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The few months of planning before a wedding can be far from peaceful. Planning a wedding can be particularly difficult because it involves not only your future spouse, but your family, your spouse’s family, your friends, and your parish Priest. Most couples start out trying to not hurt anyone’s feelings and to accommodate everyone’s idea of what your wedding day should be. Negotiating these potential mine fields can turn a wedding into one of the most anxiety-ridden events of your life.

One of the issues is that people view a wedding as a cultural event, not a religious one. And usually it is the cultural aspects of the wedding which rule the day and the religious aspects get lost in the shuffle. You may think you are planning your own wedding ceremony but more often than not, and without even knowing it, you are basing your plans on someone else’s wedding day, what you saw at a friend’s wedding, or images from your favourite movie or reality TV show.

Couples often try to accommodate too many extremes in order to keep the peace, or they bring in too many “extras” to enhance the liturgy only to find that what they want is not acceptable by the Church’s standards.

During this period of planning, try and be aware of the cultural, familial and personal influences that are guiding your choices. Some can contribute to making this a meaningful and prayerful event, but we have seen many couples who overloaded the simplicity of the marriage rite with extras that distracted from the commitment they were making and rendered the marriage liturgy mundane and disappointing.

What will you be doing?

Your marriage is first and foremost a sacrament. Through your wedding vows, you will make known the loving presence of God as revealed through Christ and His Church. You should be concentrating on the unity you will be bringing into your lives, your commitment, and the blending of two people into one.

The Priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy. He will help you to see the sacramental nature of this day. He will discuss with you those things that will not be allowed to interfere with the sacredness of the ceremony.

What do you believe?

Your wedding liturgy communicates what you believe. What you do in the liturgy demonstrates this. So, speak your vows loudly and clearly, respond to the prayers and the songs. Your attention to each other and the sacrament is more precious than posing for photos.

A wedding ceremony is not a staged event in which only a few have starring roles. These guidelines are meant to help you make this a sacred day. The Priest will suggest some things which will seem new and different to you, but they are true to the Church and to the faith of the worshipping community.

The Essential Symbol

You are the essential symbol of the sacrament, not the arches made of flowers, not the dress nor the rings. You, your love, and your commitment to each other are the essential symbols and the liturgy is designed around this fact. Filling up the Church with distracting clutter and over the top wedding decor diminishes your role. You are the minister of the sacrament, not the Priest. You are the one who speaks the words that bring about the reality of the sacrament. Your consent made before God and before your guests make this a marriage. Everything else is window dressing and, if not properly attended to, can detract from the sacredness of the sacrament.

Who Can Get Married within the Parish of Formosa

Our parish has been blessed with three beautiful and historic buildings. The parish office receives many requests from couples wishing to be married in our churches.

The parish has boundaries and parishioners who have supported it for many years. Those who live within our parish boundaries or are registered with the parish office the right to be married in any of the parish churches: Immaculate Conception of Formosa, St. Anne of Riversdale, or Sacred Heart of Teeswater.

Couples who do not live within the boundaries of the Diocese of Hamilton and wish to be married here must demonstrate some prior personal or familial connection to the parish (i.e. grew up in the parish). These cases will be reviewed by the Priest and must receive his approval before a date may be set.

Please do not book any reception venue before the wedding date has been set.

How a Catholic wedding is organized

At the first interview, the Priest will begin to fill out the Pre-nuptial Inquiry by taking down your basic information and recording your wedding date on the form and in the parish book. If you do not set a date at this meeting, the responsibility will be yours to follow up and ensure a wedding date has been set.

Diocesan guidelines require that the couple contact the parish at least one year in advance of the proposed date of the wedding.

However, scheduling a date is still subject to the Priest’s discretion, and the availability of dates. Adequate time must be allowed to meet the requirements for marriage outlined in this booklet. Official forms for the wedding may be completed once a date for the wedding has been finalized.

Marriage Instruction

No marriage may be celebrated in any parish until the couple has received proper instruction on marriage. Our couples will be expected to take a Marriage Preparation course and submit the Certificate of Completion upon the course’s end.

Hamilton Diocese Marriage Preparation

Hamilton Diocese Marriage Preparation for Bruce-Grey

Required Documents for Marriage

Form I – Acceptance of Wedding Conditions

This document must be signed in the presence of the Priest at your first interview, prior to booking your wedding date.

Proof of Baptism

Every Catholic being married must produce a current Record of Baptism, that is, one that has been issued within six months prior to the wedding date. The Church of Baptism should be contacted in due time so that you will have the certificate by the second interview (about 2 months before the wedding day).

If one of the parties wishing to be married is a baptized Christian, they must submit their baptismal certificate as well, although theirs can be an original copy.

Consent of Parents

If one of the parties wishing to be married is under the age of eighteen, written consent is required of the parents (or guardians).

Previous Marriage

  1. If a previous marriage existed, the following documents are required:
    If the former spouse is deceased, an authentic certificate or satisfactory proof of death of the spouse.
  2. If divorced, a copy of the previous marriage certificate, a copy of the divorce decree, and official confirmation from the proper ecclesiastical court with regard to the dissolution or nullity of the marriage.

Text content provided in-part or in-whole by St. Michael’s Basilica, Archdiocese of Toronto.

Video content published with permission of Busted Halo ministries.