Our Policy on Wedding Services

First Presbyterian Church, Kinston, N.C.

The Session of the First Presbyterian Church, Kinston, North Carolina, offers this statement, based primarily on the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to help couples planning their wedding services at the church to understand the meaning of Christian marriage and the policies of the church for such services.

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The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well being of the entire human family. For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which a couple is called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage, a lifelong commitment is made, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.

 Planning For the Wedding

Before proceeding with initial arrangements for their wedding, a couple should contact the church office and have the acceptance of the pastor for the scheduling of their wedding. When this is confirmed, the wedding will be officially scheduled, and the date and time held on the church activity calendar. It is important to indicate whether the ceremony is to be held in the sanctuary or the chapel.

When a marriage is performed in the context of Christian worship, the proclamation of the gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ is a promise of blessing to the marriage. As the couple responds affirmatively to this proclamation, their marriage is in the Lord. This applies equally to first marriage, to marriage after the death of a spouse, and to marriage after being divorced.

If persons who are not members of the First Presbyterian Church are to be married in the church, it is expected that at least one of them must be able to provide satisfactory evidence of membership in a Christian church. This is necessary, so that they might be able to participate in a service of Christian marriage in a meaningful way. If the pastor feels that such Christian commitment and responsibility is lacking, the permission of the church Session must be obtained for the ceremony to be held at the church.

In choosing a date, please remember that weddings are not normally scheduled for Sundays, Holy Days (such as Christmas), during Holy Week or on legal holidays. The bride and groom should schedule a rehearsal at a time that is agreeable with the wedding director and officiating minister(s).  On the day of the wedding the church will be opened 2 to 3 hours before the ceremony.

All couples who marry at First Presbyterian Church must be willing to adhere to the following conditions:

  1.  Couples being married in the church must be willing to abide by the policies of the church and be responsible for the actions of the wedding party.
  2.  Arrangements for weddings are made on a first-come, first-served basis with scheduled church functions always taking priority.
  3.  Couples must read the detailed policies, agree to the fee schedule, and have an initial meeting with the pastor who will be conducting the service. They must complete a wedding application form and return it to the church office with all applicable usage fees before the wedding date will be officially scheduled on the church calendar.
  4.  A pastor from First Presbyterian Church must participate in all wedding services in the church. Other ministers may share in officiating at the wedding by invitation of the pastor of First Presbyterian Church. The division of the service will be made by the pastor in consultation with the couple.  If a pastor of First Presbyterian Church is not available, another minister can officiate pending the approval of the pastor and/or the concurrence of the church Session.
  5.  Dress for all involved in the wedding should reflect respect for a service of worship.
  6.  The couple must meet with the officiating pastor to make arrangements for the service and to enter into the discussion required by the Book of Order. In addition to the initial pre-wedding planning session, it is necessary that couples participate in pre-marital counseling sessions with one of the pastors who will be officiating at their wedding or with a certified Christian marriage and family counselor.
  7.  Prior to the wedding service, preferably at the rehearsal or before, it is the responsibility of the couple to present to the pastor two copies of a State of North Carolina Marriage License for use in Lenoir County. This license should be obtained from the office of the Register of Deeds in the Lenoir County Courthouse in Kinston. The Register of Deeds or the pastor will be able to furnish information on the legal requirements in securing such a license.
  8.  s approval.  (See Wedding Music Policy, page 4.)
  9.  Every wedding shall utilize the services of a wedding director from First Presbyterian. Our wedding director is familiar with our facility and church policies and will assist you in having a smooth and joyful wedding.    (See Wedding Policy Regarding the Wedding Director,  page 6.)
  10.  Every wedding and reception held at the First Presbyterian Church shall utilize the services of the church cleaning person, a lights/sound/ HVAC technician and childcare attendant (if requested).  (See Wedding Policy for Cleaning Service, page 6.)
  11.  Although every precaution will be taken to assure their safety, the church cannot be responsible should any personal items or clothing belonging to the wedding party be lost, stolen or damaged.
  12. Make certain your florist, decorator, photographer, videographer and caterer (if reception is to be held at the church) are aware of and willing to abide by church policies. 

(See Wedding Policies on Photography and Recording, Flowers and Decorations, Caterers/Receptions beginning on page 5.)


  1. A bride’s room is available for use for dressing purposes. This room is located near Hamilton Hall. Other rooms may be made available for this purpose, if so requested.
  2. Smoking is not permitted on the church grounds or anywhere in the church facilities.
  3. Consumption of alcoholic beverages of any kind is not allowed in church buildings or on church property.
  4. No rice or confetti or other products that litter and make cleanup difficult may be used inside or outside the buildings of the church. Birdseed may be used only in the parking lot.
  5.  There are no charges for use of the church facilities by persons who are members of the church or who have family connections with the church.  All couples are expected to pay fees to the organist (if used), soloist (if used), cleaning person, minister(s), wedding director and lights/sound/HVAC technician and childcare attendant (if requested).  These fees should be paid on the night of the rehearsal by bringing payment to the wedding director for distribution.
  6. Non-members who are approved for having a wedding service in our facilities are expected to make a usage fee donation to the church to help defray expenses. Usage fees are as follows:

Use of sanctuary – $400

Use of fellowship hall – $200

Use of chapel – $150

Use of parlor – $100

All applicable usage fees must be paid at the time a Wedding Application Form is submitted to the Church Office. Make checks for usage fees payable to First Presbyterian Church.

7. For smaller weddings, it is recommended that the chapel be used; it also has an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ and seats approximately 100 people.

8. The officiating minister’s fee for wedding services will be as follows:

Pre-wedding planning – $50

Pre-marital counseling (2-3 sessions required) – $50 per session

Wedding rehearsal – $50

Wedding preparation and service – $100

 Fees/Honorarium for pastors should be paid directly to them by the couple.

9. Weddings are not normally scheduled on Sundays; but if a Sunday wedding is necessary, it is important that the couple remember the other activities of the church which     are normally held on Sundays. The time for a Sunday wedding should never be set without consultation with the pastor and church organist.


The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) states:

The service begins with the scriptural sentences and a brief statement of purpose. The couple shall declare their intention to enter into Christian marriage and shall exchange vows of love and faithfulness. The service includes appropriate passages of Scripture, which may be interpreted in various forms of proclamation. Prayers shall be offered for the couple, for the communities which support them in this new dimension of discipleship, and for all who seek to live in faithfulness. In the name of the triune God, the minister shall declare publicly that the couple is  now joined in marriage. A charge may be given. Other actions common to the community and its cultures may appropriately be observed when these actions do not diminish the Christian understanding of marriage. The service concludes with a benediction.

The church Session reminds couples that the actual form of the service to be used must be discussed and finalized with the pastor or officiating minister who will lead the service. This presiding minister shall have final authority over its contents of the wedding ceremony.

Wedding bulletins may be printed listing the order of service, the music and the participants. Since these are neither provided by nor printed by the church office, arrangements for the same are the responsibility of the couple. The pastor, or officiating minister, and the organist should be consulted concerning the contents of any bulletins prior to their being printed.


When there are several attendants taking part in the ceremony, it is always wise to make arrangements for a rehearsal. The bride and groom, their parents and only those directly involved in the ceremony should attend the rehearsal. Sufficient time (at least one hour) should be allowed for the rehearsal. It is the responsibility of the couple to make sure that all participants are present and on time. It may be helpful to provide out-of-town participants with directions to the church.

It is very important that the couple meet with the assigned wedding director prior to the rehearsal to work out all the details of processional, recessional and standing positions during the ceremony. After consulting with the couple, the assigned wedding director will be responsible for consulting with the pastor and organist prior to the rehearsal to discuss the plans for the ceremony and the rehearsal.

The rehearsal, though in a relaxed atmosphere, should be seen as a preparation for a worship service. It will begin with a welcome, a few words of introduction and a prayer by the pastor. Then the wedding director will have primary responsibility conducting the remainder of the rehearsal, in consultation with the presiding minister. In regard to the content of the service, the pastor shall have the final authority. It is advisable that if a kneeling bench or any other additional items are to be used for the ceremony, these also be available for the rehearsal.


The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states:

Music suitable for the marriage service directs attention to God and expresses the faith of the church. The congregation may join in hymns and other musical forms of praise and prayer.

 The church Session anticipates that the church organist will play for all weddings at First Presbyterian Church. If the church organist cannot be available, he/she will secure a qualified substitute. If a couple has valid reasons for using another qualified organist, the church organist must give approval for such a person. If the church organist is unavailable to give such approval, or has some reluctance to do so, the permission of the Worship Committee must be obtained for such a visiting organist. It shall be the responsibility of the visiting organist or the couple to contact the church organist to make arrangements regarding the use of the organ.

Since the service of Christian marriage is a service of worship, only music appropriate for Christian worship may be used. Music basically secular in orientation, such as most current popular songs, selections from Broadway shows, and other music not suitable for the worship service, may not be used. Music of this type is best left for the reception.

It is the responsibility of the couple to contact the Director of Music or the assigned organist and arrange a meeting at least six weeks before the wedding to develop plans for the music. The Director of Music may be contacted by e-mail (obrienj@mail.ecu.edu) or through the church office (252-522-1921). Arrangements for all vocal music (congregational hymns and special vocal music) should be developed in the planning session with the Director of Music and confirmed with the presiding minister.   The Director of Music must also approve use of any other instrumentalists (pianists, violinists, brass players, etc.).

Since there are many possibilities for processional and recessional music, the choice of these pieces needs to be discussed. If the couple has no particular suggestions to make with respect to the music, the organist will plan a program of suitable pre-service music. If the Lord’s Prayer is sung, it should occur at the point in the service where the congregation normally would pray it together.

The church organist fee for rehearsal and wedding service is $300.00.  If the organist does not attend the rehearsal, the fee is $250.  Payment is due at the rehearsal and should be given to the wedding director for distribution. It is the couple’s responsibility to make separate arrangements with any guest musicians.


The choice of a photographer for a wedding at First Presbyterian Church is at the discretion of the couple. It is the responsibility of the couple to assure that these policies are understood by and agreed to by the photographer chosen.

Since the marriage service is a service of worship, it should have no intrusions such as the taking of flash photographs or the movement of people to take pictures or to make recordings. It is requested, therefore, that no flash photographs be taken during the service. This applies to family and guests with cameras as well. 

A professional photographer may take a picture from the rear of the sanctuary as the wedding party enters and as the couple recesses. Time exposures requiring no movement or distracting noises on the part of the photographer may be taken from the choir gallery in the rear of the sanctuary during the service.

After the service has concluded and all guests have left the sanctuary, flash pictures may be taken in the chancel area. In order to expedite the taking of pictures before and after the ceremony, it is advisable to discuss in advance with the photographer the groups or persons to be photographed.

Any videotape recording of the service must be done from either the back of the sanctuary behind the last pews or from the choir gallery. This must be done without any distracting movement or noise on the part of those making the recordings. It is the responsibility of the couple to make arrangements for such recording, to inform those making them of these regulations and also to inform the pastor of what recordings are being made.

It is the responsibility of the couple to inform photographers/videographers, as well as family and friends of these regulations.


The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) states:

Flowers, decorations, and other appointments should be appropriate to the place of worship, enhance the worshipers’ consciousness of the reality of God, and reflect the integrity and simplicity of Christian life. 

It is recommended that all decorations be kept to a minimum. Any decorations that are used, with the exception of the regular candles on the Communion Table are the responsibility of the couple or their families. All florists and decorators must be aware of the following guidelines:

1.  Precautions must be made to protect the property from candle drippings, water spills, tape, etc.
2.  Nothing shall be nailed or attached to floors, walls or furnishings that will deface the property.
3.  None of the regular furnishings of the church may be removed.
4. All decorations must be removed as soon as possible after the ceremony, and the facilities must be left as they  were found.

If the couple wishes for a special floral arrangement to be used for a subsequent worship service, this should be made known to the church office to ensure that there is no duplication and also that an announcement concerning the same might be included in the bulletin.

White paraments normally are used on the pulpit, lectern and communion table for weddings. The pastors usually wear white stoles with their clerical robes for wedding services.


Hamilton Hall and the church parlor are available for wedding receptions, if there is no prior activity planned for these facilities. If the reception is to be held at the church, the parlor or Hamilton Hall should be reserved at the time the wedding date is set or as soon as possible afterwards.

It is the responsibility of those holding weddings and receptions at the church to see that all rooms are returned to their original arrangements after use. Those holding receptions in the fellowship hall will provide all equipment except tables and chairs. It will be the responsibility of the caterer to see that the fellowship hall, along with the kitchen and any other rooms that are used, are cleaned and returned to their original arrangements after use. Following the reception, no food may be left at the church.

No alcoholic beverages may be consumed on church premises or served at receptions held at the church.


It is the responsibility of the couple to contact the wedding director, as soon as possible, after the wedding date is confirmed with the pastor and officially placed on the church activity calendar. The wedding director will meet with the couple at least six weeks before the wedding date to discuss policies and plan details for the wedding ceremony. The wedding director will be present for the wedding rehearsal, which is usually held on the day prior to the wedding. The wedding director will also be present on the day of the wedding and will direct all activities related to the wedding.

The fee for the wedding director’s services will be $200. Payment should be made directly to the wedding director no later than the date of the wedding rehearsal.


To facilitate the opening and closing of the church buildings as well as to provide security during the ceremony, the couple must make arrangements through the wedding director for the janitor to be present on the day of the wedding.

The fee for the Cleaning Service will be $100.00. Payment should be brought by the couple to the rehearsal and given to the wedding director for distribution.

Adopted by Session 3-8-99
Revised 9-13-04 and 9-08-13

Schedule of Wedding Fees

Fees for non-members:

Use of sanctuary – $400
Use of fellowship hall – $200
Use of chapel – $150
Use of parlor – $100

Fees for all wedding parties:

Pastor’s fees:

Pre-wedding planning – $50
Pre-marital counseling (2-3 sessions required) – $50 per session
Wedding rehearsal – $50
Wedding preparation and service – $100

Wedding Director’s fee – $200

Church Organist fee for rehearsal and wedding service – $300
If Organist does not attend rehearsal – $250
If Organist plays additional instrument(s) (violin, harp, etc.) – $100

Janitorial services – $100

Lights/Sound/HVAC technician – $75

Childcare attendant (optional) – $50