Marriage Preparation Policies & Guidelines


At first reading, you may be overwhelmed by the details and rules outlined. Please know that the intent is to help you prepare for a very important and sacred moment in your lives. Diocesan regulations and local experience are summarized here to underscore the seriousness and sacramental nature of your marriage.

Preliminary Arrangements

Who can marry us? Matrimony is the only sacrament not conferred by an ordained minister. Rather, the marrying couple confers the sacrament on each other. That is why either the bride or groom must be a practicing Catholic. The priest or deacon is witness to their vows of mutual love. The ceremony is a public acknowledgement of their willingness to take on the responsibilities of marriage.

The Priests and the Deacons of the parish are the ordained ministers who can officiate at weddings. Another Priest/Deacon who is a relative or friend can also be delegated to celebrate your wedding. A visiting Priest/Deacon is required to comply with all of St. Peter’s policies for both the liturgy and ceremony. Requests for a celebrant other than the parish Priest/Deacon should be made early to determine who will do the instructing and paper work in the process of preparing for your wedding. Ministers of other denominations are welcome to participate. The visiting Priest/Deacon is to give the wedding file to the wedding coordinator at completion of the service.

A marriage date should not be set until you, as a couple, contact the Parish Center. A date can be made over the phone. (A date cannot be made when one of the parties has an Annulment case pending before the Diocesan Tribunal.) The receptionist will let you know if the date is open and will pencil your name in.

However, the date is NOT secured until you have contacted the Priest/Deacon who will be officiating your wedding.

Location

Some couples ask if they may get married someplace other than in the church, e.g., a park or in our home.

Normally, the marriage is to take place in the parish of the bride, however, it may also be celebrated in the church of the groom. The Catholic party is still required to contact a Priest/Deacon. Though an outdoors wedding has always been your dream, the Catholic Church does not permit weddings outside the church building. The church building is the place where the faithful gather week after week. Because of this, a priest/deacon may only celebrate a wedding in a church.

Meeting with the Priest/Deacon

What do we need to do in order to get married at St. Peter?

You will have a series of meetings with the celebrant of your wedding. Usually four to five such meetings are scheduled. By the second meeting, please provide the information requested in the “Documents Needed” section below.

A very useful tool to ascertain the perception of yourself and the person you are to marry is the FOCCUS program. It will be useful in discussing your strengths and areas of improvement as a couple looking towards the future.

A couple seeking to be married in the Catholic Church should be practicing their faith. On their wedding day, the couples are making a faith statement to family and friends, one which should be lived weekly with the community.

Couples entering into an interfaith marriage are encouraged to meet with the minister of the non-Catholic person to discuss any pre-marriage training that may be offered.

Part of your required preparation is participation in a program commonly known as Pre-Cana Conference, Marriage Preparation, Engaged Encounter, etc. The Parishes of Resurrection, St. Mary and St. Peter sponsor local Engaged Couples Conferences. Call the Parish Center for more information. If you are unable to participate in any of the programs, contact the Family Life Department of the Diocese by calling 1-419-244-6711 and ask for the people who handle the premarriage instructions. It is also possible to participate in this program at another parish, even one outside of the Toledo Diocese. You will receive certification of your participation upon completion.

If a previous marriage has taken place between one or both of you, a Cana II is required. Please inform your priest/deacon who is witnessing your wedding immediately.

Wedding Times

What are the wedding times at St. Peter’s? Can we have a wedding during Advent or Lent? At St. Peter, it is common for a couple to celebrate their wedding on Saturday at 11:30 or 2:00. Weddings on days other than Saturday may begin at a time agreed upon by the couple, the Priest/Deacon, and the calendar of events scheduled for the church.

The Catholic Church does not encourage weddings during the seasons of Advent or Lent. If either of these seasons is chosen, the couple should be aware that the Church decorations will be in keeping with the season and will NOT be changed for the wedding. During the Lenten Season, no flowers or plants are to be brought into the church so as to keep with the season.

Documents Needed

What are the documents we need to give to the Priest/Deacon?

  1. Catholic parties need a copy of a recent Baptismal Certificate (not more than 6 months old). If you were baptized at St. Peter’s, no baptismal certificate is necessary. The non Catholics party should also bring a copy of their Baptismal Certificate. These should be brought to your second meeting with the Priest/Deacon.
  2. With the Priest/Deacon, the couple will fill out the Marriage Information form.
  3. If a dispensation is required; the Priest/Deacon will attend to this. * If you are not getting married in your present home parish, delegation from your home pastor may be needed in writing.
  4. Obtain a marriage license from local Probate Court. Application must be made in the county where either the man or the woman resides. A license issued in any county in Ohio is valid throughout the state for 60 days from the date of issuance. There is a charge for a marriage license. There is no waiting period, except in cases where the age or residence is in question. If you have any extenuating circumstances, please call the Marriage License Bureau before you go so that they can advise you of any documents you might need. The Bureau is normally located at the county courthouses. You need a birth certificate to apply for the civil license, and some proof of residency, e.g., current driver’s license with Ohio address. NOTE: This is a license to marry not a certificate of marriage. The Celebrant of your wedding is required by law to notify the court that the marriage in fact took place. Present the license to the priest/deacon at the rehearsal. Include the court’s return envelope.

Official Witness

Are there guidelines regarding the wedding party? The best man and maid-of-honor need not be Catholic, but they should believe and live according to Christian teachings regarding marriage. Please remember when planning your wedding that a large wedding party distracts from the ceremony and the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Flower Girl/Ring Bearer

Though it is nice to have “little ones” participate in your wedding, caution should be taken not to have a child who is too young. The wedding may cause the child undue anxiety. Because of this, a child must be at least 6 years of age to participate in a wedding. If you feel a strong need to have someone younger than 6 in your wedding, they will ONLY walk down before the parents. This is usually during the second last song before the wedding begins and sits with a family member for the entire wedding. Please be advised of this so that on the day of the rehearsal, the priest/deacon will not have to inform you that the child is too young. Flower girls may carry, but may not drop petals of any kind.

Planning Your Ceremony

How will we plan our wedding ceremony? Will the priest/deacon help us to plan it?

The Priest/Deacon will provide you with a copy of the wedding ceremony book, which you should use to select readings, prayers and blessings for your wedding. If you have any questions concerning the planning of your wedding, please ask the Priest/Deacon. In the area of music for your ceremony, you need to contact the Music Director, Bill Johnson at (419) 524-2572. A complete wedding music guideline is attached for your convenience on pages 13-15.

Our hope is that your family and friends will take an active part during the celebration of your wedding. When both parties are Catholic, the normal ceremony is the Nuptial Mass, but this is the choice of the couple. You will need to ask a family member or a friend to do the readings and the Prayer of the Faithful. You may ask one or more persons to help in this ministry. This person(s) may be of any Faith. However be sure to give the reading to this person(s) 2 months prior to the wedding so that they may prepare themselves to proclaim the Reading/Prayer of the Faithful. If the marriage is inter-faith, the sensitivities of the non-Catholic party should be considered and the Eucharist is not celebrated. Since a spouse of another denomination may not receive Holy Communion, it appears inconsistent with the ceremonial emphasis of uniting the couple.

Usage of the Church

Is there anything we need to know about the usage of the church itself that would be helpful in planning our wedding? What time can we get into the church on the day of our wedding? Will there be anyone there to help us if we need anything?

The church is a holy place. Please conduct yourselves accordingly and alert your wedding party and guests to do so also. There should be no unnecessary walking in the sanctuary (area behind the Communion rail) before or after your wedding. The Communion rail itself is to be respected. It is not to be sat upon or hold floral arrangements – it is an extension of the altar. Nothing is permitted on the altar.

The church will be open and available to your wedding party and guests for one hour before the wedding and one hour afterward. All weddings and rehearsals are to start on time. Thus, the normal time block for a wedding is three (3) hours for using the church itself. Please avoid any difficult situations by observing this time frame, which is set because of other liturgical services and the need to prepare for them. If you are having an 11:30 wedding and there is a 2:00 wedding, please be sensitive to time.

After the wedding it is the couple’s responsibility to clean the Church and all other spaces which were used. Please be sure that all flower boxes, aisle runners, extra programs, hangers, etc… are removed. There is a dumpster by the school.

Wedding Coordinator

To assist you in planning your wedding, we require the use of one of our Church Wedding Coordinators for your ceremony and rehearsal. The coordinator is a person experienced in wedding planning at St. Peter’s. She is also a sacristan and understands that a Catholic wedding is a holy event.

The Wedding Coordinator will also work with you on the details of your wedding, informing you of other events in the church on that day, assisting during the rehearsal, greeting photographers, florists and members of the wedding party upon arrival at the church. She will assist the priest/deacon in preparing the sanctuary and makes sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. She is the person to consult if you have concerns about your ceremony or the events that take place in the church before or after it. She is also a Eucharistic Minister so please ask her to help if you need one.

She will be able to offer advice and to remind you of little details that perhaps were overlooked. The fee for her service is $100 and is due the night of the rehearsal. You may choose either Ashley Sazdanoff (567-274-1620) or Sally Vaccaro (419) 610-7851. If you have a preference, please contact them today. If not, one of them will contact you two months prior to your wedding.

A dressing room is provided for the bridal party. It is located in the room behind Mary’s altar or you may use the Church basement. The Wedding Coordinator will assist you with this matter.

Because there is a possibility of losing or misplacing valuables at times, we ask that you appoint a person to oversee all the belongings of the wedding party and remove all items from the dressing room before the wedding begins. These things are best locked in the trunk of a car at this time. We cannot assume responsibility for any articles left in rooms before, during, or after the ceremony.

If there is a wedding before yours, we ask that you enter the dressing room quietly and show the respect that you would expect to be given if it were your wedding in progress.

Smoking is NOT permitted in any of our buildings.

Food and drink may only be consumed in the church basement.

If you wish to use an aisle runner, the aisle at St. Peter’s is 100 feet long. Inform the Wedding Coordinator and she will attach it using a tape which will not damage the marble. Please ask someone to be responsible for the removal of the runner and other decorations after your wedding.

The “unity candle” is a secular practice that originated in the 1970’s. It is not a part of the Catholic wedding service. Couples are NOT permitted to have one. If you feel a need to have a unity candle on the day of your wedding, please do so at your reception.

Bells or bubbles may be used after a wedding or nothing at all. Rice, balloons, confetti, releasing butterflies and bird seed may not be used.

Don’t feel pressured to “keep up with the Jones” in planning your wedding. Many dollars can be wasted. A wedding held in church is a religious ceremony, not a performance. Simplicity is in order in a beautiful church like St. Peter’s.

Flowers may be placed in front of, or beside the altar, but NOT on the altar. Flowers also may be placed in other appropriate areas of the sanctuary. Flowers in vases are considered a donation to the Parish and should not be removed after the ceremony. Nothing in the sanctuary area is to be moved or replaced for accommodating flowers or candles.

Only clip-type attachments may be used when attaching decorations to pews. Tape, “stick-em” and other adhesives are NOT allowed.

Florists may make deliveries directly to the church no sooner than two hours prior to your wedding, if another wedding or a funeral is scheduled the same day, the florist will need to be informed. We cannot be responsible for items that are to be returned to florists. Please instruct your florist to retrieve all rented items immediately following the ceremony. It is your responsibility to let the florist know these regulations.

Because of local fire regulations, candles (even in hurricane glasses) are not permitted in the aisles.

Upon request, the Parish will provide two servers for a wedding with Mass, unless you request your own servers (only two are needed) from your circle of relatives/acquaintances. Please be sure that they are trained servers. Servers are not needed for wedding without a Mass.

Fees and Stipends

The following scale is provided as a guideline for your planning.

  1. Use of the church (rehearsal & wedding) is $300.00. This fee goes to the parish, not to the Priest/Deacon. You may offer a gift of appreciation to the Priest/Deacon, but it is not expected. Once you have secured the date with the priest or deacon, this fee is due immediately. Please stop at the Parish Center and give it to the receptionist.
  2. If an outside Priest/Deacon is brought in, the couple is still expected to give the $300.00 stipend to St. Peter’s Church for the use of the facility. A gift to the visiting Priest/Deacon is to be handled between the couple and the celebrant.
  3. Fees to be paid the night of rehearsal.
    1. Wedding coordinator $100.00.
    2. Servers $10.00 or $20.00 each.
    3. Musicians’ fees as described in the Music Guidelines.

Policy on Alcoholic Beverages

All alcoholic beverages are prohibited both inside and outside of the church, including the sidewalks and parking lots. If anyone in the wedding party, including the groom and bride, consumes alcohol before the wedding, they will NOT be permitted to participate in the ceremony. It is your responsibility to be sure everyone is aware of this policy.

Wedding Rehearsals

This is to last no longer than one hour, so we ask you to stress punctuality with your wedding party. Schedule the rehearsal for when you feel everyone in your party can get together at a leisurely time. Please take note that music rehearsals are NOT scheduled during the wedding rehearsal. Musicians should arrange other times to practice.

Proper casual dress is expected at rehearsal. Decisions made prior to the rehearsal will be made only by the bride, groom, and celebrant.

Marriage Certificate

St. Peter’s will provide you with a marriage certificate on the day of your wedding.

Receiving Line

If you decide you want a receiving line at the church, there will NOT be time for pictures after the wedding. Because of this, most brides and grooms opt for pictures and have the receiving line at the reception. Having the bride and groom “release” the guest is considered a receiving line. Please be sure to discuss all these things with your photographer and the Wedding Coordinator before the wedding.

Pictures should be taken immediately after the couple leaves the church and returns. Any driving around in a limo or cars occur after the pictures are finished.

Sacramental Preparation

Please consider spiritual preparation for the reception of this once-in-a-lifetime sacrament. The Sacrament of Reconciliation certainly is in order to help you prepare for this important step in life. Periods of private prayer by each of you as well as praying together are encouraged. Remember, Christ is at the heart of your marriage.

Special Circumstances

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: If either party is 18 years of age or younger, preparation will include consultation with an approved diocesan pre-marriage counselor and no wedding date will be set until this process is completed with a positive response from that counselor.

Parents/guardians may be included in this process.

If there is a pregnancy, this process is especially important, as is the diocesan regulation of a six month waiting period for all weddings.

If both parties are at least 19 years old, and if the decision to marry was made prior to the pregnancy (that is, there was a formal engagement), plans for the marriage are left to the discretion of the diocesan pre-marriage counselor and the Priest/Deacon of the wedding. All requirements must still be fulfilled, including the marriage preparation course.

A couple may be required to see a pre-marriage counselor for other reasons. Be aware that normal professional pre-marriage counseling is usually three sessions. Arrangements should be made as soon as possible so as not to delay your wedding.

Delay of Marriage

A Priest/Deacon may not deny witnessing the marriage of a parishioner who is free to marry. However, it is within the right of the Priest/Deacon to delay witnessing a marriage for a just cause, which would include:

  • Lack of minimum faith (marriage is a Sacrament and presumes Catholicity is present).
  • Severe faith conflicts (which would endanger the spiritual development of children).
  • Lack of readiness for marriage.
  • Refusal of the party to adhere to pre-marriage requirements. (Professional pre-marriage counseling usually three sessions.)

If the marriage is delayed, the couple may appeal to the Dean of the Deanery, who represents the Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo.

While in many instances a friendship between the engaged persons and/or their parents with the Priest/Deacon may exist or develop during the preparation of the marriage, but, this is not always the case. Therefore, the Priest/Deacon does not expect to be invited to the rehearsal dinner or reception. If you would like him to be present, please express this to him in writing during your time of preparation. Last minute invitations or presumptions that he will be present for either of these events will usually cause disappointment and/or misunderstanding.

If you are planning to continue as a St. Peter parishioner, please be sure to fill out a registration form. Ask the Priest/Deacon for one of these forms.

Congratulations again! Marriage is a lifetime commitment. Our goal at St. Peter Parish is to assist

you in any way we can to help you recognize that Christ is a part of your marriage. May God

continue to bless you and your families. Know you are in our prayers.

Policy for Videographers and Photographers for a Wedding at St. Peter Parish, Mansfield

We welcome you to St. Peter Parish. You have been asked by the couple whose marriage you will video or photograph to help them remember this special day.

Video and still pictures of a wedding are a lifetime treasure. As the videographer/photographer you should be aware of several things. There are specific locations in the church for taping/picture taking: anywhere in the rear of the church, or middle of side aisles, side aisles by pillars. If the wedding has the celebration of the Eucharist, the videographer/photographer is not permitted to set up a tripod in the side aisles. The sacristy may NOT be used. You may set up in the choir loft, so long as you adhere to requirements established by the Parish Music Director.

Neither the groom nor the bride may be “wired for sound”. There are speakers in the choir loft; the sound quality is excellent.

Please be mindful that when we gather for a wedding it is first and foremost a prayerful experience. Because of this, you are asked to respect our worship. As such, we ask that:

  1. All set up pictures of the wedding couple need to be completed 30 minutes before the beginning of the wedding. You have a sense of how long it will take to complete these pictures, so please inform the couple so that they will have everyone present at the needed time.
  2. Extra lighting, flashes, ladders and other such equipment are NOT permitted DURING the wedding. Photographer/Videographer(s) are asked to be discreet and professional.  Video/picture taking should not distract from the ceremony.
  3. Processions are not to be slowed or interrupted for taking pictures/video. Flash pictures may be used as the people are coming down the aisle and as they leave. NO other flash photographyor extra lighting is acceptable during the wedding. You, as the professional photographer/videographer, need to be aware that others might take pictures with a flash.  However, this does not give you permission to use a flash.
  4. During the wedding, videographer/photographers are NOT permitted on the stairs or in the sanctuary (area behind the Communion rail).

If you have any questions, please contact the Wedding Coordinator.

You as the professional photographer/videographer, normally have a MAXIMUM three hour limit for your usage of the Church. This includes the ceremony itself, which will leave approximately one hour before and after the ceremony for pictures, unless there is another wedding or funeral, that day.

If any of these regulations are not adhered to, you will be asked to leave at the time you break the rule(s) and NOT permitted to serve as a videographer or photographer at future weddings at St. Peter’s.

We want to work with you; however, our PRAYER is primary. We hope that we are able to work together to make this a reverent and memorable occasion.

Pictures should be taken immediately after the couple leaves the church and returns. Any driving around in a limo or cars occur after the pictures are finished.

Planning your Wedding Music

Initial Contact with the Music Director

Once you begin your marriage ceremony preparation at St. Peter’s Parish, please contact Bill Johnson, the Parish Music Director to secure the date on his calendar. You may reach Mr. Johnson by calling 419-524-2572, ext. 2113. Your actual planning meeting with Mr. Johnson should be scheduled no earlier than six to eight weeks and no later than four weeks before your wedding. If Mr. Johnson is not contacted at least three weeks ahead of your ceremony, he will do your ceremony using the most commonly chosen selections. Please note that you are personally responsible for being involved in planning your wedding music. Parents and others may be invited to take part strictly in an advisory capacity, but the Parish Music Director will work primarily with the bridal couple only, and both bride and groom should take part in the planning process.

Selecting Your Music

A church wedding is not only a very personal event; it is also a Sacrament of the church. As such, the religious nature of the ceremony must be carefully preserved. However meaningful some music may be to the couple personally, the principle that governs the sacredness and acceptability of the wedding music is of greatest importance. With all due respect to other styles of musical expression, only liturgically appropriate music may be used at weddings. Popular and secular music, such as Broadway, film music, top 40 songs, and taped music (previously recorded music) are not appropriate for liturgical use in church during the wedding ceremony.

This general policy also refers to vocal and instrumental music performed during the Prelude, Communion Meditation, and Postlude, etc. All music, sacred or classical in nature, is to be approved by the Music Director. The Wagner and Mendelssohn wedding marches associated with secular operas are not used at St. Peter’s.

The Parish requests that you also honor the tone of the liturgical season that corresponds with the date of your wedding. For instance, some types of music may not fit with the more subdued nature of the Advent or Lenten seasons of the Church’s liturgical calendar year. The Music Director, Bill Johnson, will guide you through these sensitivities as they relate to the liturgical calendar and will help you make suitable musical selections for the wedding liturgy and assist you in completing the Music Selection Form.

Musicians for your wedding ceremony

It is the responsibility of the Music Director to preserve the integrity of the liturgy as regards the musical portion of your ceremony. Ordinarily, the Parish’s Music Director or Assistant Organist will be the primary musician leading the music program for your wedding.

Outside of the St. Peter’s Parish’s staff of musicians (or those musicians contracted by the parish to play at your wedding), the Music Director will be responsible for approving any friends, relatives or acquaintances of the bride or groom wishing to offer their vocal or instrumental assistance for your wedding at St. Peter’s. If there are any musicians whom you wish to have play at your wedding, please inform the Music Director at the time of your initial phone conversation.

You must also have your guest musicians contact the Music Director to discuss the Parish’s musical guidelines, set a time for a possible audition, and schedule a meeting to rehearse the music. A rehearsal with guest musicians is mandatory and may not be omitted for any reason.

Day of the Rehearsal

There will not be musical accompaniment during the wedding rehearsal at St. Peter’s. The purpose of the rehearsal is to serve as a “dry run” for familiarizing the wedding party with the flow of the ceremony. From this, you can see why it is very important that any guest musicians must meet with the Music Director before the wedding rehearsal and day of the ceremony.

Musicians Fees

In order to avoid any confusion on the day of your wedding, please remember to bring all musician fees for staff musicians and musicians provided by the parish before the wedding ceremony. If you like, these fees may be paid prior to the rehearsal date. All fees must be remitted no later than the rehearsal. You may give the fees to the Wedding Coordinator or the Music Director.

The schedule of Musicians’ fees for musicians from the St. Peter’s Parish Music Program is:

  1. $150.00 for the Music Director or Associate Organist, if one of them plays or supervises at your Wedding with or without a Mass.
    OR
  2. $100.00 for the “Bench Fee” established by the American Guild of Organists’ Code of Professional Ethics, when you request that another, properly qualified organist or musician be allowed to play at your wedding. This properly compensates the staff musicians, while allowing you to select such a musician to play at your wedding. The Parish Music Director will determine whether or not a musician is sufficiently qualified to play at your wedding.
    AND/OR
  3. $ 85.00 for a Cantor provided by the parish. A cantor is required for all wedding liturgies at St. Peter’s. You may ask the Parish to provide a Cantor, or the Music Director or Associate Organistcan serve as Cantor. If the Music Director or Associate Organist serves as your cantor, they only receive the fees listed in Items 1 or 2 above. You may also consider inviting a friend to serve as Cantor. (If you choose to ask a friend or family member to serve as Cantor, the person must be approved by the Music Director after an audition)
    AND
  4. $ 35.00 for a required rehearsal with any approved instrumental or vocal musicians among your family or friends whom you invite to be part of your wedding.

Fees for instrumental or vocal musicians recruited by St. Peter’s Church from outside the parish music program will depend on prevailing wages and local custom, as well as on the rates of the individual musicians. The Music Director will guide you in these matters at the time that you meet with him.

Fees for instrumental or vocal musicians recruited by the bridal party from outside the Parish are the exclusive responsibility of the bride and bridal party. St. Peter’s Church accepts no responsibility for payment of musicians recruited by the bride or groom.

Download the Wedding Music Selection Form »