Marriage Preparation

Planning Your Wedding at

St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church

Congratulations on the announcement of your engagement and upcoming wedding! As fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church share in your joy and look forward to celebrating this Sacrament with you!

Today, there are a number of ways people choose to marry. You are choosing to celebrate your marriage in a public and explicit religious manner within the Roman Catholic faith community. In choosing to celebrate your marriage in Church as a Sacrament, you seek to bond yourselves together in Christ. In doing so, you ask the Church to pray with you and for you as a couple. We look forward to helping you shape your wedding liturgy within the rich traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.

These procedures have been designed to assist you in planning your wedding according to the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach and our parish community. Please visit the website at www.diocesepb.org/marriage for important Steps to the Altar, and to see the current marriage preparation program schedule.

 First Step to Planning Your Wedding at St. Vincent Ferrer

If you are an active, registered parishioner of no less than six (6) months* at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, live within the parish boundaries, participate weekly at Mass and provide your stewardship envelopes, your wedding plans begin by contacting Mary Somerville in the Office of Family Life Services at 561-665-8566. The process begins with the completion of a Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire (Form A) which will be reviewed with each party during a personal interview with a priest or deacon.

* If you are not a registered parishioner of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, you must register first, and then wait the six (6) months, while participating weekly at Mass and providing your stewardship envelopes during that time. Then follow the steps in the above paragraph.

An important aspect of this interview is to ensure that the couple is free to marry in the Catholic Church. The couple should not make any binding plans for a reception until they receive written verification from the Church. All wedding plans and communication will be between the Office of Family Life Services and the bride or groom – not through intermediaries, e.g. wedding planners, or family members.

The celebration of the Eucharist is the very center of Catholic life and spirituality, therefore, weddings are scheduled so as not to interfere with the Saturday schedule of Masses and are not scheduled after 2:00p.m. Weddings do not take place on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, which are reserved for parish liturgies. Evening weddings normally are held on Fridays.

Spirituality/Faith

The spiritual preparation for your wedding is the most important aspect of your planning. This prayerful preparation for your marriage assumes regular attendance at Mass and the reception of the Sacraments. This preparation is coupled with the successful completion of a pre-marriage program offered by the Church. Aligned with the parish’s obligation to personally prepare you to enter marriage and dispose you to the holiness and responsibility of matrimony, it is expected that you are not, and will not, be living together prior to the ceremony. Living together is contrary to God’s teachings and significantly increases the risk of marriage failure.

At the time of the wedding, and in order to receive the fruits of the Sacrament of Matrimony, you need to be in a state of grace. The reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be a priority before the wedding. An opportunity to receive the Sacrament will be offered immediately following the rehearsal. Confessions are heard at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. and anytime by appointment. The Sacrament of Reconciliation may also be received at another parish.

Freedom to Marry

One of the required Church documents is an original, certified copy of your baptismal certificate dated within the last six months. This can be obtained from the church where you were baptized. Kindly contact the church of your baptism providing them with your name, birth date, and parent’s names and request a recent copy of your baptismal record in preparation for your wedding. If you were baptized at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, this record is available in our sacramental books. Please call or e-mail the front office at 561-276-6892 to request a copy.

Preparation for Engaged Couples

Parishes provide couples with the means of preparing well for the Sacrament of Matrimony and assist them in knowing and accepting the complete commitment to marriage. The following explains how weddings are celebrated at St. Vincent Ferrer parish.

The Celebration of the Sacrament

The Sacrament of Matrimony is a celebration of one person’s love and loyalty freely given to another until death. Marriage is a mirror of Jesus’ love and fidelity to the Church. Marriage is not only a celebration for the couple and his/her family but for the whole Church.

The exchange of vows constitutes the Sacrament of Matrimony. This can be celebrated within the context of the Mass, when two Catholics are married, or outside of Mass in a mixed faith marriage.

The couples are the ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The priest/deacon serves as a witness for the Church. Some couples have a relationship with a priest or deacon from outside the parish. You may extend an invitation to him to preside at your wedding after you have discussed this option with, and have received the permission from, the pastor to do so. Priests/deacons from outside Florida may need to obtain diocesan and/or legal faculties to meet civil and/or church regulations. Priests/deacons from outside who plan to preside are responsible for completing all necessary marriage preparation.

 Music for the Ceremony

When choosing music, please keep in mind that music and songs are to be taken from Sacred Scripture and from Liturgical sources. Secular music is not permitted for the prelude or during the wedding liturgy.

Eric Keiper, the Director of Music, will provide you with a list of appropriate songs and music well in advance of the wedding. This should be done prior to finalizing these selections with the musician you have hired. Doing so will eliminate the necessity of making any last minute changes for songs/music that might not be appropriate for the church ceremony.

The parish will provide a cantor and organists/musicians. The fees for those services are included in your wedding fee. Any additional services provided, i.e. soloist, violinist, etc., would be an additional cost. If you choose to have a friend or relative provide music, they first need to meet with, and be approved by, the Music Director. They will be expected to follow parish guidelines with regard to music.

 Church Décor

The Church celebrates the liturgical seasons with different colors. You may want to coordinate flowers with the color of the liturgical season. Flowers are not placed on the altar but rather on the floor in front of the ambos (podiums). It is also traditional for the bride and groom to honor Mary, our Blessed Mother, with a floral arrangement which remains in the church after the wedding. Once the Church is decorated with floral arrangements, it is most inappropriate that they be removed following the wedding. Floral arrangements are to remain in the church as gifts as a way of sharing your celebration with the broader parish community.

The use of tape, tacks, or materials which might mar the wooden pews is not allowed. If you plan to fasten anything (e.g. ribbons, flowers) to the pews, use elastic bands or string. Your florist can assist you in obtaining appropriate plastic pew hangers for your decorations. Nothing is to be attached to or hung from the walls or columns.

We ask that no one throw rice, bird seed, flower petals, or any type of confetti inside or outside the church. Bear in mind that the church will be used by others following your ceremony and it must be left clean and tidy. Ushers should check the church, pews, and church hall for any flower boxes, programs or other items left after the ceremony and see that all is in order prior to their departure. Any questions regarding church décor should be clarified well in advance with the Wedding Ceremony Coordinator, Linda Flood at 561-276-6892.

Photography and Videography

We ask persons involved in photography and videography to maintain the sacredness of the Liturgy and be properly attired with formal wear. Their presence should not be a distraction to the presider or the bride and groom. Our policy is that all photography and video recording be done from the back, the side of the church, or from a pew. Once the ceremony has begun, the video camera is to remain stationary. We ask that flash photos not be taken during the ceremony.

The Rehearsal

A date and time for the rehearsal will be set when the wedding is scheduled. All those with active roles in the ceremony should be present and on time. This includes: the wedding party, ushers, lectors, and those participating in the offertory procession. Wedding rehearsals are by nature informal. However, we request that all couples remind participants that a church is a sacred place and that appropriate respect and attire is expected of all. The wedding party does not sit in the Sanctuary, but in the main body of the church.

The Marriage License

The State of Florida marriage license must be obtained within sixty days prior to the wedding ceremony. A license may be obtained from any town clerk, but it proceeds more smoothly if it is obtained from the town clerk of Palm Beach County. Either the bride or groom may obtain the license, but both must sign the document and provide it to the priest in advance of the wedding. The officiant signs the license after the wedding and returns it to the town clerk in the town where it was obtained for recording.

Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

These children should be of an age where their participation is not a distraction and should be carried out without complication. It works better if the best man has the rings and the ring bearer has facsimile rings tied to a pillow.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drugs are not permitted on church premises. The bride and gooom must be alcohol and drug free in order to participate fully in the wedding ceremony and give marital consent. If either is impaired at the time of the wedding ceremony, the wedding will not take place.

 Punctuality

It is expected that the wedding will begin at the scheduled time. It is not fashionable for the bride to be late. The entire wedding party should be in place and ready no later than five minutes prior to the scheduled time of the wedding.

Revised: October 18, 2017