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Weddings Wedding Guidelines

Wedding Guidelines

1. COMPILING OF DOCUMENTS

The following documents are required by the Church for a Catholic wedding:

  • Baptismal Certificate extracts for both parties, issued within six months of the proposed date of marriage, which should be obtained from the church where your baptism took place. It should indicate that there are no impediments to your intended marriage and that you are free to receive the sacrament of matrimony.
    This requirement is applicable to all Christian baptisms and is not restricted to Catholic baptisms only.
  • From Catholics, if confirmed, but not indicated on the baptismal certificate, a separate confirmation certificate.
  • Proof of freedom to marry. For Christians, this should be indicated in your baptismal extracts. A letter of consent from a parent / legal guardian is required if either party is a minor.
  • Prenuptial Investigation Form this form is to be completed with your parish priest and signed by all parties. The form records when you were received into the Church at Baptism and then Confirmed. It also indicates that you are free to marry and helps identify any special permission that you might need. It also affirms that as a mature adult you understand the nature of marriage and accept the duties and responsibilities of married life. The individually completed forms of the bride and groom are sent to the parish priest of the Church where the wedding is taking place and after the wedding the forms are kept in the parish archives.
  • A photocopy of the Certificate of Attendance at the Marriage Preparation Course. (Pre- Cana classes)
    The Catholic Church requires all couples wishing to get married to attend the Marriage Preparation Course (Pre-Cana classes). Kindly hand over a copy of the certificate that is given to you on the completion of attendance at the pre-Cana classes to the parish priest.  The priest will send this document along with other relevant documents to the church where the wedding will be held.
  • Details of witnesses: The two witnesses who will attest at your wedding need to be above the age of 21 years and, preferably, be either of Catholic or Christian faith. They should witness the actual exchange of wedding vows and thereafter sign the marriage register at the end of the ceremony. Please remember to provide their names, addresses and professions to the parish office two weeks prior to the wedding date.
    It is a requirement that at least one of the two witnesses be a citizen of Sri Lanka with a local address.
  • In the event a civil marriage ceremony has already taken place with prior permission from the Bishop’s House, a photocopy of the marriage certificate and the permission letter need to be produced.
  • Photo copies of your National Identity card / Passport / Driving Licence
    Please ensure the above documents are handed over to the parish office where the wedding is taking place at least two weeks prior to the wedding day.

1.1 CIVIL REQUIREMENTS – REGISTERING OF MARRIAGE

You will need to give notice of your marriage to the Registrar of Marriages within three months before your wedding day. When this is being done, please inform the attending officer that your marriage will take place in a Catholic Church. You are required to provide the registering officer with certain details such as the wedding date, place, etc. and make the payment for the Government marriage certificate. You should receive your Notification of Marriage two weeks after notice is given. Please hand over the pink slip along with the receipt obtained to the parish office.

2. The Type of Wedding Service

Wedding service with “Nuptial Mass” or without Mass.

The part where you declare your vows is the same in each of the services and they are both joyful and meaningful celebrations. You may find it helpful to discuss the alternatives with your priest before making a final decision.

Given below are the types of services which could be provided accordingly:

  • Where both parties are Catholics: Nuptial Mass.
  • Where one party is a Catholic and the other is a Christian from a main line church: Nuptial Mass (with permission).
  • Where one party is a Catholic and the other is a non-Christian: Service, without mass.

Please note that only Catholics can receive Holy Communion.

 

2.1  THE WEDDING LITURGY

  • The Reading can be taken either from the Old Testament or the New Testament.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Kindly note that there should be no Responsorial hymns. The Psalm could be either recited or chanted.
  • Gospel Acclamation.
  • Gospel Reading.

If required, soft copies of readings, psalms and prayers of the faithful can be emailed to you, whereby the task of selecting appropriate readings for your wedding would be made easier. It is advisable to discuss your choices with the celebrant before deciding on the readings.

 

2.2  CELEBRANT

Non-parishioners should obtain the services of a Catholic Priest of their choice for the wedding mass / service and a letter of acceptance from the celebrant should be presented along with the other documents.

 

2.3  THE READERS

It is compulsory that readers for the First Reading, the Psalm and the Prayers of the Faithful are of Catholic faith only. The reader must genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament prior to approaching the microphone within the sanctuary to commence the readings. 

(The readings must be done from the Lectionary available in the church or from the Holy Bible. No readings from a sheet of paper is permitted.)

 

2.4  THE ALTAR SERVERS

At least one altar server will be assigned to your wedding service/mass when you have finalised the date and time of your wedding, provided the date is not a school day.

 

2.5  THE CHOIR

You may wish to contact one of the choirs of St. Theresa’s Church to sing at your wedding mass. Please speak to the choir leader at least two months prior to your wedding day to book their services.

 

Details of Choirs which sing at St. Theresa’s Church.

Name of the Choir Leader Contact No. Meeting Day (Sunday)
Duleep Fernando 077 776 0474 After 6:30 p.m. Mass
Derrick Perera 076 868 2323 After 8:30 a.m. Mass
Asitha Amarasinghe 077 663 2568 After 5:00 p.m. Mass
Priyadarshani (Sinhala) 075 653 6482 After 7:00 a.m. Mass
Michael Santhiyago (Tamil) 071 643 4746 After 9:45 a.m. Mass

If you are not using a choir from our church, kindly discuss this matter with the Parish Priest.

Use of Choirs that do not belong to St. Theresa’s Church: Choirs from outside are permitted to sing at your wedding, however they are not permitted to use the Church organ and the sound system. Such choirs will need to bring their own instruments and sound system.

 

2.5.1  THE WEDDING HYMNS AND MUSIC

You will need to select the hymns for:

  1. The Entrance Hymn.
  2. Responsorial Psalm which could be chanted instead of recited. (No Hymns please.)
  3. Offertory Hymn.
  4. Communion Hymn.
  5. Thanksgiving Hymn.
  6. Final Hymn.
  7. Signing of the Marriage Register.

Please consult the choir leader to help you select suitable hymns and music which are familiar to the choir and the organist.

 

2.6  UNITY CANDLES

If you wish to light the Unity Candle, a white candle must be purchased from outside and given over to the florist. Please request the florist to place the arrangements outside the sanctuary on the right side near the railings (Groom’s side).

3. WEDDING STIPEND

The generous contributions made for wedding services and your continued co-operation in this regard are essential for the continued upkeep of the church. All expenses incurred by the church relating to items such as hosts, wine and other sacristy services and the use of sacristy equipment and vestments, salaries for the workers, cleaners and cleaning equipment are met with the contributions you make. For parishioners, the usual charge for the use of the church is Rs. 16,000/-, and for non-parishioners it is Rs. 26,000/-.  

We appreciate that the parishioners and worshippers who frequent St. Theresa’s Church come from a wide spectrum of social and economic backgrounds. While our fees are calculated to meet actual expenses incurred, we understand that some may find these charges beyond their means. Therefore, in an effort to accommodate those from within our community who are unable to meet the stipend, we encourage you to speak with the Parish Priest should financial consideration be a concern and a suitable concession could be arranged accordingly.

Nonetheless, kindly note that the use of the church and its grounds is a privilege and the actual costs incurred in returning to the original state any damage caused, consequential or otherwise, by your wedding party and guests must be reimbursed on presentation of invoices.

4. POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

It is possible to arrange for a presenter to create slides for your wedding mass (English, Sinhala & Tamil) to guide the congregation through the mass. A separate charge is applicable for this service. Please contact the parish office for more details.

The charges are as follows:

Hymns and Mass Rs. 2,500
Hymns only Rs. 1,500
Mass only Rs. 1,000

* Kindly ensure you obtain receipts from the office for all payments made.

If you wish to have a presentation, you should inform the Parish Office at least two (2) weeks prior to the wedding and discuss the contents and details.

5. PROVIDING ON-LINE SERVICES FOR PERSONAL REQUESTS

Wedding, Anniversary, Requiem Mass, Memorial or Thanksgiving services to cater to your specific needs.  An obligatory nominal fee of Rs.15,000 will be charged for this service, and if you are able to afford it, you are free to donate anything extra.  This service will be available on YouTube for your viewing.

6. VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHS IN CHURCH

You are welcome to have photographers capture your wedding ceremony with the camera or video recorder. However, we request that you advise them to respect the sacred precincts of the church and the solemnity of the occasion as they carry out their tasks. 

The use of photographic equipment within the church needs to be discussed with the priest beforehand. They are free to use their equipment during the wedding service, but it is important that these activities do not interrupt the service or distract people in any way. The making of video recordings can be particularly problematic; hence the process needs to be carefully planned beforehand. 

Photographers are not permitted to enter the sanctuary for any reason at any given time. It is important that you advise your photographers to minimize taking photographs inside the church, and at no point to engage in any kind of telephone conversations within the church either before, during or after the service. 

Most churches do not have sufficient natural light for photography or video filming. You will need to check with your photographer and, if special lighting is necessary, kindly discuss this matter with the priest. 

Often the people who carry out videotaping or photography at weddings happen to be non-Christians who do not have a clear idea of our Liturgy.

 

Please note:

  • Photographing the congregation during a solemn moment of the Eucharist is forbidden, such as during the Eucharistic prayer and Homily.
  • It will be helpful to have a member of the family or a close associate to accompany the photographers and advise them accordingly.
  • Listed below are four occasions when the video camera with powerful halogens can be used:
  1. Entrance procession until the bridal couple come in and take their seats.
  2. Nuptial Rite and offertory procession.
  3. Communion Rite when the bridal couple and a few close relatives receive the Sacred Species.
  4. Signing of the register and the recessional procession.
7. CONFETTI

We regret to inform you that the use of confetti, flower petals and rice are not allowed inside the church, as the cleaning up effort is too overwhelming. We have also had unfortunate incidents of our older parishioners slipping and falling on the confetti strewn on the aisle.

8. FLOWERS AND DECOR

A maximum of four arrangements are permitted to be displayed in the sanctuary area, and one low arrangement could be placed in front of the altar at the ground level.

The altar and tabernacle should be in full view of the congregation at all times. Oil lamps or candles must not be placed on the flower arrangements or elsewhere in the church. 

No nails or implements for hanging/suspending decor are to be affixed within the church. All flower arrangements should be placed on rubber mats. 

Decorations on the pews should be attached with elastic bands or ribbons. The use of cello-tape and wires is not permitted.

Kindly note that there should be no drapes linking pews to one another or any obstructions placed.

NO ARCHES ARE PERMITTED INSIDE THE CHURCH.

If you so wish, a decorated arch can be placed at the entrance to the church. Besides this, no arches are allowed inside the church. Kindly provide the details of your decorator to the office. 

If your wedding is held on a Saturday evening, please ensure that you do not remove the arrangements that are within the sanctuary, so that they can be used for the Sunday Liturgy. 

Kindly co-operate with the church workers to ensure the cleanliness and beauty of the church at all times. 

It is extremely important that all unused arrangements and/or parts of the decorations are taken away by the florists. 

9. THE WEDDING CEREMONY

9.1  THE USHERS

It would be helpful for your friends who will be acting as ushers to arrive early at the church to be on hand to greet and seat your guests. The relatives and guests of the bride usually sit on the bride’s side (left, when facing the altar) while the groom’s relatives and friends will sit on the side where he will be seated (right side). Please reserve the front pews for your parents, close family and witnesses, readers, bridesmaids, best man, flower girls, page boys and ring bearer.

 

9.2  THE GROOM AND BEST MAN

The groom, best man, grooms men and groom’s parents should arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony and wait in the front seat of the church (right side when facing the altar) to receive the bride.

 

9.3  THE BRIDE AND BRIDESMAIDS

The bride, bride’s parents, bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearer should arrive 10 minutes before the ceremony.

 

9.4  WALKING DOWN THE AISLE

The ring-bearer walks in first and joins the groomsman. Flower girls followed by the bridesmaids will lead the entrance procession. The maid of honor should arrange the bridal veil, dress etc. and finally join the entrance procession after the bridesmaids. Thereafter, the father (or both parents) of the bride or a male member of her family traditionally escorts the bride. She will be on his left side when they make their way down the aisle.

 

9.5  THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE

This is the core of the wedding ceremony where you promise to commit yourselves to one another before God. Your focus should be on each other during the Sacrament especially when exchanging your vows. 

We strictly remind Catholic couples (or Catholic party) to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, before your wedding so as to be in a state of grace to receive the Sacrament of Marriage. 

The bride & bridegroom should refrain from talking to one another during the Service, especially after receiving Holy Communion. Please be mindful that you have just received the Holy Eucharist, and due reverence needs to be given to the moment.

Please note that we do not tolerate the offering of tips or gifts to workers for carrying out special favors.  We insist that this practice is very strictly enforced and expect you to respect this rule at all times. This practice could result in the cancellation of your wedding ceremony.

  • Lighting Individual Candles
    • After the entrance hymn is played and the priest arrives at the altar the couple walks up and lights the candles individually and returns separately without holding hands.
    • If there is an introduction to the unity candle ceremony, the individual candles are lit after this introduction is given.
    • Bride holds the bouquet in her hand when she goes to light the candle.
  • Readings
    • All readers should prepare for the readings in consultation with the celebrating priest.
    • If readers are seated in the first or second row, they use the front entrance to the altar. All others use the side entrance.
    • All readers should genuflect at the center (near the square) when entering and exiting the altar.
    • If there is a separate cantor for the responsorial psalm, then both readers should genuflect together when entering and leaving the altar. The responsorial psalm cannot be replaced with a hymn.
    • If the reader is wearing straps, sleeveless or short dresses then the reader’s gown should be worn (available at the church). 
    • Non-Catholics cannot do the readings. 
  • Sermon/Homily
    • Camera crew are not permitted to walk about or disturb in anyway during the sermon.  Silence should be maintained very strictly during this time. 
  • Rite of Marriage
    • Witnesses should come forward and stand on either side of the couple to witness. Unless they witness, they will not be permitted to sign as witnesses. 
    • Exchange of consent – communicate this with the officiating priest.
    • After the exchange of consent, the couple faces each other and keep holding hands until Holy Water is sprinkled on the hands. 
    • Exchange of rings – the best man should bring the rings forward. The priest will bless the rings and give it to the couple. First the groom places the ring on the brides left ring finger. Then the bride places the Groom’s ring on the right ring finger. 
  • Unity Candle Ceremony 
    • The couple walks up again to light the unity candle. The unity candle is lit by both holding one candle together. 
    • Extinguish the two individual candles. 
  • Prayers of the Faithful
    • Please check with the Parish Office for the guidelines.
    • Generally, prayers are offered for the Pope/priests, the couple (mention names) as well as for the parents and the guests.
    • Reader enters and exits as per the instruction given above for readers. 
  • Offertory
    • Please check with the Parish office what can be offered.
    • When the prayers of the faithful begins, all taking part in the offertory procession. (except the couple) should go to the offertory table using the side aisles. The bride and groom DO NOT walk back to collect the offertory.
    • If both parties are Catholic, the bride and groom offer the Host and Wine. If it is a mixed marriage, the couple can offer anything else.
    • The procession enters the altar from the front entrance and leaves from the side entrances. Only the couple leaves the altar from the front entrance and returns to their seat.
    • Bridesmaid should help the bride with veil/dress etc. 
  • Communion

    • The priest will walk up to the couple to give communion. Others will kneel at the railing as usual.
    • Bridesmaid should lift the bride’s face veil just enough to receive communion.
    • In a mixed marriage, the non-Catholic will also kneel during communion and the priest will bless him/her but they do not receive communion. 
  • Signing

    • After the mass ends, the bride’s face veil is removed by the Groom’s mother.
    • The couple (holding hands), followed by the bridesmaids/groomsmen, flower girls/page boys, parents and witnesses; walk to the side wing of the church.
    • All guests remain seated. When the couple walks back to exit the church, everyone should stand. 
    • The guests leave the church only after the couple exits the church.

9.6  COMMON INSTRUCTIONS

  • Be dressed in appropriate attire suitable for church.
  • Bridesmaids should be comfortably dressed to be able to assist the bride.
  • Everyone (all Catholics) should participate in the mass and answer the prayers.
  • If it is a mixed marriage, the non-Catholic party should – as a sign of respect – follow the Catholic party in sitting, standing or kneeling when required during the mass (Presentation slides are recommended).
  • Non-Catholics should not receive communion or do any readings at the mass.
  • Bride is to hold the bouquet in her hand at all times, except when receiving the offertory gifts.
10. DRESS CODE

Dress of the Bride and the Bridesmaids.

I need to make a special request of all who enter the sanctuary for the occasion;

Please remember that you are in God’s presence, therefore we advise you to refrain from wearing immodest, conspicuous and inappropriate clothing to Church. It is essential that modesty and decorum are exhibited in keeping with the propriety required for the solemnity of the ceremony. 

11. PUNCTUALITY

Please be punctual. 

Ensure that you arrive at the time you have printed on your wedding invitation. It is important to remember that there are the regular services at the church afterwards, and most of us have scheduled appointments that need to be kept. A marriage that starts on time is a marriage that will have the blessings of all those people you have invited to be a part of your marriage ceremony. We hope that you will ensure punctuality and that there will be no necessity to exclude hymns, homily, etc. in order to finish in time for other scheduled commitments.

12. WEDDING REHEARSAL

This is best done about one week before the wedding day. Please finalise the date and time for your rehearsal with the parish office at a date and time convenient to you and that of our trained volunteers. The rehearsal should not last more than 1 hour.

Please also request your bridal retinue to be punctual and explain to those attending the wedding rehearsal, including non-Christian relatives and friends, about the sanctity of the church. The consumption of food, telephone conversations, chatting, children running or playing in the church during the rehearsal is strictly forbidden.

If the readers you have selected wish to have a practice reading, please ensure there is no one else present in the sanctuary at the time. 

Volunteers are available for assisting with rehearsals. The parish office will help to co-ordinate this.

Once again, kindly note that we do not tolerate the giving of tips to workers. This rule is strictly maintained and must be adhered to.

 

  • Volunteers for Wedding Rehearsals
English    Aromi (077 779 9809), Sureni (077 537 8585)
Sinhala    Stella (077 450 0408), Shyama (071 323 2527)
Tamil  –  Kasthuri (077 344 4125), Shanthi (077 898 0897)

 

Those present at the rehearsal should be,

  • The bridal couple
  • Readers
  • Bridesmaid(s)
  • Best man /grooms men
    * The rehearsal will not take place if anyone from 1 – 4 is not present.
  • Parents of the couple
  • Flower girl
  • Page boy/ring bearer
  • Photographer (optional)
  • Videographer (optional)
  • Representative from the choir (optional)
  • Offertory Couple (optional)
13. DAYS/TIMES WHEN THERE WILL BE NO CELEBRATION OF WEDDINGS
  • On Monday, Friday & Saturday mornings (Church Cleaning)
  • On Sundays and on days of Obligation.
  • During the season of Lent.
  • During the season of Advent, between 17th December – 25th December
14. BOOKING OF THE SHED

The shed located within the church premises can be reserved and used to serve light refreshments after the marriage ceremony. Any kind of music, or playing of instruments is not permitted at this time.

No alcohol is to be served, and also please ensure that the garden is free of refuse and is left clean after use.

Charges for the shed: Rs.5,000/-

A mandatory deposit of Rs. 5,000/- is required and will be refunded on provision you ensure the shed and immediate surroundings are cleaned and returned to their original state after the function. 

(Tables and chairs are not provided)

15. WEDDING CO-ORDINATORS @ ST.THERESA’S

There are two wedding coordinators in our office. Please feel free to contact them for any bookings/clarifications. The office is open from Tuesday to Sunday during the following times:

Morning – 8.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. – Taniya

Evening – 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. – Loorthu

Our contact numbers are – +94112583425/ +94112502530/ +94115516116

Email: stcitclub@gmail.com

Website: www.sttc.lk