We at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury rejoice with you as you plan your wedding and pray that it will be a significant, sacred and joyous occasion. Thank you for your interest in being married in our church. Please read below to learn more about how we approach scheduling and preparing for weddings.
The Rev. Cathlin Baker, Pastor of the First Congregational Church, acts as the lead officiant of all weddings at our church. Wedding ceremonies at our church are Christian services, and within that tradition, every effort is made to include elements that reflect the spirit of the couple.
Rev. Baker prefers to meet at least three times with a couple for marriage counseling and wedding planning. Couples are encouraged to begin meeting with the minister at least six months before the wedding. If there are other clergy or licensed officiants you would like it include you may speak to Rev. Baker directly about if and how she can find an appropriate role for them.We hope that your wedding will be meaningful and memorable and that you will come to consider this church your home.
Our historic sanctuary, built in 1833, is a light-filled intimate setting that holds a maximum of 150 guests. There is a small organ loft that can accommodate instrumental or vocal soloists, and photographers or videographers. We do not allow use of the organ loft for wedding guests. The center aisle leads up to a centrally located raised pulpit. A large portion of the wedding ceremony, including the vows, is conducted on the main floor in front of the raised pulpit. Opening and closing words, prayers, and reading as usually delivered from the pulpit. The sanctuary space is not air-conditioned.
We encourage you to schedule your wedding at your earliest convenience. Typically, couples contact us twelve to eighteen months prior to their wedding date. Please contact the Office Administrator who will confer with the minister about her availability as well. A $500 deposit is required to secure your date. The summer months of July and August are very difficult to schedule weddings due to the many annual events conducted by the congregation.
Once you have scheduled your wedding and submitted your church deposit, we encourage you to contact our Music Director as early as possible, to request and schedule his involvement.
At the First Congregational Church, we enjoy a tradition of excellence in music. The Music Director is happy to assist you with choosing appropriate music for your wedding, and is available to play organ or piano for weddings most of the year. If you wish to have a private consultation about music, please schedule that meeting no later than six weeks prior to the wedding date.
When unavailable to play, our Music Director can provide a short list of qualified substitutes, selected from a group of experienced organists who are familiar with the instruments and musical traditions of our church.
If you desire a vocal soloist, we suggest that you invite one of the soloists who sing with the Choir at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. They are familiar with the sanctuary, the acoustics, and with the musical traditions of the Church. A list of soloists, both vocal and instrumental, is available from our Music Director.
A walk-through rehearsal of your ceremony usually takes place on the evening preceding the wedding. Rehearsals are planned to last one hour. The Music Director can arrange to be at the rehearsal, although it is our experience that his/her presence is not necessary to ensure a well-ordered wedding.
Please submit the Sanctuary fee as soon as possible, to secure the church for your chosen date. All Other fees (minister, sexton, and organist) should be given, along with the wedding license, to the minister at the time of the rehearsal.
1. Sanctuary Use: There is no fee required for pledging members. A payment of $500 is required of all others to secure the sanctuary for your chosen date. Please make your check payable to: the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury.
2. Minister: There is no fee for pledging members. Some may choose to give the minister an honorarium as a reflection of their appreciation for her efforts. A payment of $350 is required of all others. This includes the counseling and planning sessions, wedding rehearsal, and wedding ceremony. Please make your check payable to: Rev. Cathlin Baker.
3. Sexton: A payment of $75 is required to cover the preparation and cleanup of the sanctuary for wedding-related activities (rehearsal, flower delivery, wedding ceremony, etc.) Please make your check payable to: Rebecca Searle.
4. Organist: If our Music Director plays piano or organ during your ceremony, a payment of $300 is required. If a collaborative rehearsal is necessary for both him/or her and a soloist or instrumentalist, then an additional payment of $100 is required for his/her time. Please make your check payable to: David Rhoderick.
All checks can be mailed to: FCCOWT P.O. Box 3000, PMB 3111 West Tisbury, MA 02575.
Getting Married in Massachusetts
For more information about the legalities of marriage in Massachusetts, please visit this site, or call the West Tisbury Town Hall at 508-696-0148.
There are two pedestals on either side of the chancel for floral arrangements. Please arrange to have your flowers delivered and arranged in the sanctuary at least one hour preceding the ceremony. The florist may contact the church directly to schedule a delivery at another time. Flowers may be taken with you, or you may choose to donate them to the church for use in our Sunday service and for distribution to the ill and shut-ins.
Photographers are not permitted to take pictures from any position within the chancel area or at the front of the sanctuary. He/she should be as unobtrusive as possible, remaining at the rear of the sanctuary, along the far side aisles or in the recessional, and only from the rear of the church. No flash pictures are to be taken during the ceremony.
Due to the relatively small space in our sanctuary, videographers are permitted to use one camera with no lights. The camera placement will be at the discretion of the minister. Any additional equipment must be placed at the back of the sanctuary.The photographer or videographer must be present and consult with the minister before the service begins.
Birdseed, Rice, Rose Petals, and Confetti
These items are not allowed inside or outside the church building.
The church is located in the center of West Tisbury. A small amount of parking is available on State Road in front of the church and along both sides of Music Street. If your wedding falls on a weekend, guests may park in the Town Hall parking lots. The Town Hall is located next to our church on the west side of Music Street. Please instruct your guests NOT to park in the circle in front of the Town Hall as doing so will disrupt the bus service and will put their car at risk of being towed.
You may call the West Tisbury Free Public Library (508-693-3366) and Alley's General Store (508-693-0088), two businesses within a short walking distance to the church, to ask for permission to use their parking lots as well. The Grange Hall (a historic reception hall located within a short walking distance to the church) might also allow parking for your guests when an event is not in session. Please call Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust at 508-627-4440 to inquire about their parking policy.
The Church is located at 1051 State Road, on the corner of State Road and Music Street, in the center of West Tisbury. A map can be found here.