First Church’s Meetinghouse in the center of Williamstown is a beautiful place for a wedding or commitment ceremony! The bright, clear windows of our Sanctuary, combined with the colonial style architecture are the perfect combination for a marital celebration. We welcome visitors and members alike to commemorate the sacred covenants between partners in ceremonies that reflect the interests and needs of the couple, within the context of Christian faith and worship. Consistent with our declaration to be an Open and Affirming church, and with pride that we live in a forward thinking state, we welcome couples of all gender combinations. If you are looking for a site for this most important day, please contact us to discuss the possibilities. Below are a few pictures of previous weddings so that you can get a sense of the interior of the Sanctuary.
At a time when it is hard to escape the pressure to turn a wedding into a major commercial undertaking, holding your ceremony surrounded by the simple beauty and dignity of the First Church Sanctuary can help focus proper attention on what should be the central event, the sacred covenants between you and your partner. Pastor Longhurst and Minister of Music Ed Lawrence will work with you to help plan a ceremony that is joyous and appropriate.
If you are interested knowing more, please contact the church office to arrange a time to see the Sanctuary and other spaces in person. In the meantime, we have included some guidelines and details below.
Venue. The church Sanctuary features a high ceiling, box pews, clear glass windows, elegantly simple classic architectural features, and a splendid Andover pipe organ. A bride’s room is located near the front door. Here is a floor plan.
Officiate. The pastor of the church, the Rev. Mark Longhurst, normally officiates at all weddings. At his discretion, another clergyperson may be invited to participate or officiate. A legal heads up: if the officiating clergyperson is from outside Massachusetts, a certificate must be obtained from the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Music. The Minister of Music, Edwin Lawrence, normally plays the organ at all weddings and coordinates any other music. At his discretion, other organists and guest musicians may be invited to participate.
Intention and License. (To make this all legal!) Intentions to marry are filed with the Williamstown Town Clerk at least three days before a license is granted, the day of filing not included. The legal age not requiring parental consent is 18 years. Massachusetts requires a medical certificate of a blood test for both partners, which may be given by a licensed physician. Results are not required when intentions are filed, but no license can be issued without the medical certificate. The license may be used immediately upon issue, and remains valid for 60 days. It must be given to the officiating clergy before the ceremony. The clergyperson completes the license and returns it to the City or Town of origin. The cost of the license is $10 for either residents or non-residents of Massachusetts.
Building Use. A Building Use Form, confirming set-up and other arrangements, needs to be filed with the church office, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Parking. The parking lot, right behind the building, holds up to 48 vehicles and will be reserved for the wedding guests. There is a drop off and handicap accessible entrance on the side of the building. This is the door that we usually use (in keeping with the New England tradition of not using your front door!), but on a beautiful summer day you can throw open the front doors and invite in your guests in that way, if they can negotiate a few stairs.
Flowers. You need to make sure that the church office knows when your florist and any helpers will be arriving to set up. Feel free to leave one or two arrangements behind so that the congregation can enjoy them on Sunday morning!
Photographs. It is only natural that you will want photographs of the ceremony, but sometimes the desire to document everything can detract from the event itself. We encourage the couple to request that, during the service, guests and photographers rely on natural light, and that video recording be done from a fixed location (such as the choir loft).
Receptions. Fellowship Hall is available for receptions.
Costs. For active members and contributing friends of the church, there is no charge for the use of the space, but there are fees for the organist and sexton. For families who are neither active members nor contributing friends of church, the total fees for use of the Church is $1,075.