Thank you for inquiring about getting married at New Joy Lutheran Church, and congratulations. God has brought you together. The commitment you make to each other is indeed a blessed one, and is a commitment that the church is glad to nurture and support both leading up to and on your wedding day, but also throughout your life together. Please read below for information on what it means to be married in the church.
Marriage is Both Legal and Religious
Marriage is legal union regulated by the government upon which people of faith have historically asked God’s blessings. The United States is unique in its practice of allowing clergy to preside at legal wedding ceremonies. In much of the world, including the historically Christian nations of Europe and Latin America, couples first go to a judge to be legally married. Then, if the couple desires the church’s blessing on their marriage, they come to the church at a later date for their church wedding.
In his writings on the wedding service, 16th century church reformer and “Father of Protestantism” Martin Luther describes a couple getting legally wed on the church steps. Only after making their vows to one another does the couple step into the church to seek the blessings of God and the Christian community.
Getting Married at New Joy Lutheran Church
Couples seeking to be married at New Joy Lutheran Church are seeking God’s blessings on their legal union. There are two ways to do this:
- Couples are welcome to be married by a judge and then come to the church to ask God’s blessings upon their marriage; or,
- Couples are welcome to have the entire wedding ceremony – both the legal marriage and the declaration of God’s blessings – performed at the church.
All couples being married at New Joy are asked to make a commitment to regular participation in the worship life at New Joy, or at another church with which the couple has a connection, throughout the marriage preparation process.
Church Wedding, or a Civil Ceremony?
Couples for whom faith commitments are not a significant part of their lives are encouraged to discern whether they desire a civil ceremony performed by a judge, or whether they would like to commit to a period of faith discernment in preparation for a church wedding. A church wedding would follow one of the two options listed above (either the blessing of a civil marriage, or a single wedding ceremony at which legal promises are made and God’s blessings declared).
For couples who may like to have a judge perform a civil ceremony as the only wedding ceremony, or as a legal ceremony that would precede a church wedding at New Joy, contact the Hamilton County Magistrate Judge office. Phone number, and additional information, can be found at the Hamilton County Marriage License information page.
The Christian Wedding Service
While there are lots of option for a wedding service, a Christian wedding service has certain essentials:
- God’s Word is read in Scripture and proclaimed in a brief sermon;
- promises are made between the couple;
- God’s blessings are pronounced to the couple;
- prayers are lifted up for the couple, and for the whole world;
- Holy Communion may be shared to celebrate the feast of love that has no end.
Many other wonderful traditions often support and surround the essentials of a Christian wedding service. Pastor has experience with all kinds of weddings and traditions, and will gladly guide you through the process of determining what could work best for you and your guests as you celebrate your love and commitment to one another in a Christian wedding service.
Though certain traditions certainly are ingrained in our culture, there are actually plenty of options available for a Christian wedding service.
- How do parents, grandparents enter the worship space?
- How does the couple enter the worship space?
- What does the couple wear to the wedding?
- Are there bridesmaids and groomsmen? If so, how many, and what is their role?
- What kind of music will be shared? Will the congregation sing, or will music be more of a performative nature?
- Are children part of your family? If so, how will they be included in this celebration?
- Vows are essential. But what other symbols – rings, sand, candles, fight boxes, etc. – might you include in your service? What other symbols or gestures will you share at the reception or another time during your wedding celebrations?
The Christian wedding service is a critical part of your marriage celebration. Yet, other events – from bachelor and bachelorette parties, to showers, to rehearsal dinners, to the reception – give room for many ways to honor and celebrate your love and commitment. Not everything needs to happen in the wedding service. In fact, some traditions are better shared at the other events that usually make up the wedding weekend.
There are costs for hosting a wedding at New Joy. Please speak with the church office to get more information on our fees.
Fees compensate the church staff for the amount of time spent with the couple in preparation sessions, at the wedding rehearsal and wedding day, and time spent in other planning work (such as selecting and rehearsing music, preparing worship materials, coordinating logistics, cleaning, sermon preparation, and so forth).
Depending on circumstances and details of your wedding service, there may be costs for use of space, musicians, pastor, office support, wedding day host, travel, and other expenses.
Other Wedding Details
- Scheduling: Wedding date needs to be coordinated with the pastor and church. We cannot guarantee that a pre-determined date can work for the pastor, staff, and congregation.
- Offsite weddings may incur additional costs. Pastor is glad to consider presiding at your offsite wedding, yet depending on distance involved and schedule, Pastor may not be available for an offsite wedding.
- Other clergy, such as a previous pastor, college or military chaplain, or a family member who is a clergyperson, may be involved in the service. Please speak with Pastor to discuss this further.
- Pre-marital preparation sessions with the Pastor are expected (four sessions with Pastor, minimum). However, these sessions are not considered “counseling” in a therapeutic sense. These pre-marital preparation sessions provide for pastoral support, relationship building, and wedding service planning. If you would like to go through a more therapeutic premarital counselling experience, we recommend the counseling service at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
- Two post-marriage check-in sessions with the Pastor will also be scheduled, near the six month and one year anniversaries of the wedding day. These are often held over lunch or dinner.
Again, congratulations and blessings to you on upcoming wedding. It is our hope and prayer that through this process of marriage preparation and faith formation your wedding is indeed a special day, one that celebrates God’s blessings for you and your faithful commitments to each other.