CRES founded 1982.
Key words: Kansas City weddings package officiant minister interfaith Civil Secular Budget mixed marriage same-sex gay LGBTQ Vern Barnet CRES, Johnson County

We draw upon the world's secular and religious traditions,
respecting the perspectives of both doubter and believer.

“Vern worked with us 
to design the kind of 
ceremony we wanted, 
with excellent suggestions. 
We were really pleased. 

“Our families, from different backgrounds, were thrilled, 
and our friends keep talking 
about how special 
the wedding was.”

Adjunct Services


Music-live    Musicians, Advice for   Music-recorded

Sound System/Amplification


Photography  Photographer, Advice for  Videography


Wedding Planner      Wedding Planner, Advice for



Music -- live and recorded

For many reasons, 
many couples prefer live music. 

For many family-focused weddings or other intimate ceremonies, either no music or live music might be more in keeping with the atmosphere, since recorded music tends to create a sense of artificiality instead of the immediacy appropriate for such meaningful occasions. (Recordings, from a technical and artistic perspective, can be problematic.) 
     A guitar, harp, flute, a string quartet or other solo instrument or small ensemble will make a joyful sound in Pilgrim Chapel. Live music can add drama and dignity -- and even fun -- in a way recorded music cannot.
     There may be reasons for recorded music; it is less expensive or a particular song or recording may be special to the couple. To use recorded music at Pilgrim Chapel, please see the note below.
     As at a family meal or friendship dinner, music is not required. Similarly, a wedding with those close to the couple does not need music at all. With skillful words of your clergyman to the guests just before the wedding begins, a bride entering either in silence or applause can be far more distinctive and fitting than recorded music.
    But live music can add a special sense of occasion.
    Here are some of the musicians I've worked with happily who understand how weddings flow best --


Tabitha Reist Steiner,, is one of Kansas City's many wonderful harpists. She is shown above.

Flute and Harp Duo
   FLUTE -- Judy Johnson,
   HARP -- Wesley Kelly,

Flute and Guitar (either or both)

Kathy Riegelman and Larry Beekman, shown above.

Justin Larkin, one-man band: Rock 'n' Roll, Roots& Soul, @justinlarkinmusic,

    Kansas City offers many wonderful string players who understand how weddings work, including violinist Stephen Gedert, .

     A versitile ensamble is the Kansas Crescendo Trio (violin, viola, and cello) 816-536-4726, and other options  flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, bass, French horn, harp, trumpet, and other instruments.

Recorded music

     While I do not usually recommend recorded music, Pilgrim Chapel has a Bluetooth speaker. If recorded music is what you want, please check with the Pilgrim Chapel staff to prepare by sharing your playlist, preferably Spotify, via text to the Chapel phone,  816.753.6719, for queuing. 
     If such staff help is not convenient because of other duties when the music needs to be queued, you may want to designate someone to be the sound engineer to manage the equipment and the times in the ceremony when the music is expected.
     The folks at the Chapel are eager to support your music plans.


Rebecca Knechtel 913.299.7972

Many other fine photographers may be available.

Photographers may find this helpful.


Josh Munyan 913.850.8139
        Here is a 3-minute video
        of a young couple's wedding at Pilgrim Chapel.


Mike Algusin -- (913) 713-8096 

Coordination -- Wedding Planners

Do-it-yourself planners may find this NYTimes article helpful: wedding planning apps

While weddings at Pilgrim Chapel do not require a wedding coordinator, some couples prefer to retain help to manage flowers, photographers, musicians, the reception, and other arrangements. Here is one experienced coordinator I've worked with recently with great sense of people, understanding how to achieve what the couple desires, and adaptability:

Kim Garnier
3269 Gillham Rd. Ste 4 
Kansas City, MO 64109 
Some wedding planners -- at least when it comes to the wedding ceremony, from entrances to departures -- are grossly incompetent and can easily sabotage what you want. I am amazed by the number of planners I have worked with who fail even to think of faux flowers for the bride to carry during the rehearsal, a choreographic detail important if a photographer is engaged. If you engage a wedding planner or co-ordinator, insist that he or she consult with me so that we are "on the same page." Don't let your planner's preconceived idea of how you should have your own wedding overrule how you want your wedding to be. 

Working with Wedding Planners here.



Every wedding is different, and some of this may not apply to the wedding you are photographing. Still, some of the considerations may be useful to you.

0. Clergy appreciate the care photographers take in creating images by which a couple may remember and celebrate their wedding. Though Pilgrim Chapel's size has its challenges for photography, it is an extraordinary facility that lends itself to beautiful pictures. Naturally I prefer no flash, but if you need to use it, OK. BUT use no flash up close when someone other than me is reading. Please do not invade the chancel area during the ceremony.

1. I work with each couple to plan a wedding that best suits their wishes. This link outlines is a generalized sequence many couples find useful to use as the basic structure for their ceremonies. Check with me about variations.

2. As soon as I arrive (usually 30 minutes before the ceremony (but not for a 1-hour rental), and when I am available, I prepare the license and certificate which the couple will have placed for me on the altar-table, find the two witnesses, and invite them to sign in the side room. You may want a photo of that, or reenact it at some point.

3. Except for a 1 hour rental, usually after I am vested, just before the ceremony is to begin, I greet the guests informally from the floor with a few instructions, such as "Let's follow the traditional practice of standing when the bride appears." (Sometimes a couple will ask me to ask their guests to refrain from using their smart phones or cameras to take pictures in order to minimize distractions.) Often I conclude the informal greeting by lighting candles on the altar-table.

4. You will want to know among the various entrance, processional, and arrival styles, which will be used, coordinated with musicians or sound engineer. Often the bride is escorted by her father or other relative or friend. In the case of the father, I suggest he kiss his daughter on the check and place her hand in her groom's hand. The couple face each other. If she has carried flowers down the aisle, she retains the flowers for the next few moments so you  can get a photo. An attendant may fluff or rearrange the bride's dress.

5. When the dad sits down, I formally welcome everyone to the happy occasion. Then I motion for an attendant to take the flowers from the bride for most of the rest of the ceremony.

6. You may want to photograph any readers or other participants as the ceremony proceeds. You should ask me how the presentations will be made, how vows (often from scrolls) and rings will be exchanged; and if the couple has selected special rites such as a "unity candle" or "handfasting," how that can be best photographed. I routinely discourage music except before and after the ceremony proper. 

7. After I pronounce the couple married, an embrace is customary.Then I turn the couple to face their guests and motion for the bride's attendant to return the flowers to the bride.
     Some photographers like the officiant to stand aside for a photo of the kiss; I will not interrupt the ceremony to do that. You are skillful enough to find an angle that excludes me if you wish, and you can arrrange a reenactment later if such a picture is desired.

8. The ceremony usually concludes with everyone standing for the final benediction.

9. Among various options for recessionals and exits, you will want to know what the couple wants. 

10. A photo with me after the ceremony -- see #11. 
I like to get a picture of the couple with my camera. I'll try not get get in your way.

11. MASKS.-- Inside the building I will be masked. I do not require you to be masked, but it is a reassurance to others who may be masked about safe practices during the ceremony. (Ceiling fans and a floor fan in the chancel insure good ventilation.) If the couple wants a photo of me without a mask, I suggest outside the front door with the couple on the sidewalk and me on the steps behind them if the weather permits. If the weather is prohibitive, I can remove my mask for a moment after the guests have departed. (This is subject to change depending on community health measures.)

12. Let me know if you have questions and be sure to check with me concerning item 6.

Thank you for making wedding images to cherish. 

The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn



0. Here is a possible basic sequence for the ceremony. I'll let you know of any variations that woud affect your performance. Most ceremonies (from the Welcome to the Benediction) run between 15 to 30 minutes.

1. Bring your own music stand if you need one. Read this if you think you might need amplification.

2. I discourage music during the ceremony, even "background" music. You and I will honor the couple's considered wishes, however.

3. I will greet you as soon as possible after I arrive and outline the ceremony and answer any questions you may have.

4. Except for a 1 hour rental, usually after I am vested, just before the ceremony is to begin, I greet the guests informally from the floor with a few instructions, such as "Let's follow the traditional practice of standing when the bride appears." Often I conclude the informal greeting by lighting candles on the altar-table. If you are playing prelude music when I appear to present greetings, you can find a phrase to stop or continue playing in the background.

5. You'll want to be clear about prelude and processional music and cues for when to begin.

6. Usually the ceremony ends after the couple embrace, I turn them toward their guests, I ask the guests to stand, and I offer a concluding benediction. My last word is "Amen." Then you may begin music for the recessional or departures.

I embrace live music at weddings. The gift of your music will make it a genuine occasion. Thank you.


Amplification equipment

     Musicians needing amplification for weddings I have performed at Pilgrim Chapel have brought their own equipment as I don't think the Chapel  has any. Most instruments, including acoustic guitar, don't need amplification because the acoustics in the Chapel are so good, but of course electric guitars do need amps. (Live music is so much better than recorded music because it makes a ceremony somehow more immediate.) 
     When couples have had ceremonies video-recorded, I've sometimes been asked to wear a mike for the recording to pick up the bride and groom (as well as me), but not for amplification in the Chapel which is usually not necessary.
     Pilgrim Chapel was built for the Lutheran Congregation of the Deaf, and it is a wonderful irony that the Chapel acoustics are so perfect. 
     I've performed well over a hundred weddings at Pilgrim Chapel, and a microphone has never been used for the ceremony (except for video-recording, which was not heard over any loudspeaker). I advise keeping things as simple as possible.
     I hate microphones. (Yes, I was provided one when I was in India and spoke to 500,000 on the banks of the Ganges River, but Pilgrim Chapel is indoors, and a bit smaller venue.) A microphone-loud speaker system is not necessary. It gets in the way. The acoustics in Pilgrim Chapel are splendid. The Bride and Groom will surely be able to hear each other, which is what counts.
     I suggest vows on paper, rolled up like scrolls, to dramatize the vows for those in the back pew who can see what you are doing even if they miss a hearing word or two.
     If  you really want a sound system (you may need to rent it), of course I will cooperate because the wedding should be what you want, but you have my opinion about it as an unnecessary and troublesome complication.


A Possible Basic Wedding Sequence

    Witnesses sign the marriage documents
         (unless this was done at a rehearsal)
    Minister greets guests informally
    Lighting of candles
    Prelude and
    Seating of parents and special guests
    Processional, often with music
    Welcome by the minister
    Consent and Presentations
    Prayer if desired
    Reading(s) if desired
    Exchanging Vows
    Exchanging rings
    [Any special rite such as Unity Candle]
    Pronouncement and embrace
    Benediction [all standing]