Rite of Christian Marriage
When a couple marries, not only those present at the wedding but also the wider community rejoices and benefits. Marriage is a foundational institution within both civil society and the Church, so both take interest and rightly insist that it be accomplished properly.
Civil requirements in Louisiana for marriage are fairly minimal. A couple must obtain a license to marry from the Clerk of Court of a civil Parish, and then profess their vows before someone authorized to officiate at weddings in the State.
The Catholic Church demands more, of course. She understands that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. And since Jesus Christ Himself identified marriage as absolutely permanent and faithful (see Mk 10:9), the Christian community must do everything it can to help spouses achieve this. For this reason the Church helps persons seeking marriage to prepare for it. This aids them to make a good decision to commit themselves totally. Already in 1978, the Catholic Bishops of Louisiana established a common “Marriage Preparation Policy.” It was refined and updated both in 1988 and 2008. It can be accessed at www.diobr.org/documents both in summary form and in its complete text.
At St. Joseph Cathedral, all of these Statewide policies are in effect. Additionally, the pastor of the Cathedral Parish has established other policies and regulations.
A request to schedule a wedding and reserve the Parish’s Church and other facilities must be made in person at the Cathedral office; reservation requests are not taken by telephone, fax or email. No reservation is finalized until the proposed officiant affirms that he will officiate and assume responsibility for all pre-marital preparations. Thus, a couple who wishes to schedule a wedding at St. Joseph Cathedral should first approach a Catholic priest or deacon, to ensure that he will provide the necessary premarital preparation and then officiate. Catholics who are not parishioners of the Cathedral Parish should approach their own pastor, for his permission is needed. He or one of the other clergymen assigned to their “home” Church Parish are the best persons to choose as officiant as well. The pastor and other clergy assigned to St. Joseph Cathedral ordinarily cannot provide this service to parishioners from elsewhere.
Engaged persons must provide the following to the Cathedral’s Parish Office at the time of the request to schedule a wedding:
1. A signed affidavit indicating they have read and agree to abide by all of the regulations governing weddings at St. Joseph Cathedral.
2. Payment in full of the ordinary fee required. The current schedule of fees is part of this Policy, but note that these usual fees may change at any time. Please also note that a portion of the fee is non-refundable.
3. If neither the Catholic bride nor groom is an active parishioner of the Cathedral for at least one year, that person’s pastor must attest in writing she/he is a practicing Catholic, and give permission for the wedding to be held at the Cathedral. In the event that the person is unknown to the pastor, the party’s parents must submit a letter attesting that she/he is a practicing Catholic. In such a situation, a Catholic party is expected to register immediately in her/his Church Parish and begin an active life of faith.
Also, engaged persons in time must provide the following to the priest or deacon who will officiate at the proposed wedding. He will in turn provide this to the Cathedral’s Parish Office as part of the prenuptial file he creates.
1. A recently-issued certified copy (that is, with the Parish’s seal affixed) of the Catholic baptismal certificate for a Catholic.
2. A photocopy of any prior civil or church wedding certificate(s), divorce decree(s), or annulment(s) for any prior marriage, and death certificate(s) of any previous spouse.
Once the Cathedral reservation is made, the engaged couple must contact Mrs. Judy Jumonville, the Cathedral’s wedding coordinator (email firstname.lastname@example.org), to set up an initial consultation regarding the ceremony. While a couple is always free to engage the services of a bridal consultant, the supervisory authority of the Cathedral’s pastor and wedding coordinator necessarily take precedence over all others and decisions shall always conform to their decision.
The fee for a wedding at St. Joseph Cathedral is $600.00 for registered, active parishioners, and $1,200.00 for others. Note that the status of registered and active parishioner must exist for a full year prior to the request to schedule the wedding. The fee, which includes rental of the church and adjoining preparation space, utilities, and maintenance, is payable in full at the time the reservation is requested. Ten percent of the fee paid is non-refundable. The fee is to be paid by check or money order, payable to “St. Joseph Cathedral.” Additional fees may be imposed by the pastor as he deems necessary (e.g., for extraordinary maintenance or setup issues).
Music at Catholic worship is normative, and so is required at weddings at the Cathedral. Please note that the fee paid to the Cathedral does not include any provision for musical assistance. Couples must contract separately for the services of musicians – whether organists, vocalists, or other musicians – who also must be approved for ministry in the Cathedral by the pastor. This approval may include permission to play the Cathedral’s great gallery organ, “Providence.” Of course, we recommend Mr. Robbie Giroir, the organist and director of music at the Cathedral, whenever a wedding is scheduled at the Cathedral, but a couple is free to hire whomever they wish, provided that they are skilled and experienced accompanists and vocalists, persons who are familiar with and experienced at Catholic liturgy. No matter who provides the required musical assistance, the fee paid to the Cathedral is not reduced or paid to them, even in part. It is required that the couple contract with and pay all musicians directly, and we recommend that both the amount of musicians’ requested fees – which are set by them, not by the Cathedral or other Church organization – and timing-schedule of payments to them be agreed-upon at the time of hire.
The Cathedral’s usual vocalists are recommended for hire in the required role of cantor at a wedding Mass, but others may be contracted. If a Mass is celebrated as part of the liturgy, a vocalist must serve as cantor, and since the role of cantor at Mass is a ministerial singing role, cantors must be approved by the pastor.
There is never any required fee for the priest or deacon who officiates at a wedding at St. Joseph Cathedral. Should individuals or families wish to provide him, or other attending ministers, servers, etc., with a personal gift, this must be paid directly. This being said, it is customary in the United States for the bride and groom to give a gift to the officiant on the occasion of the wedding, and it is very much appreciated.
Finally, no one is ever denied the services of the Church due to an inability to pay. Persons who due to poverty must have the simplest of weddings (that is, with the minimum two attendants, no flowers, no photography, no catering, no reception, etc.) will be accommodated as much as possible: such weddings typically will take place during the day, at or immediately following a regularly-scheduled Parish Mass.
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