Weddings

”And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is Love.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:13

A Message to the Bride & Groom
We are happy you have chosen to be married at Athens First United Methodist Church. Questions are often asked concerning the guidelines of the church for weddings. The ministers, staff, and Altar Guild have put together helpful guidelines to assist with planning your wedding within the context of a United Methodist worship service. Please read it carefully before submitting your application and meeting with one of our ministers and our music and wedding directors.

Wedding Guidelines

A Message to the Bride and Groom
Responsibility
Time and Date
Dressing Rooms
Decorations
Candles
Holidays and Decorations
Photography and Video
Music
Receptions
Church Wedding Directors
Church Staff
Final Notes
Directions
Wedding Application

 

A Message to the Bride and Groom
The Sanctuary and Chapel are available for weddings and can be made festive and beautiful while maintaining the atmosphere of a House of Worship. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church affirms that a church wedding is a worship service reflecting a joyful, reverent and dignified celebration. The United Methodist Church observes an open communion table. If the Sacrament of Holy Communion is served during a wedding the entire congregation must be served. By having your wedding in the church you are making a statement about the value you have for Christian worship, both for yourself and for the new family that begins with your marriage 

 A member wedding held in the Sanctuary or Chapel with no rehearsal, decorations or music included requires no fee. However, the usual fees will apply if plans expand.

The Church requires an ordained minister to perform all weddings.  Should you request to have an outside minister perform the wedding, he or she must be approved by the Senior Minister.  In addition, the Church requires one of our church directors to direct all weddings. A sound technician will be present for the rehearsal and wedding to assist with the audio and other technological needs.  For your further assistance, a member of the Altar Guild will help you in planning decorations and will be present during your wedding.

The Bride and Groom should arrange a conference with their Minister well in advance of the wedding date for pre-marital counseling. Please obtain the marriage license at least a week in advance and give it to the minister.

Our Director of Music or Organist will assist you in all decisions related to musicians and music selection.  If you wish an organist not on our staff to play for your wedding, our Director of Music must approve musicians and music selections.

In keeping with United Methodist tradition, the Wedding Director will instruct the wedding party to enter the sanctuary in a procession led by an Acolyte. This Acolyte will be under the supervision of the Director of Youth Music and Organist.

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Responsibility
It is your responsibility to adhere to the policies and standards stated in this book, as well as, to insure that your florist, photographer, videographer and caterer understand the policies that concern them.

Before any wedding date is guaranteed, the application form must be completed and returned to the church office with the deposit before the wedding date is secure. A Staff Minister, our Director of Music and the Wedding Director are to be contacted to verify their availability to perform the wedding service. (see page 15 for contact information.) Upon receipt of your application and deposit, the date will be held for seven days to allow you to secure a Minister, Director, Organist, Photographer, and Florist. If this information is not provided within this time period, the date will be released and your deposit will be refunded. This must be done before other plans or announcements are made. The deposit is refundable after the wedding, provided no damage has occurred and all policies are respected.

The director’s main responsibility is to supervise the details of the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony and to be our church’s representative.   The director will schedule a preliminary meeting with you to review church policies, answer questions, offer suggestions and discuss your wedding details. A second meeting will be scheduled closer to your wedding date to confirm details and discuss a timeline for the wedding day. At the rehearsal, the director will provide instructions and answer questions for the wedding party. On the wedding day, the director will be there to assist and supervise so that things go according to schedule.  

The decision to perform a marriage ceremony is the right and responsibility of the Minister. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church states that the Minister will provide premarital counseling, discuss and plan your wedding with you.

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Time and Date
Athens First United Methodist Church members may reserve the church up to one year in advance of their wedding date. Non-members may reserve the church up to six months in advance of their wedding date. The Church will be open three hours before and until one hour after the wedding.  The Church Wedding Director will be present to assist you during this time. Any change made in the time of the ceremony or rehearsal should be discussed with the Church Wedding Coordinator and your director. Saturday evening weddings will be scheduled to allow ample time to prepare the church for Sunday morning activities.    

Weddings will not be scheduled for Holy Week, including Palm Sunday weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Sundays, UGA home football games, or other downtown events (e.g. AthFest, Twilight Criterium).

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Dressing Rooms
The John Wesley Room (253) is available to the Bride and her attendants for dressing. The room includes access to an adjoining restroom and mirrored makeup area.

The groom and groomsmen will find a dressing room (261) in the hall adjacent to the Sanctuary on the Hancock Street side of the church, and a restroom adjacent to the stairs one floor down.

Under no circumstances will food or drink be permitted in the Sanctuary, Narthex, or Chapel; however, food and clear beverages are permitted in both dressing areas prior to the wedding. Smoking and alcohol are NOT PERMITTED on the church premises, including the church parking lots.

The Bride should have a designated person to remove the bridal party’s possessions, food and drink within an hour following the ceremony.

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Decorations
Only live flowers may be used in the Sanctuary, Narthex or Chapel. No additional adornments may be used in the arrangements (ie. ribbons, flags, etc) and no potted plants except for seasonal decoration at Christmas and Easter. If floral arrangements are prepared at the church they must be made in the Sacristy adjacent to the Sanctuary and notin the Sanctuary.

Decorations are to be completed one hour before the service begins.

  • In the Sanctuary, flowers can be arranged using the two silver vases on each side of the cross, or on one or two of the pedestals in front of the altar.
  • If using the two silver vases, florists must arrange flowers in a 4 inch base, round papier-mâché insert. These will fit into the silver vases which are 15 ½ inches high.The two silver vases are available through the altar guild and can only be used in the sanctuary.
  • Altar furnishings, including the baptismal font, shall not be removed from within the altar area.
  • The arrangements can be no more than 28” tall and 24” in breadth. Nothing shall obscure nor be greater in height than the cross. Palms or ferns may be used as a background.
  • The Chapel furnishings are brass. There is not enough space to place an arrangement in front of the altar cross on the same table, but two small side arrangements or a floor arrangement may be considered. Two small footed vases are available through the Altar Guild. Plastic must be used to protect the carpet if a floor arrangement or candles are used.
  • A silver container is available for use on the chest in the narthex.
  • Rice, confetti, birdseed, or flower petals are not to be thrown in the Church building or entrances. Bubbles are allowed outside only.

A member of the Altar Guild will call the bride and her florist to discuss plans for decorating the Sanctuary. Your florist is responsible for seeing that all floral arrangements and other decorations are removed immediately after the service. No nails, tape or screws are to be used for attaching decorations to walls, panels or pews.

Please discuss with the Altar Guild if you wish to leave your altar flowers for Sunday services.

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Candles
The church’s two silver candlesticks are to be used on the altar and must always be lit first. If more candles are desired, two seven-branched brass candelabra, provided by the church, may be placed on either side of the altar within the altar rail. Only metal candles (15” or 18” tall) are allowed. Absolutely no wax dripless candles may be used. A total of 14 candles are needed for the two candelabra (7 for each). The florist should be able to provide metal candles, as the church does not furnish them (arrangements should be made by the florist or the bride to have the candles taken away after the ceremony). Palms may be used as a background for the candelabra, but due to possible damage to the brass coating, no attachments may be used on the candelabra.

Any additional candles used must be provided by and are the responsibility of the bride, including unity and memory candles, and must be “dripless.” If a unity or memory candle is used, it must be placed inside the altar rail. There is a baptismal candle holder that celebrates the life of a new baby, which can also be used for a memory candle. Candles may be used on window sills, but must be set on a container with a rim (such as a clear plastic dessert dish) to collect wax. We do not provide the globes. Candles are not to be carried down the aisle by members of the wedding party. In all circumstances, special attention needs to be paid so that no wax drips on the floor or carpet (plastic may need to be placed on the floor). Should additional labor costs be incurred due to cleaning wax residue from carpeting or flooring, there will be a deduction from the deposit.

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Holidays and Decorations
When weddings are scheduled during holiday seasons and the church has been decorated, you must incorporate the seasonal decorations into the wedding décor. Decorations for the holiday seasons in the church may not be moved. Please contact the Altar Guild with questions.

 Remember: Weddings will not be scheduled for Holy Week, including Palm Sunday weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Sundays, UGA home football games, or other downtown events (e.g. AthFest, Twilight Criterium).

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Photographs and Videos
Your wedding is a worship service in the United Methodist Church and no flash pictures are to be taken during the service. Pictures are to be completed in the Sanctuary or Chapel 45 minutes prior to the service. Timed exposures using available light may be taken from the balcony. Please remind your photographer and inform your guests of this important policy.

In keeping with a service of worship in the United Methodist Church, the only video camera permitted in the Sanctuary will be placed in the balcony. No video camera will be permitted in the chancel area of the Sanctuary. A video camera is allowed in the last pew of the chapel only. Please inform your videographer of this policy.

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Music
A “Service of Christian Marriage” is a worship service and a part of the liturgy of the United Methodist Church. It is the responsibility of our Director of Music to oversee all musical portions of the wedding service and to see that all music is appropriate for Christian worship. The Director of Music should be consulted early in the planning of all weddings in the Church.

The Church Organist Fee includes a one-hour consultation with the bride, a one-hour rehearsal, and the wedding itself. If additional rehearsing with soloists, instrumentalists, etc… is required, additional fees will be negotiated. If the Church Organist is not available, the Director of Music or Church Organist will provide you with a list of approved local organists. Their involvement and fee would be negotiated by the Bride. If you would like to bring in an outside organist, they will simply need to contact the Director of Music in advance in order to be approved. If you require other instrumentalists, soloists, etc… the Director of Music can assist you by providing names and contact information.In the event that outside organist or soloist is used, our Director of Music must approve the music.Only live music is permitted in the wedding service.

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Reception
Please contact the church office for more information, including space availability and a list of approved caterers.

Alcoholic beverages are not permitted under any circumstances on the church premises, including the church parking lots.

Rice, confetti, birdseed, flower petals or any similar material may not be thrown in the Church building or at any entrances. Bubbles may be used outside only.

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Church Wedding Directors
Ellen Cunningham | 706-546-9348 |
Tina Lord | 404-558-0286 |
Tere Hoechst | 706-757-8845 |  

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Church Staff
Chuck Hodges, Senior Minister |
Martha Aenchbacher, Associate Minister |
Beth Dickinson, Associate Minister |
Betsy Butler, Associate Minister |
Stephen Mitchell, Director of Music |
Janis Maxwell, Organist |
Cookie Daniel, Wedding Coordinator |

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Please Remember…

  • Church vehicles will not be used for weddings.
  • Upon receipt of your application and deposit, the date will be held for seven days to allow you to secure a Minister, Director, Organist, Photographer, and Florist.
  • The balance of fees for the wedding is due in the Church office four weeks prior to the wedding.
  • Smoking and alcohol are not permitted on the Church premises, including the church parking lots.
  • Nails, tape and screws are not to be used to attach decorations to walls, panels or pews.
  • Only live flowers may be used in the Sanctuary and Chapel.
  • Decorations for the holiday seasons in the church will remain in the Sanctuary and will be incorporated into the wedding decorations.
  • Altar furnishings (including the baptismal font) shall not be moved from within the altar area.
  • Only live music is allowed in the wedding service.
  • Rice, confetti, birdseed, or flower petals are not to be thrown in the Church building or entrances. Bubbles are allowed outside only.
  • Any changes from the wedding application must be made with the Church Wedding Coordinator (including any time changes). Please also contact the Wedding Coordinator regarding wedding fees.

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