THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
The Sacrament of Matrimony joins two people in marriage for a lifetime of dedication to each other’s well-being and the well-being of their children and the community. It celebrates the Christian vocation of service and consecrates us to minister within our own family and within the wider church community. By giving love to each other, the couple enters into a covenant; the covenant of love they share is a mirror of God’s love for his people and the consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.
To be holy is to be like God; the best way to become like God is to become people of love. The love of a married couple is a reflection, a “sacrament” of God’s love. Marriage is not just the promises of one human partner to another. It is also God’s promise that in their mutual love the couple can be certain to find Him.
The Sacrament of Matrimony ideally takes place during a Eucharistic liturgy. Those being married are the ministers of Christ’s grace and mutually confer the Sacrament upon each other by expressing their consent in the presence of the Church. The necessary elements in celebrating the sacrament include: the freedom of consent– that is a free act of the will on the part of each of the parties, which involves a lifelong, exclusive commitment, and openness to children. A priest or deacon assists at the celebration and witnesses attest that marriage is an ecclesial reality. The grace of the Sacrament aims at creating deep personal unity; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in mutual giving and is open to fertility (CCC, 1621-1654)
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament”.
CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement and your decision to get married in the Catholic Church at St. Francis of Assisi parish. Weddings are essential to the life of the Church and we are excited to journey with you during this special time of preparation.
Our goal is to guide you through the process and make the experience of planning and preparing your wedding meaningful.
We have divided the information into sections (see below):
- Marriage Process
- Music and Liturgy
- Liturgical Seasons & Colors – Church Availability
- Wedding Coordinator
- Flowers, other Decorations, Photography/Videography
No set of guidelines can be all-encompassing, so if you have questions that are not answered here, please contact me.
May God guide your way on this journey to your life together.
Deacon Tom Bates (and the Family Life Ministry Team)
email@example.com \\\\ 817-481-2685 ext. 237
There are some important first questions, which will help guide your steps:
Have either of you been married before?
Please let the Director of Family Life know about your situation at the orientation and they will guide you with the process for your situation.
Do you both live outside the Diocese of Fort Worth but want to marry at St. Francis of Assisi?
Call your local parish to discuss their marriage preparation procedures. You must follow the procedures of the diocese in which you reside. If you are active military, you may follow the procedures of the Archdiocese of Military Services.
Please have your local parish send notification of Preparation to our Business Manager Eric McKuzes firstname.lastname@example.org in order to schedule wedding date her at St Francis.
Once your preparation is completed, your diocese will forward your completed wedding packet along with the permission to marry (Nihil Obstat) to the Diocese of Fr. Worth who will notify St. Francis of Assisi parish.
Please be aware that your wedding license should be obtained from any Texas County. The closest office to St. Francis is the Southlake office at 1400 Main Street, #340, Southlake, TX 76092, phone 817-481-8190.
Do you live in the Diocese of Fort Worth, attend another parish want to get married at St. Francis?
Please have your local parish send notification of Preparation to our Business Manager Eric McKuzes: email@example.com in order to schedule a wedding date here at St Francis.
Do you attend St Francis and are being married at another parish within the diocese of FW or out of the diocese?
Please see the next steps and please advise the Director at the orientation.
1st Step: Wedding Orientation Meeting
Please call the Parish Office: 817-481-2685 x225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for and attend a required Wedding Orientation Meeting, usually scheduled for the 4th Monday every month. At this meeting you will receive an overview of the marriage process at St. Francis, learn about the required documents to get married, and discuss timelines, Typical process takes aprox 6 to 9 months in most cases. You will be asked to complete an information sheet. After the meeting, you’ll receive a web link to complete the Fully Engaged Inventory. This is an instrument to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a couple, and to indicate those areas the two of you may need more conversation. Most couples find this experience very revealing and helpful in developing their relationship and their ability to communicate with each other.
2nd Step: Meeting with Director of Marriage and Family Life
Once you’ve completed the Fully Engaged Inventory, contact the Director of Marriage and Family Life at the parish office to schedule a private meeting. This meeting normally involves about one hour of your time. This is done at least nine to twelve months before the ceremony, before you set a wedding date, and before any deposits are made.
During this initial meeting, the Director of Marriage and Family Life will get to know you and discuss your relationship, family background, religious beliefs, and career plans. He will outline and explain their importance in the marriage preparation process.
At this point, the process of your marriage preparation begins. The engaged couple may set a tentative wedding date which is confirmed once a deposit is received for use of the Church. Eric McKuzes, the Business Manager, can discuss the fees with you. The Business Manager is the only one who can schedule wedding dates at St. Francis. To schedule a Private meeting Contact Deacon Tom Bates: email@example.com 817-481-2685 ext. 237 with your available meeting times. Once the wedding is scheduled, a Wedding Coordinator will be assigned to you. The Wedding Coordinator is one who brings the different elements of the marriage preparation into a relationship that will ensure efficiency and harmony on the day of the wedding. This person will help the wedding couple organize the important event and be a consultant with others in order to ensure a most spiritually memorable day. More detailed information about the Wedding Coordinator role is found in its separate section in this document.
Contact the parish Business Manager, Business Manager Eric McKuzes: firstname.lastname@example.org or ext 225 for information about wedding fees.
WHEN CAN A WEDDING BE SCHEDULED?
A Wedding can be celebrated on Saturday with the exception of:
– 3rd Sunday of Advent through January 1
– Ash Wednesday
– Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday
No weddings are scheduled on Sundays. Weddings during Advent and Lenten seasons are discouraged due to the penitential nature of these seasons. Marriages may not conflict with the times of other scheduled church services such as the Rite of Reconciliation or the Saturday Evening Vigil Mass in anticipation of Sunday. Therefore, weddings at St. Francis of Assisi are scheduled at 2:00 PM on Saturdays.
You will be directed to contact the Director of Music Ministries to choose music for your wedding (if on a Saturday in the church). At that meeting, the Director will also ask you for your chosen readings (first and second readings and gospel).
3rd Step: Marriage Preparation
You will need to complete these different parts of marriage preparation. All programs – the Marriage Sponsor Couple Program/Fully Engaged, Pre-Cana/Today, Tomorrow, Forever, and Natural Family Planning are required for the preliminary marriage preparation. All requirements for marriage must be completed 2 months before the wedding date.
A. Marriage Sponsor Couple Program, called Fully Engaged
This is specifically designed for all couples preparing for marriage, and begins about 2 months after your initial marriage preparation meeting. These Sponsor Couples will share with you their own journey of marriage, its trials and triumphs, it’s stresses and successes. They will also receive a summary of your Pre-marital Inventory, “Fully Engaged”. The Sponsor Couple assigned to you will contact you and arrange for a mutually agreeable time when the both of you can meet in the Sponsor Couple’s home. Normally there are 4 to 5 meetings of two hours each with your Sponsor Couple. At the conclusion they will give the Director of Marriage and Family Life a brief description of their meetings with you.
B. Pre-Cana/Today, Tomorrow, Forever
This is a one day or two evening experience for engaged couples to begin their formal marriage preparation process. The class includes a series of talks and activities on topics such as: Marriage as a Sacrament, the Vows, Sexuality in the marriage as God planned it to be, Natural Family Planning and more. More information including how to sign up for classes can be found on the diocese of Fort Worth NFP website at https://fwdioc.org/pre-cana-class
C. Natural Family Planning (NFP)
Couples of child-bearing age will be asked to attend a full series of classes on Natural Family Planning. Natural Family Planning (NFP) provides information so that you, as a couple, can learn to understand and appreciate your fertility. NFP can be used in ANY cycle regardless of the woman’s circumstances, including regular cycles, irregular cycles, breastfeeding, pre-menopause, or low fertility. Natural Family Planning is up to 99% effective in spacing births. More information including how to sign up for classes can be found on the Diocese of Fort Worth NFP website at https://fwdioc.org/onsite-nfp-classes
4th Step: Follow-up Meeting with the Priest or Deacon at least 60 days prior to the wedding
At this point, all meetings, preparation and documents should be complete. Upon conclusion of the above programs and meetings, contact the priest or deacon for a meeting. He will also interview you separately, relative to your freedom and readiness to marry. After the meeting, he will complete the wedding packet and forward to the Diocese of Fort Worth. The Diocese will then, upon review, issue a Nihil Obstat which will be the permission to marry. All requirements for marriage must be completed 2 months before the wedding date.
5th Step: Wedding Rehearsal
One hour is allotted for the wedding rehearsal usually on the evening before the wedding. The rehearsal time and date are scheduled when the wedding date is reserved. The bridal party and family, and any visiting clergy, should attend. The rehearsal is conducted by the Wedding Coordinator. The coordinator is your go-to person for questions about the ‘logistics’ of the wedding, photography, flowers, and decorations, etc. Please see section D in this document for more information about the Wedding Coordinator’s role.
Music and Liturgy
MUSIC AND LITURGY
Orlando Vera, Director of Music and Liturgy
email@example.com // 817.481.2685 ext 228
Everything about the wedding ceremony should witness your understanding that you are entering a sacred and holy union – a sacrament. Therefore, everything about the service, including the music, calls for careful planning that will contribute to this understanding. Everyone present at your wedding should be led by the dignity and beauty of the liturgy to a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and, consequently, to a greater commitment to it.
Music for Weddings in the Catholic Church
• The parish Director of Music and Liturgy is the organist/pianist who will play for your wedding and will be available to assist you in the selection of your music. The Director of Music and Liturgy’s position at St. Francis includes playing for weddings for which there is music.
• The St. Francis Music Staff is required to maintain the principles set forth in the Church’s Documents on the Liturgy.
• Music throughout the public celebration of the Sacrament must be that which befits the Church’s teachings, and must be perceived as prayer.
• Please be aware that many websites are devoted to music for weddings, however, few of these web sites are required to meet the basic needs that are set forth for music in sacramental celebrations.
• Music composed for stage and screen would not be considered that which exhibits the traits of Sacramental Music.
• Any questions regarding the suitability of music can be discussed with the Director of Music and Liturgy.
Music for Weddings at St. Francis of Assisi
• Each couple is required to attend a planning session with the Director of Music and Liturgy at least 2 months prior to the wedding, at which time music will be chosen.
• The parish Director of Music and Liturgy is the organist/pianist who will play for your wedding and will be available to assist you in the selection of your music. Orlando Vera, Director of Music and Liturgy, can be reached at the church office (817-481-2685 ext 228) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• All weddings held in the church at St. Francis require the services of a trained cantor familiar with Catholic liturgy and music. A current list of qualified parish cantors/vocalists with contact information will be made available from the Director of Music and Liturgy. Cantor fees vary by cantor, so you should discuss fees upfront and arrange for payment directly to the cantor prior to the wedding.
• Wedding couples sometimes desire the use of other instruments, such as trumpet, violin, etc. These musicians must be approved by the Music Director. The Director can provide you with a list of qualified instrumentalists.
• Mariachi are not allowed.
• The fee for Orlando Vera, organist/pianist, and all meetings and preparation is a separate fee. Please contact him for more information.
Music for Weddings with Music
• A cantor is required.
• Certain parts of the Mass must be sung by cantor and assembly.
• Couples must secure a cantor, for a separate fee, and can choose from a list of qualified cantors provided by the Director of Music and Liturgy. Cantor fees vary, so please be sure to ask about their fee.
• Recorded music is not allowed.
The following format is an outline of the musical elements of the Wedding Liturgy Within Mass. The bolded ones are for you to select music.
If your Wedding Liturgy is Without Mass (i.e., no Communion), the Glory to God, Song during Preparation of the Gifts, Eucharistic Acclamations, Lamb of God and Communion are omitted.
– Processional: An instrumental work accompanying the procession of the Bridal Party.
– Glory to God: Sung at all wedding masses.
– Responsorial Psalm: The Psalms are the songs of the bible and are therefore sung. Couples may choose from 5 pre-selected psalm offerings.
– Gospel Acclamation: ‘Alleluia’ preceding the Gospel except during the season of Lent.
– Preparation of the Gifts: Instrumental to accompany the action of preparing the table.
– Eucharistic Acclamations: Holy, Holy, Holy; Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen.
– Lamb of God: Acclamation sung while the priest breaks the Eucharistic bread.
– Communion: A vocal solo, congregational hymn, or an instrumental solo should be chosen here.
– Recessional: An instrumental work should be chosen for this element of the Liturgy.
Liturgical Seasons & Colors - Church Availability
LITURGICAL SEASONS & COLORS – CHURCH AVAILABILITY
When choosing your wedding day, it is important to take into consideration the Liturgical Season of the Church. The exact dates change from year to year, so it is appropriate to understand what liturgical season the dates you are interested may fall in. This will affect your possibilities in scheduling as well as some of the thematic elements such as colors and decorations.
Advent (~4 weeks prior to Christmas) – Purple
The Church is decorated with a large Advent Wreath and weekly purple or pink flower arrangements in front of the altar. This is a time of sacred preparation for the coming of Christ in Christmas and for the final coming of Christ. This can also be a hectic time of preparation for the parish for the Christmas season and there are usually a myriad of parish events that make it difficult to coordinate with a wedding celebration. It will be very difficult to find an available weekend during this time and the vast majority of requests to have a wedding this season cannot be accommodated. Decoration of the sanctuary is not permitted during this season.
Christmas (Dec. 25 to ~ Jan. 14) – White/gold (celebration)
This can be a festive time to be married, although there can be some restrictions on the availability of ministers. The church is closed from Christmas Eve Day to the first Monday after Jan. 1. The church is decorated with live evergreen trees, white or red poinsettias, nativity scene in the back of church, and large nativity in the Narthex. There will be no option to decorate the parish sanctuary as it will already be beautifully decorated, but pew bows can be used.
Ordinary Time (~Jan. 21 to Lent, and ~ June 15 to Advent) – Green (eternal life, hope)
The vast majority of weddings are scheduled during Ordinary Time. The liturgical color for this season is green which signifies eternal life and hope. Because the parish is not already decorated for another season, it allows for maximum flexibility in decorating the sanctuary with modest additions such as flowers or pew bows.
Lent (Ash Wednesday, ~ mid-February to Easter) – Purple (penitence)
This is a penitential time for the Catholic Church, and so there is no decoration in keeping with the austere nature of the season. Scheduling weddings during this time is highly discouraged and should only be done in exigent circumstances or an emergency.
Easter (movable, from ~ April 1 to ~June 15) – White/gold (celebratory)
This is a highly festive and celebratory time which is entirely appropriate for having a wedding. This season runs for fifty days following Easter Sunday to the feast of Pentecost and varies from year to year. The church will be adorned with white flowers throughout the season. Modest decorations of the sanctuary with flowers and pew bows are permitted in most cases. One consideration is that the parish sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation usually take place during this time so some Saturdays may not be available.
Wedding Coordinator Information
WEDDING COORDINATOR INFORMATION
St. Francis of Assisi has provided wedding coordinators since its earliest days. It is our joyous pleasure to help organize this important day for those being married in our parish. We welcome you and will try to make this day a most memorable and happy event for the wedding couple, their wedding party, and their guests. Thank you for this special privilege. It is our honor to serve in this important ministry.
The Wedding Coordinator is one who brings the different elements of the marriage preparation into a relationship that will ensure efficiency and harmony on the day of the wedding. This person’s role is to meet with the wedding couple after the wedding date has been confirmed to help organize the actual day of the ceremony. Church decorations, order of the procession, location of church rooms reserved for the wedding party, seating in the church and rehearsal are some of the areas covered by the Wedding Coordinator and the couple to be married. The Wedding Coordinator will be the one to help organize this important event and to consult with others in order to ensure a most spiritually memorable day.
Meeting with the Wedding Coordinator:
After the wedding date has been confirmed a wedding coordinator will be assigned. This person will call and arrange a meeting at church. At this meeting, a tour of the church, church decorations, and organization of the wedding day will be discussed and planning for the special day will begin. It is helpful if the wedding couple has chosen the wedding party and is ready to begin planning the church event.
Topics covered at the Meeting:
Tour of the church facility, church decorations, the wedding procession, the order of the ceremony, flower arrangements, photography, seating of the guests, and any activity that makes the day special.
The Wedding Coordinator as a Church Connection:
During the time before the wedding date arrives, the wedding coordinator can be the important link between the parish and the wedding couple. If questions or concerns arise, the wedding coordinator is happy to have communication with the couple to answer or check on requests made to the church.
After the date of the Wedding is settled, Dona Buccino will contact the couple to let them know the information of their Wedding Coordinator.
Flowers, other Decorations & Photography/Videography
FLOWERS, OTHER DECORATIONS & PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY
The following information is important thing to remember when considering decorations and photography for your wedding day.
Can I have a flower arrangement? Yes, and they must be real flowers. The size and color should be discussed with the Wedding Coordinator prior to purchase. Please refer to the section titled “Liturgical Seasons & Colors – Church Availability” to find more information about when flowers are allowed.
When can flowers be delivered? Please make arrangements with the Wedding Ministry to make sure there is someone there to receive the flowers. Office Staff cannot sign for flowers during the week. Flower arrangements cannot be stored at church for any length of time other than just prior to the ceremony.
Can I leave my flowers at the church? Yes, It is encouraged for you to leave your flowers for the celebration of Masses the weekend of your wedding.
Can we have pew decorations? You are free to provide your own pew decorations made with ribbon and/or flowers provided that they are cleared by the Wedding Coordinator and are affixed with clips that will not damage the parish furniture as opposed to adhesives or another substance. No decorations may be used during the Lenten Season.
Photography/Videography Photographers are welcome to photograph in any area of the church except on the altar itself (front step-up). Discretion should be used when moving about so as not to detract from the wedding. The use of flash is discouraged.
Videography is permitted from predetermined, fixed locations in the church. Please consult with the parish staff or wedding coordinator for additional information. The use of the parish sound equipment is limited to Liturgy use only.
Other important items While we want you to celebrate your wedding and make great memories, there are some things that are not permitted on the parish grounds:
– For safety considerations arising from slips and falls, the parish’s insurance prohibits the use of aisle runners, the dropping of flower petals, or the throwing of rice or birdseed on the parish grounds. – Balloon arrangements within the parish building are prohibited due to potential interference with smoke detectors and motion sensors. – Due to the proximity to the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, we also ask that you do not release balloons into the air on the parish grounds. – Fireworks including sparklers are also prohibited by the fire code.
If you have ANY questions, please feel free to reach out to your assigned Wedding Coordinator.
Frecuently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about Marriage in the Catholic Church
FAQ’S about Marriage in Catholic Church
Q. How does an Ecumenical Marriage works?
A: When one of the parties is not Catholic, both need to understand and respect the role the church plays in married life. And, we assure you at the same time of our respect for other religious traditions. In conversations with the Director of Marriage and Family Life, priest or deacon, Catholic belief and practice will be discussed, especially in relation to marriage. The Catholic partner will be asked to make a commitment to live out his/her Catholic faith personally and with the children born of that marriage. It is important, we believe, that everyone has an opportunity to be a member of God’s people through the Sacrament of Baptism. Therefore, the Catholic spouse is asked to promise not only to continue living out his/her commitment to the faith but also to pass it on to their children by having the children baptized in the Catholic faith and by having them receive instruction in the Catholic religion. The non-Catholic partner will be asked to be trusting, open, and understanding about the Catholic faith and traditions. We welcome a minister of another faith tradition to participate in the wedding ceremony at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community. A Protestant minister is invited to perform certain functions at a Catholic wedding. Your witnesses, Best Man, and Maid of Honor may also be persons of another faith tradition.
Q: What is most recommended: Marriage before a Priest vs. Deacon in a Catholic Church?
A: Catholic couples will have a Nuptial Mass for their marriage. All Catholic couples celebrate their marriage at a Nuptial Mass with the priest presiding. In the case of an ecumenical or interfaith marriage, the couple will celebrate their marriage before a deacon at a Wedding Liturgy of the Word (without communion) rather than a Mass, so that both parties and their families feel fully included in the celebration.
Q: How can I invite a visiting Clergy at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community?
A: If, for a good reason, a couple wishes to invite visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community, they should ask the Director of Marriage Ministries here before making such arrangements. The diocese of all the visiting priests should send a letter of good standing to the diocese of Fort Worth. If the invitation of visiting clergy is acceptable to our diocese, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community will delegate him with the canonical permission to officiate here. Visiting clergy are expected to follow the liturgical guidelines as set forth by St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community for any Nuptial Mass or Wedding Liturgy of the Word taking place here. The couple who invites visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding is responsible for paying their expenses.
Q: I’m a registered parishioner of St Francis, can I get Married in another Catholic Parish?
A: If there is a serious reason for a couple to be married in a parish other than their home parish of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community, the pastor here must first give permission for the couple to be married at another parish and for the priest or deacon of the other parish to officiate at the wedding. The pre-marital preparation may be done here or at the other parish. Planning for the Wedding Liturgy with the pastor of the other parish is the responsibility of the couple.
Q What are the Required Documents to get Married?
A: In addition to a recent issue of baptismal certificates for the Catholic parties, the couple will need to obtain a Marriage License from any county courthouse in the State of Texas no more than 90 days prior and no less than 4 days before the wedding date. The Affidavit of Freedom to Marry will also be needed, bearing the signatures of four witnesses who can testify to your freedom to marry. These witnesses can be parents, relatives, or long-time friends who complete and sign the Affidavit in the presence of any Priest, Deacon, or Lay Pastoral Assistant. The Marriage License should be given to the Wedding Coordinator at the rehearsal where the wedding will take place.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Wedding Date
FAQ´s about the Wedding Date
While this may not be an exhaustive list, here are some of the questions we are asked most often about a wedding at St. Francis.
Q: Where does the Bride get ready? How about the attendants?
A: We have a ‘Brides Room’ where you can get ready on the day of. This is located on the West entrance of the church. We ask that the attendants come dressed as there is not a separate room for them.
Q: Where does the Groom get ready?
A: We advise the grooms to get ready off-site and come dressed. We typically reserve the parish meeting room for the Groom and his attendants to conduct final preparations before the ceremony.
Q: How early should we arrive to start getting ready?
A: The earliest one can arrive to start preparing is at 12:00 pm when the parish opens. However, there may be other events scheduled before your weddings such as another wedding or ministry event. For these reasons, it is important to check with the parish staff before making arrangements for deliveries, vendors such as photographers or hairstylists, and makeup. The absolute latest you should arrive is one hour before your wedding. Arriving after the scheduled start of your wedding could result in the cancellation of the ceremony.
Q: Can alcohol be consumed at the church before the wedding?
A: No. There are no alcoholic beverages of any kind on Church grounds with the sole exception of receptions held in the Family Life Center. Consumption of alcoholic beverages by any member of the wedding party threatens the validity of a Catholic Marriage. Doing so can result in immediate cancellation of the wedding. Please hold off on celebrating in this particular way until after the ceremony and in another location.
Q: Where can I store items during the Ceremony?
A: If you have items in the Brides Room then you are more than welcome to leave them there during the Ceremony but we ask that you designate someone from your wedding party or Wedding Planner to remove these items after the Ceremony.
Q: What are we responsible to clean up after the Events?
A: You are responsible for taking and clearing out anything you brought in for decoration. Including, flowers, unless you’ve made arrangements beforehand to donate them to the altar. If you yourself cannot clean up after the Ceremony please, ahead of time designate someone from your wedding party or personal Wedding Planner to do so. Church Staff and your Wedding Coordinator are not responsible for doing this.
Q: Is there a dress code for Bride and Groom?
A: A Catholic Wedding is a very special and sacred occasion. For these reasons, we want to ensure that every aspect is properly ordered. There is no specific dress code for Catholic Weddings, but when making decisions regarding apparel, consider that the focus should be on the liturgy as opposed to what the participants or guests are wearing. For example, wedding dresses with long trains that require assistance from attendants might be a distraction from the ceremony. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the parish staff.