate your church ceremony without taking away from any of the ornate architecture of the venue itself. One way you can do this is by creating a floral arch or full circle at the beginning of the pews to enter through or surrounding the altar where you will say your vows.
12. Personalize with signage
Whether you prefer a more traditional rustic welcome sign, a monogrammed eucalyptus ring or a bright neon sign, customizing the church with personalized signage is a stylish way to make the venue more warm, inviting, and uniquely you.
Check out 5 incredible church wedding venues to help you visualize the big day
To inspire your location scouting, here are some examples of the incredible churches that are also available to you for your wedding day.
1. Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, Bella Vista, AR
2. Sausalito Presbyterian Church, Sausalito, CA
3. Ste. Anne Parish de Detroit, Detroit, MI
4. St. Peter and Paul Chapel, Solon, IA
5. St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA
See gorgeous, real church weddings to get inspired
This bride and groom had a traditional Jewish ceremony in the synagogue and decorated with florals in the color palette of pinks and taupes. Their reception kept with the floral theme using additional white roses, but also added hydrangeas and vases filled with water and floating candles to add to the elegance of the evening.
This couple decided to cover their Roman Catholic church with candles of all different shapes and sizes for a more ethereal look that really let the art and architecture of the venue speak for itself. The reception took place in a stone-filled courtyard that was also adorned with candles to carry over the decor from the ceremony itself.
The couple spent a total of $5,000 on the entire wedding, devoting just $50 to decorations. The bride created DIY bouquets out of artificial flowers that she bedazzled with jewels. In terms of decor, the couple opted to use what the church had to offer, with the addition of some faux greenery.
Create your church wedding in a few simple steps!
No matter the location, the most important part is having a meeting with the appropriate venue management so that you have all the rules and regulations up front prior to signing a contract. Be sure that the space reflects who you are as a couple and is a place that you both feel truly delighted to marry in. Once you lock in a venue for your ceremony, consider attending a bridal expo, especially if you’re planning the wedding yourself, so you can be sure to find the right vendors for your big day.