Sacrament of Marriage

The wedding ceremony is a sacred celebration whereby husband and wife join together to become a living witness and symbol of Christ’s love for his Church.  It is the official “beginning” to the sacramental life of a couple who willingly agrees to live with and for one-another for the rest of their lives.

In order to have the wedding ceremony reflect the sanctity of its sacramental nature the following guidelines have been established to aid in preparation for its celebration.

 

WEDDING GUIDELINES

The following includes guidelines and helpful suggestions needed for the preparation of weddings.  A couple seeking marriage is responsible for all of the information contained below.  Please read it carefully and thoroughly.  No exceptions will be made to the following guidelines without significant discussion with the pastor or deacon presiding at the wedding. (Click here to download the latest version [9/1/2016] of Spirit of Life Catholic Church Wedding Preparation Guidelines.)

 

INTRODUCTION

Marriage is a life commitment between a man and a woman.  Therefore, it needs careful and thorough preparation in order that the couple can fully understand the meaning of the commitment.

Marriage is a Sacrament, which means that the relationship of husband and wife should reflect the presence of Christ and his love for us.  To live this Sacrament, a couple needs to grow in their faith as individuals and as a couple.

Marriage in the Church should reflect the couple's readiness to make a commitment of love and faithfulness to each other as well as to live their faith and practice it within the community of faith, their local parish community.

 

PROPER DISPOSITION OF MARRIAGE

A marriage should take place between a man and a woman only after proper discernment of the relationship through a healthy and appropriate courtship.  The courtship should be a reasonable length of time.  In this time a couple should come to know each other sufficiently so that obstacles from past relationships or other personal matters will not hinder growth of the marital relationship.

Today, we have the situation of couples that have chosen to cohabit (live together) prior to their celebration of marriage.  In some cases, the couple may also have children.  The couple needs to give particular attention to this matter because it can take the focus away from the relationship and may impair objective evaluation and relationship growth.

Ideally, a wedding is a celebration of the marriage of a man and woman that come to the church from two separate places on their wedding day, stand before God and his people, make a commitment to each other and to God to be faithful to their vows, and then leave the church as one.

If a couple has chosen to cohabit, this information must be shared with the presiding minister at the beginning of the preparation process so that it can be dealt with properly.  It is highly recommended that couples refrain from a sexual relationship while preparing for their wedding in order to demonstrate their sincere desire to be faithful to God and faithful to their future vows.  Catholic brides and/or grooms should make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) on the rehearsal day and the Sacrament for non-Catholics is also highly encouraged.  Prior knowledge or memory of the Rite is not required as the priest will help assist the individuals through the rite with the intention of having it be a holy and blessed experience and a celebration of the love of Jesus.

 

MARRIAGE PREPARATION REQUIREMENTS

A couple desiring to get married should contact the pastor (or Deacon) as soon as the decision is made.  It must be no less than six months prior to the wedding.

The church should be reserved before a commitment is made to a photographer and reception hall.  The church may not be available on the desired date without reserving it in advance.

 

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

  1. Participate in a Pre-Marriage Seminar weekend and attend Natural Family Planning (NFP) trainingClick on the links to the Diocese of Bismarck's website to get information regarding these topics as well as dates and how to register. The specifics of these will be shared with the couple in the first meeting with the pastor (or deacon).

  2. Participate in the evaluation tool, FOCCUS, which assists the couple in understanding themselves as individuals and as a couple.  The results of the tool will be shared with the presider of the wedding or it will be given to a sponsoring couple who will assist the engaged couple in evaluating the results of the tool.

Additional preparation may be required depending on the particular circumstances of the couple.

 

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED

  1.  Pre-nuptial questionaire which is completed at the first meeting with the pastor or deacon.

  2. A Baptismal Certificate which should be requested from the parish of baptism at least six months prior to the wedding date.  (A non-Catholic person should provide a photocopy of a baptismal record.)
  3. Completion certificates from the Pre-Marriage Seminar weekend and NFP training.

  4. A MARRIAGE LICENSE which is procured from the Clerk of Court at the local court house.  The couple needs to go together and present a document of personal identification (driver license or social security card).  The license can be purchased up to 60 days before the wedding.  Fee for the license is determined by the state.

  5. Appropriate documentation of any annulled (previous) marriages.

 

THE CELEBRATION OF THE WEDDING

The celebration of the wedding is a very sacred and spiritual moment.  The planning of the wedding should reflect a sacred character.

  • CEREMONY PLANNING: The ceremony will be planned in detail with the celebrant (the priest or deacon) of your wedding.  Music planning will be done with the Spirit of Life liturgical music director (contact information is at the bottom of this screen).  Since the Wedding Ceremony is a Sacrament, it stands on in own and can be celebrated outside of the Mass (does not include the consecration and reception of Holy Communion); however, couples are strongly encourage to celebrate the full mass in their wedding to show us Christ’s sacrifice and love. Note that a wedding ceremony outside of Mass does not include the Sign of Peace.

  • ALTAR SERVERS, EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS, READERS, PRESENTERS OF GIFTS: The couple should consider relatives, friends, and other members of the parish to participate and serve in these capacities, depending upon whether or not the wedding ceremony is within or outside of Mass. If the couple have no one to fill these roles, they should ask Spirit of Life to provide individuals.

    • When the wedding is within the Mass setting

      • Altar Servers are trained individuals who assist the priest in the functions of the Mass. Ideally, two altar servers work best; however, one would suffice. If the couple have no friends or relatives to serve as altar servers, Spirit of Life will locate one or two. A stipend of $10 for each server provided by Spirit of Life is suggested. Altar Servers should arrive at church 30 minutes prior to the ceremony to assist with setting up and to receive instruction.

      • Eucharistic Ministers are trained individuals who assist the priest in the distribution of Communion. The number of Eucharistic Ministers needed is dependent upon the estimated number of people attending the wedding who will be receiving Communion. If not at the wedding rehearsal, it is requested that Eucharistic Ministers arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the wedding for instructions.

      • Readers proclaim the Old and New Testament Readings and lead the Responsorial Psalm (if it is not sung) during the Liturgy of the Word. One Reader is required and may read all of the above Readings; splitting the Readings using multiple individuals (one per Reading) is allowed. Readers are requested to come to the wedding rehearsal the evening before the wedding to receive instruction and practice speaking into the microphone at the ambo. If they cannot be at the rehearsal, Readers are requested to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the wedding to receive instructions.

      • Presenters of Gifts bring from the back of the church to the altar the Chalice with wine and Bowl Paten with hosts during the Preparation of the Altar and Presentation of Gifts portion of the Mass. Presenters of Gifts should be limited to 2-4 people. If not at the wedding rehearsal, it is requested the Presenters of Gifts arrive 30 minutes prior to the wedding to receive instructions.

    •  When the wedding is outside the Mass setting

      •  The Altar Server's role is diminished when the wedding is outside the Mass setting. The ceremony can be completed without an Altar Server; however, one Server is recommended.

      • The Liturgy of the Word in its entirety is observed in a wedding outside the Mass setting. The information above regarding the Readers is applicable.

      • Eucharistic Ministers and Presenters of Gifts are not needed for a wedding outside the Mass setting.

  • MUSIC: All music within the wedding ceremony must reflect a Christian theme and be sacred in nature.  The couple should contact the parish liturgical music director at least three months prior to the celebration to discuss the ceremony, music, musicians and wedding program.   Due to the sacred nature of the wedding liturgy, secular music - including country music and songs heard on the radio - is not permitted during the liturgy itself.  All music selections must be pre-approved by the parish liturgical music director and must fall under the scope of songs the church has a permission license to sing and play. The wedding program must also be approved at least two weeks before the ceremony and prior to being printed.

    It is preferred that couples select the parish music ministers to play and sing for their wedding. A list of musicians is included in the [9/1/2016] Spirit of Life Catholic Church Wedding Preparation Guidelines. If the musicians are not from Spirit of Life they must make arrangements at least two weeks prior to the wedding with the parish liturgical music director to receive instructions on the use of the sound system.  This meeting should not be confused with, and does not take the place of, the initial meeting with the parish liturgical music director three months before the wedding, as stated above.  It is the responsibility of the couple to find out the fee of the musicians, including the parish keyboardist, before a commitment is made to them so they receive proper compensation for the ministry.

  • DRESS: All wedding dresses, including bridesmaids dresses, should be modest in nature and appropriate for the sacred occasion.

  • WEDDING PARTY: The number of couples in the wedding party should be limited so as not to detract from the sacred nature of the celebration.  Suggestions: One to three couples is preferred and no more than five couples will be accepted.  If children are in the wedding party, they should be old enough to understand what they are doing.  They should be at least five years old.

  • CANDLES/CANDELABRAS: If candlelabras are used, the candles MUST be metal tube candles, regular dripless candles are not acceptable.  The church has candelabras which can be used but candles are not included.

  • AISLE RUNNERS AND DISPERSION OF FLOWER PETALS: The use of aisle runners or the dispersion of real flower petals is prohibited.

  • PICTURES: Couples should ask their photographers to limit their picture taking to as short a time as possible.  A drawn out photo session tires the wedding party and limits their ability to fully celebrate the wedding itself.

    During the photo session, food and drink should not be brought inside the church proper and the gathering space, it is to be kept in designated areas only.  The church should be respected as a sacred space.  Chairs may NOT be moved with in the church proper at any time.

  • FOLLOWING THE CEREMONY: Ushers and anyone so designated should assist in picking up left over programs, help remove candelabras, flowers and flower petals, ensuring the "Rock and Rest" room and Library (if used) are picked up, and any food and drinks that may have been brought in is disposed of properly, etc.

 

LIST OF FEES AND STIPENDS

  • CHURCH: $100 for the use of the church.  NON-PARISHIONERS fee is $225.

  • CELEBRANT: Stipend for the celebrant of the wedding is at the discretion of the couple.  Suggested fee: $100.

  • ALTAR SERVERS: Suggested stipend for each altar server provided by Spirit of Life is $10.

  • MUSICIANS: Stipend for the music ministry, including the parish keyboardist, is determined by the musicians.  The stipend should be given to the musicians on or before the date of the rehearsal.

    For the sake of convenience, it is highly suggested that all stipends be paid on or  before the day of the rehearsal.  Checks made out to Spirit of Life and to the Music Ministers (if from Spirit of Life) can be delivered to the parish office during regular business hours.  (Please write separate checks made out to the celebrant and the musicians.  Do not include them in the fee to the church.)

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

To contact Nancy Darling, the parish liturgical music director, drop by the Spirit of Life office, call the office at (701) 663-1660 or email her at nancy@myspiritoflife.com.

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