Marriage as Sacrament

The word “sacrament” literally means a sacred space, time, or experience with the Risen Christ.

The Catholic Church defines the union of a man and a woman in marriage as a covenantal relationship: one that is for life between two people of equal status and a bond that can never be broken.

As a Sacrament, marriage must be a free decision by both parties and cannot be “forced” in any way. Preparation for Holy Matrimony has to accomplish two tasks: 1) To investigate a couple’s freedom to marry; and 2) To make sure each of the parties are entering into the marriage with the proper intentions.

These intentions are:

  • To enter into a marriage that is for life
  • To remain faithful to your spouse
  • To give your spouse the right to have children

Persons entering into marriage should be at least nineteen (19) years of age (if under 19, special permission needs to be given), and at least one should be a practicing Roman Catholic.

General Information

Music - All music for weddings is under the direction of the Director of Music and Liturgy. The music performed and sung will be by the Director. Guest soloists may perform, but you must notify the Director of Music beforehand and schedule a rehearsal. For stipends required, please see the “Fees & Stipends” section.

Mass or Ceremony – For marriages in which the bride or the groom are non-Catholic, it is suggested that the wedding be celebrated as a Ceremony. If both parties are Catholic, the wedding may be celebrated as a Mass or a Ceremony. The difference between the two is the Celebration of the Eucharist. If the wedding is celebrated as a Ceremony, the time is only 10-15 minutes shorter than a wedding with a Mass, which normally last about an hour.

Marriage Preparation Process

At least six months in duration. Consists of these steps:

  • Preliminary Interview
    • The first step is a meeting with the parish priest or pastoral minister to begin the wedding planning and preparation for married life. This should take place at least six months prior to the wedding and before any arrangements are made or a wedding date is set.
  • If there has been a previous marriage(s) (Catholic, non-Catholic, or civil) an annulment(s) must be completed before a date can be set for a marriage.
    • The FOCCUS process is designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. This communication inventory is administered to an engaged couple by a married facilitating couple of the parish to enhance communication, understanding and reflection upon one’s own values. This tool helps the couple to clarify any issues that may arise before marriage.
  • Pre-Cana
    • The Pre-Cana Weekend Retreat or Pre-Cana workshops provide engaged couples with the skills needed to live their sacramental marriage and strengthen their covenant. The Pre-Cana Weekend Retreat is held at San Pedro Spiritual Center. If you are unable to attend a weekend retreat, you must register for a Pre-Cana Saturday workshop. The Saturday workshops are held throughout the Diocese. Click here to register for any of these programs.
  • Completion of all paperwork stated in the section “Documents Needed”. When all requirements have been met, the actual planning of the wedding ceremony can begin. All questions pertaining to the paperwork should be directed to Fr. Charlie for an English wedding or Fr. Tomás for a Spanish wedding.

Documents Needed

  • Baptismal Certificate – If Catholic, you will be required to obtain an updated baptismal certificate (issued within the last six months or less) for Catholic parties and proof of baptism for Non-Catholics who have been baptized
  • Confirmation Certificate (if applicable) – This can be obtained from the church where the Sacrament of Confirmation was received.
  • If there was a previous marriage(s), church or civil, a “Decree of Nullity” will be required along with the certified divorce decree and a copy of the marriage license of the previous marriage. If previous spouse is deceased, a copy of the death certificate will be required.
  • Witness forms (2 for each party) verifying freedom to marry and proper intentions
  • Legally certified copy of marriage license (for those already civilly married)
  • If under the age of 19, a written and notarized parental permission is required and the couple must adhere to Diocesan rules for youthful marriages. A pre-marital counseling session will also be a requirement.
  • The marriage license

Requirements for Completion of Preparation Process

  • FOCCUS instrument and at least three (3) sessions with FOCCUS couple
  • Pre-Cana Day or Engaged Encounter workshop (alternative workshops may be required depending on couple’s circumstances)

Marriage License

Upon completion of the preparation process, a certificate will be issued that is to be given to the Clerk of Courts in the county where the marriage will take place. The State of Florida then gives a discount on the license fee and also waives the normal three-day waiting period.

For more information with regard to state regulations, contact the nearest County Clerk of Courts office.

Times & Dates for Marriage

A tentative wedding date can be set when the engaged couple has completed the initial meeting with the priest. However, the date is not final until all requirements have been completed.

The Sacrament of Marriage is usually celebrated at St. Francis on Saturdays from 10:00am until 2:00pm and on Friday afternoons, which are subject to availability. Rehearsals are generally scheduled the evening before at 6:00pm or 7:00pm.

Please be aware that there are days and times that the church will not be available due to church events and Holy Days. Marriages will not be conducted on Easter or Christmas.

The following are NOT permitted during marriage ceremonies:

  • Throwing birdseed or rice
  • The use of an aisle runner
  • Flowers on top of the altar
  • Additional lighting fixtures
  • Food items or beverages

Photographers and videographers should be unobtrusive and not interfere with the wedding ceremony. They are not permitted in the altar area.
Furnishings and settings of the sanctuary and Church / Chapel may not be disturbed, obscured or altered.
Pew decorations are permitted, but nothing may be pinned or taped to the pews or chairs.
All decorations are to be removed immediately following the ceremony.

Liturgical Colors & Seasons

In planning the colors for the wedding ceremony, please keep in mind the following liturgical seasons and associated colors.

  • Advent - Purple
    • Weddings celebrated during Advent will have a purple altar cloth. The Advent candles will be present in the sanctuary area.
  • Christmas - White or gold
    • Weddings celebrated during the Christmas season will have a white altar cloth, traditional Christmas colors, trees, and poinsettias throughout the sanctuary area along with any other liturgical decoration.
  • Lent - Purple
    • Weddings during the season of Lent are not encouraged. However, if a marriage does take place, there should be a marked moderation in festivity. No flowers are allowed in the sanctuary during Lent. Therefore, you must make arrangements to have your flowers removed immediately after the ceremony.
  • Easter - White or gold
    • Weddings celebrated during Easter will have a white altar cloth. There may also be spring plants and flowers already present in the sanctuary area.
  • Ordinary Time - Green
    • The altar area will have a green altar cloth.

Fees & Stipends

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church requests the following stipends for Weddings and Convalidations:

Building Facility – Church or Chapel (Parishioner)$150
Building Facility – Church or Chapel (Non- Parishioner)$250
Wedding Coordinator/Sacristan$100
Altar Served (if needed)$25

A deposit of $50 is collected at the initial pre-nuptial preparation appointment. Stipends are collected at the parish office two weeks prior to the rehearsal.