A sacred space for your memorable occasions.

Weddings at First Pres

It is our privilege to initiate the marriage of a man and woman for those who are members and regular attenders at First Pres. Here you will find all you need to know to be married at First Pres.

Start your wedding planning by contacting the First Pres Office to check on available dates and to set a conversation with the minister your would like
 to have officiate. In order to avoid any embarrassment, please take this first step before you send out “save the date” cards, announcements, or invitations.


As followers of Jesus, we believe marriage is a gift from God for the full expression of love between one man and one woman. Marriage is for the well-being of human society, and is a holy mystery in which one man and one woman are joined together and become one, just as Christ is one with the Church.

Your wedding at First Pres is a service of worship. You are asking God’s blessing on the promises you make, and you are affirming that your love for each other is a direct result of God’s love for you, revealed in Jesus Christ. Because of these beliefs, everything said and done in your wedding is in keeping with the worship of God.

People who attend your wedding are coming to celebrate God’s love with you, to witness your promises to each other and to God, and to ask God’s blessing on your marriage. You may want to involve people in worship in appropriate ways—hymns, worship songs, prayers, Scripture readings, even a celebration of The Lord’s Supper.

Thank you for letting us help you plan and experience a wedding service that will proclaim your love for Jesus Christ and celebrate the gift God has given you in each other!

Pastor Paul Detterman would be honored to officiate at your wedding. If you would like another minister to officiate, s/he must be approved by the Session and invited by Pastor Detterman. When a guest minister officiates, one of the pastors of First Pres will assist in the wedding service.

Contact the office to receive a wedding application, fill it out and return it to the church office prior to your first meeting with the minister. If you are a not a member of First Pres, please submit the $500.00 deposit with the form. Your wedding plans are not final until after your first meeting with the officiating minister.

Counseling with the officiating minister is required and must include both the bride and the groom. You will talk about the meaning of marriage, challenges all couples face in establishing a lasting relationship, and the specific ways that followers of Jesus can build a strong, lasting marriage together. You will want to schedule your counseling to begin as soon as possible because life gets more hectic the closer you get to the wedding!

One of the people who can help you most is our wedding coordinator. If the wedding is by a First Pres minister, s/he and the wedding coordinator will coordinate the musicians, custodian, and sound tech. The wedding coordinator will be at the rehearsal and wedding to assist with any needs. S/he will discuss your preferences for setting up the sanctuary as soon as possible so arrangements can be made. If another minister is officiating, the First Pres wedding coordinator will be your contact to plan and prepare for the service.

Music defines worship. Because your wedding is a service of worship, the music should glorify God. First Pres staff musicians are available to play for weddings and to help you choose appropriate music. If you want to invite other musicians to participate, they must be approved by the First Pres staff musicians and pastors. A sound tech from First Pres will help with your audio needs.

Schedule times to meet with musicians, select a florist, decide on a photographer/videographer, and make any other special arrangements as far in advance as possible.

The Pastor’s honorarium is separate from other expenses and is usually provided by the couple in appreciation for counseling, coordinating, and curating the details of the wedding. The exact amount is at the discretion of the couple.

Other honoraria include:

  • Wedding Coordinator – $300
  • Sound Tech – $100
  • Livestream – $150
  • Primary Musician – $250
  • Additional Musician(s) – TBD
  • Custodian – $200

For active members of First Pres and their families, there is no charge for the use of the church facilities. If you are not a member of First Pres, there is a flat fee of $2,000 that includes an initial deposit of $500, submitted with your application. The balance ($1,500) is due two weeks before your wedding. Please make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church of River Forest.

Below you will find a list of item to do to be sure all is ready to go on your wedding day:

  • Confirm your date with the church office.
  • Contact the officiating minister to set up premarital counseling dates.
  • Contact the First Pres Wedding Coordinator.
  • Contact musicians to plan your wedding music.
  • Contact a florist with your decoration plans.
  • Contact a photographer/videographer and be sure to share the First Pres photo/video policy (see below).
  • Obtain your marriage license from the Office of the Cook County Clerk, 118 N Clark Street, Chicago, or call for other locations. Bring your marriage license no later than the rehearsal.
  • If you are not a First Pres member, make sure all fees are paid two weeks prior to the wedding.
  • Remind your wedding party to be on time for the rehearsal and the wedding, and remind them of church policies.
  • Appoint someone to be responsible for the guest book and for any personal articles in the dressing rooms.

Now, relax and have fun! We will do everything we can to help you make this a day you will never forget!

Welcome to First Pres! As a professional, your goal is to provide the best stills and video possible for your client. At First Pres we honor that and will work with you in every way we can. We also ask that you honor and respect the practices of our faith tradition. Working together, we will achieve the best results for the bride and groom.

In the Presbyterian/Reformed Tradition, a wedding is a service of worship, focused on God, at which the bride and groom make covenant promises to each other and to God. Our goal is to keep the focus on worship. Here are a few simple guidelines that are very important to us:

  • We ask that no flash photos be taken during the wedding service (from the time the bride reaches the front of the sanctuary until the couple begins the recessional).
  • Time exposures may be taken from the back of the sanctuary, including the balcony.
  • During the wedding, please remain behind the second pillars from the front and move around in the outside aisles only.
  • A remote camera may be discretely placed in the Chancel and used in conjunction with other devices.
  • Stills and video may be taken in any location inside or outside the building both before and after the wedding.
  • The officiating minister will be glad to work with you to answer any questions.

Thank you for honoring our faith tradition. If you have any further questions, please contact the church office or the officiating minister.

Here you will find some useful things to know about your wedding at First Pres.

  • A Cook County Marriage License is required for your wedding. You can obtain a license from the Office of the Cook County Clerk, 118 N Clark Street, Chicago, or at the Maybrook Center, First Avenue and the I-290 Expressway. A marriage license is good for sixty days, but it cannot be used on the same day it is issued. You must bring your marriage license to the church on or before the rehearsal.
  • Alcoholic beverages or recreational drugs are not permitted in or around the church building. Also, if a member of the wedding party comes to the rehearsal or the wedding under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will be asked to leave.
  • Smoking is not permitted in any part of the church building.
  • Confetti, birdseed, or bubbles are great for celebrations outside the building only. Please to not throw rice. It can cause people to slip and fall.
  • Keep decorations tasteful. The beauty of a wedding is in the promises made between the bride and groom. We ask that no tape or clamps be used on the wood surfaces or candelabra.
  • Make sure the wedding coordinator knows when the florist will be arriving to decorate the church.
  • Make sure your photographer/videographer has a copy of the First Pres specifications for their work. If there are any questions, they may contact the wedding coordinator or the officiating First Pres minister.
  • First Pres provides a kneeling bench and two kinds of candelabra. We also have a three-candle unity candelabrum.
  • If you are using a guest book, ask someone to welcome guests and invite them to sign it.
  • If gifts are brought to the church, ask someone to keep an eye on them. We are a city church and cannot be responsible for valuables or other personal property. 
  • First Pres seating capacity is 400 on the Sanctuary floor and 100 in the balcony. There are three rows of pews with two 80’ aisles. There is no center aisle. Runners can be rented from your florist. The Maxwell Room (chapel) can seat 70 in freestanding chairs.
  • Cancellation is never planned, but can sometimes be a reality. If you need to reschedule or cancel your wedding plans for any reason, please  notify our staff in the church office immediately so the date(s) can be made available for other ministry opportunities. There is no
    cancellation fee.

We know you’ll have more questions. We’re here to help!

Funerals & Memorial Services

You have experienced a great loss. We understand and want to comfort, support, and help you through this strange and difficult time. This information will help you plan a funeral or memorial service that proclaims our faith in Jesus Christ and his victory over death and helps you take the next steps of healing in your grief.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”  John 11:25-26

A funeral is a service of worship with the casket or urn present. In our tradition, the casket is closed.

A memorial service is a service of worship without the casket or urn present. This is often held after interment or if there are close friends and family members who need time to make travel arrangements. We strongly encourage you to hold the funeral or memorial service at First Pres.

The focus of the service will be on resurrection—victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our goal is to help you and others take the first steps toward healing through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ushers can be friends or family members who want to help, or can be recruited from the church.

Worship Guides for your guests can be created for you in our office. Contact the office for more information.

Flowers may be provided by family or friends. If you are having a reception, we suggest you include a center piece for the main serving table.

Seating Capacities

Main Sanctuary                     400
Sanctuary Balcony                100
Maxwell Room (Chapel)         70

Guest Book(s) are available from the funeral home.

Fees for funerals and memorial services at First Pres:

  • Building Use: $0 (church members) $200 (non-members)
  • Organist/Pianist: $175 (church members) $175 (non-members)
  • Soloist: $100 (church members) $100 (non-members)
  • Livestream: $0 (church members) $150 (non-members)
  • Reception: $0 (church members) $300 (non-members)

Receptions are usually held in the Social Hall and are hosted by volunteers. Light refreshments and custodial help are available.

The Pastor is paid separately from other expenses. Compensation can be given in appreciation for the pastor’s time, support, and help. The amount is at the discretion of the family.

Building Rental For Events at First Pres

The sanctuary and various rooms are available to members and regular attenders for noncommercial use of the building including but not limited to church conferences, sports ministries, and other groups. Contact the First Pres Office to check if your group qualifies and if we have availability.

Fundraising requests from First Pres staff and congregation, as well as outside charitable organizations, shall be communicated to the Ministry Coordinator for review and approval by the Pastor, and shall be reported to the Session prior to publicizing the event.

Requests for sales by other organizations/businesses at the church and for church-sponsored events shall be communicated to the Ministry Coordinator for review and approval by the Pastor, and reported to the Session.

All requests should include:

  • Name of responsible person and their position of responsibility
  • Project the funds will benefit
  • Additional resources required
  • Duration of the effort
  • How the proceeds will be collected (e.g.; offering, online, sale of a product)

This policy does not apply to fees collected for church-sponsored ministries.

A request form is available from the Ministry Coordinator.

To request to use space at First Pres for events, please email the Ministry Coordinator.

Please keep in mind the following:

  • Events shall not conflict with scheduled or ongoing ministries of First Pres
  • Events shall not conflict with First Pres beliefs, bylaws, and/or 501(c)3 non-profit designation
  • Priority will be given to Christian groups and organizations and/or Active Members of First Pres
  • An event held in the Sanctuary or Social Hall on an evening prior to a major church function shall include additional custodial fees at a rate of $50/hour
  • No event shall be held in the Sanctuary or Social Hall on a Saturday evening unless special arrangements are made with the Ministry Coordinator
  • Permission to borrow tables and chairs shall be granted by the Ministry Coordinator
  • Use of dishes, flatware, and kitchen items is limited to groups involved with and/or including one or more Active Members of First Pres who assume full responsibility for all items used
  • First Pres shall not be used for children’s birthday parties
  • No persons age 18 or under may use the church facilities without a responsible adult age 21 or older present, and then only with permission of a Staff member
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the building or on the grounds unless specific prior consent has been received from the Session
  • Use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or recreational drugs of any kind is forbidden
  • The Session has final authority on all use of the building and grounds
  • Session (or its Ministry Team designee) shall review and approve all ongoing events or regular outside use annually

Active Members of First Pres are requested to make a donation to cover related maintenance costs. When other non-profit/ministry groups are granted the use of the First Pres facility, it may be without cost for limited meetings or ministry events, but they are requested to make a donation and will be required to  cover any extraordinary maintenance costs.

All others:
Sanctuary – $500.00         
Piano Tuning – $150.00
Maxwell Room – $100.00         
Social Hall – $500.00
Blue Room – $100.00
Kitchen – $300.00