The Sacrament of Marriage
The community of Saint Patrick shares your joy as you prepare for your upcoming marriage. Your wedding day is a very important event for you as a couple, your families, and your parish community. We want you to enjoy the fullness of the Sacrament of Marriage at Saint Patrick Parish by assisting you with the guidelines for marriage. Thought and time must be given to the planning of both the ceremony, and your spiritual joining together as husband and wife in the holy bond of marriage.
This page is meant to guide you in planning your wedding. It should be reviewed by the two of you as a couple prior to meeting with the priest, deacon or wedding director. Any questions you may have regarding these guidelines, marriage preparation, and wedding planning will gladly be answered at the time of your meeting with the priest, deacon or wedding director. A checklist is included to assist you in your preparation.
SACRAMENTAL MARRIAGE BETWEEN TWO BAPTIZED CHRISTIANS
When both spouses have received baptism (either in the Catholic Church or in another Christian community), the bond of marriage formed between them takes on the nature of a sacrament. It then becomes a sacred sign and symbol of God’s saving presence. The Sacrament of Marriage offers both spouses the special strength and dignity to fulfill the unique responsibilities of marriage.
MARRIAGE BETWEEN A CATHOLIC AND A NON-BAPTIZED PERSON
When a man and woman, one of whom is not baptized, offer their mutual consent to become permanent and exclusive partners for the whole of life, a true and valid bond is formed between them. The marriage bond is directed toward their personal good and the benefit of any potential children which may result from their union. A dispensation for an interfaith marriage must be obtained when one party is not a baptized Christian. The pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church will petition the local Bishop for all dispensations.
As individuals and as a couple, you need to be spiritually prepared for the two of you to become ONE. Disciples of Jesus Christ are persons of prayer. We encourage you to grow in your prayer life, not only as individuals, but also as a couple. Learning to pray together is important in growing in love, forgiveness and fidelity, and in becoming a sacrament and sign of God’s love to others.
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION
Anyone entering into the Sacrament of Marriage should begin their marriage with a pure heart and a pure mind. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a God-given means for putting our past behind us and making a new beginning in our journey to holiness through married love. It also ensures that we are in the appropriate state of grace for receiving the Sacrament of Marriage. Both the bride and groom (if Catholic) are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for entering their new life as husband and wife. You are invited to call the pastor to schedule an appointment in the days prior to your wedding.
SCHEDULING YOUR WEDDING
Couples requesting to be married at Saint Patrick must contact the Parish Office at least six months before the wedding date. A date will be scheduled and an appointment set to meet with the pastor. Once the wedding date is confirmed, the entire wedding fee must be paid in full to Saint Patrick Parish.
INITIAL CONTACT WITH PRIEST
In your initial meeting with the pastor, he will visit with you about your relationship, family backgrounds, and religious beliefs and practices, especially in the area of marriage and family life. He will inform you of the requirements for marriage at Saint Patrick Parish and a date will be set on the parish calendar. You will receive two important booklets: And Two Shall Become One and Together for Life.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MARRIAGE PREPARATION
In the six months preceding the wedding, a program of marriage preparation must be completed. Couples must complete the FOCCUS program and attend either Pre-Cana, an Engaged Encounter, or a To Trust Again Weekend.
FOCCUS is an evaluating instrument used throughout the Archdiocese of Dubuque and is given to each couple preparing for marriage. It assists you in looking at the strengths and weaknesses you will bring to your future marriage. The FOCCUS Inventory is administered by a sponsor couple and involves 3 or 4 sessions. It is recommended that the FOCCUS Inventory be taken before attending one of the other pre-marriage programs.
Engaged Encounter is a weekend retreat experience that emphasizes a couple’s dialogue and spirituality. The presenting team leads you in reflection and dialogue on a series of topics designed to assist you as a couple. Contact the parish office at 362-7966 for dates of upcoming weekends. Due to the popularity of the program, it tends to fill up quickly.
Pre-Cana is a traditional workshop held in several locations throughout the Archdiocese. A team of presenters speaks on a wide variety of subjects designed to help you experience the realities of marriage. The cost is approximately $45 per couple and is not included in the wedding fee. Please contact the parish office at 319-362-7966 for the dates of upcoming Pre-Cana conferences. Present your certificate of attendance to the parish office after you have completed the Pre-Cana Conference.
MARRYING & TRUSTING AGAIN (Required for Second Marriages Only)
Many engaged couples now bring to marriage the experience of one or more prior marriages which ended through the death of a spouse or through divorce. These couples may bring much pain and hurt, as well as wisdom and hope, to their new relationship. Learning to trust again in an intimate relationship of love entails an entirely different set of obstacles and opportunities. To Trust Again addresses the unique and significant circumstances involved in the relationship of persons who are remarrying. The program is held approximately every three months at the American Martyrs Retreat House near Cedar Falls. The one-day session, including lunch and materials, costs approximately $50 per couple and is not included in the wedding fee. Please contact the parish office at 319-362-7966 for registration materials.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION AT ANOTHER PARISH
Sometimes it is necessary for one or both members of the engaged couple to prepare for marriage at another parish due to job responsibilities, school or other commitments. If it is not possible to do your marriage preparation at Saint Patrick, discuss options with Fr. Nienhaus, 319-362-7966.
MARRIAGE LICENSE - To obtain a Marriage License, both parties must be at least 18 years of age and present themselves at an Office of the Recorder at any Iowa County Court House. The cost is approximately $35. A witness must accompany applicants to identify them. A photo I.D. is also required. The license may be applied for any time prior to the wedding; however, there is a waiting period of three days from the time of application to issuance of the license. Once issued, the license does not expire.
Under the laws of the State of Iowa and civil penalty, a Priest or Deacon cannot perform the wedding ceremony without this license. The license must be submitted by the time of the wedding rehearsal.
PREPARING FOR THE WEDDING CELEBRATION
When both parties to the marriage are Catholic and are witnessing to a state in life in communion with the teachings of the Church, it is appropriate to celebrate the Nuptial Mass as the context for their exchange of vows. The reception of communion signifies the oneness of faith, life, and membership. Reception of the Eucharist by Christians not fully united with the Catholic Church would imply a oneness which does not yet exist and for which we must all pray. Since every couple wishes to emphasize their unity in word and sign on their wedding day, it is recommended but not required that interreligious couples celebrate the Wedding Liturgy without Eucharist. If you have questions about this, please consult your priest.
In the Archdiocese of Dubuque, weddings must take place in the Church.
DATE & TIME
At your initial meeting with the pastor the date and time of the celebration can be set. Marriages are not celebrated on Sunday, Holy Days, or during Holy Week. Lent is a penitential season, and the Church discourages the celebration of marriage during this time. Advent, too, is a time of special observance. Any weddings scheduled at this time should respect the character of the season and the environment of the Church. The customary times for weddings at Saint Patrick are Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Saturday weddings may start no later than 2:00PM because the Sacrament of Reconciliation is held at 3:00 pm in the Church and Mass is at 4:00PM. Friday weddings may take place anytime after 12:00PM.
You will need to be present in the Priest’s Sacristy (off the Church Sanctuary) thirty minutes prior to your wedding ceremony to meet with the priest or deacon.
- Sign the marriage license. (Bride, Groom, Maid/Matron of Honor, Best Man)
- Give the rings to the priest or deacon.
Because of the parish dimension of the sacrament, the priest or a deacon assigned to Saint Patrick will preside at the wedding; however, exceptions may be made upon circumstances. In an interreligious ceremony, the minister of the non-Catholic party is welcome to participate in the celebration. Discuss their involvement with the presider.
Two witnesses are required by Church and state law. Other attendants are ceremonial. Flower girls and ring bearers, ideally, should be at least 5 years of age.
Proclaiming the Word of God is a special responsibility, calling for preparation and training. A relative or friend may be invited to participate in the ceremony as a lector if he or she has the experience and background.
The wedding director will be in charge of your wedding rehearsal. The wedding director will guide you through the entire ceremony. All decisions pertaining to the wedding ceremony must be made prior to the rehearsal.
Please follow the Church Etiquette Guidelines for your rehearsal, especially in the areas of food, drugs, and drinking. They are found at the end of this booklet. The Holy Eucharist is present in the tabernacle at all times and we should act with the utmost reverence in the Church proper.
Rehearsals are usually held the night before the wedding and last about an hour. If there is a Friday night wedding, the rehearsal time for the Saturday wedding will be scheduled after the Friday evening wedding. Please bring your marriage license to the rehearsal.
A wedding is a sacred event. Photographing or videotaping the wedding celebration can contribute to the remembering and renewing of this special event. Since participation of the couple and the gathered assembly in the act of worship is primary, photographing and videotaping are in no way to interfere or distract from the worship experience. Photos may be taken in the church, narthex or outside as weather permits. Any pictures taken during the ceremony must be without flash. Check with the wedding director for appropriate placement of video cameras. Saturday afternoon weddings must have photography and other wedding activities completed before the Sacrament of Reconciliation begins at 3:00PM.
It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain flowers, and candelabra, if desired. Candelabra candles must be dripless (spring loaded). Tape cannot be used to fasten pew bows or flowers to the pews. Special clips are sold for this purpose.
It is the responsibility of the couple to assign a host and hostess to return the church to the way it was before the wedding. They should remove candles, etc., check the pews for any items left by guests, and check the condition of the facilities used for the wedding and wedding preparation including restrooms.
A room at the Parish Center is available for use as dressing rooms four hours prior to the wedding ceremony. Check with the parish secretary when you schedule your wedding to make certain these rooms are booked for your use. Make certain that all personal effects are removed and that the rooms are returned to proper order as soon as the wedding ends. Please place trash in the dumpster on the south side of the Parish Center.
Music is an important part of the wedding. The music you choose must reflect the religious nature of the sacrament. Some songs, though beautiful and at times heard at weddings, may be inappropriate. Jan Jasiewicz, Saint Patrick Director of Music, will assist you in planning your selections and arranging for musicians. It is necessary to consult the music director even if you are planning to invite someone from outside the parish to sing or be an instrumentalist. As you go through the liturgy worksheet, it will note where songs are appropriate. The parish’s Sunday worship is the model for your wedding celebration. Match the length of a music selection with its place in the liturgy. Sue May (319-360-3290 or email@example.com).
LITURGICAL EXPENSES - The cost of FOCCUS, planning book, wedding director, church and dressing rooms is included in the wedding fee. The payment of the wedding fee is required at the time the wedding is scheduled. Fifty per cent of this fee will be refunded if a cancellation notice is given to the presider at least 3 months before the scheduled wedding date. Payments to the musicians and any stipend for the priest or deacon should be given the evening of the rehearsal.
Wedding Fee Structure for the Church (subject to change)
- $500 - Contributing Members of Saint Patrick Church
(Evidenced by church support)
- $600 - Non-contributing Members of Saint Patrick Church
- $700 - Non-members of Saint Patrick Church
Couples who will be married at a church other than Saint Patrick but choose to do their marriage preparation at Saint Patrick will pay a fee of $50 to Saint Patrick prior to beginning the FOCCUS Program.
Wedding parties may choose to rent additional facilities for rehearsal dinners or receptions. Make arrangements with the parish office at 362-7966.
STIPEND TO CLERGY
Although not required, a priest or deacon is usually given a stipend at weddings, funerals etc. It is customary to give the priest a stipend between $100 - $150.
This list is designed to aid you with the details of your wedding ceremony. It should answer most of your questions and some that you may not have considered. In the event that something needs clarification, please feel free to call the wedding director.
- Maintain reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in the Church.
- Conversation and decorum should be respectful and appropriate in this sacred space.
- No smoking in the Church or Church buildings.
- No alcohol or drugs in the Church, Church buildings, parking lot, cars or anywhere on the Church grounds.
- No food or beverages in the Church or Narthex.
- No rice, birdseed, confetti or flower petals are permitted outside or inside the Church or Narthex at any time.
- Wedding pictures must be completed 45 minutes prior to the ceremony.
- Photography at Saturday weddings must be completed by 3:30pm.
- Wedding rehearsal will begin on time and last one hour.
- The Wedding will begin on time.
- All music must be pre-approved by the Music Director. No secular music is permitted.
- Any pew markers/decorations must be tied to the pews or attached with special clips.
- Flowers are used to enhance the worship environment. Floral decorations are to be in good taste.
- A unity candle and single candlesticks used to light the unity candle may be included in the ceremony.
Available to hold the unity candle.
- A table will be provided in the Narthex (Gathering Space) for the guest book.
- A room will be available for your use four hours before the wedding.
- You need to remove everything you bring in. This includes flower boxes, pins, cups, liters of pop, programs, etc. You should assign a host and hostess to see that this is done. They should check the church, pews, dressing rooms, restrooms, etc. to ensure all facilities are clean. If the Church has to clean up any excess refuse, the wedding party may be charged a cleanup fee.
- It is important that those in the wedding party take time to eat before the ceremony. However, please use discretion and observe the obligation of fasting 1 hour prior to receiving communion.
- The guest book needs to be closed five minutes prior to the start of the wedding to make sure everyone is seated.
- All ushers are asked to participate in the wedding ceremony. Any activity outside of the Church should take place before the ceremony- not during the ceremony. (Decorating cars etc.)
- You may decorate the church on the evening before or the morning of the wedding providing there is not a funeral or other church event on the morning of the wedding.
- Video photographers and professional photographers must remain stationary throughout the wedding ceremony.
- No flash photos may be taken during the ceremony.
- Ring bearers and flower girls should be at least 5 years of age. An adult must be assigned to the children in the wedding party before, during and immediately following the ceremony.
- The flower girl will not be allowed to drop rose petals down the aisle of Church. Artificial rose petals are permitted.
- The ring bearer will not be allowed to carry the real rings.
- The rings will be given to the priest/deacon prior to the ceremony.
- Recorded music is not permitted. All music must be live.
- The Our Father is to be recited by the assembly, not sung as a solo.
- Catholic grooms/brides are strongly encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the day of their wedding or in the days before.
- A Wedding Mass on Saturday before 4:00 pm does not fulfill one’s obligation to attend the Weekend Mass.
- One hour Eucharistic Fast and Abstinence applies to all Wedding Masses.
Before the Wedding
6 months before
- Schedule the date, time, and location with the Priest or Deacon who will preside.
- Pay the entire wedding fee at the time of confirming the date.
- Make certain that rooms are scheduled for your use as dressing rooms on your
Wedding day. If you wish to rent additional rooms for your wedding reception or rehearsal, make arrangements with the parish secretary.
- Contact the parish secretary 362-7966 to schedule a rehearsal time.
- Schedule the FOCCUS preparation program with Fr. Nienhaus or Deacon Hoeger at 319-362-7966.
- Pick up the Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter schedule and registration form at the parish office.
3 – 6 months before
- Furnish a copy of your baptism certificate (obtained within the past 6 months) if not baptized at Saint Patrick. Make certain all paperwork has been completed.
- Contact Jan Jasiewicz, Music Director at 366-8609, to arrange appropriate music selections for your wedding. If you have not chosen musicians, Jan can offer suggestions.
Rehearsal & Ceremony
- Arrange to meet with the wedding director about 2 weeks before the wedding.
- Bring the marriage license and copies of the wedding program to the rehearsal. Your marriage license will be signed by the bride & groom, witnesses, and the Presider ½ hour before the wedding. The completed license will be sent to the County Recorder’s Office by the parish secretary.
- Payments to musicians and the Priest or Deacon should be distributed at the rehearsal.
- Make sure a host and hostess has been assigned to remove all items brought in by the wedding party and to make sure that all rooms used by the wedding party are restored to order before you leave for other wedding events. (There is a garbage dumpster on the south side of the Parish Center.)
CHURCH REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
A number of documents and forms are required for marriage at Saint Patrick Church. These documents represent the couple’s evidence of faith, membership in the church, freedom to marry, and their openness to God’s invitation for children. The following list of forms and documents will be compiled according to your situation.
_____Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire (a standard canonical form filled out with priest).
_____Certificate of Baptism issued within the last six months is required of Catholics. Write or call the church where you were baptized and ask That a record of your baptism be sent to St. Patrick Church. Other Christians must simply provide proof of baptism.
_____Freedom to Marry Affidavit.
_____Permission and Delegation granted by Pastor (if needed).
_____Pre-Cana, Engaged Encounter or Trusting & Marrying Again Certificate.
_____FOCCUS Inventory results (Submitted to office).
_____Wedding Liturgy Planning sheet.
_____Official decree of dissolution or nullity from a Marriage Tribunal or death Certificate of previous spouse (if one party was previously married).
_____Civil Marriage License from the State of Iowa. Please deliver to the Parish office prior to the wedding or presented at the rehearsal. A wedding cannot be performed without a civil marriage license.