Guidelines for the Celebration of the Wedding Liturgy
St. Edward Catholic Church, Cynthiana, KY
revised August, 2016
A Wedding is a Day …. A Marriage is a Lifetime
You have requested to be married in the Roman Catholic Church. We, at St. Edward Parish, congratulate you on your forth coming celebration of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We wish to support you in your faith journey and in your preparations for this sacrament. We are pleased that you have decided to enter marriage in the midst of our Catholic community.
The Church has always seen Christian marriage as much more than a contract between a man and a woman who are compatible and who love each other. Christian marriage is a covenant: a permanent, exclusive and faithful partnership of love between two people who belong not only to each other but also to Christ.
The introduction to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony states: Married Christians in virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony, signify and share in the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church; and they help each other to attain holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children; and they have their own special gift among the people of God. This document also states: Christian couples, therefore, nourish and develop their marriage by undivided attention, which wells up from the fountain of divine love, while, in the merging of human and divine love, they remain faithful in body and in mind, in good times and in bad.
Married couples are a sign to the world of God's love and faithfulness. We are thankful that you will be that sign for us. It is important to understand and appreciate the significance of what you are promising and the serious responsibilities that follow.
At St. Edward we have responsibilities also. We must be sure that you are in accord with both state and Church requirements, freely consent to the responsibilities of Christian marriage, are sufficiently mature to undertake the responsibilities of marriage and family and have a sufficient faith dimension in your lives to allow your marriage to take place within our faith community.Furthermore, we must insure that your wedding liturgy itself is clearly sacred in character, that it truly reflects the sacramental reality that it is.
To guide your wedding planning the following guidelines have been developed.
They have been adapted from the Diocese of Covington Office of Worship and Liturgy.
- Reserving the church and the official Church witness
Contact the pastor at least nine (9) to twelve (12) months before the wedding to set an initial appointment to begin the marriage preparation.
The pastor is the only person who can reserve the church for a wedding at St Edward. Any priest/deacon in good standing in the Church is welcome to prepare you for marriage and be the Church’s official witness.
The permission of the pastor is necessary before any clergy member (priest or deacon) can officiate at a wedding ceremony. The visiting priest/deacon should contact the pastor to inform the parish concerning his intention to be the witness. The priest/deacon who agrees to officiate at the wedding is ordinarily responsible to complete the prenuptial investigation papers, and officiate at the wedding rehearsal and liturgy. Also note that the priest/deacon must be bonded in the State of Kentucky to officiate at a wedding legally.
III. Marriage Preparation
Christian marriage is a permanent and exclusive covenant between a man and a woman by which the married couple becomes a sacramental sign to the world of God's love and faithfulness. This beautiful and sacred state of life, therefore, must be entered with proper reflection and preparation.
To assist you the Diocese of Covington offers several marriage preparation programs. You are required to participate in one (1) of these programs. An informational brochure is available through your priest/deacon.
Also your participation in an approved Natural Family Planning course is a required component of marriage preparation in the Diocese of Covington.
It is preferable that these programs be accomplished at the beginning of your marriage preparation. They will help you to focus on what is important during the months of preparing not only for a wedding liturgy, but more importantly a marriage.
In addition to these programs, the celebrant will meet with you on several occasions to help prepare you for a life-long union and for the wedding liturgy itself.
- Planning the Celebration
The proper place for the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical and sacramental celebrations is the church building. In the Diocese of Covington it is not permitted to celebrate a wedding ceremony outside of church or chapel. An outdoor wedding ceremony is prohibited.
The Roman Catholic Church provides three (3) distinct Rites for Matrimony. The appropriate Rite depends on the religious background and affiliation of the bride and groom.
Marriage between two Catholic Persons
Normally the celebration of marriage between a Catholic man and a Catholic woman takes place within the Mass using the Rite for Celebrating Marriage during Mass. However, for various reasons a Catholic couple or the priest/deacon may choose to use the The Rite for celebrating marriage outside Mass for the ceremony. A reason could be that one of the parties is a convert to the faith and his/her family is non-Catholic, or when the majority of the assembly will be non-Catholic.
Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic
The Rite outside of Mass should be used. The Catholic party must request permission to marry a baptized non-Catholic person. A priest of the Diocese of Covington may grant this permission.
Marriage between and Catholic and a Person who is not Baptized
The Rite for Celebrating Marriage between a Catholic and an Unbaptized Person must be used.A Catholic must receive a dispensation from the diriment impediment of disparity of worship when s/he wished to marry an unbaptized person. The priest /deacon preparing the couple to marry can assist the Catholic party in obtaining that dispensation from the Bishop or the Vicar General of the Diocese of Covington.
- Liturgical Ministers
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
If needed to assist the priest at the wedding Mass, the person(s) chosen must have been appointed by the Bishop of Covington for service in a particular parish of the diocese.
An extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who has been appointed to serve in another diocese may serve in this ministry for the one time occasion of a wedding Mass with the approval of the pastor where the wedding occurs.
The person(s) who proclaims the word of God during the celebration of the sacrament of Marriage must be Catholic and must have completed diocesan education for lectors and have been commissioned by their pastor. A commissioned lector should be asked to proclaim the word of God during the wedding liturgy. On the rare occasion when a commissioned lector, either from the parish or the family of the bride or groom is not available, a Catholic member of the parish or the family may be asked to proclaim the readings.
The parish has altar servers who are willing to serve your wedding liturgy if you desire. The usual stipend for them is ten (10) dollars for each server. Servers are optional.
The witnesses, of which there must be two (2), observe the exchange of marital consent by the bride and groom so that, if needed, those witnesses can testify to the manner, place and persons of that very exchange of marital consent.
Having a large number of persons in the wedding party can detract from the sacred nature of the ceremony. Limiting the size of the wedding party can be a difficult decision, but must be carefully considered.
Children in the Wedding Party
The inclusion of young members of families of the bride and groom in the wedding as junior attendants or flower girl / ring bearer is possible. Very young children are sometimes quite overwhelmed at the ceremonial element of the wedding liturgy. Children age seven (7) and above are permitted to participate in the wedding party. Younger children may participate with the approval of the pastor. Children may be placed with an adult during the procession, and remained seated during the ceremony.
Music Guidelines for the Wedding Celebration
The primary purpose of music for the wedding liturgy is to help those in attendance to pray.Congregational singing, therefore, is encouraged, even though a vocal soloist or choir may be appropriate at certain times before and during the liturgy.
Sung music is chosen from the vast repertory of sacred and liturgical music. The text of the music must be religious and liturgical. Popular songs that happen to mention God in an incidental manner do not qualify as sacred music. Secular or popular songs are not considered appropriate before, during or after the ceremony. Those songs would be better played at the reception. The pastor must approve all music chosen for the wedding liturgy.
To assist you in choosing appropriate music at the wedding liturgy you are asked to use the parish musicians whenever possible. They are familiar with the appropriate music, the instruments, and the sound equipment of the parish. Outside musicians are welcome, however, with prior approval of the pastor.
The fees for the musician’s services are negotiated on an individual basis.
The use of taped or recorded music is not permitted.
Copyright laws regarding the performance of music and the printed program booklets must be observed.
- Liturgical Elements and Other Items
The groom and his parent(s) as well as the bride and her parent(s) may be part of the entrance procession, along with the other ministers of the liturgy. An opening hymn may be sung by all as a fitting way to gather the assembly for the celebration.
The Prayers of the Faithful
A sheet with several options will be given to the couple to prepare the Prayers of the Faithful.
Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts
If Mass is celebrated, bread and wine as well as money or other gifts for the poor may be brought forward in the presentation of the gifts. The purpose of this procession is to present gifts that will be offered in sacrifice to God.
As the symbol of Jesus Christ, the altar stands alone and is used only for the celebration of the Eucharist. Therefore, nothing may be placed on top of the altar, including flowers or extra candles.
The sanctuary is the place where the sacred mysteries are celebrated, including the proclamation of the word of God from the ambo and the Eucharistic sacrifice on the altar.Nothing may be added or removed from the sanctuary area with the permission of the pastor where the wedding liturgy is celebrated.
It is to be hoped and encouraged that a couple has a spiritual devotion to the Blessed Mother as part of their married life together. The practice of bringing flowers to the Marian shrine, however, is not part of the Catholic wedding liturgy. It is more than just placing flowers by the statue of the Blessed Mother. It should involved the couple praying to the Blessed Mother to intercede for them and for their marriage. If the Marian devotion is included in the ceremony, it takes place either before or after the Post Communion prayer.
Unity Candles and other Symbols of Unity
Neither the unity candle nor other symbols of unity are a part of the Catholic wedding liturgy.The exchange of marital consent between the bride and groom brings a marriage into being.Other symbols, like the unity candle, distract from this. Therefore, use of the unity candle and other secular symbols of unity during the wedding liturgy are discouraged. If one desires to use these symbols, one might consider making them part of the wedding reception.
Please keep in mind that during the liturgical seasons of the year the church is usually decorated with flowers or other seasonal appointments. This is especially true during the Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons. These decorations are not to be removed or altered in any way. Please check with the pastor to see that your choice of decorations will be appropriate and will not conflict with the parish's seasonal arrangements and appointments.Please consider this factor before contracting flowers with your florist.
Wedding decorations should be placed in the church just prior to the wedding liturgy and be removed immediately after. Please make this arrangement with the florist so that the items do not cause disruption to other church liturgies.
If aisle candles are used they must be free standing. Do not use tape of any kind to attach bows or flowers to the pews since it can remove the finish on the pews or make marks.
No throwing flower petals, confetti, rice or bird seed either inside or outside the church building.Releasing of butterflies, doves, etc. is not permitted on church grounds.
The church does not employ a cleaning staff, so it is important that what is brought in for a wedding liturgy be removed by a responsible family member. A few things to remember are: the flower boxes, programs removed from the pews and a general check of the interior of the church.
Photography and Videography
Your wedding liturgy is a religious celebration that is happening in the present. It is important to live the moment. While photographs and videos are very valuable mementos, they must never become the central focus or an unwelcome intrusion. We ask you to inform your photographer and your guests that the following regulations be observed:
- a)Flash photography may not be used during the liturgy.
- b)Photographers must remain outside the sanctuary during the liturgy.
- c)If a video camera is used, it should be either in the rear or in a side aisle.
- d)No additional lighting may be brought into the church.
- d)For those being married on Saturday afternoon, remember that confessions begin at 4:30 and our Saturday Vigil Mass begins at 5:30.All photographs must be completed no later than 4:15.
Only appropriate photographs should be taken and accomplished in a respectful manner in the church. Also remember that during this time you are still in the presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. There shall be NO loud talking, shouting or running in the church by kids or anyone.Eating, drinking, smoking in the church is prohibited.
Dressing before the Wedding
If you have not contracted to use the hall, St. Edward has no extra space for bridal party members to dress or use prior to the wedding. The space in church is limited; rest rooms are very small. Classrooms are never available for wedding use.
The length of the main aisle is fifty feet. There are fourteen pews on each side of the church.
The clergy stipend for a wedding is ordinarily one hundred (100) dollars.
There is no church fee for celebrating a wedding liturgy, but some offer a donation to support the mission and maintenance of the church.
It is not appropriate to bring food, alcohol, tobacco or chewing gum into the church building.
It is not appropriate to bring or consume alcohol in the parking lot prior to / or during the wedding rehearsal or wedding liturgy.
There are special cases in which additional concerns and/or policies are involved. Sometimes these involve situations in which the couple's way of life has not been in harmony with the Church's professed vision of life. Sometimes this disharmony is a matter of public knowledge which can make it a matter of scandal to other members of the believing community. We welcome couples in such situations to the Church. For them, this moment of matrimony is also a moment of reconciliation. At the same time, these cases can sometimes be difficult. We ask that couples who are reconciling with the Church at this time in their lives and who are asking the community to witness their vows be sensitive to the values of the community. We want to be as helpful as possible, but we also ask couples to be open to our concerns.
- a)Having a civil ceremony recognized by the Church:Sometimes a couple has already been married "outside" the Church without appropriate permissions. In these cases "convalidation" is required. Convalidation is sometimes referred to as having the Church "bless" your civil marriage or "straighten out" your marriage according to Church law. Usually convalidations are performed in a small, private ceremony.
- b)Pregnancy or young age:In the case of pregnancy or young age, one of the major concerns is the ability of the bride or groom to make a decision which is free from force, or fear, or pressure of any kind. Statistics have shown that the success rate of a marriage which involves pregnancy and/or young age is low. In order to help such couples explore these issues and to aid them in making sound decision for their lives, it is usually required that the couple seek counseling through Catholic Charities. The priest/deacon will help you make these arrangements.
- c)Cohabitation:In cases involving cohabitation before marriage, many concerns arise. This chosen lifestyle is not in accord with the Gospel, or the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church. Statistics have shown that those who cohabited before their marriage are more likely to divorce. The issue goes beyond sexual intimacy outside the context of marriage. The public nature of cohabitation can create a scandalous situation. It is the responsibility of the couple to listen attentively to the suggestions of the priest/deacon, and to be sensitive to the Gospel values taught by Christ.
- d)Inactive Catholics:Sometimes the occasion of a wedding leads a couple to return to the Church after many years of being inactive in living and practicing their Catholic faith. We welcome such individuals and sincerely hope that their return will be the beginning of a long and vibrant relationship with the Church. However, some couples have no intention of returning to the Church. Their only desire is to have the beauty of a "church wedding" without wanting to be members of the Church. The priest/deacon must be concerned about the faith dimension required for the celebration of a sacrament.
We have read St. Edward Catholic Church Wedding Guidelines.
We understand them and will abide by these Guidelines.
PLEASE return this page to the pastor the next time you meet with him.