Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming marriage! Marriage is a vocation, a calling by God to live a particular way of life. As Catholic Christians, the love between a wife and husband is the sign of how God loves us and how Christ loves the Church. This is why Marriage is a Sacrament and the Church has surrounded it with special traditions and sacred rites. Your love is to be a sign of hope for us all. This is why it requires faith to take on this vocation before the whole world and faith to trust that God will be present in your married life together.
As part of our commitment to assist you with the planning and preparation for your upcoming wedding, we offer you this information which will explain the main points of our Marriage Policy as well as answer most of your questions. We are here for you. Please contact the Parish Office for the most current and complete Marriage Policy.
Where do We get Married?
Canon or Church Law directs us that a marriage should take place in the parish of the bride or groom. Even though a young woman or man is living away from home, she or he can be married in the parish where their parents reside.
If a couple is getting married in a parish other than their own, the permission of your regular parish priest will be required for the wedding to take place in the other parish.
When only one of the parties is Catholic, the marriage generally takes place in the parish of the Catholic party.
Marriage between a Catholic and a Non-Catholic
The marriage of a Catholic to a non-Catholic requires that certain conditions be observed. There is no obligation that the non-Catholic party become Catholic. The Catholic party promises that she or he will do all in her or his power to have the children raised in the Catholic Faith, and that the marriage will be celebrated according to the form of the Catholic Church, that is, in the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon and two witnesses. Normally a wedding between a Catholic and a non-Catholic takes place outside of Mass.
Scheduling the Wedding Date
Before a date can be reserved, the couple must first make an appointment with the parish priest. This should be done at least nine (9) months in advance of your intended date and before any other arrangements are made. St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes are active parishes, if arrangements are made with the reception hall or caters first, there is no guarantee that the Parish will be able to accommodate that date or time.
Interview with the Parish Priest
Before reserving the date for your wedding, the couple will meet with the parish priest for an interview. During this meeting, the priest will complete the prenuptial inquiry forms as well as provide you with a marriage folder to assist you in your preparation for the wedding liturgy. This is the time to ask any questions that you have regarding your proposed marriage.
Marriage License or Banns
In the Province of Ontario, couples are normally married by license which is obtained at Town Hall. Occasionally, when both parties are Catholic, the couple may be married by banns, which are published in the parish church(es) of the couple. The latter is not a social announcement, but rather a legal means of establishing a couple’s freedom to marry. The Province of Ontario website provides additional information regarding marriage licenses and banns.
Certificates of Baptism
Every Catholic party must obtain a baptismal certificate from the parish where she or he was baptized. This certificate cannot be more than six (6) months old. The parish of baptism may fax or mail a copy of the baptismal certificate to the Parish Office.
A copy of the original baptismal certificate is required for a non-Catholic party and can be submitted to the Parish Office at any time. If the original cannot be found, the non-Catholic party will have to obtain a new baptismal certificate from the church where their baptism was celebrated.
Marriage Preparation Course
Since you are planning to spend the rest of your lives together, every step must be taken to ensure your happiness. To this end, the Church offers a marriage preparation course and it is expected that you will avail yourselves of this opportunity to grow together in love. The marriage preparation course is offered annually within the deanery. Other parishes within the Diocese offer similar courses throughout the year. The parish priest will discuss this program with you.
Prayer and Practice of Faith
The time when couples are preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage can be a time of tremendous spiritual growth which can lead to renewed or deepened prayer and the practice of faith and worship. Prayer, both individually and together, is an important aid in the process of becoming a faithful married couple. Regular attendance at Sunday Mass, especially if you have been away from this practice for awhile, or are marrying a Catholic, will help ensure that your wedding is a true celebration of faith, life and love. Simply put, the Sacrament of Marriage, like all Sacraments, needs faith to be fruitful. The practice of your faith will demonstrate that you are seriously preparing for this Sacrament and for your life together. The frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Eucharist during your engagement, lays a solid foundation of faith which will see you through the difficult moments that all marriages face, as well as deepen your times of joy together.
Planning the Wedding Liturgy
You will plan your wedding liturgy with the assistance of the parish priest or deacon who will be officiating at your wedding. The couple is asked to not make any arrangements regarding musicians, decorations, flowers and photographers until first speaking with the parish priest.
Hours for Weddings
Weddings can take place on almost any weekday and on Saturday at 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm. Weddings are never celebrated on Sundays.
Participation in the Liturgy
The Parish encourages you to involve your families and friends in this celebration of faith and love. Persons whom you choose for the various roles in the wedding should have the proper disposition for exercising these roles. For example, it would be beneficial in selecting someone who has experience at public reading to be a reader at your wedding.
If you are celebrating your wedding within Mass, please note that only Catholics may receive the Eucharist. All guests, however, are encouraged to participate as much as possible in the wedding Mass by singing and joining in prayer.
In weddings between a Catholic and a non-Catholic party, it is encouraged to celebrate a wedding liturgy outside of Mass. This decision is made by the couple in consultation with the parish priest.
The Diocesan Marriage Policy states: “In selecting the music for your wedding, please remember that the ceremony is religious in nature, and thus the music must be sacred in character. Songs from movies, T.V. shows, or stage productions find no place in the wedding liturgy. Favourite popular songs meaningful to the bride and groom, would be better suited to the wedding reception.”
At St. Mary’s and Our Lady of Lourdes, our music ministry will assist you in planning the wedding liturgy. Parish musicians and vocalists are trained, available and are always used during these liturgical celebrations in our parish churches. We understand that sometimes a family member or a friend, wishes to sing a hymn during the wedding liturgy. It is our policy to allow a family member or a friend to sing one solo piece during the wedding liturgy.
Flowers, Decorations & Confetti
Flowers and pew decorations are welcome in the church for your wedding. At times, the church is decorated for specific seasons and feasts; these decorations are never removed or altered for weddings. Your flowers and decorations are in addition to the decorations already present in the church. The Parish does not provide floral stands or candelabra. Due to safety and fire regulations, aisle runners and arches are not permitted.
Either the florist or a member of the bridal party is responsible for contacting the Parish Office to arrange a time for the delivery of floral arrangements, as well as a time to decorate the church.
Flower petals, rice, birdseed, confetti and candles are serious environmental and janitorial issues and are not permitted in the church or outside on our grounds. We ask that couples refrain from the use of glitter on their decorations. A cleaning fee will be charged to cover additional janitorial services if this request is not honoured.
Out of respect for the sacred nature of the church, only your designated photographer is permitted to photograph during the ceremony. It is the couple’s responsibility to ensure that their guests know and adhere to this policy. There are specific rules that your designated photographer must follow while working in our church. The photographer is responsible for meeting with the parish priest or deacon before the ceremony to discuss this policy.
The Wedding Rehearsal
The rehearsal is normally held on the evening before the wedding. Everyone in the bridal party and those assisting in the ceremony must attend the rehearsal.
As a sign of courtesy to all, everyone should be on time for the rehearsal and the wedding liturgy. It is not fashionable nor polite for any member of the bridal party to arrive late. Keep in mind that there are other events and activities taking place in the church on the same day.
Prayer of an Engaged Couple
Lord God of love, by your hand you have led us to each other. As we journey together toward marriage, help us to be for one another a gentle lover, a generous listener, a firm supporter, a best friend. Let us never take each other for granted. Help us understand even in times of anger, that love brought us together. Fill each day with some new discovery about our love for each other. Through good times and bad, in our joys and sorrows, be with us guiding and holding us in your gentle embrace. Amen.