Wedding Procedures and Guidelines
What preparation is involved?
The Catholic Church takes marriage very seriously and thus requires a period of preparation and discernment including:
- At least one year of planning and prayerful reflection on the part of the couple, in contact with their parish priest, deacon or pastoral assistant.
- A series of at least TWO OR THREE meetings with the priest or deacon
- 9-12 months for intake interview
- 5-6 months before wedding
- 2-3 months before wedding
- Liturgy and Music Planning
You are responsible for setting up these meetings.
It is also required by the Church that every couple attend PRE-CANA which will be explained at the first meeting. Pre-Cana is usually a one- or two-day commitment and there are various opportunities made available throughout the Diocese.
WEDDING LITURGY PLANNING
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NEEDED?
- A Baptismal Certificate DATED WITHIN SIX MONTHS of the wedding (NOT YOUR ORIGINAL) along with a CONFIRMATION certificate. (If you have not received the Sacrament of Confirmation please discuss this with the priest or deacon. The RCIA program is available to you.) The Pre-Marital Inquiry will be done at your First and Second meetings and the FOCUS instrument which you will complete on-line.
- A certificate indicating the completion of the Pre-Cana session.
- A marriage license. The license must be brought to the wedding rehearsal, at which time the witnesses will sign it. Weddings cannot take place without a civil license.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEDDING ITSELF?
The actual details regarding the Marriage Rite of the Catholic Church are the last thing we will plan together. Before this discussion takes place there is much to talk about regarding the couple’s relationship with each other and God, plans for a future family, communication etc.
The Liturgy planning will take place only after the couple has carefully and prayerfully discussed the actual ceremony.
The celebration of the Rite of Marriage belongs to the Church at large. Although there is some flexibility within the Rite, it must be in accordance with Liturgical and Diocesan guidelines. All sacramental celebrations belong to the community of the Church, so it is not simply about the couple. In choosing St. Luke for your wedding, we assume you agree with our policies presented in this booklet. We thank you for your cooperation as we work together for the beauty and sanctity of your wedding ceremony. In order for the liturgy to fully reflect its religious and spiritual nature, we encourage you to invite family members, friends, or members of your wedding party to take special roles during the celebration.
PLANNING THE WEDDING LITURGY
The date should be arranged with the Church FIRST before any reception plans are made. All Wedding plans need to be approved by THE PASTOR.
Readings: You may have two readings from Scripture read by friends or relatives. The Prayer of the Faithful may also be read by friends or relatives. The priest will read the Gospel. So you need to choose 3 people to read. Since Scripture must be heard and understood, the person (s) you choose should have a strong and articulate speaking voice.
If you are having a Mass you may ask 2 people to bring up the Offertory Gifts (bread and wine).
If you include children in your wedding party we ask that the rings they carry be props, the real rings should be held by the Best Man or Maid/Matron of Honor.
It is strongly advised that the couple exercise good judgment when making their choice regarding the involvement of children. Weddings and public display can be traumatic to some children. We ask that all children be at least 4 years old and care should be taken when deciding where the child will sit during the service. Younger children should be seated in a pew with a parent or another relative. Please make informed and prudent choices in determining how best to involve children in the wedding party. This day should focus on the couple and the Sacrament, it is not meant to be about anything else.
Visiting Priests and Deacons: Priests and Deacons from outside St. Luke are most welcome. They need to be delegated by the pastor. Priests from outside the Diocese of Trenton must have a letter of Suitability for Priestly Ministry from their diocese. Deacons from outside the Diocese of Trenton must present a letter from their pastor stating that they are in good standing. Visiting Priests in a Diocese in the State of New Jersey (Newark, Camden, Metuchen, Paterson, Passaic) must provide their “Testimonial of Suitability Card”.
They are asked to respect the practice of the celebration of weddings at St. Luke.
Witnesses: At least one witness (the BEST MAN and MAID OR MATRON OF HONOR) must be a practicing Catholic according to Church law.
The rehearsal date should be made at your First meeting. It is usually the evening before the wedding. It includes the wedding party and anyone else taking part in the ceremony (readers, gift bearers etc.) Please ask these people to commit themselves to both the wedding and the rehearsal.
PLEASE BRING YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE TO THE REHEARSAL as well as any optional donations to the priest or deacon. We want you to come on your wedding day and not have to worry about any paperwork or money, so we take care of this at the rehearsal.
PLEASE COMMIT TO BEING ON TIME FOR THE WEDDING AND REHEARSAL. THERE IS A LOT GOING ON IN OUR PARISH ON WEEKENDS. THANK YOU!
Sacred music is an essential part of the Church’s tradition of prayer, it sets the tone for the experience. Music invites the assembly to participate with heart, mind and spirit. Music is not just a “nice touch” to the liturgy, but indeed draws the whole person into the celebration; it is therefore not an option not to have music since it is very much a part of the Sacramental celebration. Our Music Director will assist you in the selection of the music for your wedding. Popular songs that have special meaning for the couple are more appropriate at the reception. Please call the Music Director to schedule an appointment to plan your music selections. Payment for the Music Director, Cantor and A/V Minister should be made two weeks prior to your wedding date. Fees for the Music Director, the Cantor and A/V Minister are as follows: $200, $100 and $25 respectively.
FLOWERS AND WEDDING DECORATIONS
The flowers used for your wedding should be in accordance with the Church environment and Liturgical Season. Please inform your florist that nothing should be moved that is already in the Church or Sanctuary.
Please also remind your florist that glue, tape, or wire cannot be used to affix bows or floral pieces that are placed on pews. Rubber bands or pipe cleaners can be used. Flowers and other objects are NOT to be placed on the Altar Table itself.
Arbors, gates, trellises, gazebos, lanterns and torches or any other architectural or garden structures are also prohibited.
A WEDDING CANDLE OR UNITY CANDLE is not permitted during Weddings at St. Luke. We recommend that such candles be used at the reception.
The principal symbols of the Sacrament of Marriage are the Exchange of Consent (vows) and Rings. Over the years, other secondary symbols have overshadowed these two key elements of Marriage. The Wedding Candle is not a part of the Roman Catholic Rite of Marriage.
We have available to you a “Table Prayer” which may be used at the reception. It includes the lighting of the Wedding Candle. If you are interested please ask the priest or deacon for a copy. This is a wonderful way of connecting the Church celebration to the reception afterwards.
The Diocese of Trenton no longer allows runners to be used in the aisle for weddings due to insurance policies and too many injuries incurred when using them.
You are not permitted to have rose petals or anything else thrown inside or outside the Church. Bubbles may only be used outside.
AS THE WEDDING COMES TO A CLOSE…
Guests are requested to congratulate the bride and groom with applause in place of rice, birdseed or confetti. Please do not have your guests throw anything that has to be picked up after your wedding. There is often more than one wedding at St. Luke on a weekend. There are also confessions and Masses to be prepared and celebrated. Please respect our sacred environment and the other events being held at the parish. We ask that you either have pictures taken or a receiving line after the Wedding, but not both. Too much time is taken up when couples greet all their guests and then take pictures. Please choose only one.
PHOTOGRAPHERS AND VIDEOGRAPHERS
Please make sure that any photographers and videographers see the priest or deacon directly before the wedding. They are not permitted in the sanctuary area nor are they permitted to stand in front of any ongoing activity during the wedding. They should remain as subtle as possible. Some celebrants allow flash photography while others do not.
Alcohol is prohibited on the grounds before, during or after your wedding. If there is champagne it must be kept in the car. Please make sure that all persons in the wedding party are sober and respectful of the Church and the Sacrament.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CHURCH
It is our sincere hope that you remain part of our ongoing community here at St. Luke. We look forward to having you join us in worship and activities. We invite you as a couple to get involved in our parish community. It will truly enhance your marriage and family life.
St. Luke makes its facilities and staff available to the couple during the months of Marriage Preparation and the actual Wedding Day. For these services a donation is generally made which goes to the Parish, not the priest or deacon performing the ceremony. For registered parishioners, the fee for Weddings is $300.00 These fees should be paid two weeks prior to your wedding date. Some people have asked why there is such a fee. Our parish has enormous expenses with electric, maintenance, groundskeeping, and general upkeep. When you think of what the wedding dress alone costs, we feel our fee is a reasonable donation. If, however you feel you cannot afford this fee, please feel free to speak to the pastor.
You may wish to thank the priest or deacon with a stipend of your choice, they are not compensated for weddings by the parish.
With all this in mind, have a wonderful wedding and God bless you both in your new life to come as husband and wife.