Marriage as Sacrament
Congratulations on making this important decision! Every Christian is called to reveal Jesus’ love and presence among us. The liturgical celebration of your marriage calls you to be visible signs of Christ’s love. Please take as much time to make Him part of your celebration as you do all the others you want to be present.
Your request for marriage in the Church should reflect your faith in the Sacraments, the Church, and the honest convictions of your conscience. The priest must also follow the convictions of his conscience and his belief in the Sacraments in deciding which marriages he may witness as the official representative of the Church.
With this in mind, and in order that your marriage may be truly fulfilling and sacred, the following guidelines are offered by your faith family of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. After carefully reading this information, call the Parish Office to schedule an appointment with either Father George Varkey or myself. At that time, we will further explain the process to you. We look forward to working with you.
Father Eric Peters
Couples planning to exchange vows in our church should be regularly practicing members of a parish. The Church, in accordance with its belief that marriage is a lifetime commitment, wants to do everything possible to ensure you will have a long, happy and healthy union. For this reason, we need to be notified six months in advance to allow adequate time for the marriage preparation process.
Wedding dates are scheduled primarily on Saturdays on a first-come, first-served basis. Other days are available subject to the general parish calendar. Sunday weddings are generally not permitted because of our Mass schedule. Rehearsals will be conducted by the priest/celebrant, usually the day before the wedding ceremony. All members of the wedding party should be present for the rehearsal.
The following documents are required for marriage:
- A copy of the Baptismal Certificate of the Catholic party or parties, dated within six months of the wedding date.
- A copy of the confirmation certificates(s). Write to the parish of baptism and request a copy of the certificate. It would be helpful to bring these when you first meet with the priest/celebrant.
- A pre-nuptial Form (Form A) is to be completed by the parties with the priest/celebrant. These will be provided by the priest preparing you.
- The testimony of two witnesses (Form B) is needed for each party, usually parents or other relatives, certifying freedom to marry. This will also be provided to you.
If applicable, dispensations or permissions are obtained by the parish priest/celebrant from the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. It is essential that the couple inform the priest/celebrant about any previous marriage(s) on the part of either party, and whether or not the marriage(s) took place in a Roman Catholic Church.
Catholic couples must agree to baptize and raise their child/children in the Roman Catholic faith. In an interfaith marriage, the Catholic party must make a sincere promise to do all in his/her power to have the child/children baptized and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. This matter is of great importance and needs to be discussed and agreed upon.
Our diocese requires couples complete the Pre-Marital Inventory. This is a questionnaire covering areas of mutual interest and differences. The inventory helps the couple learn more about each other and begin building a strong relationship. A trained married mentoring couple in the parish will assist the parties in answering this questionnaire and in interpreting the results. The parties are also to attend an Engaged Encounter Presentation or a Pre-Cana Conference. This is conducted by specially trained marriage teams from our Diocese of St. Petersburg. You will be provided with information for dates, locations and fees.
When the assessment process is finished, the decision will be made to proceed or delay. Some of the reasons for delay of the wedding include:
- The non-practice of the faith by the Catholic party(s) with no intention of returning to the practice of the faith.
- A substantial lack of appreciation for the spiritual and sacramental aspects of marriage.
- A lack of readiness for marriage, by reason of immaturity, undue social pressure, etc.
- The likelihood that a separation of the couple for an extended period of time will occur after the marriage, (i.e., military service, continued education).
- The refusal of the parties to participate in any of the steps of marriage preparation that applies to them.
- The fact that one or both parties are under the age of nineteen. The Roman Catholic Church will help you overcome the circumstances that made the delay advisable with appropriate programs. Couples have the right to appeal, if they disagree with a decision to delay their marriage. If the couple insists, they should submit a written petition to: Office of the Tribunal, Diocese of St. Petersburg, P.O. Box 40200, St. Petersburg, FL 33743.
Please contact Dan O’Hara, our Music Director, at least three months in advance of your wedding date. He will work with you and the priest/celebrant to plan a beautiful wedding based on the Church’s standards for music and liturgical celebrations.
Photographs/videos may be taken; however, flash photography is not permitted during the marriage ceremony. The photographer must set up in one place and work in such a way as to not disturb the congregation or the priest/celebrant. The photographer may not enter the sanctuary or be on the altar steps at any time during the celebration. The photographer and bridal party have a half hour to complete any pictures taken after the ceremony has ended.
For insurance reasons we cannot permit the use of aisle runners, arches, throwing flower petals in the aisle and throwing rice or birdseed inside or outside of the Church.
We have candles in our sanctuary, therefore no other candles are needed. If a Unity Candle is desired, please speak with JoAnn McVeigh, our Parish Sacristan. Bows and/or ribbons may be tied to the pews – if tape is used, it needs to be easily removable “blue” painter’s tape.
We hope that any flowers placed in the sanctuary will remain there for our weekend Masses. Please inform the florist that the church will be open ninety minutes before the wedding starts.
Immediately after the ceremony, the official witnesses (best man and maid of honor) should go to the sacristy with the priest/celebrant to execute the marriage license. After recording the marriage in the parish records, the license will be sent to the County Courthouse for final processing. A Church Certificate of Marriage will also be given to the couple.
In order to secure your date for your wedding, after completing the pre-marital preparations, all church fees are to be paid. The fee for registered regularly-practicing and tithing members of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church is $400.00. The fee for those who are non-registered at the time of inquiry is $600.00. Please make your check payable to St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.
It is the responsibility of the wedding party to remove anything that has been brought into the Church, except the flowers, so that it will be ready for our Masses later that day.
|St. Thomas Aquinas||(727) 372-8600|
|Father Eric Peters||Extension 114|
|Father George Varkey||Extension 130|
|Deacon Melvin Dunphy||Extension 143|
|Music: Dan O’Hara||Extension 128|
|Sacristan: JoAnn McVeigh||Extension 129|
|Secretary: Kate Moschitto||Extension 113|