The marriage covenant prefigures the new and everlasting covenant between the Son of God and all mankind. Through this sacrament, Christians signify and share in the mystery of the unity and fruitful love that exists between Christ and his church. Christian couples are to strive to nourish and develop their marriage by undivided attention in good times and in bad.
The celebration of a wedding within the church has deep meaning and vast implications for the couple, their families, the parish community and society at large. The guidelines are provided to make planning your wedding easier, whether you chose to have your wedding at St. Ambrose Parish, St. Matthew Parish or St. Sylvester Parish.
I. Setting the wedding date
To reserve a wedding date at St. Ambrose or St. Matthew parishes, please call the parish office at 724-697-4129; for St. Sylvester Parish, please call 724-468-5794. Kindly request to speak with the pastor before making future plans.
II.Time of the wedding
Weddings are scheduled on Saturday afternoons. Please contact the pastor to arrange a suitable time. Only one wedding will be scheduled per Saturday. By diocesan policy, weddings are not scheduled on Sundays. It should be noted that there are some times during the church year, such as Lent, when the celebration of a wedding is discouraged or not permitted.
III. Marriage preparation
It is the policies of the Diocese of Greensburg that every couple planning to celebrate marriage attends some form of marriage preparation. Couples can fulfill this requirement by attending the following (pre-registration is required):
Sponsor Couples involve one married couple and one engaged couple. The couples meet in the home of the married couple over the course of several evenings that are scheduled at the convenience of those involved. Unfortunately, this option is not available at this time.
Engage Encounter is a weekend program that begins on a Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon. This program takes place in the Greensburg area and is led by two or more married couples with up to 20 engaged couples in attendance.
Attendance at a pre-cana session or sessions at a parish in or outside the Diocese of Greensburg.
In addition, the couple will take part in a process known as FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study), which helps the couple deal with various issues prior to marriage.
IV. Meeting with the Priest
A couple should schedule an appointment with the priest who will witness their marriage within six months of the wedding. Prior to this meeting, the couple should obtain the following documents, which become part of the wedding file:
Record of baptism: All baptized parties must present copies of their baptismal record. The record of the Catholic baptism must be issued within six months prior to the marriage date. A new certificate is required. If you were baptized in another parish, you must call that parish and request a copy of your baptismal record. Also, the non-Catholic party, if baptized, is required to obtain a copy of their baptism certificate.
Declaration of Nullity: If one of the parties was married before, a copy of their Declaration of Nullity from the Catholic Church is necessary.
Pastor’s permission: If one of the Catholic parties is from another parish, they will need written permission from their pastor.
Member of another Catholic Rite: If one of the parties getting married is a member of another Catholic Rite, (Byzantine, Maronite, Ukrainian, etc.) written permission from the respective diocese of that rite is necessary.
Marriage Preparation Certificate: Received after a couple completes one of the marriage preparation programs.
Also, couples will fill out required marriage forms when meeting with the priest. These forms deal with biographical information, as well as testimony of the intentions of the couples desiring marriage within the Catholic Church. If one of the parties is not Catholic, additional forms will be required.
V. The Wedding Liturgy
In the Roman Catholic tradition, the bride and the groom administer the sacrament of matrimony to each other. A priest and two other persons (the best man and maid or matron of honor) witness the sacrament. Couples are encouraged to take an active part in planning their wedding liturgy. The couples are given the opportunity to plan much of the liturgy themselves. A planning booklet is provided to couples to assist them in planning the wedding ceremony. This booklet contains Scripture readings, vows, exchange of consent, blessing of rings, nuptial blessings, etc., from which the couples can choose.
A priest-relative or friend of the couple may concelebrate at the wedding liturgy. If a couple desires to have a priest-relative or friend concelebrate at the wedding, he is responsible for proclaiming the Gospel, preaching the homily and praying the nuptial blessing. A priest or deacon from the parishes will be the presider and will witness the consent of the parties. Ministers of another denomination are not permitted to participate in the liturgy in any of the liturgical roles.
VI. Wedding within Mass or outside of Mass
When the couple are both Catholic, the marriage ceremony is celebrated within Mass. On the other hand, a wedding outside of Mass is used, particularly out of sensitivity for the non-Catholic party.
Please note the following:
- Unity Candle: The unity candle is not part of the wedding liturgy and therefore is not permitted during the wedding ceremony.
- Flowers to the Blessed Mother: Private devotions are normally celebrated outside of Mass. However, if both parties hold a special devotion to Mary, the presentation of flowers will be considered.
- Aisle runner or crashes are not permitted.
A Christian wedding is a public ceremony of the church and not a totally private affair. Music reflective of the mind of the church and which is conducive divine worship is most fitting and appropriate in the marriage ceremony.
An organist will be scheduled for your wedding through the pastor. Any desired music must be approved by the pastor through the parish organists. Only organists from our parishes will be permitted to play at weddings. Use of instrumentalists and soloists may be permitted with discretion. Pre-recorded music is not permitted either before or during the Mass.
- Seasonal decorations in the church may not be removed or altered in any manner.
- No decorations of any kind are to be attached to any candles or liturgical furnishings.
- Only two flower arrangements are permitted. Flowers will be placed in front of the altar and pulpit. Only freshly cut flowers and greens may be used within the church. No artificial flowers and/or greens are permitted.
- The use of rice, bird seed, flower petals, balloons, butterflies, birds, etc., are not permitted on church property.
- Pew decorations may be attached by string or elastic. No candles, pins, torches, tape or glue are to be used on the pews.
- Runners are not permitted.
VII. Photography and Videographer
Please keep in mind that the church is primarily a place of divine worship and a house of prayer. We welcome the presence of photographers and videographers. It is important they introduce themselves(s) to the priest the day of the wedding. We request they remain outside the sanctuary area of the church.
Kindly note that videographers are not permitted to attach microphones of any kind to existing church microphones. Photographers or videographers are not permitted to move any liturgical furnishings. No photographs or videotaping is to occur in the sacristy prior to the liturgy.
Rehearsals are typically scheduled on the night before the wedding. The time is scheduled between the pastor and couple. Rehearsals will be not be scheduled later than 6:00 p.m. All participating in the wedding liturgy must attend. The couple is to remind their wedding party that proper dress and conduct is required at the rehearsal. Rehearsals must begin on time. Since other events may be scheduled in the church before or after the rehearsal. If members of the wedding party are excessively late, the rehearsal will be conducted without them.
IX. Sacrament of Confession
The opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation is provided for the couple and wedding party after the rehearsal, if they so desire.
X. Marriage license:
The state of Pennsylvania requires a civil license for marriage. This civil license is to be obtained by the couple and brought to the pastor at the time of the rehearsal. The wedding ceremony cannot be conducted without the marriage license.
XI. Suggested Offerings:
The celebrant of the wedding does not really charge a fee to marry a couple. The Diocese of Greensburg suggests the following offering:
Priest: $250 as suggested by the Diocese of Greensburg.
Altar Servers: $10 per altar server; generally two servers are scheduled.
Cantor: $100 (if a wedding Mass)
Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on church premises. Limousine drivers are to be notified of this regulation.
Drugs and firearms: They are absolutely forbidden on church grounds.
Smoking: The parish properties of the partner parishes are a smoke-free environment. Please adhere to our no smoking policy.
Programs/worship aids are allowed but not required. They must accurately reflect the movement of the liturgy.