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Printable Certificate of Christian Marriage

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Printable Certificate of Christian Marriage document sample

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									                                      C      H U R C H                                                   O         F
S        T        .              V         I N C E N T                                                   F         E         R        R         E        R
                      A b e a u t i f u l c e n t e r o f Dominican preaching, sacramental worship,
                                        a n d p a s t o r al care in the heart of Manhattan.

                                                  WEDDING POLICY
                                      ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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           Frequently Asked Questions about Weddings
                     at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer


The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Christian marriage as follows: “The marriage
covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life
and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very
nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of chil-
dren. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament” (par.
1660). We can identify in this definition of marriage three principal truths: 1) God is the author
of marriage; 2) the union of the marriage covenant is ordered to the benefit of the couple and to
the procreation and rearing of children; and 3) in Christ, marriage between the baptized has
been raised to the dignity of a sacrament. When they approach the Church for marriage, cou-
ples manifest their desire to embrace all three truths. They seek to cooperate with God’s plan
for man and woman, they request to enter a covenant ordered to their sanctification and to the
flourishing of the family, and they request to celebrate the Christian sacrament by which they
receive the grace to live in lifelong fidelity to each other and to God’s law.

Requesting a church wedding, therefore, fulfills
more than a cultural expectation or a family tradi-
tion. By requesting the Sacrament of Marriage,
couples declare their intention to strive for Chris-
tian perfection in the married state. As with every
Christian vocation, holiness in Christ through an
active life in the Church remains the goal.


The Church of St. Vincent Ferrer is in great demand
for weddings. For that reason, we must limit them
to couples that have some kind of personal connec-
tion to the parish. Registered parish members who
attend Mass and contribute regularly have priority,
of course. We also accept weddings of Catholics
who have attended the parish school, or whose

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
families belong, or have belonged, to the parish. Moreover, we will positively consider requests
from the following: persons living or working in the parish neighborhood, graduates of Provi-
dence College, or persons who are related to our parish staff or employees. As a rule, the
Church of St. Vincent Ferrer will not accept weddings of persons who approach us simply be-
cause we offer a beautiful setting for their ceremony or because we are convenient to their re-
ception hall.


Every Catholic who is free to marry has the right and obligation to be married in the Church.
But for non-practicing Catholics who rarely go to Mass or Confession, or who are in a living ar-
rangement at odds with Catholic moral teaching (for example, if a couple is cohabiting), a
                                                            church wedding may not be appro-
                                                            priate at this time. The readings and
                                                            prayers of the wedding rite assume
                                                            that the man and woman exchang-
                                                            ing vows are asking for God’s grace
                                                            to live married life on the terms God
                                                            has established. Making and keep-
                                                            ing this promise requires of the cou-
                                                            ple a solid grounding in the Chris-
                                                            tian faith and the life of the Church,
                                                            which alone can provide a husband
                                                            and wife the spiritual maturity nec-
                                                            essary to live Christian marriage
                                                            faithfully. If for whatever reason
                                                            certain couples are not yet spiritu-
                                                            ally prepared to celebrate the Sac-
                                                            rament of Marriage but seek to grow
toward such preparedness, the priests of St. Vincent Ferrer will help them develop their under-
standing and practice of the faith. Couples, however, who have no intention to practice the faith
should not request the Sacrament of Marriage, until such time that they have discovered the life
of grace and hope to live as faithful members of Christ’s Body, the Church.


At least six months in advance of your proposed date, call the parish office (212-744-2080) and
ask for the priest on duty. The priests and staff of St. Vincent Ferrer will do everything possible

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
to help you plan your ceremony, and the priest whom you ask to witness your marriage will do
his utmost to carry out the rite in a graceful and dignified manner. Your wedding planning,
however, should not be limited to the myriad material considerations that will inevitably arise.
It should also include some kind of spiritual preparation in addition to the minimum that the
Archdiocese of New York requires (see below).
Faithful attendance at Mass together as a couple
and regular Confession would be two such
forms of preparation, and the priest whom you
consult in your planning could easily suggest


It is wise to reserve a date and time well in ad-
vance. Indeed, the Archdiocese of New York, to
which St. Vincent Ferrer belongs, requires that
couples notify the parish at least six months be-
fore their planned date. Weddings may take
place on almost any day of the year, except on
those few days when they are not permitted by
Church law. Weddings are discouraged during
Lent, but if one is to be celebrated then it must
be in the form of a simple ceremony rather than
a full Nuptial Mass.

The calendar of parish Masses and other events determines at what time of day weddings may
occur. Normally, the following times are free: 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. A
date and time will not be reserved until the priest whom you have contacted has determined
that you are free to marry in the Catholic Church. This means that one of you must be Catholic
and that neither of you may be divorced with a previous spouse still living, unless of course the
previous marriage has been annulled by the Church.

If after having scheduled your wedding you must cancel or change the date and/or time, please
contact the priest at once.


Inspired by the scriptural principle of tithing the first portion to God, couples may consider a
gift of 10% of the cost of their wedding expenses as an offering to the Lord. In this spirit, St.
Vincent Ferrer requests a minimum offering of $l000 from parishioners who have (or whose

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
parents have) been registered and contributing members of the parish for at least one year. For
all others, the minimum offering requested is $1500. Both figures include a $100.00 non-
refundable deposit necessary to reserve a date and a time.

Fees for musicians are as follows: organist, $450.00; singer, $300.00; trumpeter, $300.00. You
should plan to hire at least an organist, and preferably a singer as well.

The music at St. Vincent Ferrer is classical in character and of very high quality. You should
contact the music director, Dr. Mark Bani, as soon as you have set your date and time. Dr. Bani
will provide you with a recording of music that he recommends. Of course, he will discuss any
requests you might have. Keep in mind that only music appropriate to Christian worship will
be permitted. Dr. Bani can be reached at 212-744-2080, extension 114. His email is

The offering to the church and the music fees should be paid in full, in one check payable to “St.
Vincent Ferrer Church,” one month before the wedding takes place. This check should be given
or sent to the priest overseeing your wedding.


There are occasions when a couple would be
well advised to have a simple wedding
ceremony—for example, if the couple is eld-
erly; when it is a second marriage for either
party; or when the couple is cohabiting. A
simple ceremony as such can be held in a
beautiful side chapel of the church that ac-
commodates up to 25 people. In cases of
small weddings, the parish leaves the
amount of the offering to the discretion of the
couple. There need be no music at small
weddings, though this remains possible to


You may wish to have a priest from outside St. Vincent Ferrer officiate your wedding. Please
discuss this with the priest from St. Vincent Ferrer in charge of your wedding, who will then
serve as your contact and will help you with arrangements to the extent necessary. If you wish

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
to have a clergyperson of another denomination to assist at your wedding, ask the priest whom
you are consulting to discuss the possibilities.

Under specific conditions, Catholics who are marrying non-Christians may be permitted to have
their wedding ceremony somewhere other than in a Catholic church. If you are contemplating
such a wedding, you are welcome to speak about it with one of the priests.

If you are a parishioner who is planning a wedding outside the parish, you should let one of the
priests here know and he will be glad to be of assistance. If your marriage preparation will be
handled by us, and your paperwork prepared and sent by us through the Archdiocese of New
York to the diocese where you will be married, we ask for an offering of $500 as just compensa-
tion for the work involved.


When you have scheduled your wedding, the priest whom you have contacted will discuss the
various steps you must take in order to contract a Catholic marriage.

First of all, you will have to assemble certain documents.

   • Baptized parties need copies of their baptismal certificates dated to within six months of
     their wedding. These can be obtained from their church of baptism.

       If you are Catholic you should also have information as to when and where you 

       received First Communion and Confirmation. This information often appears on
       an updated baptismal certificate.

   • If you are Catholic and not a member of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, you must get a letter
     from your pastor giving you permission to marry outside your parish.

   • If either of you is under l8 years of age, you will need written permission from your par-
     ents to get married.

   • Both parties should obtain a letter from their parents (or nearest relatives) testifying that
     they have never contracted marriage, civilly or ecclesiastically.

   • If either party, regardless of religious affiliation, has been previously married, he or she
     will need either a death certificate (if the previous spouse died) or an ecclesiastical decree
     of nullity (in the case of divorce). Copies of these documents, including divorce papers,
     should be given to the priest.

   • If you are a Catholic who is marrying a non-Catholic, you will have to receive an ecclesias-
     tical dispensation to do so. This is easily done through the priest whom you are consult-

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
     ing. The dispensation is given on condition that the Catholic party promises to do all he
     or she can to remain an active Catholic and to raise the children as Catholics.

   • At some point in their preparation, the couple will be required to answer certain formal
     questions asked them by the priest bearing on their willingness and ability to enter into
     Christian marriage. The questions are designed to establish that the couple is free to
     marry in the Church, that the man and woman have a correct understanding of Christian
     marriage, and that they have the intention and the ability to fulfill their marriage vows.
     These questions are printed on a formal document that is signed by each party.

   • Couples must obtain a civil marriage license before their wedding can take place. The
     priest will return the signed license to City Hall after the ceremony. Couples should bring
     the license to the rehearsal (see below).

Next, you will need to receive instruction. The purpose of this instruction is to help couples
understand the Church’s doctrine of Christian marriage. Of primary importance to the
Church’s understanding of this sacrament is the permanence and indissolubility of marriage, as
well as the sacred character of human sexuality. This instruction will also promote your readi-
ness to welcome and educate the children born of your union.

   • Couples are normally required to attend a “Pre-Cana” program conducted by the Arch-
     diocese of New York (or by your home diocese, if you are not living in the New York area).
     You can sign up for this program on-line by going to the archdiocese’s “Family Life/
                                                         Respect Life” web site:
                                                         You will be offered the options of a
                                                         weekend retreat, two successive Sat-
                                                         urday conferences, or meetings on
                                                         four weekday evenings. If you are
                                                         interested in having more time for
                                                         conversation and personal exchange,
                                                         choose the weekend retreat.

                                                           •The Catholic Church recognizes fer-
                                                           tility as a gift to be understood and
                                                           cooperated with rather than a prob-
                                                           lem to be solved or, still less, a disease
                                                           to be controlled. Contraception vio-
                                                           lates God’s wise and loving design
                                                           for the total self-gift of husband and
     wife in that contraception ignores, marginalizes, or even suppresses the fertility God gives
     to each spouse as a gift. Because this understanding of fertility is not shared by the wider
     culture, it is important for couples to comprehend the Church’s teaching on sexual love, to

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
     appreciate why it is true, and to learn how it can be lived in married life today. Fertility
     awareness classes, often called Natural Family Planning (NFP), teach couples to discern
     and shape their sexual expression of love according to the alternating rhythms of the natu-
     rally fertile and non-fertile times of the woman’s cycle. Natural Family Planning classes,
     as well as courses in Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro), which address the morally
     problematic issue of in vitro fertilization, are offered as a part of “Pre-Cana” instruction.
     Classes are offered regularly at St. Vincent Ferrer and throughout the archdiocese, and we
     strongly urge all couples to take them. More information can be found online at:

All “Pre-Cana” programs are professionally run and generally receive high ratings from those
who participate in them. The priest you are working with will be glad to discuss any questions
that may arise from these programs.


As the date of your wedding approaches, you will want to discuss the specifics of the ceremony
with the officiating priest. By this point you should have been in contact with the Church’s mu-
sic director concerning the type of music that you
wish. In your discussion with the priest, however,
you will focus particularly on the ceremony itself
and on choosing from the different alternatives that
the marriage liturgy offers.

The most significant decision that you will make in
this regard is whether to have a Nuptial Mass or a
simple ceremony. The Mass is recommended when
both parties are Catholic, since they can then solem-
nize their union by receiving Holy Communion to-
gether. At ecumenical or inter-faith weddings, on the other hand, a simple ceremony is recom-
mended. Among the most important of your other choices is the selection of scripture readings,
as well as the reader(s) who will proclaim the sacred texts intelligently and appropriately.


The use of “unity candles” is strongly discouraged. Experience has consistently demonstrated
their clumsiness. For instance, they often do not light properly, or they spread wax, or they can
even set other decorations on fire. More importantly, the Catholic marriage rite does not allow
for such a lighting ceremony. Therefore, if desired, unity candles belong best at the wedding

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
reception, where they can be incorporated into the first dinner blessing of the newly married

Floral decorations should not be extravagant. Our beautiful Gothic church needs little extra or-
namentation. Candles in the body of the church must be enclosed in glass globes. Should you
desire to have a runner, you must arrange that with your florist. 100 feet will cover the length of
the main aisle.

                                                                                        Please make every effort to be on
                                                                                        time for both the rehearsal and the
                                                                                        wedding. Excessive delays always
                                                                                        create tension, and, if the day’s
                                                                                        schedule of services is tight, they
                                                                                        may even necessitate the shorten-
                                                                                        ing of your ceremony.

                                                                                        Your guests should not throw any-
                                                                                        thing inside or outside the Church,
                                                                                        whether rice, bird seed, confetti, or
                                                                                        flower petals. Even a few flower
                                                                                        petals become slippery when
                                                                                        stepped on.

For the duration of the ceremony, photographers must stay in the nave of the church. Under no
conditions will they be allowed to enter the sanctuary. Moreover, when taking pictures, they
should not interfere with the liturgy, such as by blocking the procession or by distracting the
wedding party. Lighting equipment should not inhibit anyone’s view of the ceremony. As a
courtesy, all photographers should check in with the officiating priest before beginning their

Do not plan on having a reception line in the church or the vestibule after the wedding, as this
could interfere with people entering the church for the next event. Reception lines are for the


The rehearsal should be scheduled at the same time the wedding date is set. Rehearsals are
usually held the evening before the wedding. Everything will go smoothly if the rehearsal
starts on time and is attended only by those directly involved in the ceremony. Too large a
group often leads to confusion. Since most of the rehearsal is spent organizing the bridal pro-
cession, the bride should work out beforehand the order of procession.

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y
At the rehearsal, couples should remit payment of all outstanding fees. They should also bring
with them their civil marriage license (with its envelope) and give it to the priest. He will help
them fill out and sign the necessary sections. After the ceremony, the priest will place his signa-
ture on the document and return it to City Hall.

                              C h u r c h o f S t . Vi n c e n t F e r r e r We d d i n g P o l i c y

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