Dear Engaged Couple:
Congratulations on your decision to get married. We are happy that you might exchange your vows in our church. Weddings are special, joyful times for couples, for their families and friends and for the parish community. The Church welcomes you to celebrate your marriage in a situation in which you are accustomed to pray as Catholics. For us as believing Catholics, matrimony is a sacrament, a visible sign of God’s invisible blessings and of the Lord’s presence in our lives. Great care is taken to see that the prayers for this special moment are reverent, graceful and open to the movement of God’s spirit among us. When the sacraments, including marriage, are celebrated, an important place is given to listening to the Scriptures so that we can be nourished and strengthened by God’s Word. We celebrate the sacraments as a community and invite our brothers and sisters in faith to join us and ask for their prayerful support. The presence of our relatives and friends allow us to celebrate with joy and thanksgiving. Since we are celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony and not simply having a wedding, the Parish of Saint Joseph provides the following guidelines for celebrating this special moment in your lives.
It is presumed that the bride or groom normally is a member of St. Michael's Parish and that the Catholic party(ies) are practicing the faith, i.e., going to Mass each week.
The Guidelines for the Diocese of Fall River regarding marriage clearly state that those wishing to marry should notify the parish priest at least eight months before the wedding date.
The couple planning to marry should expect to meet with the priest to fill out the necessary forms and to make preparations for the actual celebration itself.
Ordinarily couples meet with the priest about four times previous to the wedding date. During this preparation time, documents are gathered, questions are answered, a FOCCUS survey is taken and reviewed, couples attend a pre-marriage Cana meeting offered by the Diocesan Faith Formation Office and finally, the marriage ceremony itself and the rehearsal are planned.
The couple will be required to take part in the Marriage Preparation Program of the Diocese of Fall River or a similar program in their own diocese as part of their preparation for marriage. For the Diocese of Fall River the program information can be found on the following website www.fallriverfaithformation.org under “Programs”, then to Marriage Preparation.
There are many couples who are not members of our parish or diocese. We are happy to accommodate those couples when possible. A letter of permission from one of the pastors of the couple other than our own must be presented when the papers are filled out.
A recent Baptismal record for the Catholic party(ies) must be brought to the first consultation with the priest. The record must not be more than six months old and can be obtained from the parish in which the Sacrament took place. A copy of a Confirmation Certificate is also required. This does not need to be recent. Non-Catholics who are baptized are also asked to bring a copy of their baptismal or christening record.
SPECIFIC TOPICS OF INFORMATION
1. Music: It is suggested that you arrange for your music ministers soon after you have met with the parish priest. Our parish has and organist and cantor available to you and their information is available from Fr. Jay. Music selections must be made according to the Diocesan Guidelines which simply put are to be “Church music in church and non-church music elsewhere.” All financial arrangements between yourselves and the music minister(s) are to be handled directly and not through the arranging priest. (It is $100 for the organist and $100 for the cantor).
2. Time of Celebration: Weddings can scheduled on Saturdays starting at 11AM until 1PM (the latest). Friday Weddings can be also arranged.
3. Flowers and Decorations: You may wish to provide flowers for the sanctuary for your wedding. The flowers provided for the sanctuary are a gift to the church and are not to be removed to be used at the reception or dinner. An “aisle runner” for the church is not allowed. Bows, etc., on pew ends are allowed but must be fastened by ribbon only; not clamps, sticky stuff, etc., only ribbon. They must be removed immediately after the ceremony.
4. Photographer/Videographer: Most couples like to have a remembrance of their wedding ceremony. However, we make every effort to make sure that your wedding ceremony is in every way possible a spiritual expression of faith. To that end, please be sure they contact the parish office with any questions in regards to photographing inside the church. At no time will they be allowed in the sanctuary of the church, but they may discretely move about the church aisles without interrupting your guests view. They should speak to Fr. Jay before the Mass if they have any questions.
5. Rice-Throwing/bubbles: We would ask that you kindly inform your guests to refrain from throwing rice, flower petals or anything else.
6. Wedding Candles/Unity Candle: There is no necessity of having wedding or unity candles. They are not part of the official Catholic Rite. They are not used in the Church.
7. Other Priests and Ministers: If you have a relative or a close friend who is a priest or deacon and you would like to invite him to witness your marriage, you are most welcomed to do so. Please discuss this with Fr. Jay so that the necessary permissions, both legal and ecclesiastical, can be obtained.
8. Offering to the Church: It is customary to give a free-will offering to the parish on the occasion of the celebration of a marriage. We have no set fee for parishioners. Please give what you can afford.
9. Gift for the Celebrant: The free-will offering does not go to the Celebrant. If you wish to give him something, please do so in a separate envelope. This is completely optional.
Wedding rehearsals are usually held the night before the wedding. Anyone who is taking a part in the ceremony, or walking in the procession should be present. Please be on time. We kindly ask that you remind all guests that proper Church etiquette is expected and ask that bottles of water, coffee or chewing gum are not brought into the Church.
THERE ARE TWO OPTIONS IN REGARD TO THE PROCESSION:
1. The traditional procession: Ushers as a group, two by two; bridesmaids in single file; ring bearer and flower girl; maid of honor; bride with father.
2. The family procession: Ushers and bridesmaids two by two; flower girl and ring bearer; best man and maid of honor; groom with parents; bride with parents.
AFTER THE WEDDING
May we congratulate you on your upcoming marriage. Please remember the sacredness of marriage. Besides being a very meaningful social occasion for you and your families it is a profoundly sacred happening, as you are receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. By your marriage in the Church you are making a public statement of your faith and your fidelity to each other and to Christ, within the community of the Church. Please take this time before marriage to prepare yourselves for life together, as married people of the Church spiritually.
You will be given a copy of your certificate of marriage at the time of your wedding. Should you need additional copies in the future, they will be available at the Parish Office. Register in your parish as soon as possible after the wedding. You are now a new family and it will be your responsibility to register in the parish where you will be living whether this is St. Michael's or some parish elsewhere.
Please contact the parish office with any questions at 508-672-6713.