It is hoped that the following information will help you in planning your wedding and acquaint you with the
policies and customs of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, Houston.  A Christian marriage is a covenant
relationship between a man and woman, proclaimed in a public setting.  A marriage service is a worship
service of festive proportions and specific intention, but it is, nonetheless, a worship service.  It is, to be
sure, a worship service with a romantic theme, but it is not sentimental.  The proclamation of a marriage
covenant is a serious step. Church wedding customs vary in detail from place to place.

St. Matthew will perform weddings for Christian non-members.  Couples should have a current affiliation
with a Christian church.  Discuss this during your meeting with the Pastor.  The guiding principle to keep in
mind is that the marriage service is a regular worship service of the church and, as such, is an occasion for
both great joy and dignity.  At St. Matthew we believe that Holy Matrimony is a union entered into within the
community of faith.

It is expected that, under normal circumstances, those who marry at St. Matthew will nurture their marriage
in the context of a worshipping community.  Marriage is a major event in the lives of both parties, which
rightfully begins in the place where it is to be supported through community worship.  For those who have
no intention of regular involvement in any church, it might well be more appropriate to be married in a
different context.

The First Step - (Read the full text of the Wedding Customary before you proceed)
It is advisable to verify the availability of the church by calling the Pastor at 713-526-5731 and to "pencil in "
the date.  The couple should make an appointment and meet with the Pastor of the church before any
other plans are finalized.  The Pastor approves all weddings.  No arrangements which involve the church or
church facilities, should be announced before approval has been received.  It is wise to make this initial
contact as far in advance as possible in order to guarantee your dates.

Next - You should send your deposit and Wedding Agreement Form to the church as soon as your
wedding has been approved to confirm the date and time.   
Unless there is a deposit on file, the wedding
date is technically still available and could be given to someone else even though your wedding has been
This is especially true when there are multiple requests for popular days and hours.  This
applies to both members and non-members.

Premarital Counseling -  The church requires a series of counseling sessions.  These will be explained to
you during your meeting with the Pastor.  Exceptions are possible.  Alternate arrangements can be made if
distance is a problem.
The Clergy and the Service -  The Pastor of the church performs and approves all weddings.  Other
clergy or lay persons may be invited to assist.  Certain protocols apply.  Discuss these questions with the
Pastor during your visit.
Date and Time of the Wedding -  At St. Matthew we do not have marriage services during Holy Week
through Easter Day.  While social custom clearly prefers Saturday weddings, there are no reasons to prefer
one day over another.  Weddings may be scheduled, for any time of the day that is convenient and not in
conflict with existing commitments.  Saturday weddings may not begin any later than 6:00 p.m.  If two
weddings are scheduled for the same day there must be a minimum of four hours between the starting
times, provided there is no reception at the church following the first wedding.  The first wedding placed on
the church calendar will have priority on choice of time.



Marriage License - A marriage license is the instrument that conveys to the clergy the authority of the
state to officiate at the ceremony and to sign the license making the marriage official in the eyes of the
Without a marriage license, the Pastor cannot proceed;  it is illegal.

Arrangements for the marriage license should be made with the County Clerk in advance of the date for the
ceremony.  In the State of Texas, a marriage license must be procured no less than 72 hours (3 days)
before the date of the wedding and the marriage must take place within 30 days from the date of issuance
of the license.

The marriage license must be given to the Pastor at the time of the rehearsal. Without the
license the rehearsal cannot begin.
It is the responsibility of the clergy to complete the license and
return it to the office of the County Clerk.  The County Clerk will return the original license to the married

Overview - Wedding Services -  At St. Matthew a comprehensive wedding package has been approved.
The wedding fee of $1600 plus a $200 refundable deposit covers the costs of a wedding that the church
incurs i.e. custodial, music, security, building use, air/heat, wedding coordination, maintenance et al.  The
Wedding Coordinator will be happy to discuss costs.  It is generally assumed that a couple should be
communing members of St. Matthew exceeding six months to receive member prices.

The St. Matthew wedding package is enhanced by the convenient location of the church in the Museum
District, the beautiful sanctuary, closeness to many reception venues, entertainment, hotels and access to
major freeways.  Your personal consultation with our Music Director/Organist is our way of making sure that
there is nothing left to chance regarding your music  planning.

The appointments of the building including the many stained glass panels and a
photogenic interior, lends
an aura of museum quality and old world charm.  The 4 manulal, 100 rank
Allen-Schantz digital/pipe organ
is one of the larger instruments in Houston.  Interesting aspects of the instrument include the Fanfare
Trumpet and the Ethereal Strings divisions.  It boasts some noble features of cathedral-scale organs.   

In order to support your long range planning we do not have a cancellation or "bumping" policy should
there be a member wedding request for your date.  Many churches guarantee your date from only 90 to
180 days prior to the wedding date.

Non-member and Member Prices - (subject to change) Please inquire. (281-488-2055)
Other facilities & Services -  Club room, Auditorium, The Lottman Chapel
Parking - Parking is available behind the church on Fannin St.  Reciprocal parking agreements exist with
surrounding churches.  Security guards are present before, during and after all wedding events.
Printed Service Order - You may review program samples with the wedding coordinator or design and
produce your own.  The Pastor and the Music Director / Organist must give final approval for all information
contained in the program, regardless of where or how it is printed.
Photography -   As a service of the Church, the wedding ceremony is not to be interrupted or disturbed by
the distractions of video taping or photographs being taken.  It is the bride's responsibility to review these
instructions with her photographers so that there will be no misunderstanding at the time of the wedding.  
Photography before the ceremony must be concluded 30 minutes prior to the designated hour of the event.

Photographs may be taken before and after the ceremony, just as the couple enters or leaves the center
aisle.  The photographer should be instructed that flash must never be used inside the chruch at any time
after guests have begun to be seated for the ceremony or during the ceremony itself.  Two or three time
exposures (without flash) from the rear aisle or the organ loft may be taken during the servicve as long as
there is no distraction.  No roving cameras are allowed in the altar area during the service.   No artificial
lighting is permitted during the ceremony.  One unmanned camera may be placed in a designated place in
the altar area.  Video may be taken from the organ loft or from the foyer on the ground floor.  No roving
camera is permitted.  Limited activity is allowed in the organ loft.  See Music Dir/Organist for details.

Because wedding guests occasionally attempt to take flash photography during the marriage service,  signs
may be posted at the church doors reminding guests that there is to be no photography during the
ceremony.  Ushers are asked to remind guests with cameras that they are not to take photographs inside
the church
once the altar candles have been lighted.   A limited number of flash photographs may be taken
of the wedding party after the service at the altar area.  This should be completed within 30 minutes.

Flowers and Arrangements -  In general, it is well to remember that the church is a beautiful building and
that simplicity is the best approach to take in planning flowers and floral decorations.  No floral
arrangements should be higher than the altar cross.  Large floral arrangements may be placed on each
side of the altar.  Pew floral markers are allowed.  Pew candles and candelabra are available as options
from the church.  No tacks, nails or florist tape may be used throughtout the building.  The use of rice, rose
petals, or confetti is not permitted.  A kneeling cushion is provided for all weddings.  Because of the danger
of tripping, the use of a "runner"  is not permitted.  While not a requirement, you may consider reserving the
center aisle for the immediate families and for the bridal party itself.

If you choose this option, ushered seating down the center aisle would be done untiil the altar candles are
lighted.  All seating from then on would be down the side aisles.  Discuss this with the Wedding Coordinator
to determine the possibilities.  In addition, while a guest registry book may be appropriate for a reception, it
may not be appropriate at the time of the wedding itself.  For large guest lists, the presence of a guest book
delays the seating of those arriving for the ceremony.  We recommend your consideration of this possibility.
Music -  The responsibility of all music is delegated to the Director of Music/Organist who will play for all
weddings at the church.  If he is unable to play for the service, it is his responsibility to designate a qualified
substitute organist.  If a soloist or additional musicians are desired, arrangements can be made.  If you
have your own choice for soloists or instrumentalists, they must be approved.  We do not use popular
music, cd or taped sound tracks.  All music is performed live.  The classic music of the church is preferred
including the great hymns and organ compositions.  The list of appropriate choral literature is extensive,
varied and suitable for weddings.  We recommend that you use experienced soloists or musicians on our
approved list.  The use of popular, sentimental songs is not permitted.  They are more appropriate at the
reception.  The Director of Music/Organist along with the Pastor have final approval regarding the
appropriateness of all music and music personnel used.  To hear samples of wedding processionals,
recessionals, songs and various instrumental music click on
MUSIC SAMPLES.  A high speed connection is

The rehearsal cannot begin until the license is present.  The time
for the wedding rehearsal should be determined in consultation with the Wedding Coordinator.  Rehearsals
are normally scheduled between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.   The Pastor or the Wedding Coordinator will conduct
the rehearsal.

Bridal consultants and/or florists are not needed at either the rehearsal or the wedding.  They are, of
course, welcome to attend to the bride and her needs before the wedding.  The church Wedding
Coordinator will have final direction authority during the wedding event.  We encourage the bride to be a
full and active participant in the rehearsal.

One of the purposes of the rehearsal is to give participants a "feel" for the wedding activities and the space
in which it is conducted.  We suggest not using a stand-in for the rehearsal.  As those people from the
church who are assisting with the rehearsal often have other plans for the same evening, it is expected that
every effort will be made to start the rehearsal on time.  It is also possible for more than one wedding
rehearsal to be scheduled on the same evening.

The Wedding Day -  There is a dressing area on the premises available for the bride and bridesmaids.  
Dresses are usually delivered on the morning of the day of the wedding at a time agreed upon by the
Wedding coordinator or the church office.  The groom and goomsmen usually arrive dressed for the
wedding.  However there is space allotted for men's dressing.  The dressing rooms are customarily
available two hours prior to the wedding.  It is strongly suggested that someone clear the dressing areas
of all valuables prior to the ceremony and lock them in cars.

Ushers -  The Wedding Coordinator will instruct ushers at the rehearsal.  Generally, ushers are expected
to be in the back of the church 30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony.  They are expected to begin
seating the guests as soon as they arrive.  Special guests will be seated by the ushers as directed by the
Wedding Coordinator.

The Wedding Party - The Wedding Coordinator will assemble the party and space them properly for the
procession.  All members of the parts, including the bride, her parents and her attendants, parents of the
groom, grandparents and/or other special guests should be gathered in their designated areas 30 minutes
prior to the ceremony.

Alcohol and Beverage Policy - No alcoholic beverages are allowed anywhere on the church grounds.  
No smoking is allowed anywhere in the buildings.  A violation of this policy could result in the party(ies)
being asked to leave the premises.

Wedding Information Form and Agreement -   Please ask the church office or wedding coordinator for
a form to fill out for your wedding. If there is as yet undetermined information, the Wedding Coordinator will
assist you during your initial visit. Church telephone: 713-526-5731


Contact Information -
St. Matthew Lutheran Church -
Tel: 713-526-5731; Fax: 713-524-1709
5315 Main St., Houston, TX 77004

C. Anthony Pessarra
Tel: 281-488-2055; Fax: 281-990-8960
Email: Anthony - (chasa@houston.rr.com)
To Print This Page
  The Wedding Customary  is designed to print with printer margins set to .25" with legal size paper.