Congratulations on your decision to commit yourselves to each other in holy matrimony! May the Lord bless and sustain your love for each other.
“The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws. It is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. Hence, by that human act whereby spouses mutually bestow and accept each other, a relationship arises which by divine will and in the eyes of society too is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their offspring as well as of society, the existence of this sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone.”
The above quote from the Documents of Vatican II helps us to understand the seriousness of marriage and the dignity in which this sacrament should be celebrated. Please review our policies and guidelines, so that you may be informed as you go through the planning process, then complete the Wedding Request Form and someone from the parish office will contact you.
1. INITIAL ARRANGEMENTS
Your planning process begins by calling the parish office at least six (6) months prior to your wedding date, a time stipulated by Archdiocesan policy. During this initial call a member of the parish staff will take some information from you as you ascertain whether a certain date and time are available.
Please note that your date and time will not be secured until they have been confirmed by the priest or deacon assigned to your wedding. For your own protection and peace of mind, do not make any other arrangements for your wedding, especially any that have financial considerations (deposits, down payments, etc.) until you are notified by the priest or deacon that your wedding has been scheduled in the Church. Unless you request a specific priest or deacon (these requests are based upon the availability of the priests or deacons), one will be assigned to your wedding. Upon confirmation of the date and time, the Church fee will be required to secure the space. (See Section 5 Guidelines for the Church.)
A priest or deacon who is a friend of your family is certainly welcome to preside at your wedding. Normally it is the responsibility of the visiting presider to complete all the necessary paperwork, ensure that diocesan policies regarding marriage are fulfilled, facilitate the planning of the ceremony and preside at the rehearsal.
Again, please be aware that your date must be confirmed by your priest or deacon, not the parish secretary. Any arrangements made prior to this confirmation are really made at your own risk.
2. FIRST MEETING WITH THE PRIEST OR DEACON
The priest or deacon assigned to your wedding will make contact with you to schedule the first meeting. If for some reason you have not heard from the priest or deacon within a week or two, please contact the parish office. When you come to meet the priest or deacon for the first time, he will want to get to know you a little better, assess your readiness for marriage, and confirm the date and time of your wedding and rehearsal. He will also discuss other considerations such as marriage preparation and the policies and guidelines of this book. At some point, he will also complete some of the necessary paperwork.
3. DOCUMENTATION NEEDED
Your priest or deacon will help you complete the necessary paperwork during the preparation process. The following paperwork is required:
Proof of Baptism – A baptismal certificate is required of all Catholics. This certificate from the Church of baptism must be issued within six months of the date of your marriage. We cannot
accept the original certificate which was issued at the time of your baptism or any photocopies of that certificate. All baptized Christians are asked to provide some evidence of baptism.
Letter of Permission – If neither the bride nor the groom are registered parishioners of St. John’s, then each must secure a letter of permission to be married at St. John’s from the pastor of the parish where each is registered.
Civil Marriage License – You are responsible for securing a marriage license from the Clerk of the Circuit Court here in Frederick at 100 W. Patrick Street. There is a waiting period of 48 hours after the application is made. The application fee is approximately $75. The license is valid for six (6) months. Please make sure the priest or deacon has the marriage license prior to the wedding rehearsal. The wedding cannot legally take place without the marriage license in hand.
Other Documentation Required – The priest or deacon presiding at your wedding can help you with any other documentation that may be required such as annulments, dispensations, etc.
4. MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAMS
In addition to the requirements of meeting with a priest or deacon at least six (6) months prior to your wedding date, the Archdiocese of Baltimore also requires that each couple complete a Marriage Preparation Program. The different options are listed below. You can receive more information on each of these programs either from the priest or deacon presiding at your wedding, or by contacting the parish office.
Sponsor Couple – With this option you will meet with a specially trained couple, usually in their home, for five or six sessions. The advantage here is that this tends to be more personal since you are working couple-to-couple. It also provides some flexibility with scheduling.
Engaged Encounter – Engaged Encounter is a weekend experience from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon at several different locations throughout the Archdiocese. The format for these weekends is similar to a retreat experience. The advantage to this program is that it offers a unique opportunity to focus on you as a couple during a retreat experience. The cost of the program varies from year to year and includes program materials, food and lodging. As these weekends tend to fill up quickly, you are advised to register early.
St. John’s hosts a 2-day weekend retreat without an overnight stay. This weekend was designed with our parishioners in mind. Because of the reduced cost, it fills rapidly!
Pre-Cana Offerings in the Archdiocese of Baltimore – Pre –Cana is offered at various parishes throughout the Archdiocese. This program is a series of classes offered by married couples specially trained to offer insights and guidance into married life.
If personal circumstances necessitate, marriage preparation can take place in another diocese, but please consult with the priest or deacon presiding at your wedding.
5. GUIDELINES FOR THE CHURCH
Weddings can be scheduled on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m., 12 noon, and 2:00 p.m. Because of the weekend sacramental schedule at St. John’s, weddings may not be scheduled on Friday evenings, Saturday evenings, or Sunday afternoons or evenings. You should be able to get into the Church a half-hour before the time of your wedding. You must be finished no later than one-and-one-half hours after the scheduled starting time of your wedding. This includes any time for pictures that you may require. This is extremely important for all weddings so that the Church can be ready for the next scheduled service. There can be no exceptions to this requirement.
Rehearsal Date and Time
When the priest or deacon confirms the date and time for your wedding, he should also schedule your rehearsal and record it in the parish calendar. It is very important that the rehearsal begin on time as there are often two or three rehearsals on the same evening. Your priest or deacon can assist in determining the amount of time needed for a rehearsal (generally no longer than an hour).
Flowers are at the expense of the bride and groom. Couples who are marrying on the same day often decide to share the expense of the flowers. You may wish to explore this option with the other couples whose marriage date is the same as your own. We ask that you keep the following in mind when making arrangements for flowers:
- No tape, tacks, staples, or glue may be used on the pews or any other surface in the Church. If you wish to have bows on the pews, they must be tied with ribbon. Please do not place live flower arrangements on the pews.
- To preserve the dignity of the main front altar, no flowers or other objects may be placed on this altar. This includes flowers and candles. The altar is not to be used as a table for the unity candle.
- The custom is to place two large arrangements on the back altar, one on either side of the tabernacle. You may take your flowers with you at the conclusion of your wedding, or you may choose to donate them to the Church for weekend Masses. If you are going to donate your flowers, please alert the parish office at least one week prior to your wedding so that we do not order other flowers for the weekend.
- The Church will be decorated for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and the harvest season. You may not at any time remove any seasonal decoration, flower arrangement, or banner from the Church. If your wedding is taking place during the Christmas or Easter seasons, you may choose not to order flowers for the sanctuary area since it will already be decorated. During the months of October and November, the sanctuary may be decorated with various fruits and vegetables and other seasonal decorations celebrating the harvest season. During the Lenten season (February, March, and the early part of April) there will be no flowers in keeping with the simplicity of the Lenten season. If you order flowers during these months, they must be simple and should be removed after your wedding.
Photographs are permitted during the ceremony. Videotaping is also permitted. All photographers must be discreet and presentable during the ceremony. All photographers and those videotaping will refrain from entering the sanctuary to take pictures or to videotape during the Mass or ceremony. No changes are to be made to the sanctuary or to the body of the Church. Microphones, lights and cameras may not be affixed by any means to the pews, speakers, chairs, etc.
Video cameras may be placed in the choir loft or on tripods in the side sections of the Church with the permission of the priest or deacon presiding at your wedding. Again, please note that you are allocated one-and-one-half hours for your wedding and pictures.
Bear in mind the following:
10:00 a.m. wedding and pictures must be completed by 11:30 a.m.
12:00 noon wedding and pictures must be completed by 1:30 p.m.
2:00 p.m. wedding and pictures must be completed by 3:30 p.m.
Because of the historic nature of our Church building, we do not have a dressing area for the bride.
Please see the Wedding Request form for a list of wedding fees. This payment covers the use of the Church and the cost of all utilities and upkeep of the Church. This fee is due upon the confirmation of the date and time of your wedding.
Should you wish to offer the priest or deacon a gift for his service or kindness to you, this may be done separately from the Church offering and would normally be presented the day of the wedding.
Rice, Flower Petals, Balloons, Etc.
Rice, birdseed, flower petals, and balloons are not permitted at St. John’s (either inside or outside) for insurance reasons. Please make sure that your guests honor this regulation. These activities may be done appropriately at your reception.
Parking is limited at St. John’s. We strongly suggest that you encourage your guests to park on the street or in the public garages which are within walking distance of the Church.
You may make arrangements to reserve five (5) parking spots out in front of the Church for family members or special guests. These arrangements must be made directly with the City of Frederick at (301) 694-1429 and will require you to visit the City of Frederick Parking Deck between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at 2 South Court Street in the Court Street Parking Garage. This must be done 24 hours in advance of the ceremony and requires a $20 deposit plus $1 for each space (for a total of $25) for five signs to reserve the spaces. The deposit of $20 will be refunded when the signs are returned.
Guest Register/Receiving Line
We recommend that the Guest Register and any receiving lines be placed at your reception rather than at the Church. The entrance to the Church is very small, and a guest register tends to impede dramatically the entrance and the exit of guests. This can greatly limit the time that has been allocated for picture taking.
The Church is usually available to you one half (½) hour before your wedding and one and one half (1½) hours from the scheduled time of your wedding. This necessarily includes any set-up you will require, the wedding ceremony itself, and time for posed pictures. Therefore, you should arrive early as the ceremony MUST START ON TIME. This is an important courtesy to your guests, the priest or deacon presiding at your wedding, and the other brides.
6. LITURGICAL PLANNING
Your priest or deacon will discuss the liturgical ministries that can be filled by family and friends (lectors, servers, cantor, gift bearers). Your presider will also assist you in planning the wedding Mass or Ceremony and will provide you with a book which outlines the choices to be made.
The official witnesses of your wedding are the Best Man and Maid or Matron of Honor. They do not need to be Catholic.
If you are having a simple wedding ceremony, altar servers are not usually needed. If you have a family member or friend who is an altar server, you are most welcome to ask him or her to assist at your wedding.
Unity Candle Set
St. John’s does not provide unity candle sets. You may purchase your own unity candle and keep it as a memento of your wedding day. These can be purchased through your florist or from a card store.
A runner is not necessary as the Church is carpeted. However, if you desire a runner, one may be purchased through your florist or at one of the craft stores here in Frederick. The length of the aisle is approximately 100 feet.
7. PLANNING MUSIC FOR YOUR WEDDING
Please contact the Director of Music, Nae Pearson, as soon as the date for your wedding has been confirmed. The Director of Music can be reached through the parish office to discuss any preliminary questions you may have and will set up a appointment with you to discuss the details of your wedding music. All requests for instrumentalists and soloists as well as approval for outside musicians are to be handled by the Director of Music.
Since your wedding is a Christian celebration, it should reflect your faith. In light of this, selected music for the wedding ceremony must be Church music, based upon Scripture and religious in nature. Thus, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and Wagner’s Bridal March are not appropriate. The appropriate time for music without religious themes is the reception. If you desire vocal solos, the Director of Music can suggest pieces which are written in either traditional or contemporary styles. These guidelines also apply to outside musicians who are brought in to play at your wedding.
Music fees are in addition to the offering given to the Church. Because of the variety of instrumentalists, soloists, and rehearsals possible, fees are contracted on an individual basis with the Director of Music. Fees for musicians are to be made by separate checks, and give to the Director of Music at least one week in advance of the wedding.
We sincerely hope these guidelines and regulations have been helpful to you as you prepare to plan your Wedding Mass or Ceremony. Should you have any questions, please fell free to contact the parish office (301) 662-8288 and speak to the priest or deacon presiding at your wedding. It is our hope that you will enjoy the preparations for your wedding. We ask you to keep the focus on the religious nature of God’s blessings on the beginning of your married life together. Oftentimes, wedding details and preparations can seem overwhelming, so please know of our prayers for you as we rejoice in your desire to express your love before God and the Church.