marriage at st. john’s
GETTING MARRIED is one of the most significant steps in anyone’s life. Perhaps it is the most significant. Two people make vows to each other to remain exclusively together for the rest of their lives, “for better, for worse: for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law.”
Married Christians, in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, signify and share in the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5.32); they help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children; and they have their own special gift among the people of God. (1 Corinthians 7.7)
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (CIC 1055)
In celebrating the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, Christians proclaim the communion of love between Christ and the Church and ask God’s blessing that their nuptial union might be the sacramental sign of this same love.
The Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage is that it is a unique, indissoluble partnership between one man and one woman, in mutual and lasting fidelity and open to the possibility of bringing children into the world. Anyone getting married in a Catholic church must have the same understanding of marriage as the Church, even if they are not a Catholic themselves.
It is because the Church attaches such importance to marriage, both for the couple themselves and for society as a whole, that she is concerned that couples intending to marry are adequately prepared, and understand what it is that they are committing themselves to.
The notes below are intended to help couples thinking about getting married at St John’s. The priest who is marrying you will want time to get to know you, to make sure you understand the meaning and obligations of marriage, and to help you plan the liturgy so as to make one of the most important days of your lives as wonderful as it can be.
If you are considering marriage at St John the Evangelist, here in Calgary, please read these notes and then get in touch with the and contact the Parish Secretary [firstname.lastname@example.org] to begin the necessary steps.
Marriages at St John’s are, as a rule, restricted to couples where at least one of you is a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. For those of you who are Latin Rite Catholics and have a strong connection with St John’s, a wedding service is possible, but permission will first need to be obtained from your territorial Latin Rite parish. If you do not know what this is you will need to contact the Catholic Pastoral Centre (for the RC Diocese of Calgary) at 403.218.5500. Wedding services at St John’s are celebrated according to Divine Worship: Occasional Services, the Ordinariate’s official public liturgy, for members of the Ordinariate only. Marriages for Latin Rite Catholics at St John’s must be celebrated according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
You need to give six months’ notice prior to getting married at St John’s. This is to make sure there is enough time to complete all that is required before the day.
Preparation. A period of preparation with the priest who will marry you and attendance at a diocesan marriage prep course need to be undertaken before your marriage here takes place. The course takes a couple through the richness of Catholic teaching on marriage and the lived experience of other couples living out their married life in faith. No details of your wedding can be fixed until this course has been completed.
Details of the Marriage Service. The Parish Priests, Fr Robert-Charles Bengry or Fr. Sean-Patrick Beahen, will need to see you several times before your marriage to discuss the exact details of your wedding liturgy, as well as to take you through the rehearsal.
Civil paperwork. One of the first things you will need to do is to purchase a Marriage Licence from Service Alberta, available at a local registry. The following link will give you all the information you need regarding what is required: http://www.servicealberta.ca/1149.cfm. A Marriage Licence demonstrates that you meet the requirements to get married in Alberta and gives you the legal right to get married any time within three months from the date the Licence was issued. When you receive your Marriage Licence you will also receive a Registration of Marriage form. This will need to be completed and signed at the time of your marriage in St John’s. At the end of the wedding service the priest will give you a Marriage Statement. You can use the Marriage Statement as temporary proof of your marriage until you order an official Marriage Certificate through a registry agent.
Church paperwork. The Parish Priest needs to find out whether you are free to marry and to make certain that you are aware of the duties of Christian Marriage. Enquiries may need to be made in the church where you were baptised and sometimes dispensations need to be sought — all of this can take some time. The Parish Priest will need to have your certificates of Baptism. In the case of Catholics this needs to be a recent copy taken from the register of the church where you were baptised within three months of the date of your wedding. In the case of non-Catholic Christians who have been baptised, you will need to have a copy of your original certificate of Baptism. If you are not able to obtain this, a notarised statement from a witness, if possible, indicating that you were baptised — with details — will be required.
Planning the ceremony. There is always much to discuss in the planning of the wedding ceremony: a Nuptial Mass, or the non-Eucharistic Wedding Service; the readings, hymns and other music; who will be involved; flowers; photography; parking — to name only a few. This is the exciting part, but it also needs time to get right. There also needs to be a wedding rehearsal before the wedding day.
freedom to marry
You cannot be married in a Catholic church if either of you has been married before, unless that marriage has been formally annulled by an ecclesiastical tribunal. This rule includes civil marriages or marriages in non-Catholic churches (although in the case of Catholics who have been married in non-Catholic services a declaration of nullity may be possible). At least one of you must be a baptised Catholic. In cases where one of the parties has not been baptised in any Christian denomination a dispensation from the Ordinariate is required and in these cases a Nuptial Mass is not possible.
There are two forms of marriage, the Wedding Service and the Nuptial (Wedding) Mass. The Wedding Service is shorter and consists of up to three hymns, three readings, a sermon the vows, blessing and signing of the register. The choir, soloists and the organist can also play a part.
When the wedding takes place in the context of Mass, this is called a Nuptial Mass. All the usual parts of the Mass are present, readings, hymns, and a musical Mass setting. The vows are taken after the Gospel and the homily by the priest. The registers are usually signed at the end.
Where both parties (and a good proportion of the guests) will be regular, practising Catholics, a Nuptial Mass is highly recommended. It is not possible when one of the parties has not been baptised. In all other cases the Wedding Service is recommended. This service does not involve Holy Communion, so those who would be unable to receive will not feel excluded.
The readings chosen for your wedding must be from the Catholic Lectionary. The priest will inform you of the selection available.
The hymns should be from one of the two hymn books in use at St John’s — they contain a wide and excellent selection of traditional hymns. No secular music is permitted, save for an instrumental, which must be approved by the Parish Priest.
The parish will produce the order of service. This will include the texts of the liturgy, the hymns and the readings.
It is advised that you select two ushers to distribute orders of service and to direct guests to their places in church.
FLOWERS AND CONFETTI
Please provide your own flowers for your wedding, after discussion with the Parish Priest. You should provide at least two arrangements for the stands in the sanctuary. It is also possible to have flowers in front of the rood screen, in front of the pulpit, or on the ends of pews. Any pew end flowers should be removed soon after the wedding service, but we ask you to leave the flowers in the sanctuary so that the church will be decorated for the rest of the week. Please ask your guests not to scatter confetti, rice or flower petals. These are very difficult to clear up and quickly look messy.
No charge is made for the Sacrament of Marriage at St John’s. A donation is always welcome for the maintenance and upkeep of the church, but this is at your discretion. In the case of non-parishioners seeking to be married at St John’s an offering of $500 is expected to pay for preparation, cleaning, lighting and heating. Please understand that it is not a fee for the sacrament, and it may be reduced or waived in cases of hardship. For musical costs please contact the Director of Music.
The music used in church should always be of a sacred nature. The reception is the place for secular or popular music. If you are having hymns, you may choose up to three (for a Wedding Service) and up to six (for a Nuptial Mass). In addition you may like to have the choir or a soloist sing at particular points in the ceremony. At a Nuptial Mass there may also be music at the offertory, at communion and for the Mass setting itself. Instrumentalists may be used. You will need an organ prelude for the entry and an organ postlude for the exit.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOS
Please make sure that this is discreet during the liturgy. Please ask the photographer or videographer to liaise with the Parish Priest prior to the service.
Parking is limited to 8th Avenue, but room will need to be made for the bridal car, and this should be thought out in your planning.
THE WEDDING REHEARSAL
It is our custom at St John’s to have a practice the evening before the wedding, or at some other time a few days before the ceremony. Obviously the bride and groom need to be there, but it also helps if the best man, the chief bridesmaid, the bride’s father (or whoever is leading her up the aisle) and any other people taking a prominent part can be there too. We practise the entry and the exit, the vows, the exchanging of rings, and the Nuptial Blessing. We can also talk about last minute details for photography, flowers, or music.
Please bring the following with you: the civil certificates, a copy of the order of service; and the cheques for the church and the musicians.