Weddings at Highlands

The celebration of Christian marriage is a momentous occasion in the lives of all involved, and a time to give praise and thanks to the God who has given marriage to us for our welfare and happiness. To ensure the joy and the dignity of such an occasion, the Session of Highlands Presbyterian Church has adopted certain policies and directives concerning weddings solemnized in the church.

Participants

Highlands’ facilities are ordinarily available only to members and their children for weddings. At least one person of the couple must be a member or the child of a member in order to be married in the church. Exceptions in the case of students, ministry personnel, or members of the military in regular attendance may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Session.

A wedding may be scheduled only after an initial interview with the couple has been performed by a Highlands pastor. Once it has been determined that the couple is eligible for marriage in the church, the couple may have the wedding and rehearsal dates placed on the church calendar. Dates may be tentatively reserved prior to this meeting, but plans should not be made until the dates have been confirmed by the pastor with whom the couple meets. To place your date on the calendar, please contact the church office at office@highlandspca.org.

Any Highlands pastor shall have the right and privilege of refusing to officiate at any ceremony deemed to be in conflict with his moral and spiritual convictions.

Ministers other than those of Highlands Presbyterian Church are to be approved by the Shepherding Committee of the Session, and shall be of a denomination and/or of such personal reputation as are compatible with the Presbyterian and Reformed faith.

Any request for marriage by someone who has been previously divorced must be reviewed by a pastor and the Shepherding Committee of the Session of Highlands Presbyterian Church. In all circumstances, final approval will rest in the hands of the Session.

If a couple is living together or pregnant at the time a request for marriage is made, the pastor and the Shepherding Committee will work with the couple to determine the proper course of action. The objective in cases like these is to offer sound counsel on how to be obedient to God under the circumstances. This counsel may involve asking a couple to separate for a time to demonstrate the fruits of repentance.

Counseling

The intended couple will be required to meet with a Highlands pastor for at least four 90 minute counseling sessions (or its equivalent) prior to the wedding. Entering into a pre-marital counseling arrangement with a pastor should not be construed to be an agreement by the pastor to perform the ceremony. The decision to perform the wedding may be made by the pastor at any point during the counseling process.

Any costs incurred during pre-marital counseling for materials and books will be borne by the couple. Couples who live out of town will be required to seek counseling equivalent to that which is provided by the pastoral staff of Highlands Presbyterian Church. All equivalent counseling arrangements should be made in consultation with the Highlands pastor who would ordinarily conduct the couple’s pre-marital counseling.

To learn more about pre-marital counseling, please call the church at 601-853-0636 or email: wilson@highlandspca.org.

Ceremony

The marriage ceremony is a time of worship and celebration and, as such, will be conducted in a reverent manner. All participants and accoutrements must reflect this spirit of reverence. Theme weddings (i.e., Western, Medieval, Confederate, etc.) are not permitted. To this end, the following directions must be observed:

1. All music, both vocal and instrumental, must be God-centered, in keeping with the occasion of worship and with Protestant and Reformed standards. Classical music, traditional hymnody, and contemporary Christian music would all be considered appropriate for the wedding ceremony.

2. All arrangements concerning music (including both the musical selections and performers) must be made by the families of the wedding participants, with the approval of the officiating minister and the Director of Worship Music.

3. No flash pictures are to be taken once the ceremony begins. The only exceptions are the bride’s entrance and exit. Pictures may be taken before and after the ceremony, and by time exposure during the ceremony if done unobtrusively.

4. Videotaping, done discretely and without auxiliary lighting, is permitted. Photographer’s equipment (either still or video) must not impede or detract from the ceremony in any way.

5. Wedding ritual and the marriage vows shall be consistent with that which is found in the Appendix to the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America. Personal compositions of vows are not acceptable

6. The sacrament of Lord’s Supper may not be administered during the wedding ceremony.

7. Tobacco use is not permitted anywhere in the church building or on church grounds.

8. The consumption of alcohol is not allowed on church premises, including the parking lot. If anyone is found drinking, he/she will be asked to leave the premises.

9. We do not marry a couple if either person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the wedding (other than those prescribed by a doctor). Any member of the wedding party who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be permitted to participate in the wedding.

10.  Dancing is ordinarily not allowed on the church campus. Requests for exception to this policy will be considered by the Session on a case-by-case basis. The use of live bands or DJ’s on the church campus for wedding receptions and social events is prohibited. Such ceremonial dances as a “first dance” or a “father/bride dance” may be allowed upon request. Musical selections must be approved in advance by the Director of Worship Music.

Conclusion

Our desire is for you to have a beautiful, joyful and God-honoring wedding. May God bless you richly at this wonderful time in your life!