Getting Married

The purpose of this web-page is to answer some of the many questions which we are regularly asked about getting married in Luss Parish Church. It is designed to be available for everyone so some of the questions may seem so obvious as to be almost silly to some people, while to others they may be just what they wanted to know but didn't like to ask.

However, if you do have a question which you would like to ask, do ask. The minister will be very happy to answer your query.

First of all, who can get married in Luss Parish Church? The answer is that, as we are a Parish Church, anyone who is normally resident within our parish may apply to the minister to be married. Our parish is the villages of Luss, Arden and Inverbeg and the surrounding areas. If you live in another part of Scotland, then it is the privilege of the minister from your own parish to conduct your wedding.

Of course, if you are a communicant member of Luss Parish Church, living out with the parish, you may also ask our minister to conduct your wedding.
However, many other folk would like to be married in this beautiful part of the world and we are delighted to share our Church with them, especially as we believe that our building is quite simply the most beautiful Church for a wedding anywhere in Scotland.

The best way of inviting our minister to conduct your wedding is to come to a regular Sunday morning service and after the service to come across to the Manse for coffee -- everyone in the congregation does! There you will get an opportunity of discussing your plans with the Minister. If you wish you may telephone the Manse in advance (01436 - 860240) to tell the minister that you will be attending Church and would like to speak to him about a wedding. Of course, you may not be able to get to Luss immediately and that is why an on-line application form is included at the end of this web-page. Fill it it, send it off and the process of planning your wedding has already begun. If he can, the minister will normally be delighted to arrange your wedding. He will want to be sure that you are fully aware that a Wedding Service in Luss Parish Church is a religious service; that you will be making your promises before God; and that you will be coming to receive God's blessing on the marriage into which you are entering.

There is not a lot of point in doing that unless you have a faith in God and want him to be part of your marriage. The minister will also want to be sure that you are happy with the Church's view of marriage as the entering into of a loving commitment for life between two people. He will not, however, expect or require you to become a member of the Church if you are not a member, although he will seek to establish links between you and your own local Church to ensure that there is a congregation and a minister to whom you may turn in the future and who will be happy to welcome you into the life of their congregation.
It is important that both people wishing to be married come to one of our services, not least because you will want to be sure that the style of worship which is offered here is appropriate for your special day. Marriages will not be arranged until the minister has had the opportunity of consulting both parties. It is also important that if you have been married before that you tell the minister at this stage. Under present Church of Scotland regulations, depending on the circumstances, ministers are allowed to marry people who have been divorced subject to their own consciences. So the fact that you have been divorced will not necessarily debar you from getting married in Luss Parish Church.

Once the minister has agreed to arrange your wedding, the first thing to be settled on is the date. Because there are a great number of wedding requests in our parishes, and because you will also have reception arrangements to make, this date will often be quite a way in the future. The minister will advise you that about three months before the date of your wedding you should make contact with the local registrar to complete the appropriate forms which will result in a Wedding Schedule being issued to you by the registrar in the week of your wedding. The minister will remind you that this Wedding Schedule is very important, and that without it no marriage can take place.

The Registrar for marriages at Luss Parish Church is:
Miss Claire Craig,
The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths,
Scotcourt House,
45 West Princes Street,
Helensburgh G84 8BP
Telephone: 01436 658822

Full Birth Certificates will be required, together with, where applicable, Certificate of Divorce or Certificate of Death of a former spouse. There are fees payable to the Registrar in connection with your documentation.
All weddings in Luss Parish Church are arranged by the Parish Minister and most will be conducted by him. On a few occasions when the minister is unavailable a ministerial friend of Luss will conduct the service, always at the invitation of the parish minister. The minister might, for example, be a minister living in this area who is happy to help with wedding celebrations.
At about the time you make contact with the registrar, you will be asked to attend a meeting with the minister who is to conduct your wedding service. At this time the minister will discuss with you the arrangements for your marriage. As has been said earlier on this web-page, your wedding service in Luss Parish Church is a religious service and, as such, all of the arrangements for the service itself are in the hands of the minister. He will, however, wish to discuss the service with you and will normally be happy to include within the service items which you have chosen.
In particular, he will want to be sure that the hymns used during the service are ones with which you are familiar and, if there are hymns which have a special meaning for you, he will be happy to include them, providing that they are appropriate for the wedding service!
He will also be glad to know if there is particular music which you would like to have played as you come into Church and as you leave Church. At wedding services in Luss the organ is played by the Church Organist and, once you have discussed the service with the minister, he will usually arrange for a meeting with the organist to discuss any special musical requests.
Once all of the details of the wedding have been finalised, you may wish to have an Order of Service (some people call it a Hymn Sheet) printed. It is important that you do not do this before all of the details have been agreed with the minister.
The minister will also arrange with you to have a wedding rehearsal before the wedding. This rehearsal is absolutely essential and is not an optional extra! In fact, it is on this occasion that the minister will explain to you in detail everything that happens during the wedding service, and its significance. It's appropriate to do this at this stage; any earlier and you may have forgotten by the day of the wedding - and as a result of this rehearsal it is hoped that you will be able to relax and enjoy your wedding. Normally wedding rehearsals are scheduled for 6 p.m. on the day before the wedding - by this time most of those who will be taking part have arrived in the area and, following the rehearsal, you will have plenty of time left to enjoy the evening before your wedding.
Who should come to the rehearsal? Obviously the Bride and Groom, but also the Bride's father (if the Bride is walking down the aisle on her father's arm), the Bridesmaids (including any children and flower-girls who need to be given positions to stand) the Best Man, and any other people who are taking part by, for example, reading or singing.
Not every wedding is the same but, usually, your service will start with some words of welcome and the first hymn which you and the minister have chosen together. This will be followed by a general introduction about marriage during which the Church's view of marriage as part of God's plan for us will be expressed; we will remind ourselves that Marriage is a life-long commitment of two people to each other; that in this new relationship both partners will blossom and grow through each other's love; that children may be born and that society itself is strongest where marriage is honoured.
We will also remind ourselves that as this is a Christian Marriage, we believe that God is present with us in the ceremony and that as we are starting this marriage in prayer so we undertake to continue to share our lives with God in prayer, to bring our children up to love God and to commit ourselves totally to each other.
Naturally these words are followed by a prayer (the first of two prayers in the wedding service). This prayer asks God to be with you as you make your wedding vows.
At this point everyone in the congregation will be asked to stand, and they will be expected to remain standing throughout the promises, the exchange of rings and the blessing. This is because this is the central and most important part of the wedding ceremony and, in our tradition, whenever something particularly holy happens we stand.
The minister will ask you to join hands and to make your promises to each other. Normally you will repeat the promise phrase by phrase after the minister.

Usually the promise is as follows:

I, Adam, take you Eve, to be my wife
and in the presence of God, and before these witnesses,
I promise and covenant to be a loving and faithful husband to you
as long as we both shall live.

I, Eve, take you Adam, to be my husband
and in the presence of God, and before these witnesses,
I promise and covenant to be a loving and faithful wife to you
as long as we both shall live.

You'll see that the promise is the same for both male and female and the minister will point out that 'covenant' is a much-loved church word, rich in theological meaning, for 'to make a binding agreement.'

After the promises comes the exchange of rings. You may be asked to say the following words as you give your partner a ring:

I give you this ring in God's name,
as a symbol of all that we have promised,
and all that we shall share.
The minister may also say the traditional words:
By these signs you take each other,
to have and to hold from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and cherish,
for as long as you live.

At this point the minister will join your hands together and declare you to be married, repeating the injunction: 'Those whom God has joined together, no one must separate.'

The minister will now require you, as your first act together as a married couple, to kneel to receive God's blessing. This is why you have come to be married in Church - to make your promises before God, to share your special day with him, and now, the very best bit of the whole service, to receive God's blessing on your coming together as man and wife. And you kneel because it is your way of taking part in this blessing; it isn't something which happens over your head 'whether you like it or not' - but you seek this blessing and consent to it by kneeling in front of the whole congregation.
The blessing will either be spoken by the minister or sung by the congregation, after which you will stand once more and the congregation will be seated.
If there are three hymns, the second one will normally be sung at this point, after which there will sometimes be an address and there will certainly be a word of congratulation.

This leads on to the second part of the service which consists of the reading of God's word and the second and final prayer. The minister will choose readings which he feels to be appropriate for the occasion, possibly some of the beautiful words about love written by Paul in his first letter to the Church at Corinth. He will be happy to hear suggestions from you both about other appropriate readings which have meaning for you and will also normally be happy to agree to one of your friends sharing a reading in the service itself. The final prayer is a prayer asking God to be with you throughout the adventure which you have begun on your wedding day, asking God to be with you in the good times and in the more difficult times which may lie ahead. It's again underlining the idea of a three-way partnership which begins with your marriage.

Finally, everyone will sing the last hymn and the minister will invite you and your wedding party (Best Man, Bridesmaids, possibly parents, depending on your wishes) to gather round the table while the wedding documents are signed.
While the documents are being signed, the organist will play some appropriate music. Some couples have a family friend whom they invite to sing at this point. If you would like to have this in your wedding, please do discuss the matter first with the minister and, if appropriate, with the organist. The minister will want to agree to your request, but will want to be sure that what is proposed is appropriate for a service of worship and a celebration of marriage.
Meanwhile, around the table, the bridegroom will have signed his normal signature, the bride, regardless of what she has decided to call herself after her marriage, will sign her maiden name (the name she has used for all of the years up to this point), and the two witnesses, both of whom have been present at the service and are over the age of sixteen, will sign their normal signatures and fill in their full names and addresses. Normally the witnesses are either the Best Man and Bridesmaid or two of the parents. Their signatures are important because under Scots Law it is their witnessing the fact that you have declared your intention to live as husband and wife that completes the marriage contract.
After a pause for a photograph, the organist will strike up the final Wedding music, the Church bell will ring to tell the world that you are married, and you will walk out of the Church as man and wife.

There are a number of questions which people sometimes ask about weddings in Luss Parish Church and these will be dealt with now.
Are we allowed to have photographs taken of our wedding? Yes, the photographer should speak to the minister about what is permitted, but providing the camera is not intrusive and does not use flash there will not be a problem. It is good to have pictures of the service as well as at the door and at the reception because these will remind you of the important promises which you have made on your wedding day.
Are we allowed to have a video of our wedding? Again yes, providing that the sighting of the camera and the operator is unobtrusive and uses only available light.
What about flowers for the Church on our Wedding Day? The minister is happy for you to put flowers in the Church for your wedding. You may do this on the evening before the wedding (often the best time for the rehearsal as well), or you may arrange for this to be done on your behalf either on the evening before the ceremony or on the morning of the wedding. The Beadle will open the Church to enable this to be done. It is expected that flowers put in Church are then left to be distributed to the elderly and sick in the parish following the next Sunday service.

Do I have to ask the Parish Minister to arrange my wedding and must I use the Church's organist? Wedding services at Luss Parish Church are arranged by the Parish Minister. The Church does not hire out its building for use for weddings by other people. If you are from out with the parish, the Parish Minister will normally be happy to invite your own parish minister, priest or pastor to share in the service, should that be appropriate; but the invitation will always come from the Luss Parish Church Minister as it is his responsibility to arrange and to conduct the weddings within his church. (Sometimes, if it is thought to be appropriate, visiting ministers are invited to deliver an address, read the Bible Passages and lead the prayers for the couple who are being married.) Leading the praise within the parish church is the duty and the privilege of the Church Organist. On occasions during the summer months it may be that your wedding falls during a period when the organist is on holiday. If that is the case then the Parish Minister will ensure that an appropriate deputy is provided.

Is it expected that we invite the minister to the wedding reception? Absolutely not. The minister will not expect to be invited to your wedding reception. If you do invite him he will, of course, be very pleased but you should understand that with so many weddings there are many occasions when the constraints of time and work will make it impossible for him to accept such an invitation.

And what about all of the many other questions we've got about who should do what in Church, who should sit where, and so on? Don't worry, all of these things will be dealt with at the appropriate rehearsal.

Most of all, enjoy the time between now and your wedding; enjoy the planning; enjoy the preparation and make time to think of your decision to celebrate your marriage in God's house - Luss Parish Church will also be your home. You will be welcome to come and join us Sunday by Sunday, and you may feel that coming to worship in Luss Parish Church before your wedding will make you feel more at home on your big day!

Congratulations on your engagement and good luck with all of your plans! The next step is to complete our wedding application form and to send it to us by e-mail using the on-line application form below. You will quickly be informed if the date you request is available and will be invited to come to one of our services so that you can be sure that the style of worship we offer is appropriate for your special day. If you are unable to come to Luss just yet, you are welcome to send your application by post or e-mail but do understand that the Minister will not normally be able to confirm your wedding arrangements until he has met you both in person. Due to the Minister's obligations to his two parishes and because of the large number of wedding requests received, it is regretted that the Minister can normally only meet with you for this purpose on a Sunday morning following Sunday worship.  Due to the ever increasing number of people from overseas who are seeking to get married in Luss Parish Church, the Parish Minister will be happy to conduct the initial planning of a wedding of those from abroad by e-mail, post or even telephone.

We have a very beautiful Church and are happy to share it with the many folk for whom Luss is a special place. We look forward to meeting you!