Marriage Preparation

Marriage Preparation

When a man and a woman decide to enter into marriage, the Catholic Church regards it as an event worth celebrating. In fact, this event is viewed as an event worthy of the name sacrament. Through the words, actions and rituals surrounding marriage, a couple enters into God’s love by vowing their lives to each other.

The Church teaches that the sacrament of marriage is directed towards the salvation of others. It is at the “service of communion.” It is a sacrament of communion because it serves to build up the People of God through the witness of love. It is proper that the sacrament be celebrated where the People of God gather for worship of God—in a Church building. By placing the sacrament of marriage within the Church building and within Catholic Christian worship in the Mass, the Church honors marriage as a sacred event.

Please use the following information to help you plan your wedding ceremony. Remember, this information will only help you prepare for your wedding day. Your preparation with the priest over the next 6 months will help lay a foundation for the rest of your life together. The sacrament you are celebrating will be a source of grace for your whole life long—and so it deserves the proper pride of place. The guidelines and policies of St. Michael’s Church are listed below. Please read them carefully and write down any questions you have so you can bring them to your next meeting with the priest. Thank you.

  • Marriage Preparation Process
  • Importance of the Wedding Liturgy
  • Times for Weddings
  • Planning Information and Resources
  • Financial Considerations
  • Marriage License 

Marriage Preparation Process:

The preparation process for marriage has four primary aspects:

  1. A series of meetings with one of the priests from St. Michael’s
  2. A series of meetings with a sponsoring couple
  3. A pre-marriage retreat
  4. A series of classes in Natural Family Planning

NOTE:  If you are living away from Grand Forks, you may also be able to do the preparation at the parish of which you are registerd at--contact your local priest to begin.

The Importance of the Wedding Liturgy:

Before the reception, dinner, and dance comes the most important part of the wedding day—the wedding liturgy.  This is a sacramental moment, an event that sanctifies a couple’s love for each other, a love that is ultimately rooted in God’s love for them.  It is obvious that such a precious event demands thoughtful planning.

For a sacramental moment to be meaningful and beautiful, it must be a sacred thing.  If it consists of people of prayer, expressing their love for God and each other, the size and expense of the wedding is incidental.  In fact, too many attendants and too much added to the liturgy can detract from the sacredness of the event.  The Catholic wedding liturgy is full of movement, music, scripture, and beautiful symbols.  Let these speak for themselves.

There are many forces at work in our society which can detract couples from understanding the beauty of the Catholic liturgy and Church teachings.  In meetings with the priest, he will help you to grow in your appreciation of your wedding as a religious event, and not merely a social gathering. Try to make covenant love the focal point of your wedding day.

Planning together (couple and priest) will help create a most memorable life-giving experience for you.  Begin planning your wedding liturgy by choosing the Scripture readings to be proclaimed.  Honor your parents, godparents and other significant people by involving them in the liturgy.  Invite them to take part in the proclaiming, blessing, praying, and sharing of Eucharist.  Out of these significant people choose two who will be your witnesses (best man and maid/matron of honor).

Finally, consider your role.  You are the ministers of this sacrament.  You bestow the sacrament of marriage upon each other.  The priest or deacon is the official witness of the Church.  The assembly (led by the priest) are your witnesses.  As people of prayer, your demeanor at the liturgy sets the tone for the worshipping community.

Times for Weddings:

The wedding date, rehearsal date and time must be scheduled with a priest. 
The usual times for wedding liturgies are:

  • Friday: 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 PM to 2:30 PM

NOTE: No weddings on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, or during Lent.

Planning Information and Resources

Liturgy and Music: The Music and Liturgy Coordinator will help you plan this portion of your wedding day. Their responsibility is to help you chose appropriate music, give you a tour of the facilities available to you on your wedding day, and connect you with musicians from St. Michael's. Make sure to schedule an appointment with them at least 2 months prior to your wedding date. Please use the resources below as well as the booklet "Together for Life" you received from the priest to prepare for this meeting.

Click here to download the Saint Michael's Marriage Guidelines Booklet. 

Environment:  The environment is an important part of the liturgy. If you have questions, consult the Liturgy & Music Coordinator.  St. Michael’s is a beautiful church, so a minimum of decorations is best.  You may add elements to the environment, but you may not remove anything.  If you do choose to add flowers, real ones must always be used.  Bridal bouquets should also be made of real flowers. Real flowers speak of the beauty of God's creation in the natural world. Hence, they have a special dignity and simple elegance about them. Here are a few things that are NOT allowed at St. Michael's to keep in mind:

  • Unity Candles

  • Sand Ceremony

  • Aisle Runners

  • Candelabras

  • Rice or Birdseed

  • Wire or Candles attached to the pews (if attaching something to the pews please use plastice, rubber bands, or ribbon-something that won't scratch the pews)

Program:  A printed program including music, prayers and responses encourages participation.  An announcement promoting participation also can be stated in the program or stated verbally right before the celebration begins.  Copyright permission to reproduce the words of songs can easily be obtained for one-time use by writing to the publishers.

Photography:  Guidelines for Photography and Video-taping Throughout the time of pictures, you may desire to have food and beverages available: these may be placed in the basement, but not brought into the church.

Financial Considerations:

As you begin to plan your wedding, it is important to consider your budget.  Just as there are expenses for your reception, the dress, tuxedo, etc. there are also some fees involved in the preparation process and wedding liturgy:

  • Church Stipends:  $150.00 for Parishioners (registered in our parish for one year or more at the time they contact the priest for a wedding) and $350.00 for Non-Parishioners.  This non-refundable stipend will hold the date for the wedding.

  • Pre-Marriage retreat:  $135.00

  • FOCCUS:  $20.00 (one-time fee)
  • Natural Family Planning classes:  $135.00

  • Accompanist and Cantor:  Wedding with Mass ($150) Wedding Rite Only ($100). *Given directly to the musicians prior to the rehearsal.

  • Priest Gratuity:  Traditionally from $75.00 to $100.00 *Given directly to the priest at the rehearsal.

  • Altar Servers - Needed only for Weddings with Mass - $25.00
  • Other:  Receptions can be held in the church basement, served by the Altar Society; contact the Altar Society President to make arrangements and check on availability.

  • Phone Numbers for These Individuals and Others

The wedding liturgy has a civil legal aspect to it as well.  It is important that your marriage license be brought to the church office ahead of time so that we can prepare it to be forwarded to the courthouse.  The parish will take care of assuring that the sacrament is recorded here at St. Michael’s and in your parish(es) of baptism.

Remember, this is a celebration gathering people who love and care for you.  You have prepared to celebrate well.  Allow yourselves to be open to the rich symbols that are reminders of God’s great love for each of us: a love in which the two of you are participating in a very special way on your wedding day!