The decision to marry is a very important moment in your life. Before God and before others you will promise to love until death, to live together for life. You promise to be an example of the creative and redemptive work of God. You will ask God to be your witness and to bless you. None of us is born knowing how to be married. To prepare for careers, people spend many years in school. To prepare for marriage, the Church is not asking for years of schooling; however, the Church does believe that marriage deserves and needs preparation.
In order to help you with some of the details of your wedding, the following information is provided for you. Certain rules and limitations have proven necessary in order to serve you and the larger community. These are designed to assist in making your engagement and preparation a time of enjoyment.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION POLICIES
1. The Catholic party registered in the parish must contact one of the pastoral staff at least six months in advance of the anticipated wedding date. (If you are to be married at another Catholic Church outside of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, then nine months in advance of the anticipated wedding date). No confirmed date or time will be scheduled on the parish calendar until the initial interview has taken place. Non-registered couples wishing to be married must register and be actively involved in the community for a minimum of two months before instruction may begin.
2. Parish registration is a sign that an individual wishes to belong to the larger parish family. A baptized Catholic registered at St. Christopher has a legal (canonical) right to request consideration for a Catholic ceremony. The Catholic must be registered in the parish for two months before beginning marriage preparations. To state that one attends Saint Christopher “frequently” while not a registered member of the parish is not sufficient grounds to be married at Saint Christopher.
A member of Saint Christopher Parish is a Catholic who:
A) Declares him/herself a member by registering at the parish office, or;
B) one who belongs to a registered family and is still a dependent, living with his/her family.
3. In asking to be married in the Church the couple must show some signs that they understand the meaning of marriage and its responsibilities. Catholics fulfill their responsibilities by participation in the life of the parish family, especially by regular celebration at Sunday Eucharist and by reception of Communion.
4. Another sign of Christian responsibility is the active participation in parish and/or community activities, which provide for the spiritual and material needs of others. Regular participation in Sunday Eucharist and in a ministry of the parish would be the very minimum as well as contributing to the support of the parish according to his/her means.
5. There are cases where the couple is separated by great distances and cannot take the marriage instructions together. Arrangements should be made for individual instructions in the parishes where each has residence. A person in the military should contact the Catholic chaplain.
6. In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Catholic weddings may not take place outside of a church building (e.g., private homes, gardens, or hotels).
7. The wedding of two Catholics ordinarily takes place in the parish of the bride or groom. A Catholic of Saint Christopher Parish who wishes to be married outside his/her parish church may do so with the written permission of the pastor. The marriage preparation procedure must be in accordance with the marriage preparation policies of St. Christopher Parish and the other Catholic parish.
8. Prior Marriage: If either party has previously been married, he/she must be shown to be free of that prior bond of marriage before a new marriage can be entered in the Catholic Church. A civil divorce, of itself, is not an indicator that one is free to marry in the Catholic Church.
9. Because of the possibility of a funeral being celebrated on Saturday morning, no wedding can be scheduled before 11:00 a.m. Likewise, because of Saturday afternoon confessions and the Saturday evening Eucharist, a wedding with Eucharist cannot be scheduled later than 2:30 p.m. If the ceremony is a Scripture service, the latest a wedding can be scheduled is 3:00 p.m.
10. Rehearsals are held the evening before the scheduled wedding at 6:00 p.m. Though less time may suffice, it is wise to allow one hour for rehearsal. The priest will have additional comments on rehearsal evenings and will appreciate being able to start on time.
1. Baptismal Certificate: For Catholics a recent baptismal certificate issued within six months of the marriage must be obtained. The baptismal certificate may be obtained by contacting the church of Baptism. For baptized non-Catholics, the certificate issued at the time of baptism will suffice.
2. Confirmation Record: This applies only to the Catholic party. A record of confirmation can also be obtained from the Church of baptism.
3. Marriage License: A marriage license from the County Clerk of the Indiana county in which either person lives is required. If both partners’ residences are out of state the license must be obtained from Marion county (phone number is 327-4719).
Legal Requirements to Obtain a Marriage License:
Both of you must go to the County Clerk’s office at the same time and bring $18 cash (out of state residents, $60 cash).
Allow three full days to elapse after application before the marriage license can be issued. Couples must have written proof of their ages (birth certificate, driver’s license, or other written evidence of the date and place of birth.) The license expires within 60 days.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAM
1. The engaged couple initially meets with a member of the pastoral staff. During this meeting, there is an initial interview and the marriage preparation program is discussed. A date for the wedding will be scheduled. (It is not a good idea to come to this first meeting with your reception already booked!) At the end of this meeting, the Prepare inventory will be administered to the engaged couple.
2. The Pastoral Staff Member will meet with the Engaged Couple for feedback (generally three to five meetings done over a period of two to three months).
Note:At present, the company scoring Prepare charges a fee of $35.00 dollars. This fee is changeable depending upon the company. Please make out a check to Prepare-Enrich and give it to your sponsor couple at the time the inventory is taken.
3.Soon after the first meeting with the Pastoral Staff Member:
A. Schedule a Tobit Retreat Weekend at the Fatima Retreat House. The weekend cost per couple is currently $298.00. The Fatima Retreat House is located at 5353 E. 56th Street, Indianapolis (545-7681) or http://archindy.org/fatima/calendar/tobit.html
B. Begin selecting and scheduling cantors and musicians.
(A list of cantors and musicians will be provided)
4. After the engaged couple has completed the above requirements, three months before the wedding, they are to call the pastoral staff member with whom they first met to arrange the next meeting. At this time:
A. Marriage papers are filled out.
B. The spirituality and sacramentality of marriage are discussed.
C. Baptismal records are presented.
D. Planning of the marriage ceremony begins. A booklet is given to help with the planning of the ceremony.
5. Finally, at least two months in advance, the engaged couple calls the priest witnessing the ceremony to review the ceremony and to make final arrangements. The marriage license should be dropped off at the rectory two to three days in advance of the wedding date. In certain circumstances, engaged couples may be referred to a counselor for pre-marriage counseling.
It is strongly recommended that Catholic parties to be married approach the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist before their ceremony.
Those eligible for a second marriage in the Church (due to a death of a previous spouse, dissolution from a previous bond, decree of nullity, etc.) are viewed with a special concern and compassion. Thus, special care must be given in the six months of preparation.
Validation of Marriage
If a couple is legally married but not in accordance with the laws of the Church, a validation (marriage in the Church) is permitted after the couple has completed an appropriate preparation as outlined by a member of the pastoral team.
The Catholic Church considers the marriage between baptized Christians to be a sacrament. Yet it is only realistic to recognize that religious differences can give rise to tensions within a marriage. Such marriages deserve careful attention and support.
An inter-church marriage refers to a marriage between a Catholic and another baptized Christian. When the non-Catholic is active in his or her faith, consideration should be given to the possibility of the following options:
A. Inviting the participation of the minister of the non-Catholic faith tradition to be leading part of the marriage preparation.
B. Inviting the Christian minister to participate in the wedding ceremony.
C. Celebrating the sacrament in a non-Eucharistic ceremony.
In a marriage involving parties of different religions, the ceremony may be held in the church of another religion, provided that a member of the pastoral team of the Catholic Church gives the instructions and the Archdiocesan authority grants permission when a pastoral reason exists.
An interfaith marriage refers to a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person. In such cases, special care should be taken to respect both traditions.
It should be noted that in both instances the Catholic party will be asked to sign a document stating that he/she will continue to practice the Catholic faith and will do all in his/her power to have the children baptized and brought up Catholic.
Pregnancy before Marriage
When pregnancy occurs outside of marriage, it is a time of great stress and turmoil for the parties involved and their families. The Church views such situations with compassion and concern. However, marriage should not automatically be presumed to be the appropriate solution for the child or the parents, thus, special counseling and an evaluation must be obtained. This must be completed before any consideration for marriage in the Church.
Marriage of Minors
Generally, marriages between teenagers are to be discouraged since statistical evidence indicates that the probability of permanence in such marriages is greatly reduced.
A. If either party is not yet twenty years old, consideration will be given only after consultation with parents and after a favorable recommendation from a counselor.
- Rarely, if ever, will permission be given for marriage in the Church for anyone under eighteen.
Facility Fee for the Church
At the initial meeting with a member of the pastoral staff, the engaged couple will be asked to sign a form acknowledging that they have read and understand the preparation and marriage policy of St. Christopher parish, and intend to observe it. At this time the engaged couple will be charged a facility fee of $250. This fee is due at the time of the first meeting with the staff person to assure that the church will be available for the wedding date requested by the couple.
Stipends (monetary gift)
A Stipend is a monetary gift to be presented to the priest before the ceremony. Customarily the stipend is at least $100 dollars.
The fee for musicians must be negotiated individually.
One can be expected to pay $200-$300 for an organist and $100-$200 for a cantor.
*Payment for each musician should be given to the organist the night of the rehearsal.
The primary task of decoration is to enhance the primary symbols of the church, the liturgical rites and sacraments. Flowers and plants are particularly apt for the decoration of liturgical space, since they are of nature, always discreet in their massage. Decorations should never impede the approach to or the encircling of the altar or any of the ritual movement and action. Suitable decorations need not and should not surround the altar area, since the unity of the celebration space and the active participation of the entire assembly are fundamental principles. The placement of flowers and decorations demand careful attention so that there is no clutter, no crowding. Guidelines for the florist will be presented.
The following rules are presented to help you facilitate your wedding decorations:
· Floral arrangements (with or without pedestals) can only be placed in front of the altar and/or the ambo.
· Clip-on pew bows are allowed. (No tape or sharp objects are allowed to hold the bows.)
· The church aisle is 52 feet.
· A Unity Candle, if used, should definitely be no taller than 20 inches.
· The wedding coordinator will open the church 2 1/2 hours before the wedding.
· Decorations may be placed in the church at that time. The church building is not available before then.
Pictures and videotapes are important reminders of a wedding. However, the taking of the pictures must not distract from the actual celebration. Guidelines for the photographer will be presented.
The following rules are presented to help the planning of wedding pictures:
· The church is not to be utilized as a photography studio.
· Pictures before the ceremony are highly encouraged.
· After the ceremony, only 20 minutes is allotted for photography.
· Use of a camera flash is not permitted during the ceremony.
· Videotaping of the ceremony is only allowed from the back of church.