Planning Your Wedding at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church
Congratulations on the announcement of your engagement and upcoming wedding! We at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church share in your joy and look forward to preparing you for marriage. Please read the following procedures to assist you in planning your wedding according to the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach and our parish community.
1) First Step to Planning Your Wedding at St. Vincent Ferrer
If you are an active, * registered parishioner of no less than six (6) months at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, participate weekly at Mass, and regularly use your stewardship envelopes, your wedding plans begin by speaking with Mary Somerville in the Office of Family Life Ministries at 561-665-8566, to start the process. Then you will make an appointment with our priest or deacon to go over the Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire (Form A) to determine your freedom to marry.
*If you are not a registered parishioner of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, you must first register and then begin your six (6) month preparation period, while participating weekly at Mass and using your stewardship envelopes during that time. Then follow the steps in the above paragraph.
If either of you has been married before, even in a civil ceremony, please provide accurate information and documentation regarding any past marriage(s) when filling out the form. Then discuss this with the priest or deacon when you meet. All wedding plans and communication will be between the Office of Family Life Ministries and the bride or groom – not through intermediaries, e.g. wedding planners, or family members.
You should not make any binding plans for a reception until you receive written verification stating that you are free to marry in the Catholic Church.
2) The Celebration of the Sacrament
The Sacrament of Matrimony is a celebration of a man and woman’s love and loyalty freely given to each other until death. Marriage is a mirror of Jesus’ love and fidelity to the Church. Marriage is not only a celebration for the couple and his/her family, but for the whole Church. The exchange of vows constitutes the Sacrament of Matrimony. This can be celebrated within the context of the Mass when two Catholics are marrying, or outside of Mass in a mixed-faith marriage. The couples are the ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The priest/deacon serves as the official witness for the Church.
The celebration of the Eucharist is the very center of our Catholic life and spirituality; therefore, weddings are scheduled so as not to interfere with the Saturday schedule of Masses, and are not scheduled after 2:00 p.m. Weddings do not take place on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, which are reserved for parish liturgies. Evening weddings normally are held on Fridays.
At the time of the wedding, and in order to receive the fruits of the Sacrament of Matrimony, you need to be in a state of grace. The reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be a priority before the wedding. An opportunity to receive the Sacrament will be offered immediately following the rehearsal. Confessions are heard at St. Vincent Ferrer Church on Saturday afternoons from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and by appointment. The Sacrament of Reconciliation may also be received at another Catholic parish.
3) Marriage Preparation for Engaged Couples
The spiritual preparation for your wedding is the most important aspect of your planning. This prayerful preparation for your marriage assumes regular attendance at Mass and successful completion of a marriage preparation program offered by the Diocese. Aligned with the parish’s obligation to personally prepare you to enter marriage and dispose you to the holiness and responsibilities of matrimony, it is expected that you are not, and will not, be living together prior to the ceremony, because living together is contrary to God’s teachings and significantly increases the risk of marriage failure.
The Diocesan Guidelines for Marriage Preparation are on the Palm Beach Diocese website: diocesepb.org/marriage and diocesepb.org/marriage-resources. Please read and follow them carefully.
At St. Vincent Ferrer, we use the Fully Engaged Program, where you each complete an inventory/ questionnaire, then meet with a Mentor Couple approximately 4 times and go over your answers. It is not a test, and there is no pass or fail, but it is an important tool to bring out areas of strength and weakness that should be addressed prior to the wedding.
4) Required Documents
One of the required Church documents is your baptism certificate. Contact the church of baptism within six months of your wedding date, providing your name, birth date, and parents’ names. If you were baptized at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, this record is available in our sacramental books. Please call the front office at 561-276-6892 to request a copy.
The Marriage License – The State of Florida marriage license must be obtained from the town clerk of Palm Beach County within sixty (60) days prior to the wedding. Either the bride or groom may obtain the license, but both must sign the document and provide it to the parish office in advance of the wedding. The officiant and two witnesses (usually Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man) sign the license immediately after the wedding ceremony and it is mailed by us to the town clerk where it was obtained.
5) Wedding and Rehearsal Times
It is expected that both the rehearsal and wedding will begin on time. The entire wedding party should be in place and ready no later than five minutes prior to the scheduled time.
- Saturday weddings begin at 2:00 p.m. unless specifically exempted by the Pastor, as they cannot interfere with the 4:00 p.m. Vigil Mass.
- Friday weddings may choose either 2:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. and cannot interfere with our 5:00 p.m. Mass. Please be aware, however, that the school lets out between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. and may affect parking for your guests.
- Time of the rehearsal, determined by the Pastor, is usually 6:00 p.m. Needed adjustments can be arranged.
6) Wedding Celebrant
All liturgies to be celebrated in the parish are, by Canon (Church) Law, the prerogative of the Pastor of the parish. If there are requests for other priests, he may permit them to concelebrate only. However, a priest currently assigned to the parish may offer the liturgy with the Pastor’s permission. This privilege is only extended to priest-sons of the parish, relatives, any current resident priests, and weekend assistants, including retired priests who assist here on a regular basis.
If you have a long-standing relationship with a priest or deacon from outside the parish, you may extend an invitation to him to concelebrate, preach, or assist at your wedding after you have discussed this option with the pastor, and have received permission from him to do so. The priest/deacon from outside our diocese must have the proper credentials from his diocese or proper religious superior. He may need to obtain diocesan and/or legal faculties to meet civil and/or church regulations. Priests/deacons from outside who plan to preside are responsible for completing all necessary marriage preparations.
7) Wedding Fee
The standard offering for a wedding here is $1,200.00. The fee includes organist, cantor, Fully Engaged Marriage Prep Program, wedding file preparation, “Together for Life” book, Wedding Ceremony Coordinator, and use/upkeep of the church facility. The fee is payable to St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church. The initial deposit of $500 is due when the wedding date is set and is non-refundable. The remainder of $700 is due within 60 days of the wedding day.
8) Music for the Ceremony
When choosing music, please keep in mind that music and songs are to be taken from Sacred Scripture and from Liturgical sources. Secular music is not permitted for the prelude or during the wedding liturgy. As your wedding day gets closer, you will meet with Eric Keiper, the Director of Music, who will provide you with a list of appropriate songs and music for the wedding. The parish will provide the cantor and organist. Any additional services provided, whether soloist, violinist, etc., would be your own additional cost. If you choose to have a friend or relative provide music, they first need to meet with, and be approved by, the Music Director. They will be expected to follow parish guidelines with regard to music.
9) The Rehearsal
The rehearsal date and time will be set when the wedding is scheduled. All those with active roles in the ceremony should be present and on time. This includes: the wedding party, ushers, lectors, and those participating in the offertory procession. Wedding rehearsals are informal. However, we request that participants remember that the church is a sacred place and appropriate attire and respect are expected of all. No beverages or gum chewing, food, etc. are allowed in the church.
10) Flower Girls and Ring Bearers
These children should be of an age where their participation is not a distraction and should be carried out without complication. It always works better if the best man has the rings, and the ring bearer has facsimile rings.
11) Church Décor
If the wedding day falls within certain liturgical seasons of the Church calendar, then these specific times must be taken into consideration in the selection of floral arrangements, i.e., Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Be conservative in the choice of arrangements to be used in the church. Any questions regarding church décor should be clarified well in advance with the Wedding Ceremony Coordinator at 561-276-6892. The Florist Contract will be provided. Only one floral arrangement is permitted during Lent.
- We recommend two floral arrangements, which can be placed in front of the podiums. An optional third arrangement can be placed in front of the altar. We do not allow flowers to be placed directly on the altar itself. Bows or small flower arrangements may be placed on the edge of the pews with the provision that you do not use tape, wire, or putty for attachment. Florist clamps may be used on the ends of the pews. No substitutes will be permitted.
- If you are placing flowers at the end of the ceremony before the image of the Virgin Mary, a small floral arrangement can suffice.
- Floral arrangements should remain in the church as gifts in sharing your celebration with the broader parish community.
- Bear in mind that the church will be used by others following your ceremony, and it must be left clean and tidy. Ushers should check the church pews for any flower boxes, programs or other items left after the ceremony and see that all is in order prior to their departure.
- A wedding, being a solemn and sacramental event in the Catholic Faith and Church, requires reverence and respect. Wedding exit favors (bells, ribbon wands, bubbles) are permissible outside the church. We do not allow the throwing of any materials inside of the church. Flower petals, confetti, rice, bird seed, etc. may not be used outside the church, but may be used at the reception.
12) Photography and Videotaping
We ask all persons involved in photography and videography to maintain the sacredness of the Liturgy and be properly attired with formal wear. Their presence should not be a distraction to the presider or the bride and groom. The Photography/Videography contract will be provided. Below are the guidelines:
- Observe the basic “Line of sight” rule throughout the ceremony. This means that if the photographer/videographer is blocking the clear view of the guest, then he/she is in the wrong place. This means that during the ceremony, he/she is not to be in front of the pews, in front of the last pew with guests in it, the center aisle, or the sanctuary. The Catholic use of the word sanctuary is quite different from the Protestant use of the same word. For Catholics, the sanctuary is the area at the front of the church beginning in front of the first pew. Where the congregation sits is called the nave, and is not part of the sanctuary.
- Once the bridal couple enters the sanctuary, the areas the photographer/videographer may utilize are the side aisles and the peripheral aisle (located behind all of the pews). The photographer/videographer may move only during times of transition in the ceremony, that is, when the wedding party moves. He/she must remain stationary at all other times.
- The bride and groom are allotted a 30 minute period for pictures to be taken immediately following the ceremony. If the ceremony starts late, that time will be shortened. Therefore, do not establish or encourage receiving lines in the church.
- FLOODLIGHTS and DRONES are NEVER permitted in the church.
- We require respect and reverence when taking pictures in the church. Remember the church is NOT a studio. Please refrain from moving church fixtures.
- The wedding party and family members are the only ones permitted inside the church after the ceremony for picture-taking.
- Any and all specifics regarding photography/videography must be approved by the Priest prior to the rehearsal.
13) Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol and drugs are not permitted on church premises. The bride and groom must be alcohol and drug-free in order to participate validly in the wedding ceremony and give marital consent. If either is impaired at the time of the wedding ceremony, the wedding will not take place.
Click here to begin Step 1 of the Marriage Preparation Process by submitting the online form.
Have all your wedding arrangements planned? Click HERE to submit your wedding liturgy selections.
Revised: January 25, 2022