Weddings at First Presbyterian Church are performed for members of the church and their families. Membership in the church is an important commitment of faith, time, and talent and, like marriage, should not be entered into unadvisedly. As a member of the church you will be expected to attend worship, participate in the educational ministry of the church, volunteer for service and outreach to others, serve in the life of the congregation, and make a financial commitment of support for the church’s ongoing ministry. If you are currently not a member and wish information about joining the church, please call for dates of Inquirers’ Classes, which are held several times a year.
Scheduling Your Wedding
The date and time for your wedding (and rehearsal) should be set as early as possible. The church secretary, Lisa Polite, (212-675-6150) will answer any of your questions and mail a Wedding Application form to you. When the application is received, she will schedule the date with the appropriate members of the church staff, including the minister who will perform the ceremony, the organist, and sexton. If the church calendar permits, and staff are available, your date will be placed on the church calendar and you will receive a written confirmation, normally within a week after the application is received. A non-refundable deposit of $250 is due upon confirmation of your date.
If it is necessary to make changes in your plans especially with regard to the time and date of either the rehearsal or the wedding ceremony, you must consult with the church first. Changes made without the prior approval of the church staff may not be honored. When completing the application, please use your full names as you wish them to appear on the Marriage Certificate. A copy of the wedding invitation should be sent to the church office (to the attention of Lisa Polite).
The Minister and Counseling
All weddings at First Presbyterian Church must be performed by a member of the ministerial staff. However, a visiting minister, rabbi, or other recognized religious leader may be invited by the officiating minister to participate in the service. This will facilitate planning the service and is a courteous gesture on the part of the minister. Interfaith weddings are not at all uncommon, and the officiating minister will want to discuss with you how you will nurture and honor one another’s faith in your marriage.
The couple should arrange for a two-hour counseling appointment with the minister who is to conduct the ceremony no later than two months in advance of the wedding ceremony. During this counseling appointment, the minister will discuss your relationship, your expectations and understanding of marriage, your plans related to children, your general readiness for marriage, and the importance of how your faith will shape and inform your lives together. The minister will also discuss the wedding ceremony with you and help you begin to make decisions about scripture readings to be used, participants, and the liturgy. The organist, Dr. William Entriken will meet with you separately to consider the music to be played for the service. (See “Music” below.)
If you are coming from two faith traditions, the other faith’s religious leader may require that you have additional counseling or attend pre-marital preparation classes to fulfill the requirements of that faith tradition. Please be sure you discuss this with the officiating minister at First Church.
The Order of the Service
You will discuss the order of worship with the officiating minister. Sometimes the liturgy takes several meetings to complete, or it may require revisions to be reviewed by the officiating minister. This can also be done by email. The final order for the service must be in the minister’s hands at least ten days before the ceremony.
Our organist, Dr. William Entriken will play music for the service. All music must be arranged and approved by him. Please call him at the church office at least one month prior to the wedding so that he can discuss the service with you (212-675-6150). He would be happy to meet with you and play music for your consideration.
If you wish, one of the church’s soloists can be engaged by Dr. Entriken to sing for the ceremony. Instrumentalists and guest musicians, including friends and family members, must be arranged with Dr. Entriken, and are subject to his approval. If you have a guest musician you would like to include, please discuss this with Dr. Entriken before engaging the musician’s services. Special requests for orchestration or vocal ensembles may require additional compensation.
Pre-recorded music is not used in services at First Presbyterian. Music for the service must be appropriate for Christian worship, remembering that the service is focused on praise and thanksgiving to God. Popular music, secular songs, and Broadway music are more appropriate for the reception following the wedding.
Bulletins and Printed Materials
If you wish to distribute bulletins or programs for the ceremony, you will be responsible for their preparation, printing, and distribution. Please consult with the pastor for approval of any notes about the service to be included in the bulletin and to confirm the order for the service.
Flowers and Decorations
- You may employ whatever florist you prefer. While the church does not endorse or guarantee the services of any floral company, Ariston Florist, 110 West 17th Street, is familiar with the church and provides flowers for many such occasions. They are open on Sundays. Telephone: 212-929-4226, 1-800-422-2747; Fax: 212-242-5479.
- When decorating, care must be taken to insure that no damage is done to the church.
- Only plastic clips or ribbons can be used to secure decorations on the pews. No nails or tacks are permissible. Please ask the sexton for clarification and assistance in securing such decorations.
- All decorations and flowers should be removed after the wedding.
- The use of a white carpet down the center aisle is not permitted for safety reasons.
- In order to assure the safety of you and your guests, and to minimize the need for additional staff to clean after the service, the church prohibits the use of confetti, rice, bird seed, flower petals, and potpourri to be thrown or scattered on any part of its premises. Accordingly, the bride and groom are expected to inform guests of this policy.
Photography and Videography
The taking of pictures is NOT permitted in the church or chapel during the service. The bride and bridegroom are expected to inform guests and persons engaged to take photographs. Photographers will not be allowed to come forward in the sanctuary before or during the ceremony to take pictures. In addition, they may not take photographs from within the center aisle. All pictures must be taken from the back of the church or from the balcony once the processional music has begun, and all photography during the service must be WITHOUT FLASH.
Videography is strongly discouraged, however, if you wish, a professional video recording of the ceremony, the videographer will not be permitted to stand in the center aisle during the processional nor come forward in the sanctuary either before or during the ceremony. Other than a camera located in the back of the church or in the balcony, only one unmanned remote camera is permitted, and it must be mounted on a tripod in a stationary position in the choir balcony. At no time will videographers be allowed to use lights in the sanctuary.
You are welcome to take group photographs in the sanctuary following the service, and the officiating minister will be more than willing to “re-stage” the wedding ceremony for closeup shots. If photographs are to be taken after the service, please inform the Sexton two weeks before the wedding. Many people like to take advantage of the beautiful North and South Lawns of the church for wedding photographs. When the weather is pleasant, photographers may ask you to arrive early to take such photographs on the church lawn. You are welcome to do so. Please keep us informed of your arrival time.
Obtaining Your License
You can obtain a marriage license in New York City at the City Clerk’s office located at One Centre Street, Manhattan. Call 212-669-2400 for directions and general information.
Information can also be obtained at www.nycmarriagebureau.com.
You must appear together and in person when you get your license. You will need to take identification such as a birth certificate or valid government issued photo ID, e.g. a driver’s license, military ID, passport, or alien registration card (see the website for all accepted identification), and $35 in the form of a money order only. Checks are not accepted and no other form of payment is permitted.
A New York State marriage license is valid for only sixty days and can only be used in the State of New York. You must wait a full twenty-four hours from the time the marriage license is issued before a marriage ceremony can be performed, unless a judicial waiver is obtained. Blood tests are not required. You must be eighteen years of age, although certain provisions apply to those who are between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. No person younger than the age of fourteen can be married in New York State.
The rehearsal is normally held the evening before the wedding beginning promptly at 6 p.m. or at another time to be arranged by the church secretary, Lisa Polite. The rehearsal lasts approximately one hour. Please make every effort to have all participating members of the wedding party arrive on time. Those who should be present include parents and any participating family members, grandparents, ushers, the entire wedding party, bride and groom, readers, ring bearers, flower girls, and junior bridesmaids.
The New York State Marriage License should be given to the minister at the rehearsal.
The rehearsal is an essential part of the preparation for the ceremony. At the rehearsal, the minister will read and walk through the service with you and all of the wedding party. Ushers will practice seating parents and family members. You will rehearse entering and leaving the sanctuary as you will in the processional and recessional. Readers will practice their readings and become familiar with the sound system in the sanctuary. The ushers will receive their instructions. The minister will explain where the groom and best man will wait before the service, and instruct the bride, attendants, and family members where they will gather before the ceremony as well. An abbreviated form of the liturgy will be rehearsed.
Seating of parents and relatives is an important and sometimes awkward part of the ceremony, and it is important to be sensitive to the comfort and feelings of family members. When a divorce has occurred between parents, it is especially important to decide prior to the rehearsal where parents and grandparents will be seated, whether on the same pew or in separate pews. Please consider how you will seat members of your families, including children of a previous marriage, and discuss this with them before the rehearsal in order to help your family and the officiating minister.
Flower and ring bearers are welcome participants in the service. Children who are three or four years of age are often intimidated by the size and formality of the sanctuary and suffer from stage fright both at the rehearsal and at the wedding ceremony. They may need the assistance of parents to help them come down the aisle or to sit with them once the child has reached the chancel. Children usually can participate more fully and comfortably by the age of five.
The Church Sexton, Mr. Tony Feliciano, will help start the parents and bridal party down the aisle during the processional. He will also be present to do so on the day of the wedding. He will ask the bride, groom, and witnesses to sign the license at the rehearsal. The organist will not be present at the rehearsal.
Because of the responsibilities and schedules of the church’s staff, it is expected that the rehearsal and wedding ceremony will begin promptly at the agreed hour. The church building is open (via the 12th Street Mellin-Macnab Building entrance) at least one and one-half hour before the wedding to receive flowers, etc. The ushers must be present no later than thirty minutes before the ceremony in order to provide security for the sanctuary. The doors of the church cannot be opened until they assume their responsibilities.
If a wedding coordinator is employed by the couple, that person’s authority and responsibility ceases at the doors of the church.
The Day of the Ceremony
All members of the wedding party are to be at the church one hour before the ceremony.
Because New York traffic is always unpredictable, please leave a generous amount of time to spare for your departure from home to the church. Parades, demonstration, accidents, and traffic jams have delayed many a wedding at the church. Don’t let yours be held up by such a delay. It is disrespectful and worrisome for your family and guests to begin the service late.
The Church Sexton will assist the groom, ushers, and bridal party in finding their appointed waiting rooms before the ceremony. When the time comes to begin the wedding, he will escort the bridal party to the back of the church and supervise the processional.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party must depart no later than 45 minutes after the end of the service. This includes taking pictures on the church premises.
Contributions and Fees
The following contributions and fees are requested for weddings:
- Contribution for the use of the church(including sexton fee): $1500
- Contribution for the use of the chapel(including sexton fee): $700
- Organist’s Fee: $450
- Soloist’s Fee: (if requested): $225
- Minister’s Honorarium: $500
- Use of Candelabra (includes candles): $75
The honorarium for the minister and the fees for the organist and soloist should be made payable directly to them. Other checks should be made payable to First Presbyterian Church. The sexton’s fee is included in the fee for use of the church. (Organist is Dr. William Entriken.)
All contributions are due one week before the wedding day. Please mail or deliver checks to the church office by that time, addressed to the attention of Lisa Polite.
A $250 non-refundable deposit is due upon confirmation of the date of your wedding and is applied toward the fee for use of the church or chapel.
Note: In situations of financial hardship, some contributions may be reduced or waived after discussion with the minister.
- The Rev. Jon M. Walton, Senior Pastor
- The Rev. Barbara E. Senecal-Davis, Executive Minister
- The Rev. William H. Critzman
- The Rev. Mark D. Hostetter, Associate Pastor
- The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, Parish Associate
- The Rev. Dr. Charles Mitchell, Parish Associate
- The Rev. Richard Pease, Parish Associate
- The Rev. Dr. J. Barrie Shepherd, Pastor Emeritus
- Dr. William F. Entriken, Organist
- Mr. Tony Feliciano, Sexton
- Ms. Lisa Polite, Administrative Assistant
Approved by Worship Committee: October 6, 2004
Reviewed and Approved by Session: October 27, 2004
(Updated April 30, 2006)