Congratulations to you on your engagement and your decision to celebrate your love within the Sacrament of Christian marriage. Your wedding is a very special time for you, your families, friends and the entire parish community. It also marks a new beginning in your relationship.
Here at Saint Sebastian Parish we welcome you to celebrate your commitment to each other in an atmosphere of prayer and joy. In the Sacrament of Marriage, your love is a very powerful sign of God’s love present among us—-a mirror of Christ’s love for his people, the church.
Your wedding ceremony involves the entire faith community because it calls each of us to deeper commitment to love in our own lives as we together celebrate your marriage.
The final phase of wedding preparation begins after completion of the following steps:
1. Initial contact with the parish to schedule the date/time of your wedding;
2. Meet with your presider to begin the process and complete necessary paperwork;
3. Complete the on-line, pre-marital inventory;
4. Review/discuss the pre-marital inventory with your assigned mentor couple;
5. Attend the archdiocesan approved enrichment day;
6. Meet with your presider to discuss and select wedding options. In this final phase, we hope you will find this booklet to be helpful.
Planning the Ceremony
In the Roman Catholic Tradition, the bride and groom minister to one another. A presider and at least two witnesses are also required to be present. Since this is a communal celebration, your guests are not mere spectators, but they are worshippers, taking a vital, active and important role in your ceremony. They should be drawn into active celebration by prayers and music so they may share fully in this happy and holy occasion.
These are people chosen by you to help make your guests feel welcome from the moment they enter the church. Often, people who come together to celebrate your wedding have not been in this church, or perhaps any church, and this helps them to feel more at ease and ready to celebrate with you. The bride and groom may also act as greeters. If you prefer, the ushers may assume the duties of greeter.
It is important for you to choose ushers for your ceremony. Their responsibilities include:
Seating your guests. Traditionally, the bride’s family is seated on the Ambo/left side, and the groom’s is seated on the Altar/right side of the church, although this arrangement is not required. However, all guests should be seated in the front half of the church so they can truly be a part of your celebration.
Rolling the runner , if used, down the center aisle just before the ceremony begins.
Closing the church doors after the bride enters the church.
Cleaning up the church of programs, flowers, chair bows, the runner, etc. so the space will be ready for the next celebration.
In choosing your readers, keep in mind that they should be at ease with reading in public. If you choose someone because they are of special importance to you, but are not experienced as a reader, your Presider will work with them at the time of your rehearsal.
If you choose to celebrate the Eucharist at your wedding, you will need ministers. In most instances the bride and groom and/or their parents and members of the family are chosen for this role. Other options are also available, and these can be discussed with your presider when you meet to plan your ceremony.
The Scripture Readings
All sacramental celebrations, including marriage, are rooted in hearing the Word of God in scripture. It is an experience in dialogue: That is, we listen to the Word as it is proclaimed by the readers, and we respond with song and/or gestures. As a community, the Word nourishes, inspires and gives us the direction and strength to live out our faith. Your presider will work with you in choosing your readings.
Planning Your Music
The Role of Music:
Because your sacramental celebration is a community celebration, it is important that everyone present be invited and encouraged to respond in both spoken and sung prayer. In this way, we come together in a very concrete and visible way to both witness and celebrate your love. We experience a kind of unity that mirrors the bond you celebrate.
Singers & Musicians:
After you meet with your Presider, have chosen your readings, and made decisions regarding your ceremony, you will need to make an appointment with the Director of Liturgy or the Director of Music to plan your music. This should be done at least 3 to 4 months prior to yourwedding date! The purpose of this meeting will be to help you select musicians and make music choices which express our relationship to God and draw everyone into prayer.
A Few Guidelines:
Before your planning meeting with the Director of Liturgy or Music, the following might be helpful in preparation for this meeting:
- Musicians and singers are generally chosen from the parish. If you wish to have a friend or family member sing at your wedding, they should be competent and experienced at leading the assembly to participate fully in the congregational singing. If not, they may choose to sing a particular song, and a cantor/musician will need to be chosen from the parish to lead the congregational singing.
- If you hear music pieces you’d like to include in your wedding, you are welcome to take the Worship Aid home with you and mark the songs you like and bring these to your music planning meeting.
- All music selections should be of a prayerful nature. Music with strong popular stage or film connections is generally more appropriate for your reception.
The following are places where everyone sings:
- Gathering Song (follows Procession)
- Response (follows First Reading)
- Alleluia (sung before and after Gospel)
- Eucharistic Acclamations (Holy, etc.)
- Communion (optional)
The following are times when solos, special pieces or instrumental music can be used:
- Prelude (20 minutes before Procession)
- Response to the Gospel (optional)
- Unity Candle Ceremony (optional)
- Communion Meditation (optional)
Instrumental music is strongly suggested for both the Processional and Recessional, so that your guests can focus on the procession of the wedding party as they enter and leave the church.
The Wedding Booklet
It is important that you provide some type of program that includes the music so your guests can participate. The Director of Liturgy will provide you with the music pieces for this, but you are responsible for the content and the printing. Something as simple as a single sheet of paper that includes the sung pieces is sufficient. Anything more elaborate is, of course, up to you.
The church is decorated seasonally. The environment generally includes floral arrangements and other seasonal decorations. We suggest that you check this out with the Director of Liturgy. Generally it is not necessary for you to purchase additional flowers.
The church is decorated according to the seasons of the church year. These seasonal environments are planned so that additional elements or expense on your part will not be necessary. However, the following guidelines may be helpful if you wish to add additional elements/flowers.
- Please check with the Director of Liturgy, who can tell you what the church will look like for your wedding, and discuss any additions you wish to make.
- Flowers are not allowed on the Altar itself, but may be placed in front of the Altar, as long as they do not block the view of the presider or impede the ceremony in any way.
- Floral arrangements may be placed around your Unity Candle. We have a special stand or a small table for your use.
- If flowers or bows are used to decorate the rows of chairs, they should be placed at regular intervals along the entire length of the aisle, rather than simply marking the front rows. Anything attached to the chairs should be done with ribbon or wrapped wire to protect the chair’s finish.
- At the end of your ceremony, please take all flowers, bows, runners, etc. with you.
- If you have questions, please check with the Director of Liturgy.
The Wedding Rehearsal
Please bring the following to your rehearsal:
- Marriage License
- Fees for your musicians, cantors, and the presider/church stipend.
- Wedding Booklet/of music sheets,
- Unity Candle & 2 tapers (if needed)
(These will be safely stored for you overnight in the sacristy.)
Presider/Church Stipend – $175.00
Your presider will discuss with you the payment of these fees.
Fees vary for parish musicians. General rates are as follows:
- Primary Musician (pianist/organist) – $125.00.
- Additional musicians & cantors – $100.00.
- Soundboard Tech (if required) – $50.00
There is no doubt that you desire to perform your function in a way that preserves the dignity of the ceremony and avoids disturbing the wedding party, presider or guests.
Guidelines for photographing/videotaping this wedding are listed below In order to help you achieve this goal. These guidelines are also provided to avoid confusion about what is expected of you and to provide you with clear information ahead of time so that you can plan your strategy before the wedding day,.
- Photographers/Videographers are permitted in the main aisle at the foot of the stairs for the procession and recession. Flash photography is permitted at this time.
Flood lights are not permitted.
- Throughout the rest of the ceremony, photographers are asked to photograph from the side aisles or the center aisle in the back of churchbehind all wedding guests. Videographers are asked to mount their cameras in the side aisles or in the center aisle in the back of churchbehind all wedding guests.
- Photographers/Videographers are not permitted in the sanctuary at any time.
- Flash photography is not permitted at any time other than during the procession and recession.
- Flood lights are not permitted at any time during the service.
- Photographers/Videographers are expected to avoid any behavior that is in any way disruptive or distracting to the wedding party, presider or guests.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Your adherence to these guidelines will help to make this day a joyous and memorable experience for the bride and groom, their families and wedding guests.
We ask that all photographs, clean-up of all decorations, flowers, runners, the preparation rooms, etc. be completed no later than one half hour prior to the next liturgy. On Saturday, please be finished no later than 4:30 p.m. People will be arriving for liturgy and the ministers will need the space and time to prepare.
- Drinking of alcoholic beverages & smoking are not allowed in the church building at any time.
- The tossing of flower petals, confetti, rice, birdseed, etc. is not allowed in the church.
- You are responsible for leaving the church and all other rooms in their original condition. All bows, boxes, runners, flowers, etc. need to be taken when you leave.
- Please turn off all pagers & cell phones during your rehearsal and your ceremony!