Witness wedding questions
Is the entire congregation automatically invited if it's held in a kingdom hall? If the couple wanted only 30 people there, for example, would they be allowed?
Kingdom Ministry 2008 November
If a couple wish to use the Kingdom Hall for their wedding, what matters do they need to discuss with the elders?
Weddings that are arranged in accord with Bible principles bring honor to Jehovah. This is especially true with regard to weddings at the Kingdom Hall, since the community views programs held there as a reflection of our organization. So that “all things take place decently and by arrangement,” it is proper for the local elders to be involved when the Kingdom Hall is requested for a wedding.—1 Cor. 14:40.
A couple wishing to use the Kingdom Hall for their wedding should submit a written request to the service committee of a congregation that meets at that hall. Their letter should be submitted well in advance and should indicate the date and time they wish to use the hall. They should keep in mind that the elders will not rearrange the meeting schedule to accommodate a wedding. In addition, the bride and the groom must be in good standing, living in harmony with Bible principles and Jehovah’s righteous standards.
To make sure that the wedding reflects well on our dignified God, the couple should discuss the wedding arrangements with the service committee before they are finalized. Though the elders will not try to impose their personal preferences upon the couple, if anything objectionable is being planned, adjustments should be made. Only music selected from Kingdom Melodies or that is found in our songbook may be used. Any decoration of the Kingdom Hall or rearrangement of the chairs must also be approved. If photographs are being taken or video recordings are being made, this should not detract from the dignity of the occasion. The elders may permit a rehearsal at the Kingdom Hall as long as it does not interfere with other congregation arrangements. No invitations should be placed on the information board. However, the elders may have a brief announcement made during the Service Meeting to inform the congregation about the upcoming wedding at the Kingdom Hall.
Although it is not a requirement that all in the wedding party be baptized, it would not be appropriate to include in the wedding party individuals whose lifestyle grossly conflicts with Bible principles or whose conduct would raise questions in the minds of those attending. The wedding should be officiated by an appointed elder, if available. Elders are qualified teachers of God’s Word, so they are most qualified to highlight the Scriptural principles that apply on this important occasion.—1 Tim. 3:2.
Since the wedding also reflects upon the elder who will perform the wedding, he too should be kept informed of the wedding arrangements. He will meet with the couple to inquire about their moral conduct during courtship; the couple will want to be open and honest with him. If either the bride or the groom was previously married, that one must establish that he or she is Scripturally and legally free to marry. (Matt. 19:9) This would include showing the elder a copy of the final divorce decree.
When the couple freely communicate and fully cooperate with the elders, the wedding will prove to be a happy occasion for all.
In my experience, a lot depends on the couple's JW background and their extended families.
When my BIL and his newly Baptized™ bride were married, her non-JW father was allowed to walk her down the aisle and her non-JW sister was allowed to be her maid of honour. The Elders™ didn't want to alienate these non-JW people by making JWs look like intolerant fanatics. Plus, the bride had been Studying™ with the wife of one of the stuffed shirt Elders™, so some influence had clearly been peddled.
However, when Mr Scully and I got married several months prior, I was not permitted to have my raised-JW but unbaptized best friend be my maid of honour. Had I insisted, we would have had to find another officiant and somewhere else to have the wedding ceremony.