Wedding Guidelines

SAINT GREGORY THE GREAT

DANBURY, CONNECTICUT

 

WEDDING GUIDELINES

Dear Friends,

          Congratulations!  Your love for one another has brought you to this moment in your lives.  It is because of this love that you have come to St. Gregory's to invite us to be a part of your celebration.  You have already begun to make preparations for your celebration, a celebration you want to be most beautiful, most expressive of your hopes and dreams for the future.  We welcome you to celebrate and solemnize your wedding with us in the context of prayer as a people of faith.

          Although the marriage celebration focuses upon the bride and groom, the ceremony is not a "private" celebration.   In one sense, marriage is very personal since you pledge yourselves to each other in an intimate and lasting union.  But it is more.  Marriage celebrations acknowledge first and foremost the presence of Jesus in those assembled within the church.

          This in no way implies that our marriage celebrations aren't personal.  They are personal but not private.  All of our celebrations are for the building up of the Community of Disciples in faith.

          In this spirit, St. Gregory's Parish provides the following guidelines for celebrating weddings in the building which shelters the prayer of our community.  We look forward to work with you to make your marriage day special.

          If you should need any help, please do not hesitate to call the Rectory (797-0222) or email us.

     I.       PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS - - CHOICES TO BE MADE

            A.        SETTING THE WEDDING DATE (WEDDING SEASON, TIME AND DATE)

            Weddings are ordinarily scheduled at least nine months prior to the celebration.  When choosing a date for your wedding, be aware of the Church's liturgical calendar.  For example, during some seasons the liturgical color is purple (Lent - violet tones; Advent navy tones), others green (Ordinary time), and still others white (Easter and Christmas).  The main Altar is adorned with the Liturgical colors of the appropriate season.  During the Christmas season, there will be poinsettias in the sanctuary, lilies during Easter and NO flowers are used during Advent and Lent.  The seasonal decorations will not be removed for a wedding.

            Weddings are scheduled with respect to the couple's wishes and the availability of the church building and parish ministers.  Weddings are normally celebrated on Saturdays.  If you are planning a morning wedding, you may request a time between 10:30 A.M. and Noon.  Afternoon weddings can be arranged between 1:00 P.M. and 2:30 P.M.  Evening weddings are held at 6:00 P.M. or if you prefer, Friday evening at 6:00 P.M.

            Only the priest/deacon may book the date for the celebration of your wedding.  Please call the Priest/Deacon (797-0222) who will be witnessing your marriage with your proposed date.

            B.        A wedding liturgy is an activity of the church.

            As a celebration of the Church, the wedding liturgy is shaped primarily by the Church's Rite of Marriage, which presents the structure, texts, and symbolic actions that are basic to all Catholic weddings.  You will have many options to choose from.  You will receive this when you meet with the priest/deacon.

            C.        WEDDING PREPARATION WORKSHOP (Pre-Cana)

            In preparation for your celebration you will have to attend a Wedding Preparation Workshop.  Pre-Cana is such a marriage preparation workshop.  Its primary purpose is to help you in preparing for your sacramental marriage.

            All couples choosing to marry in the Church are required to participate in a Pre-Cana workshop.  This should be done at least six (6) months prior to the wedding date.  Please call the Office for Marriage and Family Life of the Diocese of Bridgeport (1-203-416-1400) or website. Encounter Weekends are also available.  For information, please call the Family Life Bureau.

            D.        PRE-MARRIAGE INVESTIGATION (P.M.I.)

            The purpose of the P.M.I. is to insure that you are meeting all of the fundamental requirements of the Church.  The priest/deacon arranging your wedding will do the P.M.I. with you.  Please call and meet with one of the priests/deacons to begin your paperwork.  Please bring with you a recent copy (not older than six (6) months old) of your Baptism Certificates. You can obtain this from the Church in which you were baptized. You will also need copies of your Communion and Confirmation certificates.  These are obtained from the Church in which you received these sacraments. Non-Catholic Christians need only to bring their Baptism Certificate.

            1)         An Interfaith Marriage is not necessarily a problem.  A routine dispensation will be applied for.  Non-Catholic clergy are very welcomed to participate in your ceremony.

            Additional meetings may be set up at this time.  Please make sure that you have the priest/deacon make note of your rehearsal time.

            E.        CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING PARTY

            Your Best Man and Maid of Honor are an important part of your celebration.  At least one of them must be Catholic.  If they are both members of the Catholic Church, they both should be active and practicing.  If only one of them is Catholic, the other should be active in his/her faith.  Since your Wedding is being celebrated in the context of a Faith Community, your witnesses should be individuals of faith also.  Non-active relatives and/or friends can be honored by having them serve as ushers or bride's maids.

II.           THE REHEARSAL

          Your rehearsal time is scheduled by the priest/deacon who will be witnessing your marriage.  Rehearsals are normally held the night before the wedding but may have to be on another night depending on available scheduling.

            The bride, groom, best man and maid of honor should be at the rehearsal, along with members of the bridal party.  Readers and the bride's escort should also be present.

            Please bring the following to the Rehearsal:

                        1)         MARRIAGE LICENSE - One month prior to your wedding day, you will need to apply for your marriage license.  You will need a blood test with the results signed by a physician at the time that you apply for your license.  Your Marriage license must be applied for at City Hall in Danbury.  This license has to be given to the priest/deacon who will be witnessing your marriage no later than the rehearsal evening.             

                        2)         ORGANIST FEE - $300.00 written out to Ms. Jenny Li.

                        3)         INSTRUMENTAL or VOCALIST FEES (if applicable)

                        4)         CHURCH CLEANING FEE - $50.00

III.      AT THE WEDDING

            A.        NUPTIAL MASS vs. WEDDING CEREMONY

            In the Catholic Church, a wedding can take place by itself (Liturgy of the Word) or it can be celebrated in the context of a Mass.  A Nuptial Mass is appropriate for those who are Catholic and are active communicants.  The duration of this celebration normally would be an hour and a half (including the receiving line).   

            A Wedding Ceremony is appropriate where one party is not baptized or is a non-Catholic Christian or a Catholic not actively participating in the life of the Church.  Ceremonies normally would be about one hour (60) minutes (including a receiving line).

            B.        THE MINISTERS FOR THE CELEBRATION

                        1)         THE ASSEMBLY

            Everyone in the church for your wedding is, first and foremost, a member of this Assembly - (the two of you, the wedding party, the priest/deacon, all of your guests guests and the musicians).  The Assembly celebrates the Liturgy; individual members of this Assembly fulfill various special ministries within the Liturgy.

           Make sure that your guests are warmly greeted as they arrive at church, preferably by the two of you or at least by your parents.  This is probably the single most effective thing you can do to make people feel welcomed, to thank them for joining in this special celebration, and to encourage their participation in the Liturgy.  This also allows you to introduce friends and relatives before the Liturgy, rather than waiting until the reception.  Seat everyone close together toward the front of the church. Do not artificially divide the assembly into “bride’s side" and "groom's side"; instead, introduce people to others they may not know.  Such interaction in church is not irreverent; it serves to shape a worshipping Assembly out of many individuals who will be at your wedding.

                        2.         THE COUPLE

            In the Roman Catholic tradition, the bride and the groom minister the sacrament of marriage to one another, a priest/deacon and at least two witnesses are also required to be present; however, you are not married by the presiding priest or deacon, nor does the priest or deacon "pronounce you man and wife." As a couple, you exercise your ministry by preparing the wedding liturgy with the presiding priest or deacon, and Mrs. Jenny Li, our parish music director. Within the wedding liturgy, you will exercise your ministry when you exchange vows and rings and respond to the questions posed by the priest or deacon concerning your intentions.

            The two of you are the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Roman Catholic wedding Liturgy.  You give yourselves to one another in marriage.  The priest/deacon serves as the Church's official witness, but he does not "pronounce you man and wife."

3.                  THE PRESIDER

            In most cases a priest/deacon from St. Gregory's will preside at the wedding Liturgy.  However, any priest/deacon friend of yours is more than welcomed to preside at your wedding.  Clergy from other religions or denominations are always welcome at St. Gregory's.

4.                  READERS

            The Word of God is at the heart of all Catholic worship and services.  When you look for someone to server as Reader, remember that you look for someone to proclaim the Word of God.  Therefore search out men and women whose lives give evidence of their having heard and live the Word they are to proclaim.  Search for people whose lives proclaim God's presence among us.

5.         MUSIC and ORGANIST

            The music at your wedding has the power to encourage or stifle the participation of the Assembly.  The norm in the Roman Catholic Liturgy is participatory music; that is, the majority of music during the Liturgy should be sung by the entire Assembly.  A little planning and some thoughtful choices can make your wedding a more meaningful and joyous occasion for everyone present.

            Music should be carefully chosen and should be suitable to the religious nature of the celebration.  The text or lyric of a song is as important as the quality of the music.  Just because a song is "sacred" doesn't mean it is liturgically appropriate at a particular point in the Mass or ceremony.  Consult the priest/deacon or organist regarding the suitability of music.  Final decision of suitability rests with the priest/deacon.

            Our parish organist normally plays all weddings.  Her basic fee is three hundred ($300.00) dollars and this should be given to the priest/deacon at the rehearsal.  (The organist does not usually attend the rehearsal.)   Checks should be made payable to CASH.  Please contact our organist directly or email concerning your wedding.  If, for any reason, you choose to use another organist, you must pay our parish organist fee anyway.  This payment must be made prior to your rehearsal.  These fee agreements are common to most parishes.

            The basic fee includes the following:

                        Organ Prelude

                        Processional

                        Any congregational hymns or songs

                        Sung Responsorial Psalm (if desired)

                        Any sung parts of the Mass

                        Organ music during the distribution of communion

                        Recessional

            Any additional music or vocal solo work will require an additional fee, negotiated according to the amount of work required.

            Vocal soloists and/or instrumentalist (yours or ours) are welcome.  They must be chosen at the organist's discretion, and you should speak with her regarding their fees and any additional fee due her for rehearsal with them.  Any and all additional fees are to be paid with the organist's basic fee the night of rehearsal.

            C.        FLOWERS

            Flowers are not required, but welcomed.  If you choose to have flowers, please remember the followings regulations:

            1)         Only real live flowers can be used in Church.

            2)         Flowers, when used, should be arranged tastefully.  The Altar and the Ambo (Reader's Stand) are the two primary focal points.  Whatever flowers are placed by the Altar must also be placed by the Ambo.  Flowers should never be solely at the Altar.  Flowers are NEVER placed on the Altar.

            3)         Couples leave the flowers in the Church for the weekend Liturgies.

            4)         Flowers are expensive.  We encourage you to check to see if another wedding is taking place that day so that you can share flower expenses.

            5)         Please inform your florist that they may not use tape to place flowers on the pews.  The gum of the tape destroys the furniture finish.

 

            D.        UNITY CANDLE

            The so-called "unity candle" is a commercial product with no liturgical value.  This is a trite gimmick.  It has no real history or tradition behind it.  For this reason, we strongly suggest that you do not include it in your wedding.

            E.        CHURCH CLEANLINESS

            It is your responsibility to leave the Church as clean as you find it.  Since you will not be able to see to this yourselves, please arrange with others to do the clean up.  The parish has a list of persons who may be hired for this.  The fee is $50.00 and payable at rehearsal.  Cleaning must be done immediately after the wedding.  Please do not have your guests throw rice.  People have been known to slip on rice and injure themselves.

            F.         PHOTOGRAPHY and VIDEOTAPING

          The Liturgy during which you celebrate your marriage is a sacred moment of rejoicing in prayer, song and gesture.  Photographs and videotapes serve as an attractive reminder of your wedding, but you don't want the taking of pictures to interfere with the celebration.  Through the use of various lenses and film speeds, a professional photographer can achieve excellent results.

          G.        AISLE RUNNER

            Aisle runners are strongly discouraged.  Not only are they an additional expense, but they serve no useful function on a carpeted floor.  When a runner is placed on top of carpeting, a significant safety hazard is created.  As people are leaving the church or going to Communion, they will have to walk on the runner.  Some people could easily lose their footing or trip on the runner/carpet combination.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER

1.       Call the Priest/Deacon who will be witnessing your marriage with your proposed date.

2.         All couples choosing to marry in the Church are required to make a Pre-Cana workshop.

3.         The purpose of the P.M.I. is to insure that you are meeting all of the requirements of the Church.  The P.M.I. consists of a questionnaire that you must complete.  Please bring with you a recent copy (not older than six (6) months old) of your Baptism Certificates.  You will also need copies of your Communion and Confirmation certificates.  Non-Catholic Christians need only to bring their Baptism Certificate.

4.         Please be on time for the rehearsal.  Please bring the following to the Rehearsal:

MARRIAGE LICENSE, $300.00 Organist Fee, money for soloist if you wish to hire one, $50.00 Church Cleaning Fee.

5.         Soloists and instrumentalists are chosen at organist’s discretion.  You should check with her concerning their fee(s) for performing (bring their fees to the rehearsal).

6.         Music should be carefully chosen and should be suitable for the religious nature of the celebration.

7.         Flowers are not required, but welcomed.  If you choose to have flowers, please remember the followings regulations:

            1)         Only real live flowers can be used in Church.

            2)         Flowers, when used, should be arranged tastefully.  The Altar and the Ambo (Reader Stand) are the two primary focal points.  Whatever flowers are placed by the Altar should also be placed by the Ambo.  Flowers should never be solely at the Altar.

            3)         All flowers that are brought into the Church will be used for the weekend Liturgies..

            4)         Share flower expenses with other couples getting married the same day you are.

8.       Please do not have your guests throw rice.

9.       If you have any questions or need any clarifications, please contact the Rectory (797-0222) or email us.

Please fill out the Marriage Information Form