Congratulations on your engagement! As you begin to knit your lives together, we would be honored to support you in this journey. A Christian wedding involves a community of family and friends who come together to seek God’s blessing upon the life-long promises made between two individuals (gay or straight) who have chosen to enter into a loving, faithful marriage. We conduct weddings for those who desire a Christian ceremony, members and guests alike.
Direction and Leadership of the Ceremony
Every wedding at the SecondFirst Church is a public service of Christian worship. As a service of worship, the wedding ceremony is under the direction of the presiding pastor. One of the pastors of SecondFirst Church will preside at all weddings performed at the church. In addition to assuring that the service is a beautiful beginning to a vital and successful marriage, the pastoral staff will continue to be available to you for care and support as your married life unfolds.
If a couple desires to involve another clergy person in a limited role, this must be discussed with the presiding pastor first and must be approved. The invitation to a guest clergy person to participate must come from the presiding pastor.
Other family members, members of the wedding party, or other special individuals are welcome and invited to participate in the leadership of the service. This can include reading scripture and leading a prayer, which will be under the direction and discretion of the presiding pastor.
Church Wedding Coordinator
A Church Wedding Coordinator, assigned by the church, is required for all weddings and directs all church aspects of the wedding day outside of the ceremony. This includes but is not limited to the processional and recessional, the wedding party and wedding guests. The couple is required to meet with their Church Wedding Coordinator no later than one month prior to the wedding date to go over the couple’s wishes and desires for their wedding day. The SecondFirst Church Wedding Coordinator is in charge of wedding procedures that take place at SecondFirst Church and supersedes any outside wedding planners.
Before your date and time can be reserved, you must meet with your presiding pastor and send in the deposit. Typically, weddings are scheduled for Saturday afternoons, although other times can be considered as well. No weddings will be scheduled on Christmas Eve, for the weekends of Palm Sunday, Easter, or anytime during Holy Week.
Please confirm well in advance the availability of the church building and our pastors with our business manager. There will be days and times when our pastors or church sanctuary are not available for weddings, even with advance notice. Please confirm the availability of the building and pastor before reserving a reception location, and before other plans are made.
Wedding Day Timing
SecondFirst Church is available for a total of four hours for a wedding: 1 hour for the rehearsal and 3 hours the day of the ceremony. Any hours beyond the four hours must be arranged through the Church Wedding Coordinator and will require a fee. (see Fee Schedule below)
The wedding party is expected to be present in the church building at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the wedding service.
Pre-Wedding counseling is part of the marriage preparation process at SecondFirst Church. Couples desiring to be married here are required to schedule counseling sessions with the pastor presiding at the wedding. The couple may work with a licensed marriage and family therapist, if approved by the presiding pastor. The process will include a minimum of three sessions. Both members of the couple are required to participate. Typically, the first session is for the couple and the pastor to get to know each other; the second session is intended to discuss your relationship and your motivations for getting married; and the third is to discuss and plan the wedding service itself.
Our Christian wedding service includes live accompanied music. The church’s organist/pianist has the “right of first refusal” for all services. If the church’s music staff is unavailable, a substitute musician may be contracted with approval. The selection of music must be appropriate for the context of worship. The presiding pastor, in consultation with the organist/pianist if applicable, has final approval of any and all music for the wedding service.
The church sanctuary has a magnificent 4-manual E. M. Skinner-style pipe organ and a Steinway grand piano. Recommendations are also available for string ensembles, classical guitarist, or other musical accompaniment. If a vocal soloist is desired, the church can suggest soloists or the couple may secure their own vocal soloist. If the couple arranges any vocal soloists or any instrumentalists, the couple is responsible for any and all financial arrangements.
If a soloist is to be accompanied by the church organist/pianist on either the pipe organ or piano, the soloist should furnish the organist with a copy of any music to be sung at least 2 weeks prior to the date of the wedding service. It may be necessary to schedule additional rehearsal time for the soloist and the organist/pianist, at additional cost.
Photography and Videography
Flash photographs may only be taken during the processional and the recessional.
During the ceremony, existing-light photographs may be taken only from the back of the sanctuary. Pictures may be taken in the sanctuary following the wedding. Prior to the wedding service, pictures may only be taken in the sanctuary if they are completed one-half hour before the service is to begin.
Video recordings may be made from the back of the sanctuary, as long as the camera operator remains stationary throughout the service and uses existing-light only. A stationary camera may be placed at the front of the sanctuary, in an unobtrusive location, but it may not be staffed or moved during the service.
It is the responsibility of the couple to instruct their photographer about these policies. The printed worship order must include a request that guests refrain from flash photography during the service.
A sound operator is required for both the rehearsal and the wedding service. Outside sound operators are not allowed. A sound operator from SecondFirst Church will be arranged.
The church is beautiful as is and needs no decorations. Should you choose to embellish it, no nails, thumbtacks, or tape are to be used on the furnishings or walls. Florist’s wire may be used to hold decorations in place. Flowers, candles and other decorations may not be placed on the piano. For safety reasons, aisle runners are not allowed.
Free standing brass candelabras are available to be used with dripless candles only. Dripless unity candles are also permitted. Candles in areas other than the chancel must be battery operated and provided by the wedding party.
Paraments and other visual/artistic enhancements to the sanctuary (“liturgical arts”) may be present during particular liturgical seasons, especially during Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter and may not be removed.
Rice, Birdseed, Balloons, etc.
The throwing of rice, birdseed, and confetti, or the releasing of balloons is prohibited.
Bubbles or rose petals are permitted outdoors.
Only silk flower petals, which do not stain carpeting, are allowed to be spread indoors.
Rehearsal time is arranged with the presiding pastor, usually scheduled on the evening before the wedding for one hour only. The entire wedding party, readers, musicians and ushers should attend, along with parents and grandparents of the couple. Other friends and family are also welcome to be present. The rehearsal will begin and end on time.
The church can accommodate receptions in the Dining Room or the Gym. No alcohol may be served or consumed. All food must be prepared by a professional caterer offsite. Please speak with the Church Wedding Coordinator if interested. Additional fees apply.
In order for the marriage to be legal, the couple must contact the Winnebago County Clerk’s office to apply. There is a one day waiting period after the license is purchased so please plan accordingly. The couple is responsible for their fulfillment of the procedures and requirements pertaining to the license. The marriage license should be presented to the presiding pastor no later than the start of the wedding rehearsal.
Printed Worship Order
A printed worship order if desired is a responsibility of the couple. The presiding pastor will supply the order of worship. The couple is required to get the approval for the final version from the presiding pastor, and to arrange for printing outside the church.
All wedding services will be held in the main sanctuary. The main sanctuary seats 550 to 600 people, (about 400 on the main floor and about 150 in the balcony). However, the main sanctuary is a flexible space and provides a nice worship space even for smaller services.
The church building is wheelchair accessible.
The South Entrance of the building, off the main parking lot, should be considered the main entrance for the wedding.
Wedding Party Preparations
The Ladies Lounge on the lower level of the church is available for members of the wedding party to change clothes and make other preparations. The Heritage Room on the main floor near the church office is also available for changing clothes. For safety and efficiency, please secure all belongings in the Ladies Lounge and the Heritage Room fifteen minutes before the wedding service is to begin. SecondFirst Church is not responsible for theft or damage to personal property. It is also the responsibility of the wedding party to be sure all belongings are cleared out within the three hours of time allotted on the wedding day. Please designate someone to be responsible for this task. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed in both preparation areas.
Since the wedding is a service of worship, reverence is expected on the part of all present, but reverence does not preclude joy!
Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the church building. Smoking is not permitted near any door.
Alcohol may not be served or consumed on the premises of SecondFirst Church. No one under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs will be allowed to participate in the service. This policy includes the partners to be married.
The Marriage after the Wedding
It is our hope that SecondFirst Church will be as much a part of your marriage as we are a part of your wedding. SecondFirst Church seeks to love, know and worship God by welcoming all people, serving our neighbors and sharing God’s grace. We pray God’s blessings and love for your life together.
SecondFirst Church is available for a total of four hours for your wedding: 1 hour for your rehearsal and 3 hours the day of your ceremony.
Security Deposit $300 due to secure date
This deposit in addition to meeting with the presiding pastor, secures the date of your wedding. Should you decide to cancel your wedding plans the deposit will NOT be refunded. After the wedding, the deposit will be refunded pending deductions of damage to church property, clean up needs beyond normal cleaning and any time over the four hours you remain in the building. Deductions to the security deposit are to be determined by the Church Wedding Coordinator.
Total Wedding Package $1,425 due one month before wedding
The package includes building use, cleaning service, sound operator, building host, wedding coordinator, organist/pianist and pastor.
Candles for sanctuary candelabra $30
Extra time $150 per hour
Additional Music Rehearsal $100
Receptions $500 building fee, $150 per hour, plus a second $300 deposit
How and When to Pay the Fees
A deposit of $300 is due when the wedding is booked.
All fees for services listed above must be paid to the church’s business manager no later than one month before the date of the wedding service. Checks should be made payable to “Second Congregational/First Presbyterian Church” and may be mailed to the church office (318 N. Church Street, Rockford, IL 61101) or presented in person.
Please note that financial arrangements with musicians other than the church organist/pianist are not handled by the church.
318 N. Church St.
Rockford, IL 61101
Rev. Rebecca White Newgren, Senior Pastor
For initial information, contact:
Debbie Wise, Church Administrator