What to Know about a Church Wedding Ceremony

Wooden pews in a church decorated with white ribbons for a wedding.

Many couples dream about tying the knot in a religious venue of their choice. While most have a solid picture in their mind of what a church wedding will be like, there are many ins and outs to these affairs that may not be well known. Take a look at our guide to everything you should know about saying vows in a church.

You May Need to Be a Church Member

If you’re not a regular and established member of a particular church, it may be tougher than you anticipate to have your wedding there. Many churches don’t allow non-parishioners to host their weddings a their establishment, or they may put couples on a waiting list to book their ceremony. Some may require a donation from a couple that doesn’t frequent their church in order to permit their ceremony. Every church is different, so check with the one you’re interested in if it’s not your home church.

There May Be Photography Rules

A aerial view of a wedding ceremony in a church.

Something many couples don’t realize is that different churches have different rules your wedding photographer will have to abide by during your ceremony. For instance, some churches don’t allow photographers to use the flash feature inside. There also may be some angles they can’t take photos from or they may not be allowed to walk down the aisle of the church. Make sure to ask your specific venue about their rules for photographers and to share them accordingly so no one is surprised on the day of.

You’ll Need Documentation

Many churches require that you and your future spouse provide the right documentation in order to host your wedding ceremony there. For instance, proof of your religious sacraments could be a necessity. Additionally, if either the bride or groom were previously married, records of an annulment or divorce could be needed as well. Finally, it may be necessary to prove that both the bride and groom are of the same faith in order to tie the knot in a church.

There Could Be Music Limitations

A piano with a flower on the keys.

You may want to hire your own choice of musicians to perform at your wedding ceremony, but some churches don’t allow this. It’s not uncommon for churches to have designated instrumentalists that they use for all wedding ceremonies. Furthermore, many churches have a preset list of songs to choose from for wedding ceremonies, so you may not have full control of what music is played. This is another thing that varies quite a bit from one church to the next, so inquire with your ceremony venue specifically to learn their rules.

Holidays Affect Availability

Before you solidify a date with your reception venue, make sure you have your church locked in for that same date. Religious holidays are usually off-limits for wedding ceremonies at most churches. This is definitely something to be aware of and plan around. Keep in mind, though, that even if you can’t tie the knot in a church on Christmas Eve or Easter, holiday seasons usually mean there are great decorations in the church. So, getting married around a holiday could be to your advantage and allow you to spend less on decor, which is something to consider.

There May Be a Dress Code

A bride and groom holding candles in front of a priest at their wedding ceremony.

Dress codes vary from one church to the next, but it’s definitely something to inquire about for your wedding. For instance, some churches require that your shoulders be covered, while others are more lax on this. This could apply to the bride, bridesmaids, and guests. You’ll want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately and that you let your guests know what the appropriate attire is as well.

Getting married in a church isn’t as simple as just showing up there that day! Make sure you have a full understanding of what your requirements are for the church you’re using so that you’re not taken by surprise.

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