We are happy that your have expressed a desire to be married at St. John Vianney Church The marriage of a Christian couple is a time of joy and blessing for them, for their families and friends and for the Church. It is a time of great significance in the life of a man and a woman as they make the commitment of a lifetime to each other.For people of faith it is a time of grace; for us Catholics it is a sacramental moment where the grace of Christ is given and His love is made visible in the love of husband and wife.
We have written these guidelines to help you prepare well for your wedding day. Please read these guidelines very carefully. In the midst of all the physical preparations we remind you of the deeper, spiritual aspects of these months that will lead to your wedding day. We want to assist you in highlighting the Christian dimension of your relationship and to help you make your wedding day not only a celebration of love but also a celebration of faith and a time of prayer to God who has brought you together.
Norms for Marriage in the Catholic Church
Catholics who want the Church to witness and bless their marriage must fulfill the following:
- Be free to marry (have never been married or have obtained an annulment).
- Be mature enough to make this commitment, and understand the meaning of Catholic Christian marriage.
- Complete the FOCCUS inventory with a priest, deacon or other designated minister in their parish.
- Participate in a program of marriage preparation (Pre-Cana, Engaged Encounter or another program - the priest will assist you in finding and registering for one.)
- Fill out the Pre-Marriage Questionnaire with the priest-for this it will necessary to obtain a recently-issued certificate of Baptism. You will also need the date and place of your First Communion and Confirmation.
- If one of the parties is not Catholic, he or she must have the "Affidavit of Freedom to Marry" form filled out in the presence of a priest.The Catholic party must promise to do all in his or her power to raise children in the Catholic faith by having them baptized.Dispensations for mixed marriages are obtained from the Bishop.
- The couple must also fulfill the civil requirements by obtaining a marriage license from the town clerk of the residence of either party.
- Make proper spiritual preparation through daily prayer, regular attendance at Sunday Mass and the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance prior to the wedding.
Special Notes for Marriage at St. John Vianney
- We encourage couples to reserve the church as early as possible. This is done by contacting the pastor. We ask for at least a six month notice and will not perform a wedding in less than three months after being notified. This is for the purpose of making proper preparation.
- Weddings are usually celebrated on Saturdays until 2:00 PM. We cannot do them later because of confessions and Mass. Weddings may be celebrated on any other day of the week except Sundays.
Preparing the Wedding Liturgy
- We are happy to assist you in preparing a ceremony that will be a celebration of your love and of your faith. We recommend the book "Together For Life" by Fr. Joseph Champlin as a good guide for choices of readings and prayers. It may be obtained from your parish, online or your local Catholic bookstore.
- We have a list of musicians and some music guidelines for the wedding. Please note that music for the Wedding Liturgy should enhance the spirit of faith and prayer; thus secular songs are not appropriate for use during the ceremony. Anyone you ask to perform music for your wedding must be familiar with the Rite of Marriage and with the Mass. Normally Mass is celebrated whenever two Catholics marry (Mass is not celebrated when one of the parties is not a Catholic).
- Two witnesses are required for your wedding. This is the role of the best man and the maid of honor. It is not required to have bridesmaids or groomsmen, although we recommend that you have ushers (children in the wedding party must be at least six years old).
- We recommend that you choose family members or friends to read the first two readings at your wedding. When Mass is celebrated we recommend that someone be invited to bring up the gifts of bread and wine for the Eucharist.
- Normally a rehearsal is scheduled on the night before the wedding. All the members of your wedding party must be present for the rehearsal and should be there on time. Please allow 30 to 45 minutes for the rehearsal.
- Some couples like to light the Unity Candle during their wedding. Although this is not part of the Catholic Liturgy of Marriage, it may be done after the exchange of the vows and the rings. The couple is responsible for purchasing the Unity Candle and the two accompanying candles.
- Flowers may be placed in the sanctuary, but not on the altar table itself. It is appreciated when couples leave a flower arrangement in the church after the ceremony. No flowers may be used during Lent. Though not recommended, an aisle runner may also be used.
- Photographers and videographers are welcomed provided they are discreet. They must speak with the priest before the ceremony; we recommend that they attend the rehearsal.
- We do not allow confetti, birdseeds, etc. to be thrown on church property.
- Please remember that the church is a place of worship; the gowns of the bride and bridesmaids should be modest. Low-cut, strapless gown are not appropriate attire in church; shoulders should be covered.
According to diocesan policy the stipend for a wedding is $75 for parishioners.
We ask $250 from non-parishioners.
Notes for Couples Who Do Not Live in Vermont
We are very happy to welcome couples from out of state. However, your situation demands special attention. We want to serve you as best we can.
Please read the following guidelines very carefully, and show them to the priest who will be working with you, especially no. 3.
- Complete and return the Application Form with a deposit of $35 as soon as you can. Without this form we can not reserve the church for you.
- You must fulfill all the requirements for Catholic marriage as stated above. Please note that in case of inter-faith marriages the dispensations are obtained from your own Bishop (the Bishop of the Diocese where you live now). The priest/deacon in your parish will take care of getting it for you.
- We must receive a written permission from your pastor for you to be married here. In this letter he must indicate his willingness to guide you through the months of preparation. He will help you to find and register for Pre-Cana. He will fill out the Pre-Marriage Questionnaire with you. In the event that you are marrying someone who is not Catholic, your pastor will obtain the necessary dispensations. Proof of attendance at a marriage-preparation course and all necessary papers should be mailed to St. John Vianney at least three weeks before the date of marriage.
- You must obtain a Marriage License; no priest can officiate without this document. This license is obtained from the City Clerk of South Burlington; the phone number is 1-802-846-4105 (Vermont residents obtain the license from the town clerk in their own city or town).
- A couple may invite a priest from another parish to officiate. If he is not a resident of Vermont, he must obtain a license to perform the wedding by writing to The Chittenden County Probate Court, 175 Main St. Burlington, VT 05401, or by calling them at 802-651-1518. The priest must also obtain delegation from the pastor of St. John Vianney.
- Can the wedding be in a place other than a Catholic Church? Two Catholics must be married in a Catholic Church. In the case of a mixed marriage (one is Catholic and one is not) it is possible, with permission from the Bishop, to be married in the church of the non-Catholic party. The priest will help you obtain the proper permission. Special exceptions may be obtained for Catholic-Jewish ceremonies.
- Couples living together: This situation presents special pastoral concern. Although it is common in our culture for couples to live together before marriage. It is against Catholic moral teaching and is considered seriously sinful (People living with another person outside of marriage may NOT receive Holy Communion). Our concern is all the greater because recent studies indicate that there is a higher instance of divorce among couples have lived together before marriage. These matters should be discussed with the priest who is helping you prepare for marriage. Couples who are living together are strongly encouraged to find a way of living apart for the months that precede the wedding.
- Mass attendance: Participation in the Eucharist every Sunday is a serious obligation. Individuals who have not been attending Mass for a while, ought to begin going to church regularly again. This is especially important as you prepare for the sacrament of marriage. Prior to the wedding Catholics ought to make proper spiritual preparation by going to Confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation).
Click here for the St John Vianney wedding application form.