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    A Message to the Bride & Groom

    We are happy you are considering having your wedding at Athens First United Methodist Church. Athens First United Methodist Church conducts weddings for contributing members only at this time. You may have questions concerning the guidelines for weddings. The ministers, staff, and members of the Altar Guild have put together this document to assist you with planning your wedding within the context of a United Methodist worship service. Please read it carefully before beginning the application process. 

    The sanctuary and chapel are available for weddings and can be 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. By having your wedding in the church, you are making a statement about your value for Christian worship for yourself and the new family that begins with your marriage. 


    • The suggested maximum capacity for our spaces is as follows:
      -Sanctuary: 700
      -Chapel: 80
    • A member’s wedding with no rehearsal, decorations, or music included requires no fee for the sanctuary or chapel. However, the usual fees will apply if plans expand.
    • You may contact the Church Wedding Coordinator, Diane Johnson, for more information regarding wedding fees |
    • We do not permit alcoholic beverages or smoking on the church premises, including the parking lots.


    • Athens First United Methodist Church members may reserve the church up to one year before their wedding date. 
    • To be considered a contributing member of Athens First United Methodist Church, a person has committed their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to the church for at least one year. 
    • 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.
    • Saturday evening weddings will be scheduled to allow ample time to prepare the church for Sunday morning activities.
    • We do not schedule weddings for Sundays, Holy Week (including Palm Sunday weekend), Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, UGA home football games, or other downtown events (e.g., AthFest, Twilight Criterium).
    • If you need to make any changes to the original time of the ceremony or rehearsal, please contact the Church Wedding Coordinator first. 


    • Before any wedding date is guaranteed, complete the application form, and return it to the church office with the deposit.
    • Upon receipt of your application and deposit, we will hold the date for seven days to allow you to secure a minister, organist, and Church Wedding Director. Please provide our Church Wedding Coordinator with the names of these three key people. Without this information, we will refund your deposit and release the date after seven days.
      • The church requires an ordained minister to perform all weddings. The Senior Minister must approve if you request an outside minister to perform the wedding. 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 and discuss and plan your wedding with you. For this purpose, the bride and groom should arrange a conference with their minister before the wedding date. Please plan this well in advance of the wedding. 
      • You will select one of our Athens First UMC Wedding Directors to be present at your rehearsal and wedding, even if you have a personal wedding director. The Church Wedding Director’s primary responsibility is supervising the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony details and being our church’s representative. This director will schedule a preliminary meeting with you to review church policies, answer questions, offer suggestions, and discuss your wedding details. We will schedule a second meeting closer to your wedding date to confirm details and discuss a timeline for the wedding day. 
      • Please get in touch with our church Organist regarding availability. If the church Organist is unavailable, she will provide you with a list of approved local organists.
    • The church will also need to have the name and contact information of the photographer, florist, and videographer (if applicable) before your wedding date. 
    • The balance of fees for the wedding is due in the church office four weeks before the wedding.
    • Please obtain the marriage license at least a week before the wedding and give it to the minister.


    At the rehearsal, the Church Wedding Director will provide instructions and answer questions for the wedding party. 


    • On the wedding day, the Church Wedding Director will assist and supervise so things go according to schedule. She will arrive three hours before the service and open the building for the wedding party and vendors.

    • For your further assistance, a member of the Altar Guild will be present during your wedding.

    • A sound technician will be present for the rehearsal and wedding to assist with the audio and other technological needs.

    • Keeping with United Methodist tradition, the Wedding Director will instruct the wedding party to enter the sanctuary in a procession led by an acolyte. The Director of Student Ministries will supervise the acolyte.

    • The United Methodist Church observes an open communion table. You must plan to serve the entire congregation if you choose to administer the Sacrament of Holy Communion during a wedding. 

    • You may not use rice, confetti, birdseed, flower petals, or any similar material to throw in the church building or at any entrances. You may use bubbles outside only.

    • The church cannot block streets for vehicle parking. You must make these arrangements by contacting Downtown Parking Services (706-613-7978). The Church Wedding Director will give you more information about parking in our lots.

    • Dressing Rooms:

      • The John Wesley Room (253) is available for dressing the bride and her attendants. 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.


      Please contact the Church Wedding Coordinator for more information, including space availability and a list of approved caterers.


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

      • The deposit is refundable after the wedding, provided no damage has occurred, and all policies are respected.



      • Only live music is permitted during the wedding.
      • Our Organist, Raina Wood, oversees all musical portions of the wedding service and sees that all music is appropriate for Christian worship. She will approve all service music. The Organist should be consulted early in planning all weddings in the church.
      • The fee for the Organist includes a one-hour consultation with the bride and the wedding itself. We will negotiate the fees if additional rehearsing with soloists or instrumentalists is required. 
      • If the church Organist is unavailable, we will provide a list of approved local organists.
      • If you want to bring in an outside organist, they must contact our church Organist in advance to be approved. 
      • If you require other instrumentalists or soloists, our organist can assist you by providing names and contact information. 


      • Your wedding is a worship service in the United Methodist Church. No flash pictures will be taken during the service. 
      • Photos must be completed in the sanctuary or chapel 45 minutes before the service. Timed exposures using available light may be taken from the balcony. Please remind your photographer and inform your guests of this critical 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 critical policy.


      • Decorations must be completed one hour before the service begins.
      • Altar furnishings, including the baptismal font, shall remain within the altar area. These furnishings may not be moved.
      • You may not attach decorations to walls, panels, or pews with nails, tape, or screws. Any damage will be reflected in your deposit after the wedding.


      • The Church Wedding Coordinator and the Church Wedding Director supervise flowers.
      • All floral arrangements and greenery must be live in the sanctuary, narthex, and chapel. 
      • The Church Wedding Coordinator will provide a list of approved florists at the time of application. 
      • A solo altar arrangement must sit in front of the altar cross on an 11-inch-wide pedestal.
      • When incorporating two floral arrangements, arrangements should not exceed 28 inches tall or reach the arms of the altar cross. 
      • All altar arrangements must be in brass, gold, silver, or white containers. 
      • All floral arrangements and other decorations must be removed from the building one hour after the service to receive your full deposit.


      • It is required for candles to remain lit during the service. You may use the two silver candlesticks on the altar.
      • Only metal candles (15” or 18” tall) are allowed. You may not use dripless wax candles. 
      • The church does not provide candles. The florist should be able to provide metal candles, as the church does not furnish them. 
      • If you desire more candles, the church can provide two seven-branched brass candelabra that may be placed on either side of the altar within the altar rail (14 candles).
      • You must arrange to have the candles taken away after the ceremony. 
      • You may use palms as a background for the candelabra. However, due to possible damage to the brass coating, you may not add attachments to the candelabra.
      • You must provide any additional candles, including unity and memory candles. All candles must be dripless. 
      • If you use a unity or memory candle, place it inside the altar rail. You may use the candle holder used by the church for baptisms if the Church Wedding Director knows this in advance.
      • You may place candles on windowsills, but they must be set on a container with a rim (such as a transparent plastic dessert dish) to collect wax. We do not provide globes. 
      • Candles are not to be carried down the aisle by wedding party members. 
      • In all circumstances, please pay attention that no wax drips on the floor or carpet. Plastic may be needed on the floor. 
      • You will be responsible for additional labor costs incurred due to cleaning wax residue from carpeting or flooring.


      • When you schedule a wedding during any holiday season, the church will be decorated for that season. You must incorporate seasonal decorations into the wedding décor. Decorations for the holiday seasons in the church may not be moved. 

      Tina Lord | 404-558-0286 | 
      Ellen Cunningham | 706-546-9348 | 

      Jeremy Lawson, Senior Minister |  
      Nancy Johnson, Associate Minister |  
      Betsy Butler, Associate Minister |   
      Natalee Dukes Hamby, Associate Minister | 
      Raina Wood, Organist | 
      Diane Johnson, Church Wedding Coordinator | 

      CHURCH OFFICE: 706-543-1442