For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.
According to Archdiocesan policy, couples planning to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage must contact a parish priest or deacon at least six months in advance of the wedding. Arrange your marriage with a priest or deacon before setting a date for the reception.
For further information and to schedule a wedding date contact the Parish office: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Marriage Preparation Process
1. Catholics must present a baptismal certificate dated within six months of the wedding arrangements. The priest or deacon preparing your marriage can help you obtain this.
2. Both bride and groom must fill out, individually, under oath a pre-nuptial questionnaire.
3. All couples might be asked to take a FOCCUS inventoryor similar inventory program. It is a means of helping the priest or deacon, as well as the couple, determine strengths and weaknesses regarding the Sacrament of Matrimony for which couples are preparing.
4. A marriage preparation course is mandatory for ALL COUPLES whether one or both parties are Catholic. The couple is encouraged to attend a Catholic Engaged Encounter. Pre-Cana will also meet this requirement if the Catholic Engaged Encounter is not possible.
5. If there has been a former marriage, both the Marriage Certificate and the Death Certificate or Declaration of Nullity as appropriate, must be produced prior to recording a marriage date. The program for those entering a subsequent marriage is To Trust Again.
6. In a marriage of mixed faith, the Catholic party alone is to make a promise to attend to the Catholic upbringing of all children born of the marriage. The non-Catholic is made aware of the Catholic's responsibility in this matter.
7. If a priest other than the local parish priest is to perform the ceremony, he must have the pastor's permission through “delegation” and is responsible for the prenuptial paper work.
8. As a general rule, the marriage takes place in the parish of the bride (if she is Catholic). If the marriage is to take place elsewhere, a letter of permission is to be obtained from her pastor.
9. The Catholic party should attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) before marriage in order to prepare spiritually.
10. A non-Catholic minister may take part in the Catholic wedding ceremony.
11. Under no circumstances are beach, garden, home, theater, etc., settings permitted for the celebration of the sacrament. It must take place in a Church.
Steps for Marriage Preparation
Six months before the wedding
Contact the Parish Office to schedule a meeting with the Pastoral Leader to begin the preparation process.
No firm wedding date may be set until the decision to proceed has been made by the Pastoral Leader in consultation with the engaged couple. When the decision to proceed has been determined, arrange wedding and rehearsal dates. Have the dates and times logged in the parish wedding schedule by the parish secretary.
Keep in mind the Church liturgical year when planning your wedding. It is best to avoid Advent, Lent and some major holidays for the wedding dates. No wedding will be scheduled during Holy Week Sundays, or Holy Days of Obligation
Rehearsals are normally held the day prior to the wedding.
Both bride and groom must fill out, individually, under oath, a pre-nuptial questionnaire. This form is used to gather your names, addresses, birthdates, religions, and sacramental backgrounds.
Complete the FOCCUS Inventory or Similar Program
Complete the Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and, Study (FOCCUS) inventory. This inventory is designed to identify differences, raise questions, and identify relationship strengths and areas needing growth. The FOCCUS will be administered by the Pastoral Leader.
Materials will be given to you at this time to assist in your marriage preparation.
Who will plan the Liturgy?
The celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony is under the direction of the Pastoral Leader; therefore, no wedding or bridal consultant can participate in the liturgical preparation or the rehearsal. For more information, contact the office by phone or email.
Choosing Appropriate Music
Music chosen for your celebration should be Liturgical in nature and should lead the congregation to pray and participate in the celebration. Music guidelines for wedding liturgies are to be consistent with those of all liturgical services in the parish. Secular music is not appropriate for this sacramental occasion.
Documentation required for marriage in the Catholic Church must be provided to the Pastoral Leader during this time. Failure to present documents for your file in a timely fashion could jeopardize the wedding date.
· Baptism Certificates - Catholics must furnish a current Baptismal Certificate, issued within 6 months of the wedding date. Baptized non-Catholics should furnish a copy of their Baptism Certificate.
· Confirmation Certificate - Furnished by Catholics
· Freedom To Marry - Sworn, notarized statements, usually by parents if living, that you have never been married before and have no impediments to marriage in the Catholic Church. The parish will provide the form.
· Parental Permission - If either party is under nineteen.
· Dispensation - For Interfaith couples, a signed declaration or promise by the Catholic party concerning intent to remain a Catholic and to share that faith with children born of the marriage (this normally means baptizing and raising children Catholic).
Meet With the Officiating Priest or Deacon
After the FOCCUS facilitation has been completed you will meet with the priest or deacon who will witness your marriage to continue spiritual preparation.
The Church encourages each couple to address the spiritual dimensions of their lives and relationship through the devotion of time and effort for spiritual activities that will enhance them and their relationship with God. This focus, for Catholics and non-Catholics, could embrace participation in Scripture reading, workshops, liturgies, and activities to explore a deepening of your understanding of faith. Such a joint undertaking would show responsible attention to spiritual preparation for your marriage.
Education And Enrichment
· Engaged Encounter - This program provides dialogue opportunities on relationship strengths and areas needing growth, such as attitudes about money, sex, children, family, goals, ambitions, and your role in Church and society. Early registration is recommended.
· Pre Cana (Option only if not able to attend an Engaged Encounter Weekend) - an 8-hour Saturday program that encourages couples to consider their commitment to enter marriage – one of the most important covenants of adult life.
· To Trust Again, a program for couples considering Remarriage, is a program for engaged couples of whom one or both partners experienced a prior marriage or marriages which ended through the death of a spouse of through divorce and/or annulment. To Trust Again is predicated on the belief that remarried couples are committed to a sacramental marriage, family life and the Church. Couples entering second marriages have unique problems and challenges which are not addressed in the regular marriage preparation programs.
· Natural Family Planning: Couples worldwide are choosing natural family planning for its healthful and marriage building qualities, as well as its usefulness to plan or postpone pregnancy. A prime concern to many is the use of a moral method to plan a family.
· Expanded Opportunities - Referrals can be made for, growth counseling, Relationship Skills Workshops, and/or counseling for specific issues related to alcoholism, physical or sexual abuse, etc.
· Engaged Encounter, Pre Cana Programs, and subsequent marriage preparation programs are available around the U.S. Should the time of our Diocesan Programs not fit your schedule, referrals can be made to programs in other dioceses.
Two months before the wedding
Payment to the Church
Wedding and preparation fees for active and contributing members of St. Francis-St. Mary parish are $500.00 and $1,000.00 for non-members and non-contributing members of St. Francis-St. Mary parish.
If you are having a Nuptial Mass there will be an additional fee for Sacristan and Altar servers if used. The customary gift is $50.00 for the Sacristan and $15.00 to $25.00 per server and payment is usually presented by the best man prior to the Nuptial Mass.
The fee may be paid at any time during the preparation process to the Church Office; the office will disperse the funds to the appropriate individuals after the wedding. The fee must be paid before the wedding rehearsal. Please do not forget. If the fee is a burden, financial concerns can be discussed with the Pastoral Leader.
The couple is responsible for any fees levied by the Diocesan Tribunal for Dispensations, Permissions, or annulments.
One month before the wedding
Obtain a Marriage License
A Marriage License from any county recorder's office; or the state where the wedding is to take place. You must bring a picture ID with your date of birth on it: i.e. driver's license, military ID, or passport, Social Security number; and, if previously married, the date of the divorce or death.
You must bring a copy of your Pre Cana or Engaged Encounter "State" Certificate. If your wedding is taking place at our parish, bring the license to the Parish Office for your file when it is obtained.
Guidelines for the Wedding Ceremony
Ministers of the Ceremony
Priest or Deacon
The role of the priest or deacon is to serve as the principal witness at your wedding celebration on behalf of the Christian community. The officiating priest or deacon is normally assigned to the parish. If you desire to have other clergy assist or additional clergy concelebrate, the invitation to that clergyman must come from the Office of Clergy Personnel, with the permission of the Bishop. The visiting clergy must write to the Office of Clergy Personnel, requesting permission to celebrate the Sacrament in our parish and in this Diocese. The visiting priest will also need a letter from his Diocese. This should be discussed with one of the priests of the parish before any invitation is extended to the other clergy. When one party is not Catholic, they may invite their Minister or Rabbi to participate in the wedding ceremony with the approval of the principle priest or deacon assisting at your wedding.
Lectors proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture during the celebration. Those who serve in this parish as lectors are available to serve at wedding celebrations. If the couple wishes to ask friends or family members to serve in this ministry, these persons are required to be at the rehearsal so they can practice to effectively proclaim the Word of God in the worship space.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
For most weddings celebrated within the Mass, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are not needed. For those weddings in which a large number of Catholics will attend and the celebrant believes that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will be needed, then those who already serve in this ministry in the parish are available to serve at weddings or the celebrant may be assisted by a deacon.
Ministers of Hospitality
The groom's attendants usually function as ushers and thus fulfill part of the Ministry of Hospitality. The bride's attendants and their families may also fulfill this role. A warm greeting is a wonderful way to show your appreciation of your guests' presence at your wedding. The bride and groom may choose to greet their guests as they arrive for the Wedding Ceremony.
This ministry, when required, may be filled from the servers of the parish. If you wish, you may ask a friend or family member to serve. They must be experienced in this ministry and also be present at the rehearsal.
Ring Bearers and Flower Girls
These children are not ministers, nor are their services required for the celebration of marriage. However, if you choose to use them in your ceremony, they must be at least five years of age. We ask that you please consider the children involved in these roles and whether their presence will add to or detract from the joyful solemnity and flow of the celebration. Some children are not comfortable in front of groups.
A wedding ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church is a sacramental rite and the music used must be appropriate to liturgy. As in all liturgies, the music is an enhancement to worship. Persons planning the ceremony are reminded popular romantic ballads may be appropriate at the reception, but are not in keeping with a worship service. "Background music" cannot be utilized during the service.
In planning, please remember the "Our Father" is a community prayer and should be recited in unison by the entire body. If you anticipate a large number of guests to be present who are unfamiliar with our liturgy, it is more appropriate to recite rather than sing the "Our Father".
Our parish has an organist/pianist you may contact play to at your wedding.
Cantors and Instrumentalists
To assist the assembly with singing, a trained cantor should be used. We can provide a list of cantors if you do not have one.
The "Together for Life" booklet specifically deals with the authorized readings, prayers, preface and blessings of the ceremony. We ask you to prayerfully study this material together and choose the appropriate selections, filling in the form in the back of the booklet. If you need any help or advice, the priest/deacon will be happy to assist you. Any changes or additions to the ceremony must comply with the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and must be authorized by the officiating priest/deacon. This can be discussed at one of the pre-nuptial conferences.
Remember, it is not necessary that a wedding be elaborate, to be beautiful. True beauty lies in the spirit and attitude of those taking part in the event.
The Altar is the natural focal point of the Church. No flowers or decorations of any nature can be placed on the altar. Flowers, candles and other decorations are to be arranged so as to not obscure the Altar, the Pulpit, or the Tabernacle. Plants, flowers or candelabras must not interfere with the movement of the priest/deacon.
Our parish does not own any elaborate floral stands on which to place your flowers. Your florist may have these available if you so desire, or you may want to rent them. The furniture and carpet must be fully protected from moisture. We ask that mats be placed under all containers of flowers, potted palms, or greenery. Under no circumstances will any device be used which will harm or mar the sanctuary or pews, such as thumbtacks, nails, glue, tape, etc.
Christmas and Easter decorations will not be removed for weddings. Questions regarding appropriateness of a particular decoration should be addressed with our parish secretary.
The parish will provide appropriate candles for the altar. If there is a Unity Candle, couples must bring their own Unity Candle.
Programs for the Congregation
Some couples prepare these programs that may include the order of service, names of the wedding party, and the liturgical ministers. Couples should secure all necessary copyright releases for any music or texts reprinted in programs, booklets, song sheets, etc.
After the Ceremony
Oftentimes, families neglect to remove flower boxes, tissues, cameras, flower petals, etc. We ask you to assign the task of removing all personal items from the church and coordinate this responsibility with the Sacristan.
All decorations must be removed from the Church to allow ample time to prepare for the next liturgy. Appropriate flowers or plants may be left for display at our parish liturgies, at the discretion of the Sacristan, and would be greatly appreciated. If you wish to keep your floral arrangements, you must arrange to have the flowers picked up immediately following the ceremony. We cannot be responsible for any flower containers left in the Church. Florists should remove their items on Monday morning following the wedding.
The purpose of the liturgy will always take priority over the making of photographs. In order to preserve the dignity of the service, flash photography is not permitted during the service, and the photographer will not come into the sanctuary during the ceremony.
Wedding couples naturally like to have pictures of their special occasion. We ask that you be aware of the following guidelines for photography in the church. It is imperative that these policies be communicated to your photographer before engaging his or her services, and a copy will be given to you to pass along to the photographer you choose.
· Photographers, both professional and amateur, should be discreet and not distract from the solemnity of the occasion. During the recessional, the photographer is allowed to use his flash equipment as the couple is going back down the aisle, but not interfere with the recessional. During the ceremony, the photographer is asked to avoid unnecessary movement causing distraction to clergy and invited guests.
· Because marriage is a sacrament and the ceremony is a worship service, an atmosphere of reverence and a focus on prayer is kept. No flash pictures may be taken during the service and movement with photographic equipment must be kept to a minimum. The photographer (or other guests with cameras) may not step into the center aisle during the ceremony and no climbing on pews, etc. at any time is allowed. During the ceremony, photographs and video-tape recordings may be taken only from the rear of the church, or from a pre-arranged position at the side, and without flash or additional lighting.
· Photographs may be taken in the church (either posed or casual) beginning one and a half hours before the service starts and concluding thirty minutes prior to the ceremony, and/or for 45 minutes immediately following the service. Clergy are usually available only immediately after the ceremony, if it is your wish that clergy be included in the photographs. The wedding couple is asked to please make plans in advance if they plan to use the church before and/or after the ceremony for photography. Please be aware that there may be several activities scheduled in the church on any given day, and all time needed for your wedding must be planned in advance with the Pastoral Leader.
Rehearsals are held the evening before the wedding. Everyone who will be taking part in the wedding is to attend the rehearsal. The rehearsal should begin promptly at the scheduled time. The Pastoral Leader will assist with the order for the processional/recessional and positioning of the wedding party at the front of the Church.
The rehearsal is normally one hour in length. Please be on time both for the rehearsal and for the wedding ceremony. Make sure to bring the wedding license to the rehearsal if you have not already brought it to the parish office.
We do not have a place for the wedding party to dress or gather before the ceremony. Please remind all members of your party security for private possessions is a personal matter, and Church premises are places of worship.
Please insist all members of your wedding party be prompt for the rehearsal and the wedding. All members of the wedding party need to take part in the rehearsal. We realize sometimes this is not possible, but it is for your benefit that everyone be familiar with his or her role.
Readers of the selected Scripture passages should rehearse several times. Readers should practice at least once on the microphone in order to familiarize themselves with its use in order to be heard clearly by those in the pews. These readings can be read from the lectionary or typed out on paper.
If possible, please do not have items delivered to the Church prior to the time you plan to decorate the Church. We do not have adequate storage facilities. We request rental equipment and personal items be removed as soon as possible after the ceremony and reception. If items are found in the Church or the parish buildings, they will be turned in to the Parish Office and you can claim them by contacting that office. The Church cannot be responsible or liable for personal items lost, damaged or stolen.
Under no circumstances should any rice or confetti be used on the Church grounds. For the safety of everyone, the birdseed must be removed from walkways and the parking lot. Bubbles may be used outside the buildings only.
Our parish is is a substance free environment, which include tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. This environment includes the Churches and all buildings and grounds.
To insure the sanctity of the wedding celebration, no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed before the wedding ceremony. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed in the parking lot area. No food or drinks are allowed in the Church.
We want your special day to be a joyous one in keeping with the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. These guidelines are provided to avoid unnecessary confusion when that special day arrives. Your understanding that many other groups also utilize the parish buildings and your cooperation in working with us are appreciated. Please see that all persons involved in the planning of your wedding read and abide by these guidelines.
We wish to make a commitment to help and support you not only in the planning of your nuptial ceremony, but throughout your life together.
After The Wedding - a variety of growth and support opportunities are available in the parish and diocese to enhance and foster growing marital and family relationships. These opportunities include Annual Renewal of Vows, Bible Study, Adult Education, Marriage Enrichment Groups, Marriage Renewal, Communication & Relationship Skill Workshops, Retreats, and growth counseling. Please watch the bulletin for information.