Congratulations on your decision to marry! From our own experience we know it is a time of excitement, anticipation, happiness… and perhaps some anxiety. We are pleased that you have invited us as representatives of the church to be part of your growing relationship. We welcome you to the fellowship and support of the church community at Harrow United Church.
Harrow United Church welcomes both same-gender and heterosexual couples who seek to be married in the church.
Because you have inquired about celebrating your marriage within the context of the church, we assume that you desire to pledge your commitment to one another and indeed to live your whole lives together with the conviction of God’s love to support you and Christ’s love to guide you. If you are at a point in your life where you are unsure of such conviction, we’d be pleased to talk more with you about it. On the other hand, if the religious ceremony holds no particular significance for you, we would encourage you to consider the possibility of arranging a non-religious marriage ceremony. Many marriage commissioners licensed by the Government of Manitoba are willing to conduct weddings in a place chosen by the couple (i.e. it doesn’t have to happen at the courthouse) and in a manner that will make it a meaningful occasion.
Clergypersons are also licensed by the provincial government to perform marriages on their behalf. However, in addition to the “legal”marriage ceremony, we see ourselves as representatives of God’s truth and of the church. Thus, marriages take place within a service of worship. As we join together to give thanks and praise to God, we remember that God is the source of all being and life. Our lives are lived in a world not created by human hands, and our hearts are filled with love, perhaps inspired by another person, but given as a gift from God. Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that our lives are not our own. We forget God, and forget about the gifts given to us. And we forget, too, about the messages of forgiveness and hope and the potential for continuing growth and the renewal of commitment that lie at the heart of the Christian faith.
In the marriage ceremony we attempt to celebrate our life in God’s presence. We give thanks for the life that is ours. We acknowledge our dependence upon the grace of Jesus Christ for sustenance, direction and meaning. We offer prayer on behalf of the couple being married, their families, the gathered community, and the world community of which we are a part. And we rejoice in the love and fulfillment the couple find in one another, and in the mutual commitment they are prepared to make.
We in the community of Harrow United Church welcome you into our midst and rejoice with you in your marriage. We hope that, as circumstances allow, you will be able to participate in other aspects of our church’s life as well, and there find further opportunities for support, spiritual nurture, worship, and service.
We invite you, then, to think about the church, not just as a building that provides a nice setting for a wedding, but as a community of people committed to a life of love, to the kind of love that God reveals through Jesus. It is this “love community” that built and maintains the building, and that offers its staff and ministry to you, and to others in the wider world as well as within the family of Harrow United Church.
Preparing for Marriage
Preparing for marriage differs from preparing for the wedding ceremony and celebration, and we would like to talk with you about both. We expect that you will want to discuss the wedding ceremony itself, and may wish to participate in the planning of the service. In addition to discussion about the marriage ceremony though, we would expect to have some discussion with you about your relationship as a couple, and the expectations and hopes that you have for your life together, as well as the struggles and frustrations that you anticipate.
Normally, couples meet with the minister two to three times in the months prior to the wedding.
In addition to your meetings with the minister, and to help you build the best possible foundation for your relationship in marriage, we encourage you to consider attending a marriage preparation seminar.
At a time when you are no doubt weighing the costs of your wedding, this may seem like one more expense. However, we would like you to consider what sort of investment your life together is worth. The cost of the marriage preparation seminar is a small investment for what we hope will be a life-long benefit. In comparison to the other costs of the wedding itself, the cost of the marriage preparation seminar may be the least expensive item on your list!
To be married in the eyes of the law, you will need a marriage licence issued by the Province of Manitoba. This can be purchased from the Division of Vital Statistics, 354 Portage Avenue. Some jewellery stores and other businesses that cater to weddings also issue marriage licences. Both parties to the marriage must attend together, and you will need a birth certificate or other proof of age and citizenship, your Decree Absolute if you are divorced, and if you are widowed, the place and date of the death of your former spouse. The marriage licence is valid for three months from the date of purchase, and must be purchased at least twenty-four hours prior to the wedding. Attached to your marriage licence is the form for the registration of your marriage. You will need to bring this document to the church at least a few days prior to the wedding so that there is adequate time to prepare the necessary documents.
If you anticipate using the organ or piano during your wedding ceremony, you are asked to be in touch with the church musician to discuss your preferences. If you are planning to have a soloist, it may also be necessary to arrange a time for the soloist and accompanist to practice.
A rehearsal is normally held for weddings, usually on the evening preceding the wedding, though it could occur at another more convenient time if preferred.
There is no need to memorize any parts of the service nor to learn any “choreography”, but we find that the rehearsal provides an opportunity for everyone involved in the wedding to be introduced to the setting and format for the ceremony so that they can be more relaxed during the wedding itself.
Photographers and Cinematographers
We understand the desire to have photographs and videos of your wedding. However, we ask that no flash pictures be taken during the ceremony itself. Pictures can be taken as the wedding party enters and leaves, and during the signing of the register, but we like to avoid picture-taking during the ceremony itself as it distracts from the event taking place the marriage! Camera flashes and noises do not add to an atmosphere of worship. If you like we can pose for a few pictures after the ceremony for the benefit of photographers. Likewise, we want to avoid having video cameras and their operators becoming the focus of attention during the ceremony. Normally, it is fine for video operators to move around and position themselves to capture the entrance of the wedding party, but once the ceremony starts, we ask that they find a suitable location and remain there until the service is finished. We also discourage spotlights and other bright lights.
If you choose to have flowers for your ceremony, these may be prepared by the family or by a florist. If you plan to have flowers delivered to the church, you need to make arrangements through the minister or the secretary to ensure there will be someone at the church when they are delivered. Alternatively, you could arrange delivery to someone’s house and have them bring the flowers to the church about 30 – 60 minutes before the ceremony. Flowers can be left to decorate the sanctuary for Sunday, or you may wish to take them to your reception. If they are going to the reception, remember to designate someone to take the flowers from the church following the ceremony.
The following fees are applicable:
You may pay the fee at any time, but it must be received in the church office at least a week in advance of your wedding.
We look forward to getting to know you better and to sharing the celebration of your marriage.