In choosing to exchange marriage vows within a Catholic liturgical celebration a couple are expressing that, as Christians, they see in the union of husband and wife the presence of God with His people. We believe, as the Church prays, that the love of man and woman is a mirror of God’s everlasting love, and that this union is so holy a mystery, that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ with His Church. The entire Church family wishes to be with you during this time of growth and preparation.
A Catholic marriage is sacramental, not just legal. It is sacred rather than merely secular. It is public as well as personal. As such, this celebration is not only for the bride and groom, family, and friends, but also for the whole Christian community in which the marriage takes place.
Since this is a ceremony of the whole Christian community, certain local and diocesan guidelines need to be observed.
WHEN CAN A WEDDING BE CELEBRATED IN OUR PARISHES?
Weddings at either parish can take place:
- Monday – Friday before 7:30pm
- On Saturday, weddings can occur before 2:00pm.
- Note that if your wedding is on Thursday or Friday, your wedding will usually take the place of the regularly scheduled daily evening Mass.
Ordinarily a Nuptial Mass is celebrated at a Catholic wedding. If one is marrying a non-Catholic, a Nuptial Mass is generally not celebrated and only the Marriage Rite with accompanying Liturgy of the Word is used.
MUSIC FOR THE LITURGY
The sacramental reality of the occasion calls for music that enhances worship of God and proclaims His love for those He has gathered for this occasion. Limited use of music other than liturgical hymnody may be allowed prior to the processional. During the liturgy, only music approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops may be used. As with any public celebration, congregational singing is encouraged.
CLERGY & MINISTERS OF OTHER FAITH TRADITIONS
The priest at St. James are available to schedule weddings. A guest priest or deacon may be invited to preside with the permission of the pastor. Deacons may witness vows, but only a priest may celebrate the Holy Mass.
At an interfaith wedding, a minister, rabbi, or representative of the non-Catholic party is invited to attend and offer remarks at an appropriate time in the liturgy.
VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY
Sacramental reverence being the focus, the couple is limited to one official photographer and one videographer. These persons should be instructed to meet with the celebrant prior to the ceremony. Those with personal cameras should remain in their pew.
Flowers, banners, candles, and other items can lend to the festivity, but are not essential. Flowers in the sanctuary should be tasteful and not block movement or visibility. Extra candles are discouraged and should always include a carpet cover.
The use of a “unity candle” within a Catholic marriage liturgy is discouraged since it is not a Catholic sacramental. Should the couple use this item, it is recommended to be utilized at the wedding reception.
If possible, some flowers should be left for the weekend masses as a gift from the new couple.
THE WEDDING PARTY
Since the focus of the wedding liturgy is upon the Word and Sacrament as well as Christ’s presence with the couple, it is proper that the members of the wedding party be dressed modestly.
Important: All members of the wedding party: bride, groom, groomsmen, & bridesmaids, must not be intoxicated or suspected of drug use. This will invalidate the ability of the couple to give proper sacramental consent. Should any member of the wedding party be suspected of inebriation, the priest will cancel the wedding and it will be rescheduled.
CHILDREN IN THE WEDDING LITURGY
Any children involved in the wedding party must be at least 5 (five) years old.
When you have decided to begin formal preparation, please contact the respective parish office at least six months in advance. The priest will meet to discuss further plans including freedom to marry, proper intentions, and preparation, possible interfaith issues or parental consultation, documents needed, and a tentative date for the wedding.
At or after the couple will complete a premarital questionnaire and premarital inventory. They will be asked to schedule an Engaged Encounter weekend retreat as a component of premarital preparation.
NOTE: The couple is invited to to celebrate their formal engagement and blessing of the engagement ring at one of the parish Masses to invite the entire community to join in prayer and support during their time of preparation.
The couple will then begin discussing the regulations and music selections for the wedding. This includes contacting the director of liturgy to discuss suitable music for a Catholic ceremony.
BEFORE THE REHEARSAL
Details of the wedding should be discussed with the priest from the planning sheet. Should there be a wedding consultant, their role is concluded as the formal ceremony begins under the direction of the priest or deacon.
Since the wedding is a celebration of a Sacrament, it is most fitting that the dress, ceremony, music, and decor foster a prayerful and sacred experience in the presence of Christ and his assembled Church. To that end, the regulations for weddings at St. James Church and within the Diocese of Baton Rouge must be observed.
All members of the wedding party are expected to be on time. The marriage license if not presented before should be brought to the rehearsal.
Lectors, organists, and other ministers need not be present.
Note: The priest or deacon conducts the rehearsal and not a wedding planner/consultant in order that it might proceed smoothly and according to proper Catholic liturgical guidelines.
Should the presence of the priest be desired afterwards for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or a rehearsal supper, please notify him before the day of the rehearsal.
THE DAY OF THE WEDDING
Every effort should be made so that the ceremony can begin on time.
In setting up flowers or decor, attention must be paid to prior church events. For example, if the wedding is celebrated in the midst of Lent, Easter, or Christmas, the liturgical appointments cannot be removed. In the seasons of Advent and Lent, decorations are required to reflect the solemnity of the season.
After the wedding, it is the responsibility of the couple or those they designate to clear the church of all debris and return it to its original condition before next church event.