Matrimony derives its force and strength from creation…
a Sacrament of the new covenant.
Thank you for Choosing Saint Boniface Church for your wedding:
Church law requires weddings to be held in the parish church of either the bride or groom, although the pastor or bishop may give permission for the wedding to take place in another parish (Canon 1115). Your parish church is typically the one in whose territory you reside, although many Catholics choose to attend a different parish. The pastor at your parish (or our pastor, if joining us from a different parish) is responsible for overseeing your preparation for marriage, and usually presides at the wedding, although he may delegate this responsibility to another priest or a deacon. If you want to get married at Saint Boniface, we will help you determine the next steps.
Parishes usually encourage either the bride or groom to be a registered member, although it is usually not required. It is not a requirement at Saint Boniface, but you and your spouse are encouraged to consider joining our parish family before or after the wedding. Like any Catholic liturgy, the sacrament of marriage is a celebration of the whole faith community. That is why there is a strong preference for couples to be members of the parish community in which they are married. We welcome people from any parish to celebrate the sacrament at Saint Boniface. Many people like our small-town church and find working with our staff to be a simple and pleasant experience.
Who to contact:
Before you contact us, look over our website for basic information and parish-specific policies about celebrating the sacrament of marriage. A little advance preparation will give you a better idea of what to expect as you work with the staff at Saint Boniface, who work together for coordinating weddings.
When you call or visit Saint Boniface, explain that you are engaged to be married and ask to speak with the person who coordinates marriage preparation.
Here is a basic overview of how the sacrament of marriage is celebrated at the parish:
- Call or visit to begin the process and to let us congratulate you on your engagement.
- Provide the pastor with both you and your fiancé(e)’s email address (use our easy form below).
You will meet with the priest (or, at some other parishes, a deacon) and other parish staff several times before your wedding. Keep in mind that our parish staff ultimately has the same goal as you do: a beautiful wedding liturgy, and a strong marriage.
Before anything else can happen—including setting the official wedding date—you will have a face-to-face interview as a couple with the priest. The interview is a time for you to get to know him, and vice versa. Besides some informal “getting to know you” questions, he will also ask some standard questions to determine whether there are any impediments to your marriage—that is, an issue (such as a previous marriage) that must be resolved before you can be married in the Church. He will also discuss with you any special circumstances (such as mental illness, lack of financial support, or pregnancy) that might require additional pastoral care, and possibly professional counseling.
Once it has been determined that you are able to be married in the Church, you will probably be able to set a date for your wedding. In some places, though, the wedding date remains tentative until you have completed a marriage preparation program.
Our parish will spend a considerable amount of time and money helping you prepare for your marriage. Some parishes charge a fee for members of the parish (commonly range from $100-$500). At Saint Boniface, we do not charge a fee. It is customary to give a gift/donation to the priest, altar servers, and musicians. You may also want to make a donation to the parish, but that is completely up to you and your families.
Forms and paperwork
You should expect to provide some paperwork in the months leading up to the wedding. The most critical item will be a recently issued, official copy of your baptismal certificate from the parish in which you were baptized. A certificate of baptism or other proof of baptism is required even if you or your fiancé received Christian baptism outside of the Catholic Church.
Why is the baptismal certificate so important? In the Catholic Church, marriage records are kept at the parish in which each person was baptized. When the parish at which you were baptized provides a copy of the baptism certificate, that certificate will indicate that you have not been married previously in the Catholic Church, and are therefore eligible to be married. If one of you is not Catholic, proof of baptism will help to determine which version of the Rite of Marriage ought to be used (the rite follows a different order for marriage between a Catholic and someone who has not been baptized).
Other forms and paperwork you need to provide will vary depending on your situation and the requirements of our parish or diocese. However, here is a list of commonly required documents:
- A recently issued Baptismal Certificate.
- (Including Certification of Holy Communion and confirmation). These sacraments are necessary for complete initiation into the Catholic Church. If you are Catholic but have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation, you will probably be asked to do so before you are married (see Canon 1065).
- Affidavit of Freedom to Marry (M-B Form in the Diocese of Erie)
- This affidavit is the written testimony of someone who knows you very well (usually your parents) stating that you are free to marry.
- Civil Marriage License. Check with your local municipality (varies county by county) about how to obtain a marriage license. You will present this to the priest (or deacon) who presides at the wedding ceremony. We usually collect the license a week or two before the ceremony and return it to you on the wedding day.
- Pre-marriage inventories. Pre-marriage inventories help couples assess the strengths and weaknesses in their relationship. They aren’t a “test” to see whether you qualify to be married, but they do provide valuable insights into areas you may want to discuss with one another. Your pastor will review the assessment with you and discuss any issues you may want to work on. The FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study) inventory is widely used as a first step in Catholic marriage preparation.
- Please provide the office with your full names and email addresses in order for the FOCCUS to be generated. The entire inventory/survey is conducted online and the couple is responsible for the fees incurred through this program and paid directly the company when they log-in to register. We collect that information on the form below.
- Marriage Preparation Course Completion Certificate. In the Diocese of Erie, we use Pre-Cana and Engagement Encounter. Virtually all Catholic dioceses and parishes require engaged couples to complete a formal marriage preparation program. We usually require that you present a certificate indicating that you have completed such a program prior to the wedding. An online program has been designed to help couples who are in need or their service. See the options on this page.
- Natural Family Planning Course Completion Certificate. Some parishes and dioceses also require engaged couples to complete a course in natural family planning prior to the wedding; if that is the case at your parish, you will probably be required to present a certificate indicating you have completed the course. This is currently not required, but a very good idea if you have never received any training on this matter. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the best way to plan for your future in a loving and Christ-centered way.
- Decree of Nullity or Death Certificate. If one or both of you have been married previously, you will need to present a copy of your former spouse’s death certificate, or a copy of the Decree of Nullity indicating that the Church has “annulled” the previous marriage.
- Other forms. We have developed a simple form to make it easier to help you prepare for your marriage and coordinate your wedding—indicating your choices about the details of the wedding ceremony (readings, members of the wedding party, music, etc.). This helps everyone make sure your special day goes exactly as planned. [Fill Out the Form Here]