Most churches will provide you with a list of guidelines to prepare you for your wedding day. Make sure to get these questions answered early in your planning process to avoid any unhappy surprises on your big day!
- Can you Choose Your Wedding Coordinator?
Some churches require that all ceremonies held there be directed by their in-house wedding director. It’s important to know this, since the church’s rules may limit the ability of your own outside wedding planner to orchestrate the ceremony. If the church you select requires you to use their wedding director, ask for a list of his or her responsibilities ad get a clear understanding of their process. Will she contact you as soon as you reserve your date, or will you not meet her until a few weeks before your wedding?
2. What are the Photography and Videography Guidelines?
Photography and videography guidelines and restrictions vary widely from one church to another. Photography on the altar is prohibited in some churches. Others allow photography only from an upper balcony or choir loft. Still, many churches have very relaxed photography guidelines that allow photographers to be positioned near the Bride and Groom for the duration of the ceremony. Make sure you understand the rules for photography and video and discuss them with your photographer and videographer months before the big day.
3. Are there Set Ceremony Times?
I have planned several church weddings where the options for ceremony start time were 11:00am, 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Timing is everything on your wedding day! If you have your heart set on sunset photos or a grand exit with sparkler fanfare, it’s even more important to consider how your ceremony time will effect your plans.
4. What are Your Music Options?
Every church has a different policy on music options. You may be required to use the church’s own organist or musicians, or you may be able to hire your own. There may be limitations on the type of musicians you’re allowed to use as well as the songs they’re allowed to play. Some churches are very relaxed with their music guidelines; others require you to select your ceremony music from a short list of approved pieces.
5. What are the Access Times?
Don’t assume that because your ceremony location has a bridal suite, you’ll be allowed unlimited access before and after your ceremony. The same applies to photography in the church and on the church grounds. With many churches hosting several weddings in one day, you may be limited to a short time slot for getting ready there and for pre-ceremony and post-ceremony photos. When planning your hair and makeup and photography timelines, make sure you know when you’ll have access to your ceremony site.
6. Is there a Dress Code?
Many churches have dress codes, not only for the wedding guests but for the Bride as well. You may be required to have your shoulders and/or back covered during the ceremony, and you certainly want to know this before selecting your wedding gown!
If the dress of your dreams doesn’t fit the dress code for your ideal ceremony site, there’s no need to fret! Select a bolero or capelet that provides the coverage you need. Bonus: your entrance into your reception will unveil a whole new look to your guests!
If a dress code applies to your guests, be sure to add this information to your wedding website so that they can plan accordingly.
A church wedding ceremony may require you to follow a more structured planning process than a hotel or garden location, but with this handy checklist of questions to ask, your planning experience will be a smooth one!