A wedding is one of the holiest moments in life. As two Christian people join their lives to establish a Christian home, your church rejoices with you and is eager to make this sacred and memorable occasion a joyous one!
In the happy excitement of planning a wedding, many questions concerning details arise. The following guide is offered by our church as a loving gesture of care, interest, and information regarding our expectations.
Thornapple Covenant Church supports the Greater Grand Rapids Community Marriage Policy in the following ways:
- We encourage a courtship of at least one year.
- We promote chastity outside of marriage and faithful marital relationships.
- We expect a thorough premarital preparation process of at least three premarital counseling sessions (or equivalent) utilizing religious instruction, a premarital inventory, and intensive education.
- We encourage enrichment opportunities designed to strengthen marriages, and intervention services for stressed marriages.
- We train mature married couples to serve as mentors to those who are engaged, newlyweds, or experiencing marital difficulties.
- We cooperate with other congregations and organizations to share resources and to create a positive climate in which all marriages are helped to succeed.
Step One - Select a Pastor. All the pastors at Thornapple Covenant Church are qualified to counsel and conduct wedding ceremonies. Contact one of them to discuss their possible involvement at least four months before your wedding date. If you desire a minister other than one of the pastoral staff of Thornapple Covenant Church to officiate at your wedding, you must first obtain approval from the pastoral staff. Secondly, the guest pastor should notify our pastoral staff at least 3 months prior to the ceremony.
Step Two - Apply for a wedding date on the church calendar. As soon as your wedding date is contemplated, you should contact the church office to see if that date is available on the pastor's and the church’s calendar. The time and date that you reserve for your wedding will be kept exact. The time you request for rehearsal can be subject to change if another wedding or important church event comes up.
Step Three - Make an appointment with the Pastor for Pre-Marital Counseling. Because we believe that Christian marriage is a sacred covenant relationship involving the Lordship of Jesus Christ over marriage, home, and family, we take marriage very seriously in our church. Thus, the ministers are happy to officiate at the wedding, but only after appropriate counseling, and where there is a serious intent to establish the marriage on Christian principles. In preparation for such marriages, three or four counseling sessions with one of our pastors is required. There is a fee of $300 for counseling. If this price is out of reach for the couple there are scholarships available. The pastors and the Board of Elders reserve the right to deny the marriage request when it is apparent that the couples marriage preparation does not conform to Biblical standards.
Step Four - Secure an Application Form for the use of Facilities from the church office. Request for the use of church facilities should be made at the church office at least three months prior to the wedding date.
- All dates are held with a deposit of $150.00. Again, remember the time and date you reserve for the ceremony will not change, but rehearsal time could be subject to change. The facilities of our church may be available to people of other churches under special circumstances. The pastor and the Board of Elders will determine such use in accordance with the guidelines of this booklet.
- Members and regular attenders may schedule weddings 12 months or longer in advance of the date.
- Non-members may schedule weddings 6 months or less.
Step Five - Contact the church wedding hostess. After the wedding date has been scheduled with the pastor and the church office, the church wedding hostess must be contacted. The hostess is familiar with our church facilities and the rules governing their use as well as wedding etiquette. Her name and phone number will be provided by the church office.
Christian marriage takes place in the church with all the solemnity and sacred joy that goes with recognizing the presence of God. We understand then, that as the happy couple are united in marriage and seek God’s blessing on their union, their guests will join them in worship and thanksgiving to God.
The wedding ceremony shall be Christian and sacred in character, as opposed to having secular, romantic, or purely humanistic themes. The wedding ceremony is seen as a time of worshiping the Living God.
To view pictures of the sanctuary, click on attached files below.
All music in our church, including wedding music, is an expression of worship. All music, both instrumental and vocal should be sacred and thus appropriate for use within our church sanctuary. The wedding hostess will be happy to advise on the selection of appropriate music and suggest soloists who may be available.
If the reception is held in our Fellowship Hall, any musical entertainment or program to be held during the reception must be discussed with the wedding hostess.
FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS
Our sanctuary lends itself to very simple decorations and we urge Christian couples to be good stewards in the arrangement of their wedding. The florist should visit the church to realize the size of arrangements needed. The florist is responsible to contact the church office for instructions and time of entry.
Please do not nail, screw, tack, and/or glue to fasten any decorations to the furniture or walls. Pins should not be used in the church chairs. Furniture and floors must be fully protected at all times from moisture and candle wax. The bridal family is expected to be responsible for any damage done to the building and/or furniture and for cleaning any wax from the floor or furniture.
All decorations and aisle runners must be secured through the florist or rented, as our church does not have them available. The church does own two (2) candelabras, kneeling bench, isle candles, candle lighter and a unity candle holder. Check with the wedding hostess on what is available. Decorations brought in by the family or florist should be removed from the building immediately following the wedding.
Note: There are a few sanctuary pictures under Related Downloads on this page.
PHOTOGRAPHS AND RECORDINGS
Flash pictures are not permitted during the ceremony. Please notify your official photographer as well as any family members who may bring a camera. Photographs may be taken before and after the ceremony. Couples are encouraged to consider having the majority of their wedding pictures taken before the ceremony in order to avoid unnecessary delays at the reception.
If a tape recording of your wedding ceremony is desired, please notify the wedding hostess who will make arrangements with our sound system people.
Video taping of weddings is permitted. The wedding hostess or sound person will guide the technician in the placement of cameras for this purpose.
RECEPTIONS HELD IN OUR COMMUNITY ROOM
The following guidelines have been accepted and apply to all receptions held at our church:
- The Community Room will hold approximately 25 -30 round tables with each table seating 8 people. (We own 30 tables.)
- The wedding hostess will be responsible to oversee the reception.
- All receptions must be catered by an outside caterer.
- The caterer is responsible for the following:
- All serving dishes, warming trays, etc.
- All food preparation
- All food clean up
- All kitchen clean up including church dishes used
- The church has available for use:
- Dishes, Plates, Cups
- Coffee pots
- Punch bowl
- Some table coverings
- The bride is responsible for:
- Restoring all rooms used for dressing to original condition
- If a sit-down reception is planned, the custodian must be informed about setting up tables (how many, configuration). It may be necessary for a member of the bridal family to supervise this set up.
ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT REMINDERS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM
The rehearsal as well as the wedding is to be conducted in the Christian Spirit and with dignity.
Please, NO Smoking at any time inside or outside of the building.
At certain times of the year the sanctuary is decorated according to the church calendar for Sunday worship. For example, during Advent the sanctuary has Advent decorations in it. There are other seasons with sanctuary decorations as well, such as Lent and Easter. We cannot take decorations down for weddings during those seasons. Please ask about this when you book your date.
The church does not permit the use of alcoholic drinks, or throwing of rice, confetti or flower petals on church premises. It is acceptable to use bubbles and throw bird seed but only outside the building and it is preferable to be in the parking lot (off the sidewalk) if you are going to use them.
Please do not use red punch of any kind.
Due to our active Sunday program, Saturday weddings must begin by 5:00 p.m. and receptions must clear the building by 9:00 p.m. and special arrangements must be made for tear down and clean up.
Additional rooms may be used for changing of clothes for the wedding service. The wedding hostess will help with these choices.
We express appreciation for your cooperation and remind you that our Lord's public ministry began at a wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2). May you rejoice as His presence is again made known by this celebration of your Christian marriage. Congratulations!
FEES FOR THE USE OF FACILITIES
(The church rental fee includes the custodian fee, wedding hostess and a sound person.)
NON-MEMBERS AND NON-REGULAR ATTENDERS*
- Marriage Counseling: $300**
- Church Rental: $600.00
- Reception (Additional): $250.00 + $20 per hour custodial fee
MEMBERS AND REGULAR ATTENDERS
- Marriage Counseling: $300**
- Church Rental: $350.00
- Reception (Additional) $100.00 + $20 per hour custodial fee
A deposit of $150.00 is required when the wedding date is placed on the church calendar, and the balance is due prior to the wedding. Make checks payable to: Thornapple Covenant Church. These fees do not include honorariums (see below).
*Non-regular attender is one who has neither attended nor participated in the life of the church, nor contributed financially to the church for a period of four months. Special circumstances will be reviewed by the Board of Elders.
**Please note that we feel pre-marital counseling is a very important part of preparing for your life together. Scholarships are available if needed. Please consult our wedding hostess or pastor about this.
The pastor does not set a fee for his services. Normally an honorarium is given by the groom. Such an honorarium is understood to be an expression of appreciation for conducting the ceremony. Preparation for the ceremony, the rehearsal and wedding itself, as well as special attention to other aspects of the celebration, require a significant investment of the pastor’s personal time.
Your soloist and organist / accompanist should also be the recipients of an honorarium. If they are friends, do not overlook them, as they have spent time and money preparing the music for you. Questions regarding these honorariums should be directed to the wedding hostess.
May the Lord Jesus Christ guide your plans, and may the beauty of your wedding be prelude to a lifetime of marital joy.