The Ultimate Guide to Your Joyful Celebration
of the Sacrament of Marriage at St. Therese Parish
Congratulations! As Catholics, because of what marriage means to us, we are so blessed in, and joyful about, your decision to approach our St. Therese Parish to celebrate your wedding. For being married in our faith, you are, as a couple, literally and figuratively, offering yourselves as a sign of Our Lord to us! How blessed we are!!! Thank you!!!
On this page, you will find everything that you will need to begin. And a list of Frequently Asked Questions about marriage in our parish community. We want to make this celebration joyful and stress-free for you. Please contact us at the Parish Office with your questions (619-582-3716). We are here to serve you!
How to Get Started
Click the St. Therese Information on the Preparation for and Celebration of Marriage image or the link to download our guide. It contains:
An introduction to Catholic Marriage at St. Therese Parish
Frequently Asked Questions
Steps to Follow
Documents you will need
San Diego County Marriage License info and how-to's
Wedding Planning - a timeline
Marriage Preparation Checklist/Worksheet
Wedding Request/Information Form
and much more that you'll find useful and informative!
In order to help you celebrate a wedding day that is the fulfillment of your hopes and dreams, and inspire you to live a life of faith and joy, this information booklet is offered to guide and challenge you to consider the many things which are involved in celebrating the most important commitment of your life—one which has such consequences in your life, the lives of any of your children, and your Church.
After you've read the material in our marriage information PDF, meet with the priest or deacon you have chosen who will prepare you for your marriage, and will usually be the minister with you in celebrating your wedding ritual (which we call The Order of Celebrating Matrimony). After this meeting, please browse/read/reflect upon the information at this website of the Diocese, and enroll: www.SDCatholic.org/Office-For/Family-Life-and-Spirituality/Diocesan-Day-Registration/
Frequently Asked Questions About Getting Married in the Catholic Church
What's The Purpose of Our Marriage Preparation Program?
A marriage preparation program has as its goal the formation, development, and enrichment, of the Catholic faith of the couple WITH the community (the People of God, the Body of Christ); in other words, we want to invite you into a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus and His Church!
Ideally, you would be active in the practice of your faith, and are marrying in the community where you pray; or, you are willing to be challenged about the life in the faith you want to witness and explore by being Catholic!!
If you have a relationship with another parish, you might approach a priest or deacon of your local parish for marriage preparation and discuss how your wedding might be celebrated with us.
The formation process for this celebration begins when you approach a priest, deacon, or pastoral minister – but someone you choose — who will share the worship experience of your wedding.
This is why belonging to a parish (going to Mass) is so critical—by living our faith; praying, and being present to, the community; and choosing a minister of your parish, you are building a relationship between you and the minister you see Sunday after Sunday. In this way, there is a relationship between who you are as Catholics, the parish on Sunday, the wedding day itself, and your future with the Church as a married couple.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This preparation will be considerate of the individual needs of a couple, and yet faithful to the guidelines and expectations of the larger Church community. For example, the Bishop of San Diego has certain expectations intended to give you information to reflect sincerely on our faith.
Just as you took time to discern who you would marry, now is the time to consider your future marital/nuptial relationship with God and our Church). These include: — participating in a “Journey of Your Love” conference, hosted at various locations throughout San Diego; — taking communication/stress assessment survey in marital relationships (FOCCUS – www.foccusinc.com); — a mentoring relationship with a parishioner couple and/or a weekend spiritual enrichment experience (called Engaged Encounter). All of this is why there is a period of preparation (of at least nine months) so as to afford ample time for an honest reflection on all of the blessings and stresses of living a married life, and to build a relationship between the couple, their minister and the local parish.
These expectations aside, just as your decision to consider, and then enter into, a commitment of life and love was yours alone, so too, your formation really is yours to make. As an engaged couple, you will be invited, together with the priest, deacon, or minister you choose, to explore the meaning of faith, and how best to celebrate your decision to live a life-long commitment of love in and with the Lord, and then to celebrate this commitment in the wedding rituals of the Catholic Church (called The Order of Celebrating Matrimony)!
Elements of Your Personal/Couple Preparation
There are many:
Exploring the faith beliefs/traditions of both the bride and groom; learn and share how each was reared religiously; and how the couple now embraces their faith (or not)
Reflect on what place the Catholic Church has in the life of the Catholic betrothed, and how the couple understands and appreciates how the Church discerns and teaches what She does — the Truth from and about God;
Develop an openness between the couple and the minister working with them, so issues related to the Faith may be discussed (such as, living the Christian life and going to church, explore a connection between the wedding day and couple’s life with/in the Church afterwards, etc.)
Communication: Reflect on strategies for better communication; conflict resolution; the meaning of sexuality, children, and life choices.
Vows: Consider what the Church teaches about the unconditional nature and meaning of vows; how a marriage should be lived (the roles of bride and groom; the beauty and grace of sexuality, the blessing of children, and satisfying one another’s needs, and dreams) and the relationship between the couple and larger church community
Learn of any impediments to the marriage (such as — a previous marriage, an unwillingness to live and practice the Catholic faith, refusal to have children, etc.).
After reflecting on, and being prepared for, marriage/married life – the couple and minister make preparations for how the marriage preparation will be done, and a vision of how the wedding will be prayed.
Why Marry in the Catholic Church?
What is the “vision” of the Church about forming a “communion” of the “whole life” between two disciples of Christ.... We invite you to watch these videos for your reflection, your consideration, on those questions:
Why Marry as Catholics - Busted Halo #1 https://youtu.be/uq2RDYlOLrs
Why Marry as Catholics - Busted Halo #2 https://youtu.be/qR41fFtPBzM
Celebrating a WEDDING -- Resources
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - Divine Worship https://youtu.be/3uAHwtBRg5c
What Days & Times May We Get Married?
The celebrations of the marriage rites may be scheduled on any day. However, you may want to take the seasons of the Liturgy into consideration. During Lent, no flowers are permitted. During Advent, flowers are at a minimum.
Sunday Marriages are open to the invited guests and parish congregation at Sunday Mass.
Saturday Marriages: If celebrated on Saturday, the times reserved for these celebrations are: 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 7pm.
Weekday Marriages: To be married on other days, or once we are within six months of the wedding, different times may be considered.
BEFORE ANY CHURCH OR ROOM RESERVATIONS ARE MADE...
All dates and times need to be first confirmed with the priest or deacon, who will celebrate your wedding, before the scheduling of any wedding or parish facilities. This ensures the wedding date and time is agreed to by all involved, and thus respectful of other couples who may want to reserve the same date and time as you. Rehearsals may be scheduled sometime in the future.
That Includes rehearsals too...
As with the wedding, all rehearsals must be scheduled by the priest or deacon celebrating with the wedding with the parish staff responsible for scheduling all parish facilities.
To begin, please give us the completed information sheet that's at the end of our Wedding Preparation PDF. The page is titled, "Wedding Information Form".
In consideration of the joy and obligation to be hospitable to your visiting family and friends, and still afford yourself the time to enjoy the whole experience of your wedding time, try not to be preoccupied with the many “to-do-items” before the wedding (which is why we focus on the preparation for living a fruitful, and graced, married life first; then give attention to wedding details way before the rehearsal).
What Documents Do You Need to Get Married?
There are at least three different documents that will be collected by the church during the period of preparation. Remember also that your marriage needs to be recorded with San Diego County. See the marriage information PDF for an example of the
San Diego County Marriage License form, directions on how to fill it out and documents needed for that process.
Three documents needed by the Church:
BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE: Issued from the parish of Baptism – a recent copy (generally dated 6 months prior to the date of the proposed marriage, but certainly during the time of engagement). This is required of Catholics; and requested for those baptized non-Catholic.
PRENUPTIAL EXAMINATION FORM: completed with the minister of your wedding.
AFFIDAVIT TO ESTABLISH FREEDOM TO MARRY (one each for the Bride/Groom): completed by the minister of your sacrament.
And maybe the following as well:
A letter of introduction from any visiting clergy whom you have invited to celebrate your wedding. This letter will confirm his intent to celebrate the wedding with you, will identify his name, address, and telephone number. The letter will describe how the preparation will be done. And if he intends only to celebrate the wedding, and wants our parish to provide the marriage preparation, this letter ought to note this as well.
Permission of a Catholic party’s proper pastor, if the marriage is celebrated in a parish that is not where he or she celebrates their faith (i.e., where they go to Sunday Mass).
If marrying a baptized nonCatholic, permission from the Catholic party’s priest preparing the couple. This permission is intended to assure that the differences in Christian traditions have been discussed, are not a source of conflict between the couple, and that there is agreement how the children will be reared.
If marrying a non-baptized person, a dispensation is received from the Catholic party’s priest preparing the couple. This dispensation affirms the decision of the Catholic to marry someone who does not believe in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, so as to support the Catholic. This is intended to ensure that the religious differences between the couple have been discussed, are not a source of conflict, and that there is an agreement on how the children will be reared.
Certificate of participation in a Catholic Church approved marriage preparation program: e.g., Engaged Encounter, on-line resources in special circumstances of pastoral need (e.g., military, etc.).
The purpose is to document the intentions of the couple to celebrate a faithful/graced marriage, who have the freedom to do so; and to document that the witness of faith and love of the couple is affirmed by the community—best expressed by the people who have the most intimate history of the couple.
These documents for the celebration of the wedding will be collected by the priest/deacon/minister preparing you for marriage.
What If One of Us Has Been Married Before?
Meet with a priest, deacon, or pastoral minister to discuss your life as a married person, before a date for a wedding is set.
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is the union of the whole lives of a man and woman, in which the married couple shares the Love of Christ in their covenant of life and love.
Therefore, if this marriage is the second such commitment for either party, the Church invites the divorced to enter into a reflective process of how the prior marriage celebrated was (or was not) a life-long covenant in Christ.
Please know the Catholic Church always assumes that “God has joined together” those who celebrate any marriage, not just celebrations in the faith of the Catholic Church. So, if there has been a prior marriage, a discussion with a priest, deacon or pastoral minister is of critical importance.
May We Have a Visiting or Retired Priest or Deacon Marry Us?”
Visiting clergy are always welcome. At the time of your reservation of a date and time for your wedding, please have a letter of introduction from the visiting clergy which would indicate his confirmation of his intent to celebrate the wedding with you.
This letter would identify the name, address, e-mail and telephone number of the priest or deacon, and how he will participate in your preparation. If he intends only to celebrate the wedding, and wants our parish to provide the marriage preparation, this letter ought to describe this as well—in which case, you need to approach one of our parish priests, deacons, or pastoral minister, to conduct such preparation.
The visiting clergy will assume responsibility for the submission of the necessary preparation and paperwork to his bishop (and to ours) in order to receive the appropriate permission to celebrate your wedding in our parish.
What is ‘Premarital Counseling’ and What’s Involved?
There are two aspects to this question, for marriage preparation involves two very related areas:
The sacramental preparation (where you as a couple are asked to learn about, reflect on, and pray about, marrying in the Church as a “sacrament”)
The psychological and social preparation (where you explore as a couple the many factors in human relationships that are unique to marriage, and identify areas of development in your experience, such as communication, conflict resolution, and family networks, etc.).
The sacramental preparation is the primary responsibility of the priest, deacon, or pastoral minister; while the social and emotional preparation, is the responsibility of the couple. Psychotherapeutic assistance is given by a licensed marriage counselor, if more in-depth assistance is appropriate.
The Diocese of San Diego expects every couple engaged to be married to participate in a pre-marriage assessment process, using an approved survey FOCCUS - (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study)and REFOCCUS for couples entering a second marriage – www.foccusinc.com/Foccus-Inventory.aspx.
This is intended to help the couple reflect on their relationship, gain insight into their areas of strengths and weaknesses, and to benefit from the lived experience of thousands of others who have married before them.
The advantage of this tool is to provide objective points of reflection and dialogue, to identify issues and concerns, and to use the marriage preparation period effectively to formulate a strategy to address, reduce or resolve these areas of concerns before marrying.
Is There Any ‘Cost’ or ‘Fee’ to Celebrate a Wedding?
No other question is asked more frequently, and yet it is so difficult to answer. Firstly, your Marriage is a gift to the community, because it is assumed you know you are a living witness of God’s Love for us! Also, we assume you are members of the Church who support our parish community (who worship with us; give of your money in the offertory; and are making contributions of your time, your talents, and your treasure — so our Church may be all She can be).
Thus, it is our honor and joy to share the “wealth” of our family, such as the church building itself, and the expenses to maintain it (such as, its maintenance and repair; heating or cooling; lights and utility costs; insurance; etc., etc.); and the ministry of the priests and deacons to serve you and other couples.
And, as baptized people, since your wedding is a Sacrament, we would never “charge” you for your prayer (a “fee” to wed), as if our parish was a wedding venue, a chapel, a building to be “used” — which it is not, and must not be treated as such.
All of this being said — you are challenged to consider all of the expenses you have willingly chosen to incur in your celebration (such as, the invitation expenses, rehearsal dinner, photography, videography, limousine and honeymoon expenses, music at the reception, the reception catering and the reception venue rental, thank-you correspondence, etc., etc., etc.). These expenses, which you freely choose to spend, often run into the thousands of dollars. Many parishes ask a couple “to make a donation” of a specific amount (sometimes worded as “please make a ‘suggested’ donation of $1,500, $1,000, $750, etc.) because, sadly, it is the experience of most parishes, ours included, that without the “suggested donation” wording, the couple forgets to make ANY gift/donation — and if they do give, most couples give even less than a limousine rental, e.g., $500. And this is despite our invitation and challenge that the couple make a gift to support their parish, much less any gift you may choose to give to the minister who prepared them, or who presides at the wedding. This is why many parishes suggest a donation amount so the couple will prioritize the needs of their parish when considering their wedding budgets.
PARISH DAILY EXPENSES
Please know, it costs the parish several hundreds of dollars a day for utilities, insurance, employee expenses, etc., to say nothing of ministry support.
This does not include the literally dozens of other “costs” involved in maintaining the parish proper. Historically, here at St. Therese Parish, the parish asked for a minimum consideration of $500! We no longer make that request.... INSTEAD, this parish will trust in your generosity!!! Let us explain how and why...
Instead, you are invited to consider making a gift to your parish that is a percentage of all of the expenses for your wedding. For example, consider making a contribution in proportion to how much you have chosen to spend on the wedding & honeymoon.
By inviting you to make a stewardship donation in proportion to other wedding expenses, and NOT requesting a specific amount, we are trusting in your goodness, just as we trust in the graciousness and generosity of ALL of our parishioners (Sunday after Sunday) to meet the needs and expenses of our parish, and make possible the work of the Church. In this way, God and His People (this parish) are receiving a gift from you that is in proportion to those who are doing business with you (expenses you have agreed to pay or anticipate) in this celebration.
WHEN TO MAKE YOUR DONATION
Whatever may be your donation to the Church, please offer your donation before the rehearsal (such as during the preparation; hand-delivering it, or bringing it to the office, etc.); thus, no money is exchanged at the rehearsal, or on the day of the wedding.
May I have Flowers, Candles, Runners, etc.? What are the ‘Rules?’
We ask you to treat the parish property as your property—as part of our family. Thus, the use of anything which may damage, deface, disfigure pews, pulpit/lectern, or any part or fixture of the church, is profoundly disrespectful (such as using tacks, staples, tape, etc.).
Please take note of the following:
No strewing of petals
The strewing of flower petals discolors and damages our carpets, as well as constituting a hazard for our guests. This is true whether the petals are cloth or real.
A similar concern regards runners. In bygone centuries, when bridal and other dresses could not be cleaned, runners were practical and effective to inhibit dirt. Today, runners are an obstruction, and constitute a trip hazard.
Place flowers with an eye to safety
Floral decorations ought not obstruct any aisle or pews, for this constitutes a hazard in case of fire or other emergency.
Liturgy First, florals second...
The flowers may be placed in the Church only consistent with the liturgical principles of our worship. This is a particular concern during Lent, when no flowers are permitted, and Advent, when flowers are at a minimum. Discuss the floral arrangements with our Parish staff.
No candelabra, or other decorative candles, may be used
A unity candle, as with all liturgical candles, may of course be used. We recommend you purchase a large candle which will last for many years, so it may grace your family dinner table on the occasions of significant family events—e.g., your wedding anniversary, birth of your children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, death of your parents, etc., reminding you, and all, of your faith on your wedding day.
No throwing of rice, confetti, bird seed, etc., at the end of the wedding. For reasons which we hope and pray are obvious.
What about Photography/Videography? There Must be Guidelines...
You are reminded that the wedding is a time of sacred worship and warrants the respect of all participants. The use of photography, while an important aspect of our celebrations, should not detract from the beauty, reverence and meaning of your prayer.
Please observe these guidelines in the use of photography:
Consider taking your photography up to two (2) hours prior to the wedding, so you may be immediately available to your guests after your sacrament.
During the celebration, videographers/photographers are asked not to be so visible as to obstruct the prayer (such as coming into the altar area, using a flash or bright lights, etc.)
We ask you to complete all photography thirty (30) minutes after the celebration.
May We Have Any Kind of Music, Played on Any Instrument?
In our faith, music is a ministry. Accordingly, at any sacrament, we ask that “live” music be used in the celebration—employing the gifts of musicians, cantors, and choirs. In fact, the more involved the music in your prayer, the more you create a wonderful experience that will highlight and accent the celebration. Therefore song and instrumental selections need to be discussed with our parish staff.
How do you find musicians & vocalists for a Catholic wedding?
Available, upon your request, are a variety of highly recommended instrumentalists and vocalists, all of which are sure to add a unique musical appeal to your wedding celebration.
The music ministers of our parish serve you, but they are compensated by you. They serve as contractors not unlike your photographer, and/or, videographer, and/or florist, etc., who serve you by contract.
These expenses are another reason for you to be as generous as possible in gifting your parish when making an offering, considering the fact our parish depends on such donations to maintain and improve our church, as well as provide for the staff, etc.
Can We Customize/Personalize Our Catholic Wedding?
Your wedding (i.e., marriages officiated by a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon) will be celebrated according to The Order of Celebrating Matrimony. This rite of celebrating weddings is NOT as other Christian Traditions pray them, nor (perhaps) as you anticipate or have “seen” weddings in the past.
Non-Scripture readings are not used. Also, any music and decorations need to be appropriate for the celebration of the Mass. Accordingly, it would be wise not to make any commitments as to who will be involved in, or what will happen at the wedding, until you have conferred with the deacon or priest presiding at your marriage.
You may want to produce a program for your nuptial Mass for your guests who are not Catholic — and for those who haven't been inside a church for a while. Include an outline of the ceremony to help guests follow along, words to hymns, and an explanation of Catholic traditions that they may not be familiar with, etc.
As a preparation for the wedding day, a final part of the marriage preparation is working with their minister to prepare the actual rite of the wedding — see again these two videos:
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - Divine Worship https://youtu.be/3uAHwtBRg5c
Take the Next Step...
Now that you have had a few of your Catholic Marriage questions answered, click this St. Therese Information on the Preparation for and Celebration of Marriage link to download our guide to get started.
If you have more questions, call us at 619-582-3716 or come into the parish office to discuss this Sacrament.