Holy Matrimony

IMG_0993Congratulations!

We are happy to assist you in the celebration of your marriage!  A wedding is a day … a marriage is a lifetime!  We pray that your special and sacred day is everything you hope it will be, but more especially, we pray that your life together as married persons will be a true sign of God’s love among us, a true symbol of Jesus’ love for His Bride, the Church – all of us as God’s holy people!

What Is Catholic Marriage? To ensure the right use of the procreative power, God founded the institution of marriage: the lifelong and irrevocable union of one man and one woman. The necessity of such a union is apparent, since it is essential not only that children be born, but that they be lovingly reared and cared for by the father and mother who bring them into the world.

It is in the lifelong espousal of one man and one woman, wherein minds and hearts as well as bodies are fused into a new and richer unity, that this purpose of God is achieved. Jesus explicitly affirmed the permanence of marriage: “What God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Up to the time of Christ, marriage, although a sacred union, was still only a civil contract between a man and a woman. Jesus, however, took this contract, this exchange of marital consent between man and woman, and made the contract an instrument of grace. He made marriage a sacrament, the sacrament of Matrimony among Christians. Matrimony is defined as “the sacrament by which a baptized man and a baptized woman bind themselves for life in a lawful marriage and receive the grace to discharge their duties.”

In order to keep the sanctity your wedding ceremony, the following is a detailed description of our wedding policies at the Church of Saint Augustine.

I. Advance Preparation

Arrangements for your wedding ceremony (during Mass or outside of Mass) must be made with the parish priest.  We prefer to do this one year before the date you are choosing for your ceremony. The bride or groom MUST be a registered parishioner in good standing.  Regular Mass attendance is expected!  Prior to any wedding arrangements, a bride or groom must be registered in the parish for at least one year and contribute to the support of the parish.  Those who register with the SOLE intention of having the wedding ceremony at the Church of Saint Augustine WILL NOT be accepted. A bride or groom who has moved away and whose parents are still active members will receive due consideration.

Securing your ceremony in our schedule book with an exact date and time can only be done in person by one of the parish priests.  No arrangements are made via telephone or e-mail or by parents or other family members. Occasionally, either the bride or groom will have a relative who is a Catholic priest. If so, your priest relative is most welcome to officiate at your wedding ceremony. More frequently, the bride or groom will have a close friend who is a priest. Likewise, a priest friend is most welcome to officiate at your wedding ceremony. We do ask, however, that the visiting priest be present at the wedding rehearsal to facilitate a well-coordinated wedding ceremony. Either the visiting priest or one of the parish priests can do the required paperwork involved in the marriage.wedding33

Times and Dates for your Marriage Ceremony:  We try to give a time that will be convenient for your reception, but you must keep in mind the time of our Saturday and Sunday Masses. Weddings can be scheduled on Fridays at either 3:30 p.m. or 4:00 p.m., Saturdays no later than 2:30 p.m., and Sundays no earlier than 1:30 p.m. and no later than 3:00 p.m. Punctuality is expected!

Marriage Preparation Classes:  Some formal marriage preparation is required for all couples marrying in or through any Roman Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Providence.  Marriage preparation schedules are now online.  Please visit the Marriage Preparation Office’s web site at  www.dioceseofprovidence.org. Click on the “Family, Youth, and Young Adults” homepage and then find “Marriage Preparation and Enrichment”.  The parish priest will also assist you in this part of your preparation by explaining the programs currently being offered. If you currently live outside of the Providence diocese, the diocese in which you reside may offer a marriage preparation program, which you may choose to attend. After you complete the marriage preparation course, please return a copy of the certificate from the program to the parish priest you are working with.

Pre-Nuptial Investigation Forms: These will be completed by the priest helping you with your preparation.  Separate and private interviews will be conducted during one of your sessions with the parish priest.  The priest will be asking you about the Sacrament of Confirmation.  If you are not confirmed in the Catholic Church, special arrangements will need to be made with the priest.  A previous marriage by either one of you may also be a concern; this matter will also be discussed in person at your first interview with the priest. Keep in mind, in accordance with Roman Catholic Canon Law, those who have contracted a previous marriage that has not been annulled are not free to marry in the Roman Catholic Church.

Sacramental Certification: This is required for those NOT baptized at the Church of Saint Augustine.  Each certificate must be dated within six (6) months of the wedding date, and be a new certificate issued by the Church where the Baptism took place; no photocopies, please!  If possible, non-Catholics who are baptized will be asked to produce a Baptism Certificate; otherwise, a copy of one’s birth certificate must be provided. Any other documents that are required will be indicated to you by the priest.

Witnesses: Witnesses to a marriage should be Roman Catholics in good standing over the age of 18. However a non-Catholic may serve as a witness to a marriage for a valid reason. Because witnesses are testifying to a sacramental event, it is inappropriate for anyone divorced and remarried outside the Church to serve as a witness.

II. Liturgical Preparation

Planning: The priest handling your marriage will work with you regarding the ceremony. This planning should include readings, readers, involvement of parents, presentation of gifts, etc. This should be done a few weeks prior to the wedding. The groom, the best man, and ushers should arrive at least 1/2 hour before the start of the wedding ceremony. The bride and bridal party must arrive at least 15 minutes before the wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin. If there is a problem, please call the parish rectory immediately at 831-3503.

Liturgical Music: IMG_2651Music is an important part of the wedding ceremony. Our parish is blessed with an excellent and professional music ministry. Additionally, we have a 42-rank, two thousand pipe Peragallo Organ. Our Directress of Music is Mrs. Paula Fontes. Please contact her as soon as you have obtained a date from the priest for your wedding. Mrs. Fontes will meet you in the choir loft after the 10:00 AM Sunday morning Mass and discuss your musical options. Please be aware that guest organists are never allowed. Similarly, guest musicians or soloists are never permitted to replace our own musicians. We have available instrumentalists (trumpet, harp, flute, French horn, etc.) and soloists. These talented professionals are accustomed to our church, pipe organ and organist and are knowledgeable as to appropriate liturgical and sacred music.

Please remember that this is a religious ceremony and appropriate music must be chosen. The text of the sung pieces must respect and serve the worship and prayer that is being celebrated. Catholic marriage ceremonies should not be secularized or sentimentalized. Popular music from Broadway plays, musicals or Hollywood movies do not have a place in the wedding ceremony.

Readings: The bride and groom should select readings and notify the priest of these selections. There are usually three readings. The first is taken from the Old Testament. Then a sung psalm followed by the second reading. This second reading is taken from the New Testament epistles. After the sung gospel acclamation, the third reading is proclaimed from one of the four gospels in the New Testament. Your chosen readings must follow this order: (1) Old Testament reading, (2) New Testament epistle, (3) Gospel.

Readers & Gift Bearers: The choice of readers is limited to practicing Roman Catholics in good standing. The Word of God should not be proclaimed by someone whose lifestyle does not reflect what is being read. Anyone asked to do a reading must attend the wedding rehearsal.  Two or three persons usually present the gifts of bread and wine used for the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Ushers: Ushers have an important task to perform before the ceremony begins. First and most importantly, by their own dignified manner and decorum, ushers are to foster an atmosphere of reverence and respect for the sacred space of the Church. Secondly, ushers should maintain a quiet atmosphere in the Church as guests enter. Guests should only be escorted into the Church when they are genuinely ready to observe quiet and prayerfulness appropriate to the sacred space of the Church. Visiting and socializing belongs in the vestibule, not in the Church itself. Ushers should ensure that all guests are properly seated so that the ceremony can begin at the appointed time.

Reception Lines: The proper place for the reception line is quite naturally at the wedding reception. Due to regularly scheduled parish Masses and Confessions, a reception line at the Church is not permitted.  Also, no pictures are to be taken in the Church after the ceremony.imagewedding-at-cana-giotto

III. Decorations

Florists: Floral arrangements for the church are customarily sent by the bride or groom as a symbol of gratitude to God. As such, you are asked to leave them in church after the ceremony. Please instruct your florist that this is your gift to God and therefore should not be taken to the reception. If your florist will use pew bows, they must be attached with elastic bands or plastic clips. Please instruct your florist that the use of any kind of tape or metal clip is not permitted at Saint Augustine Church. Inform your florist that the use of a “runner” in the center aisle at Saint Augustine Church is not permitted. “Runners” present a safety hazard and an insurance liability. Therefore “runners” of any kind cannot be used in the Church.

Rose Pedals & Rice: The throwing of rice or rose petals is not permitted at Saint Augustine Church because it creates an unsafe environment for anyone entering or exiting the church. Please inform your guests about this policy.

Unity Candles: The use of a unity candle during the wedding ceremony is NOT permitted at Saint Augustine Church. In the Roman Catholic Church, light is a symbol of Christ and the life of grace, not a sign of married unity. The unity candle is a “Hallmark invention” and has no proper role in the Rite of Marriage of the Roman Catholic Church. More appropriately, you might want to use a unity candle at your reception.

Programs: If you choose to have a printed wedding program, please consult the priest handling your wedding prior to any printing. The program must be approved before it can be distributed in church. Additionally, please appoint someone to collect any programs left in the church following the wedding ceremony.

IV. Photography

Photographers: In keeping with the sacredness of the building and to maintain the solemnity of the wedding ceremony, video recorders and cameras with flashes are NOT permitted during the Mass itself. Please advise your photographer and videographer as to this policy of no flash photography. Videotaping and photography without flash are permitted in the church provided that the camera operator remains stationary, off to the side and outside the sanctuary area.  Photographers are also NOT ALLOWED in the choir loft, for this is a distraction to the organist.

Please inform your photographer/videographer that the ceremony must not be delayed by taking photos/video at the main entrance of the church. If photos/videos are desired prior to the ceremony, please arrive early in order to take them. Also, please inform your videographer and photographer of the policies of Saint Augustine Church. They must introduce themselves to the priest celebrating your wedding and be informed of our policies!

Guests & Cameras: Please inform your family, friends and invited guests that flash photography is not allowed during the wedding ceremony at Saint Augustine Church. Photography during the processional and recessional is permitted. Wedding guests should not move about the church to take photos but must remain in their seats in the pews at all times during the wedding ceremony.

V. Final Preparation.

Rehearsal: The wedding rehearsal is usually reserved for the night before the wedding. The time and date should be arranged with the priest celebrating the marriage. Everyone who is to have an active role in the wedding ceremony should attend the rehearsal. Those involved in the wedding rehearsal must be on time; tardiness of any kind cannot be accommodated. Please arrive quietly and prayerfully as you are entering the sacred space of the Church.

The Sacrament of Penance: The Sacrament of Penance is an important component of your sacramental preparation. It can be offered at the rehearsal or by appointment prior to the celebration of your marriage.  In order to receive the sacraments properly and worthily, the Church asks the recipients to be in the “state of grace” prior to the conferral of the sacraments.

Civil Marriage License: The bride and groom must apply for the civil marriage license on their own at the local town or city hall in the State of Rhode Island. The license must be delivered to the priest celebrating the marriage at least one week prior to the scheduled date of the wedding ceremony. The witnesses will be required to sign the license IN BLACK INK on the night of the rehearsal; therefore it is imperative that they attend the wedding rehearsal.

No License, No Wedding!

VI. Finances and Offerings

Church Offering: The offering for a wedding at Saint Augustine Church is $300. All checks should be payable to Saint Augustine Church. Cash is also an acceptable method of payment. This entire offering goes into the Parish Treasury and not to the priest. The offering covers the basic costs incurred for use of the Church (such as electricity, and air-conditioning). The payments should be made a week prior to the ceremony, no later than the rehearsal. The fee for the organist is $200. Checks should be made directly to the organist. Any other fees for musicians or soloists should be made directly to them. The additional fee for the soloist, if desired, is $175. It is customary on the day of the wedding to offer some modest remuneration to the celebrant as well as the two altar servers assigned for your ceremony.

VII. Additional Important Information

*Punctuality*: “A class act always begins on time!”  Your wedding will not go the way you desire if you are late!   As such, punctuality is expected and necessary!!! Please be sure to arrive at least thirty (30) minutes early for the wedding rehearsal and for your wedding ceremony, and inform those attending to do so as well.  If you are using a limousine, please ask the limousine to arrive at the Church no later than thirty (30) minutes prior to the wedding ceremony. 

Limousines: Please note, limousines should not drive on, nor park on, the sidewalk in front of the church entrance. Please inform the limousine service that serving champagne or other alcoholic beverages outside the church is strictly prohibited.

Etiquette & dress: St. Augustine is a sacred edifice dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. You are not renting a building; you are using our church for an occasion of divine worship. An atmosphere of reverence and respect must be maintained in the church at all times. Clothing should reflect such an attitude of reverence. All wedding guests, particularly the bride and the bridal party, should choose clothing that is tasteful, modest and appropriate for Church (i.e. no bare shoulders, low-cut dresses, etc.)  Also, loud talking, smoking, eating, drinking and other boisterous behavior are unacceptable in the church at any time and by anyone. Your decision to be married in St. Augustine Church means that you are on “holy ground”, treating it as such.

Thank You for reading through and abiding to our guidelines. Know that our prayers are with you on your wedding day. Please enjoy this sacred, joyful, and exciting time in your life! May the Lord bless and keep you always in love with each other and with God.