Congratulations on your decision to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church. We are pleased that you wish to celebrate your wedding here at St. Thomas More Catholic Church and want you to know that we will be supportive during this time of preparation for your marriage.

A man and a woman make a very serious and sacred commitment when they decide to marry each other in the Catholic Church. Through the sacrament of Marriage, Jesus calls you to draw closer to each other, to your God, and to the local faith community.

Marriage is a permanent commitment to a way of life and it requires careful thought, prayer, and preparation.

In Christian marriage we see mirrored in the love of man and woman the love of Christ for his Church. Just as Christ was always loving and faithful in His commitment to His people, so Christian marriage celebrates before God and God’s people the vowed commitment and the faithful love of a husband and wife ‘until death do us part.'

What is the purpose of Marriage Preparation?

The overall purpose of marriage preparation within the community of the Church is to assist you in evaluating your readiness to live the married life, which, between two baptized persons, is a sacrament. The primary purpose of the Church's efforts is not to teach you how to be married, but rather, to help you better understand yourselves, as well as your commitment to living your vocation in and for the community of the Church. Likewise, the Church needs to emphasize how important you as a married couple are to the life of the Church. In order to assist you in making the best possible decisions regarding your marriage and to help you prepare well for the sacrament of Marriage, the Church provides guidelines, instructions, and assistance. What follows are the pertinent guidelines and other items of information that will be helpful to you, the engaged couple, as you prepare for your marriage.

You are always welcome to contact us to discuss any questions you may have; however, these guidelines will provide important information concerning your responsibilities, and help you assist the priest/deacon who will be preparing you for marriage. Please read these guidelines carefully.

Wedding Preparation and Guidelines

Wedding Preparation Steps

Here is the process for preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage at St. Thomas More Catholic Church:

  1. The Couple meets with the priest or deacon for initial interview.  During this meeting you will:
    1. Begin filling out Pre-Nuptial Examination Form
    2. Register on-line for the FOCCUS Inventory
    3. Complete application for: “Celebrating your Love: A Diocesan Retreat Day”-   www.sdcatholic.org/JOYL
    4. Receive “United in Christ – Preparing the Liturgy of the Word” workbook
    5. Identify paperwork to be collected and turned in at least three months prior to the wedding:
      • Baptismal & Confirmation Certificates dated within six months of the wedding. Oftentimes, the Confirmation is on the back of the Baptismal Certificate. Ask for a Baptismal Certificate with notations. (For Catholic individuals…)
      • If not Catholic, just a copy of your Baptismal Certificate is needed
      • Dispensations, if necessary
      • If there is a Visiting Priest/Deacon who will preside at the wedding, the Visiting Clergy form needs to be completed and returned along with the deposit for the wedding
      • Copy of the Civil Divorce if previously married
      • Copy of the Declaration of Nullity if previously married in the Catholic Church
      • Certificate verifying completion of “Celebrating your Love: A Diocesan Retreat Day”
      • “United in Christ” selection form completed
      • California Civil Marriage License (at least one week prior to wedding date)
  2. A 50% deposit to St. Thomas More is required to secure your wedding date
  3. Choose a Witness to Love mentor couple
  4. Begin meeting with mentor couple for 6 sessions following the Witness to Love seminar
  5. Individually complete on-line FOCCUS Inventory
  6. Attend full day seminar: “Celebrating your Love: A Diocesan Retreat Day”
  7. Review completed FOCCUS Inventory with priest/deacon
  8. Meet with priest/deacon for 5th session of Witness to Love
  9. Complete selection form in “United in Christ” for Liturgy of the Word
  10. Meet with Wedding Coordinator
  11. Meet with Music Coordinator
  12. Final meeting with priest/deacon to review, verify, and finalize all necessary paper work
  13. Pay Outstanding fees at least 1 month prior to wedding day
  14. Ensure priest/deacon has Marriage License at least 1 week prior to wedding
  15. Wedding Day

*** If one or both of the engaged were previously married, status of marriage must be determined before wedding preparation is started.

What about fees, donations, and the Church Offering?

It is customary to make an offering to the parish on the occasion of celebrating one's marriage. St. Thomas More Catholic Church has established a basic guideline for this special offering so that couples and families have a customary figure to follow. Here at St. Thomas More Parish the expected offering is:

$400 fee for registered, supporting members of St. Thomas More Parish.
(Currently financially supporting the Parish on a regular basis for 1 year minimum.)

$750 fee for registered, non-supporting members of St. Thomas More Parish.
(Registered members of St. Thomas More for one year minimum.)

$1,000 fee for non-registered persons/families

If you are a tithing member/household of St. Thomas More, there is no fee, except the fees for the Organist, Cantor, Wedding Coordinator, Altar Server, Worship Aids, and Priest/Deacon.

The Parish musicians, cantors, altar server, Wedding Coordinator, and Worship Aid Designer receive separate fees for their services and are to receive separate checks made payable to the individuals. It is also customary to provide a stipend to the priest or deacon.

Schedule of Stipends

$150 – Organist – Sally Fay

$150 – Pianist – Kathy Santy

$150 – Cantor – Douglas Lynn

$200 - Wedding Coordinator - Lia Keane

$150 – Priest or Deacon – Rev. Michael Ratajczak /Deacon John Fredette

$25 – Altar Server – Abigail Keane

$50 – Worship Aid Design Fee - St. Thomas More Catholic Church

$.50/booklet Worship Aid Printing Fee - St. Thomas More Catholic Church

These fees should be given to the Church at least one month before the ceremony.

What are the guidelines concerning appropriate dress for the bride and her attendants?

It is necessary that we address the subject of appropriate attire for the bride and groom and the wedding party.

We seriously request that the bride, the groom and the wedding party exercise good judgment and good taste when selecting their attire for the wedding ceremony.

The attire should be respectful of the fact that the wedding is occurring in sacred space, and the attire should reflect that reality.

What are the guidelines concerning music?

Know that all music must be sacred music and must be rendered “live.” Taped or recorded music is not permitted.

You may have some special needs or requests, but mostly weddings will employ the use of both organist and cantor. The organ and piano are the principal instruments in the Roman Catholic liturgy, and provide the kind of foundational sound that gives an assembly the strength and confidence it needs to participate actively in the singing.

The use of a cantor, who animates and encourages an assembly to join in the sung prayer, is also highly advised. It is difficult to ensure that those parts of the liturgy that are meant to be sung will in fact be sung unless there is a cantor to lead the singing. Douglas Lynn (760.758.4100 x140) is the Parish Director of Music/Coordinator of Liturgical Ministries.

You need to contact him immediately after the church has confirmed your wedding date and time, so that an appointment time can be arranged to discuss the liturgy and its music.

If you would like to supply any of your own musicians, you must speak with Douglas Lynn prior to engaging any such musicians. It is his role to screen and approve any guest musician(s) and to approve all musical selections. All these matters must be finalized no later than three months prior to the wedding day.

Finally, be aware that your musicians would normally not be present for the rehearsal, as the rehearsal is for the wedding party. If for some reason you would like your musician(s) to be present for the rehearsal, and they agree, you should be aware that it is appropriate to pay them an additional fee for their time.

For good liturgical participation of the Assembly in the Wedding Ceremony, St. Thomas More will create and provide Worship Aids for the members of the Assembly.

Our Parish Office Technician, Lorraine Doering, will oversee this process. There is a fee for this and it is dependent upon the number of Worship Aids that need to be printed.

What are the guidelines concerning wedding decorations?

Flowers and other decorations
We ask that you use discretion in your choice of arrangements in regard to floral arrangements and decorations.

The use of specialty items such as balloons, caged birds, ornate arches and other such items are not allowed. Flowers and other decorations are not to be placed on the altar or ambo. The Church provides flower stands, which are in keeping with the design of the sanctuary.

If you wish to present flowers to Our Lady, this can be arranged. The same is true of other cultural practices such as the veil, (el velo), cord (lazo), coins (arras), etc.

Your florist is responsible for removing all candle stands, ribbons, ferns, floral arrangements, and their debris from the church immediately following your wedding. If this is not possible, a designated member of the bride or groom's family must assume this responsibility.

Runners
The use of runners of any type, cloth or plastic, is not permitted. Using a runner greatly increases the risk of personal injury due to tripping and is therefore not allowed.

Seating
Decorations attached to the seats of the church must be attached by non-scratching plastic clips. Tape of any kind is not permitted to attach decorations. Electric candles and lights are inappropriate for a church wedding ceremony and therefore are not to be used.

Some final considerations and guidelines

Family members, friends and guests We strongly encourage you to involve family members and friends as readers, ushers, altar servers, (and during a Wedding Mass), Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, and presenters of the bread and wine.

During your initial meetings with the priest/deacon he will discuss and advise you as to each participant's role.

Members of the wedding party and wedding guests are expected to conduct themselves in a dignified manner.

Smoking is not permitted in the church building or anywhere on the Parish Campus.

No alcoholic beverages are permitted at any time or anywhere on the Parish Campus before, during or after the wedding rehearsal, and ceremony.

Rice, flower petals, birdseed, confetti or the like may not be thrown or otherwise spread on church property. Such materials can cause an injury to members of your wedding party, guests at the ceremony, and our congregation. It is your responsibility to inform those invited to your wedding of this regulation.

Waiting Room We have an area for the use of the bride and her attendants. The wedding party should come dressed in their gowns/dresses. Dressing at the Church is not an option. Also the space cannot accommodate hair and make-up preparation.

Flowers for bride and groom and their attendants should be delivered to this waiting area. St. Thomas More Parish cannot be held responsible for valuable's left in this area or any other area of the church during the wedding or the photo sessions.

Photographers/Videographers:

  1. They may not be in or behind the Sanctuary at anytime during the Celebration.
  2. They cannot be in the center aisle, except during the Processional and Recessional.
  3. They may never be “in between” the Bride/Groom and the Presider.
  4. No flash photography
  5. Be respectful of our sacred space…no jumping “in between” and “in and out” of the pews during the Celebration.

These guidelines are intended to ensure a reverent and joyful celebration of your marriage within the context of the Church's liturgy. Please know that our sincere desire is to cooperate with you in preparing a celebration of your marriage that is both meaningful and memorable.

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