Pre-Marital Counseling & Weddings
Premarital Counseling provides each couple with a framework for investing the time, energy, thought and prayer that a commitment of this magnitude calls for. Often in the hustle and bustle of modern life, this energy is absorbed by the practical details of wedding planning, work and other pursuits—and the more important, but less urgent demands of marriage preparation are neglected.
Even couples who know each other quite well before deciding to marry discover that there are certain issues they either haven’t thought of or may even avoid for various reasons. Most couples discover important things about themselves and their partner during the premarital process. Skills are learned that equip them for the challenges of married life. When the process is working well, couples are able to love each other more deeply and effectively.
Premarital counseling helps couples to appreciate the value of talking over issues affecting their marriage with a trusted third party. When challenging issues arise in the course of married life (as they inevitably do) couples who have been through premarital counseling have already crossed the threshold of getting some outside help. They are less likely to try to struggle through issues alone, when help is called for.
We view Christian marriage as a lifelong commitment that requires a vital connection with Christ. Our premarital counseling ministry is designed to help couples discern their readiness for this awesome commitment and equip them for the joys and challenges of married life. Because one out of every two marriages in our society ends in divorce, we require any couple married in the church to first invest in a thoughtful premarital counseling process. The pastoral staff, as ministers of Christ and the church, perform Christian wedding ceremonies—in the presence of God, making vows in the name of Christ; in order to do this with integrity (rather than simply “going through the motions”) we feel it is important for the couple to have a relationship with Christ. The marriage preparation process is holistic, covering all aspects of a couple’s relationship: practical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
What about premarital sex and/or living together?
We believe that God takes a very high view of sexuality--that it is something holy and good, to be shared within the protective context of a committed marriage. Therefore, we recommend that couples refrain from lovemaking and living together before their wedding. Not only is this biblical, but some studies have shown that the risk of divorce is significantly higher among couples who co-habitate before marriage. In certain cases, where children are involved or the couple is already living together, special arrangements are sometimes made (please talk to a pastor).
What about the Church Connection?
Since a meaningful church connection is an important factor in successful marriage, we think it’s best to first find the church that works for you and begin the marriage preparation process in that context. (Most churches take marriage preparation very seriously these days!) When couples with no previous connection with Vineyard inquire about the prospect of getting married at Vineyard, we usually recommend that they first begin attending the worship celebrations to see if the beliefs and values of this church make sense for them. It makes the process more meaningful for all concerned.
We want to help you to have the best marriage possible. In doing this we require that all couples who intend to get married by a Vineyard pastor complete premarital counseling. The officiating pastor will ask you to make arrangements with a professional counselor to work with you. We require at least two sessions with a professional counselor in addition to meetings with a pastor.
1. Time Frame: It is recommended that the couple begin the premarital counseling process at least 6 months before the wedding.
2. Scheduling: To reserve the church facility, contact the church office at (734) 477-9135 ext. 111 or email. Normally 6 months advance notice is necessary. You will also need to confirm with your officiating pastor that he/she is available on that date. (If you have a preference for who officiates your wedding, please let us know. Otherwise a pastor will be assigned.) Please note that Saturday weddings must be completed by 3:30pm, as we have Saturday evening events.
3. Premarital Inventory: Each couple is required to take a premarital inventory called Prepare. You may take this inventory online. First email the church office to obtain a username and password. Include both individuals' full names and email addresses. You will first need to provide a check for $35 made out to "Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor" with "premarital" in the memo line. Once we receive payment, a username and password will be emailed to you. This inventory will give us some information that will help us to recognize some ways we can help you in the preparing process.
4. Premarital Counseling: The officiating pastor will meet with the couple after the Prepare inventory is scored and returned. This will be one of the three sessions he or she will have with them (one before premarital counseling and two afterward). After the first session, the couple should contact a professional counselor to schedule premarital counseling sessions. A minimum of 2 sessions are required, based on a couple’s need. More sessions are required if deemed necessary by the counselor and/or pastor. Following the sessions with the professional counselor, a follow-up meeting will be arranged with the officiating pastor.
5. What you need to know before you set a date: Occasionally, serious obstacles to a successful marriage surface during the premarital counseling. Since one goal of the process is to understand the couple’s readiness for marriage, the pastor does not commit to performing the wedding until the premarital process is well underway. On rare occasions, the obstacles as such that a pastor is not able, in good conscience, to perform the ceremony. Therefore, the decision to perform the wedding will only be made after the process has begun and sufficient information is available to the pastor and the couple.
6. Last Sessions: Upon completion of the premarital counseling, the couple will meet with the counseling pastor for a final meeting, and then with the officiating pastor for the ceremony planning.
The Wedding & Reception
If you are interested in having your wedding at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, please contact the church office by email to get a packet sent out to you.
Professional Counseling Services
Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor does not provide professional counseling, but does have relationship with many of the fine Christian counselors in our area. If you have no Insurance coverage you may want to contact an agency that can provide counseling on a sliding scale fee structure.
Family Counseling Center: 3840 Packard Road Suite 220, Ann Arbor, MI 48108 Phone: (734) 477-9999. Recommended: Greg Hocott
Samaritan Counseling Services: (Insurance Accepted) 2890 Carpenter Road, Suite 1600, Ann Arbor 48108 Phone: (734) 677-0609. Recommended: Gordon Prepsky or Jocelyn Pyett
Raphael Counseling Services: 5475 Morgan Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. (734) 572-0255. Recommended: Gordon Prepsky