Guidelines

ST. AGNES PARISH
11400 St. Agnes Lane
North Huntingdon, PA  15642
(724) 863-2626

 MARRIAGE GUIDELINES

Marriage is a holy bond and a union between a free and capable man and woman made for life in the presence of God and two witnesses.  For two Christians, it is also a sacrament of Jesus Christ, a special sign through which Christ gives grace to enrich family life.

             Marriage is both a religious and civil ceremony which affects the church and society as well as the spouses and their children.  Therefore, the Catholic Church has an obligation to assist its members to a proper, holy, and adequate preparation and celebration of this vocation.

             Current regulations concerning marriage in the Diocese of Greensburg and our parish are listed below.

 1)  Visit a priest from your parish at least one year in advance.  At this time you will:

a)  ascertain your freedom to marry,

b)  establish a tentative date, time, and place for the actual ceremony.  (NOTE:  NO DEFINITE DATE CAN BE CONFIRMED UNTIL ALL REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN MET)

2)  Complete the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study) instrument.

3)  The Catholic party must present a recent baptismal certificate (dated no more than six months prior to the wedding) from the church of baptism.  In the case of a mixed marriage, the non-Catholic party should also submit a baptismal certificate, if available.

4)  The couple is required to participate in an acceptable marriage preparation program.  Marriage Preparation classes, the Engaged Encounter weekend, or the Sponsor Couple Program are all possibilities.  This should be completed far in advance of the wedding.  If the Sponsor Couple program is used, you may contact the coordinators, Chris and Dan Gorenz at 724-864-9371.

5)   Have two people (parents preferred) who know you very well sign an affidavit that you are free and willing to enter Christian Marriage (MB form).

6)  Sign a statement of intention by the bride and groom (MA form).

7)  When a Catholic wishes to marry a person of a different religion, the Catholic party is asked to sign a statement concerning the practice of the faith and religious training of the children.  The priest then writes to the Bishop’s office to obtain a dispensation or permission (ME form).

8)  Weddings at St. Agnes Parish are usually celebrated on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m.  Please realize that this time is arranged so as not to interfere with other Sacraments or parish functions.  Due to our Mass and Confession schedule, all preparations, photographs, etc. should take place no earlier than 2:00 p.m. and be completed before 4:00 p.m.  Because of the penitential nature of Lent, we do not encourage the celebration of marriage during the Lenten season.  If the marriage is to be held during Lent, the celebration should be subdued.

9)  You should always speak to the priest before any date is set or any arrangements are made concerning the wedding ceremony.

10)  The Pennsylvania Civil Marriage License is valid for only sixty days and should be obtained from a Court House (in the state of Pennsylvania) within that time period prior to the wedding.  The License must be brought to the priest no later than the wedding rehearsal and preferably earlier in the week.  All monetary offerings should be brought to the rehearsal.

11)  The offering for the wedding is $400.00 and this covers the Mass stipend, church offering and the Music Director.  Please make the check payable to St. Agnes Church.  Arrangements for a soloist, instrumentalist, etc. are extra and should be discussed with the Music Director and the priest preparing the liturgy.

12)  Altar Servers should be given $15.00 apiece.

13)  Our Director of Music, Karen Kustra, will coordinate ALL music for weddings.  Please call her at 724-863-8687 as soon as possible.  If additional musicians or soloists are needed, Mrs. Kustra is to be consulted.  All church regulations on liturgical music must be followed.  Karen Kustra will also assist with any program you may want to use.  A draft copy of the program must be approved by the priest.

14)  If both parties are Catholic, the wedding is to be celebrated with a Mass.  If your marriage is of mixed religion, it is preferably celebrated in a Nuptial Ceremony, that is, without a Mass but with the Liturgy of the Word, vows, prayers and the Nuptial Blessing.

15)  Arrange the scripture readings and ceremonies with the Priest, using the booklet “TOGETHER FOR LIFE.”  This booklet will be given to you on your first visit.  Complete the selection sheet in the back of the book.

OTHER INFORMATION

1)  Choose a day and time for rehearsal.  This is usually done at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. on the eve of the wedding.  REMINDER:  The church is a sacred place.  Attire and conduct should always respect the fact that St. Agnes is a “House of Prayer.”  Discuss church etiquette with your wedding party if necessary.

2)   We advise the Catholic members of the wedding party to receive the Sacrament of Penance after rehearsal.

3)  If a flower girl and ring bearer are used, they should be old enough to fulfill their roles without being coaxed, bribed, etc.  Flowers are not to be strewn in the church.

4)  No alcoholic beverages are permitted anywhere on the church property.

5)  No rice, birdseed, confetti, flower petals, etc. are permitted either inside or outside the church.  We also highly discourage the release of balloons, live birds, etc.

6)  Floral presentations may be given to the mothers of the couple and flowers may be placed before the statue of the Holy Family.  However, these are not essential to the Marriage ceremony itself.

7)  The lighting of a Unity Candle in church is highly discouraged.  If you feel it is necessary we recommend it to be used at the reception.

8)  Flowers are to remain in the church for the Sunday Masses.  No tape is to be used on the pews.  Pew hooks are available in the Priest’s sacristy.  You are responsible for their return immediately following the ceremony.  Florists must check the parish schedule during the office hours, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. before decorating or bringing flowers, etc. to the church.

9)  A floor crash (aisle runner) is not necessary.  If you choose to use one, the length of the aisle from the door of the church to the sanctuary is 75 feet.

10)  Photographs are permitted before, during, and after the ceremony.  However, no flash pictures are permitted during the ceremony. Your photographer and/or videographer should consult with the priest 20 minutes before the ceremony.  The time allotted for areceiving line or photographs is limited to 30 minutes following the ceremony.  We ask that you do one or the other.  Please inform your photographer that no one is allowed in the sanctuary and not to take pictures from in front of the tabernacle.

11)  A lector or lectors for the first two readings may be chosen.  They must be practicing Catholics and should be present for the rehearsal.

12)  We do not permit any candles attached to the pews or in the aisles.  Also not permitted are garden arches, a gazebo, additional candelabra, etc.

13)  Gowns selected for the wedding should be chosen with the virtue of Christian modesty in mind.

14)  In most cases, due to pastoral responsibilities, we are unable to attend the rehearsal dinner and reception.  Please accept our regrets.

15)  Please submit your new address and phone number to the church office prior to the wedding.  If you are moving out of the area, you should register at the nearest Catholic parish as soon as possible.