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Sacrament of Marriage



Normally Marriages are scheduled in the Cathedral on Friday afternoon/evening and one Marriage Liturgy may be scheduled on Saturday to begin between 12 noon and 2:00 P.M. A different weekday may be chosen only due to a special need and with pastoral permission.  Selected dates may be scheduled one year prior to the Marriage if one of the couple is an active/practicing member of the parish community.  All others must wait until six months before the proposed date.  Marriages are not scheduled on Saturday evenings, Sundays, Solemnities, the Friday or Saturday following Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, nor during the Season of Lent.


Rehearsals are scheduled on Thursday or Friday afternoon/evening at a time that does not conflict with other scheduled events.  The Pastoral Associate for Liturgy, or his delegate, conducts the rehearsal.  Please limit the number of people attending the rehearsal to those who will be Readers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Greeters and the members of the Wedding party.  Since the Cathedral calendar is routinely full, it is very important that the entire wedding party arrives on time for the rehearsal.

The Church takes great care and concern in the preparation of each couple who is preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage.  By establishing a period of a six-month time for preparation for Marriage, as well as providing programs, interviews and guidance, the Church seeks to help couples as they begin this lifelong journey.  Guidelines and policies concerning the use of the Cathedral and preparation for the Marriage Liturgy are an important part of Marriage preparation.  The material in this booklet is provided to assist you in your Marriage planning.  It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with it.

The Cathedral Parish offers a series of seven discussions to assist you as you prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage.  These sessions are normally offered from January through March and October through November.  The discussions are led by a team of married couples who will share their knowledge of married life with the couples.  The Engaged Encounter weekend is strongly recommended as well.  If for some serious reason, you are unable to participate in the preparation for Marriage offered by the Cathedral; other options may be arranged in consultation with the Priest or Deacon preparing you for the Sacrament of Marriage.

Please contact the Cathedral Director of Music before planning any music. As with all Liturgies at the Cathedral, music plays an integral role in the celebration of the Sacrament.  The Cathedral Director of Music is responsible for the music at the Marriage Liturgy and will assist you in choosing and approving the music for the celebration of the Sacrament.  Because of the unique acoustics of the Cathedral, it is necessary to require that the Cantors for the celebration be qualified Cathedral Cantors.   The Cantor leads the people in song at various times during the celebration.  The Cantor is necessary for leading the Responsorial Psalm that is part of the Liturgy of the Word and in leading the acclamations during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Remuneration for musicians may be made along with the other payments.  Please note that the organists/music ministry fee is paid whether or not the Cathedral Organist is supplied.  Do not make any arrangements with other musicians unless approval has been given by the Director of Music based on a qualified individual being proposed other than a Cathedral Cantor.

A primary concern as you come to the preparation of the Liturgy is how this event will not only be a visible sign of your love for God and for one another, but also a celebration that includes your family, friends and the Cathedral Parish Family in the Liturgy.  During the Rite of Marriage, you declare your love to each other before God and The Church.  This public declaration, witnessed by a prayerful people that actively participate in the Liturgy, is the fundamental nature of good liturgical celebration: this is the prayerful celebration of the whole Church.  You have an opportunity not only to express the love between yourselves, but also to strengthen the faith of those who come to worship with you.

The best model for the Wedding Liturgy is the parish Sunday Celebration of the Eucharist.  Like any Liturgy of the Church, it involves active participation of the people in spoken and sung prayer.

In preparing for the Marriage Celebration, you will want to read and select Scripture Readings that are provided in the booklet, Together for Life.  The Rite of Marriage of the Catholic Church offers two options.  The “Rite of Celebrating Marriage during Mass” is used when both the bride and groom are active and participating Catholics.  When a Catholic marries a person that is not baptized, the “Rite for Celebrating Marriage outside Mass” is the choice selected.  If an active and participating Catholic marries a Baptized Christian of a different denomination they may choose between Marriage during Mass or outside of Mass depending upon which best reflects the choices of both future spouses as well as their expectations.  In the positive spirit of ecumenism, great care must be taken to respect the integrity and faith of both people in “interfaith” Marriages.  This second form is preferred for interfaith Marriages because it contains elements in which both the bride and groom and their families can fully participate.

The Rite of Marriage celebrated during Mass, sometimes referred to as the “Nuptial Mass,” is modeled after the Sunday Mass with its full complement of ministries.  The Rite of Marriage is celebrated after the homily.  It should be remembered that one of the unique features of the Rite of Marriage is that the bride and groom are the ministers of the Sacrament.  This is their ministerial function, and therefore, they should not serve as Readers or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

The Rite of Marriage celebrated outside of Mass begins with the Liturgy of the Word followed by The Rite of Marriage.  The General Intercessions are included in the Nuptial Blessing.  The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by all, followed by the closing prayer and blessing of the Bride and Groom.

Couples are welcome to provide an order of worship/program for the Faithful attending the Marriage Liturgy.  The order of worship lists the names of musical selections, acclamations and responses as well as the names of the participants of the Marriage Liturgy.  If you wish to provide this service, the Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Director of Music will assist you with this option and approve your selections.

The Faithful – this is the congregation, the guests that you have invited to the celebration.  The faithful take an active part in the celebration and so their role is not to be neglected or to be thought of as mere spectators. Also remember that this Sacramental Celebration is not “outside of the Parish”, but one more grace-filled encounter with the Lord within this Parish and the Faithful who are the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

The Bride and Groom –  As ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage, it is your consent and exchange of vows that forms the focus of this celebration.  “Marriage arises in the covenant of Marriage, or irrevocable consent, which each individual freely bestows on and accepts from the other.”  General Introduction to the Rite of Marriage.

The Celebrant – is the Priest or the Deacon who leads the faithful in prayer to God and presides at the exchange of vows.  In an interfaith Marriage, the minister of the non-Catholic spouse may be invited to participate in the Liturgy, offering prayers and blessing for the couple.  The Pastoral Associate for Liturgy will supply guidelines for their participation.

The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion – are lay women and men who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion.  These ministers are commissioned and are active in the Cathedral Parish or their own parish.

The Servers – Function as cross-bearer and candle-bearers, assist the celebrant as book-bearer and prepare the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. There are usually three or more servers at the Marriage liturgy.  Servers are young men and women who are trained and active in the Cathedral Parish or in their own parish.  It is customary to make a monetary gift of five or ten dollars to each Server who assisted at Liturgy.

The Reader – Are those people selected to proclaim the first and second readings during the Liturgy of the Word.  The second reader usually leads the General Intercessions.  Readers are trained and active in the Cathedral Parish or in their own parish.

The Maid of Honor and Best Man – These two people assist the bride and groom and stand as official witnesses to the ceremony.  Ordinarily they are family members or close friends who wish to publicly associate themselves with your vows of commitment to each other.  They are also active participants in the celebration of the Liturgy and they sign the Marriage License following the celebration.

Greeters – are friends or relatives assigned to greet people at the door, to distribute the order of worship and assist with seating the guests as needed.  It should be noted that it is very acceptable for the bride and groom to greet their guests as they enter the Cathedral.

Flower Girl and Ring Bearer – must be of a responsible age to be aware of their role and able to fulfill it.  Therefore children that are younger than 4 years of age cannot meet this expectation.  There is normally one Flower Girl and one Ring bearer.

The interior of the Cathedral of Saint Helena is an awe-inspiring setting for any Liturgy.  Very little is needed to enhance the Cathedral for the celebration of Marriage.  The following guidelines have been provided to help you as you prepare for the celebration of Marriage.

In the sanctuary there are four historic “Brondel” candlesticks that may be decorated.  These are the only candlesticks used in the sanctuary for the Liturgy.  Please note that the Unity Candle in not a prescribed element of the Marriage Rite and therefore it is not permitted during the Marriage Liturgy.  Floral arrangements are never placed on the Altar of Sacrifice.  Imitation flowers or plants may not be used.

Floral arrangements placed in the Cathedral for the Marriage celebration are frequently left as a gift to the Cathedral parish for the weekend Masses.  Please inform the Pastoral Associate for Liturgy if it is your wish to leave your floral gifts and an acknowledgement will be printed in the Sunday bulletin.

Flowers and decorations continued: If bows or small flower decorations are to be used on the pew ends, please notify the florist that tape may not be used to attach them to the pews.   Brass eyes are located on the inside of each pew for attaching decorations.
Please note that decorations in the Cathedral during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Easter may not be changed to accommodate a particular wedding.  If you have any questions regarding the decorations particular to each Liturgical Season, please call the Liturgy Office.  Church furnishings and fixtures may not be re-arranged without consultation and approval.  As it is presently arranged, the sanctuary provides for the flow of the Liturgy and for the greatest visibility.

The Cathedral provides a dressing room for the bride and bridesmaids to gather and prepare prior to the celebration.  We are unable to provide changing rooms for the groomsmen and advise that they arrive at the Cathedral already dressed for the celebration.
The wedding party is welcome to bring light snacks and water and to make them available downstairs in the Gilmore Hall.
We respectfully request that no food or drink be brought into the Cathedral proper.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages prior to the Celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is strictly prohibited. It is the responsibility of the couple to inform the entire wedding party of this regulation and to comply with it. Any infraction of this policy will result in the automatic forfeiture of the deposit and the expulsion of anyone who is inebriated, including members of the wedding party.

The Cathedral of Saint Helena is a holy place of prayer and therefore must be regarded as such. With this in mind, a prayerful atmosphere is expected during the rehearsal, prior to the Marriage Liturgy and after the Liturgy.  Please assign one or more of the wedding party to clean up the dressing area, vestibule and pews following the Marriage in preparation for the next Liturgy in the Cathedral.  Please note that the use of rice, confetti, birdseed, flower petals, or bubbles within the Cathedral or outside, is considered a safety hazard and is prohibited.

The fees specified for your Marriage Liturgy helps defray the cost of the services of the Parish Staff as well as the expense of maintaining the facilities, lighting, utilities, etc.  Couples often ask whether it is appropriate to make a monetary gift to the Priest or Deacon who celebrated their Marriage.  It is certainly customary and many couples find this a good way to express their thanks, although it is not required.

There are two fee schedules at the Cathedral of Saint Helena: one for parishioners and another for non-parishioners. Normally, a parishioner shall be defined as someone who has been registered, active and a contributing member of the Cathedral Parish for at least two years prior to the proposed Marriage date.  A parish staff member will help you determine your status should there be any questions. All fees must be paid in full one week prior to the Marriage Celebration.  A refundable $200 deposit is required for all Marriage celebrations whether you are a parishioner or not.

The refund will be returned within 30 days assuming you have complied with all of the policies and procedures, including the paying of the fees according to your agreement, maintaining the Cathedral so that it is clean and observing the no alcohol policy.

No parishioner of the Cathedral of Saint Helena is ever turned away from having his or her Marriage Celebration in the Cathedral because of an inability to pay the fees.  If you have financial difficulties in meeting the fee plan, please discuss the matter with the Priest.  This need will be held in confidence.

The Payment of fees is not to be understood as either paying for the Sacrament or the renting of the Cathedral building for the celebration of the Sacrament.  The fees are to offset the rising costs of maintaining the Cathedral and to adequately reimburse those ministers who offer their assistance.  In all honesty, they are, or should be, a small percentage of the overall expenses that arise in Marriage celebrations in our culture and society.  National statistics tell us the average cost of a wedding is well over 20,000 dollars!

Almost all of the expenses are not the result of Church policy or expectation for the celebration of the Sacrament, but the result of personal choices on the part of the wedding party.  Even if your Marriage Celebration is not in this ballpark in terms of expense, the likelihood is that our fees are one of the smallest portions of your celebration.


To maintain a prayerful atmosphere before and during the Sacrament of Marriage, we provide the following guidelines:

– The Cathedral is available for still photographs one hour (1) prior to the celebration and one-half hour (l/2) following the Marriage unless your Marriage is at eleven o’clock Saturday morning and there is a two o’clock Marriage scheduled on the same day. 

– You are most welcome to take pictures outdoors when the weather is pleasant.

– Flash equipment and floodlights are not permitted during the Marriage Liturgy.

– As soon as the procession has entered the Cathedral, cameras are placed and all pictures are taken out of sight of the people.

– The areas in front of the pillars on either side of the Sanctuary are excellent places where the photographer has good visibility of the Sanctuary without becoming a distraction to the people.

– Video cameras may also be placed in front of the pillars near the Sanctuary.  Roaming video cameras are not permitted.

– Do not stand on pews or other furniture, nor use tape to secure electrical cords, etc, to the pews, columns or walls.

– The photographer and video photographer may not enter the Sanctuary during the Liturgy.

– Photographers and video photographer must dress in attire appropriate to the dignity of the ceremony.  It is suggested that women wear pant suits and blouse and that gentlemen wear a jacket, shirt and dress pants.  Your cooperation is very much appreciated.

It is your responsibility to make certain that these guidelines are followed by the photographer/video photographer and by informing your family and guests.

Mass Schedule