“Marriage should be held in honor by all…” Hebrews 13:4
Throughout human history, marriage between a man and a woman has been a holy estate through which God has used to provide companionship and establish the family unit. He established it at the beginning of the human race, and has continued to bless it ever since. In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus says: “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (* See note)
Marriage goes far beyond the simple “de facto” live together relationships so popular today. Those entering into marriage must do so with a life-long commitment in mind. This not only involves the commitment to each other before God, but also requires making it permanent according to the laws of the land. Even though people can get married by a judge, a civil celebrant, or even an Elvis impersonator at a Las Vegas wedding chapel and have a legal and binding marriage, a Christian couple will want to seek the services of the pastor and the church for such an important event in their lives.
A Christian wedding is, first and foremost, a worship service that gives God all the glory. The wedding couple will want to establish their marriage according to God’s will, and ask his blessing on their life together in the years to come. It’s with this in mind that Mighty Fortress is ready and willing to be of service to you.
WHAT TO DO FIRST
If you are considering marriage, please contact the pastor as soon as possible. He will help you through the preliminary steps, and provide you with various options. Some type of pre-marital counseling will also be required, where the couple considering marriage will visit with the pastor for spiritual and practical guidance. There is no set protocol for this as to the type or length of counseling; therefore it will be at the discretion of the pastor and the couple.
The following list contains the answers to some commonly asked questions:
There aren’t really any dates that are prohibited for a wedding; however there are some practical things that need to be considered. First of all, make sure the church calendar is clear—you don’t want your wedding conflicting with another one. Please try to avoid the several weeks surrounding Christmas and Easter, as these are the some of the busiest times of the Church year. Also try to avoid times when there are large community or social events.
And since we are in Nebraska, try to avoid weekends where the Huskers have a home football game. Not only are hotel rooms very expensive and limited in the Lincoln Metro/Seward areas during this time, but ticket holders will often forego a wedding in favor of going to the game.
Have several dates in mind when planning your day; however once you decide upon the date and you have made it public, stick to it!
CAN WE WRITE OUR OWN VOWS?
This seems to be a romantic idea perpetuated by Hollywood, where a couple will forego any traditional marriage vows in favor of something they’ve dreamed up themselves. This might work in a civil or secular ceremony, but again we must remember that the Christian wedding service is a worship service, and an official rite of the church. There are several orders of worship from which a couple may choose; plus these services are flexible enough to allow for various custom features (special music, unity candle, etc.). Alteration of the vows or the inclusion of custom vows is therefore not appropriate. If the bride and groom have some personal words they wish to share with each other, the wedding reception is a far more suitable time and place to do this.
Mighty Fortress has a modest, but adequate pipe organ that is very suitable for weddings. We also have a piano in the sanctuary, should you choose to use it.
We do have several organists available, and we can assist you in this area. If you contract an outside organist, you should plan to pay them according to the current fee scale of the AGO (American Guild of Organists).
Wedding music should be appropriate music for a church worship service, including preludes, postludes, hymns, solos, and other special music. Any secular music should be reserved for the reception. The pastor will give you guidance in this area.
Photographs are a treasured memory for any wedding couple. It is always best to contract with a professional photographer to take the wedding photos rather than to rely on a friend or relative. In addition, you might want someone to make a video recording of your wedding, whether it is a friend, family member, or a professional videographer. Mighty Fortress also has a complete video recording system installed, which we would be happy to use to video your wedding, and burn it on a DVD for you to keep. Bear in mind however, that the cameras are in various fixed positions in the church sanctuary, and cannot be moved or relocated. If you desire any special camera shots or video effects, your wedding video should be done by a professional using their own equipment.
The only thing we request is that there be no flash photography during the service itself, simply because of the distraction. All professional photographers are able to do natural light photography, which has been made even easier since digital cameras have appeared on the scene. Flash photography is permissible during the processional, nuptial kiss, and recessional parts of the ceremony. Natural light photography is permissible all the time.
The Mighty Fortress church building is ideal for many weddings. Our sanctuary will comfortably seat 125 people; and if necessary, additional padded chairs can be set up in the back. We also have a special wedding kneeler for use in the chancel. Our building is climate-controlled, so it should be comfortable for almost everybody, irrespective of the time of year. Ample parking is available in the parking lot south of the church, and in the Civic Center parking lot immediately across the street.
Please speak with the Pastor regarding decorations, candles, and other sundry details regarding the facility. We will try to be as accommodating as we possibly can, so you can have an enjoyable and tasteful wedding with a minimum of hassles. The use of any alcoholic beverages is not allowed in the church facility; and in compliance with the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking is only permitted outdoors.
If you wish to have a wedding that is larger than our facility can accommodate, your pastor can help you with suggestions. There are many public and privately owned facilities in the Seward and Lincoln Metro areas that are suitable for weddings and receptions. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, be sure to have an alternate venue organized in case of inclement weather.
Mighty Fortress does have a full kitchen in the basement fellowship hall; but actual seating space is somewhat limited. You are welcome to use it; however, consideration must be given to the limitations.
Most people prefer to have the reception at an outside venue, especially if there is a dinner, a dance, and if alcohol is being served. There are numerous places in the area that have facilities that are suited to such an event.
THE LEGAL STUFF
Your pastor is an authorized marriage celebrant in the State of Nebraska, and can therefore perform a legal and valid marriage. If you are planning to get married outside of Nebraska and desire the services of your pastor, he will make the necessary inquiries and arrangements in order to comply with that particular state’s requirements.
In order to get married, you will have to obtain a valid marriage license, available from any of the 93 county courthouses in the state. A marriage license purchased in any county is valid throughout the entire State of Nebraska, and is valid for one year following the purchase. Blood tests are no longer a requirement.
You MUST provide the pastor with the license PRIOR to the beginning of the wedding service in order for the marriage to be valid. Please bring the ENTIRE packet of material with you that you received when you purchased your license. Your pastor will complete the necessary information, collect the required signatures, and file the license with the county according to the law. He will then return to you whatever items are yours to keep.
One of the benefits of church membership is the right to be married in the church; therefore, we are pleased to be able to offer you this service. However, the services of the individuals involved go above and beyond the normal call of duty. It is therefore appropriate to provide honorariums or gratuities to those involved for the time and expense they have devoted to your wedding. Even though there is no prescribed fee schedule for church members, you should adequately provide for the pastor, organist, soloist, kitchen help, custodian, and others when planning the cost of your wedding.
If you are planning your wedding at a different venue, such places usually have their own fee schedule and personnel, and charge accordingly. This will be determined when you discuss your wedding plans with them.
For non-members, the suggested honorarium for the pastor is $160 for the wedding and $40 for the rehearsal, which includes distances of the first 25 miles from the pastor’s residence. Additional mileage should be calculated at the current IRS rate. Remuneration for use of the building will be determined according to the extent of its use, and any costs involved.
We hope this little guide will help you with your wedding plans. We are here to assist you in whatever way we can, so please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. It is our goal to provide you with a most memorable wedding service, which will be a treasured memory and source of strength throughout your life. All glory be to God alone!
(*NOTE: We realize that the Supreme Court of the United States has legalized same-sex marriages, and various churches are performing them. It is against the policy and practice of our Pastor, congregation, and synod to condone this or in any way conduct or participate in such a ceremony. Therefore, if you are seeking this type of service, we must politely but firmly decline. Please also understand that the Pastor may, at his sole caprice and discretion, refuse to conduct a wedding ceremony for ANY couple, irrespective of their sexual orientation and preference. Thank you for your understanding.)