The Sacrament of Marriage is a sign to the whole church of the intimate and faithful love God has for each of us.  Your wedding day is but the beginning of a sacramental way of life for you.  It is truly a joyous occasion not only for you, your family, and your friends, but also for the whole Church.  We are delighted for you!

Our guidelines will help you to prepare for this sacred event at St. Thomas Aquinas. They should help you understand the documents that will be required during your marriage preparation process, the wedding liturgy, and other considerations such as church decorations on your wedding day. It is hoped that they will answer many of your questions and make your preparations a little smoother. Click the button below to learn more.

Getting Started

  • Catholics ordinarily celebrate their wedding in the parish of which the bride or groom is a member. 
  • It is imperative that all wedding requests are first funneled through the Pastoral Assistants, Gail Graham or Andrea Garcia, for an initial intake. This meeting will help determine that both parties are free and ready to marry. Only after this meeting can a date be set for your wedding.  No dates are ever set, even tentatively, by other staff members or over the telephone.
  • The Pastoral Assistants will assign you to a Priest or Deacon for your Pre-Marriage Interview. This needs to take place at least six months prior to your wedding date to allow adequate time to prepare for the marriage. Note:  All previous marriages, civil, non-Catholic, and Catholic, are presumed to be valid by the Catholic Church.  A previously married person is free to marry in the Catholic Church only if the former spouse has died or if the previous marriage has been declared invalid by a church tribunal.  A WEDDING DATE CANNOT BE SET, EVEN TENTATIVELY, BEFORE SUCH AN ANNULMENT HAS BEEN GRANTED.
  • At St. Thomas Aquinas, every engaged couple is expected to take the FOCUS Inventory, a pre-marital inventory that will provide a basis for future discussion and preparation, and/or work with a sponsor couple.  When preparation with the sponsor couple is completed, the engaged couple should present their certificate of participation to the priest or deacon.
  • Your priest or deacon will request subsequent meetings with you according to circumstances.  It is your responsibility to contact the priest or deacon to arrange these meetings in good time before the wedding. 

Necessary Documents

  • Baptismal Certificate.  Both parties must obtain a baptismal certificate, issued within six months of the wedding date, from the parish of baptism.
  • Affidavits of Freedom to Marry.  Both parties mush complete Affadavits of Freedom to Marry forms. These forms, usually completed by the parents, other relatives, or close friends, should be returned to the one preparing you for marriage.
  • Required Promise in Interfaith Marriages.  Permission is given for Catholics to marry persons of other faith traditions when the Catholic party indicates that the Catholic faith is a value in his or her own life, and one which he or she intends to hand on to the children.  The Catholic party will be asked to promise:  “I reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ and, with God’s help, intend to continue living the faith of the Catholic Church.  I promise to do all in my power to share that faith with our children by having them baptized and reared as Catholics.”  The non-Catholic party will need to acknowledge this promise of his or her partner.
  • Marriage License.  It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain a marriage license prior to the wedding.  It is a violation of state law for a minister to proceed with a wedding without a license in hand.  The license must be given to your priest or wedding coordinator two weeks prior to the wedding. A marriage license is valid indefinitely.  For information about licenses, contact your county’s courthouse to obtain your marriage license.
  • If you are entering into a second or subsequent marriage.  If your former spouse has died, you must provide that person’s death certificate. If you are entering a marriage following a divorce in a former union, an annulment must be secured for each former marriage that was entered into by either party preparing for a current marriage.  This is true for both Catholic and non-Catholic parties.

    Gail Graham, Pastoral Executive Assistant
    Andrea Garcia, Información en Español

Other Considerations

Ministers of Other Faiths

In the case of an interfaith marriage, the non-Roman Catholic party may invite his/her minister to participate in the ceremony.  In the context of the Liturgy of the Word, the visiting minister may vest, proclaim one of the readings before the Gospel, and offer a message.  At the conclusion of the ceremony he or she may offer an additional prayer and a blessing.  You should discuss this with the priest or deacon assisting you.

Added Ceremonies

In its reforms of the liturgy, the Second Vatican Council mandated that the primary liturgical symbols be allowed to “speak”, and that there be a noble simplicity in the rituals used.  Therefore, in preparing your wedding liturgy, any elements that might prove distracting to those gathered for prayer, indeed any elements that might not add to the communal prayer of the liturgy, should be treated cautiously, and perhaps omitted.  These might include:

  • The presentation of flowers to the Blessed Mother, while often associated  with Catholic weddings, is not actually a part of the rite.    Since it is an expression of the private devotion of the bride or the couple, it is best done privately, immediately following the liturgy, but not during it.
  • Throwing rice or seed is not permitted on church grounds.  Silk petals may be thrown during the processional but must be picked up immediately following the wedding.

St, Thomas Aquinas does not have a maintenance staff to clean up after weddings.  A refundable deposit of $250 will be collected when securing the wedding date.  The deposit will be returned following the wedding if all rooms and church property are left neat and clean, as they were found.

Church Decorations on your Wedding Day

As during all liturgies of the Church, the Altar candles in the sanctuary will burn during your wedding to remind us of the light of Christ.  During the Easter season, the Paschal candle will also burn in a prominent place.  No additional candles are needed.

At weddings, flowers are often used for their beauty, freshness and promise of abundant life.  Flower arrangements and plants should be modest and must not visually overwhelm the primary symbols of the altar, the ambo, the presider’s chair and the couple.  Flowers, plants and other decorations must be placed out of the way so that they do not obstruct the ritual movement of the ceremony.  Neither should such decorations create a barrier between the sanctuary and the assembly.  Care must be taken of the floor when placing flower arrangements. Your flowers and other decorations must be removed from the church immediately following your picture session.

During the Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons, as well as other times during the year, the church and sanctuary are already decorated in an appropriate manner with flowers and/or other installations.  Under no circumstances may these be removed for weddings.

If your wedding takes place during Lent, the bridal party may carry flowers during the procession, but additional flowers on the altar or in the sanctuary are not allowed in order to maintain the solemnity of the season.

Aisle runners, once practical and necessary when they were made of canvas and covered dusty wood floors, are no longer necessary.  Aisle runners are not permitted at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Photography and Videography

We understand that posed photographs are important reminders of your wedding.  We ask that these pictures be taken before or after the ceremony. During the ceremony, the photographer may take pictures without flash only from the rear of the church.  Your photographer is free to photograph the wedding party as they come down the aisle at the end of the liturgy. No pictures may be taken from anywhere in the sanctuary at any time, or by relatives and friends in pews after the ceremony begins.


The taking of photos of the wedding party and wedding couple is allowed one hour prior to the start time of the wedding, but will cease 30 minutes before the start of your wedding to allow the wedding coordinator time to prepare for the processional. After the wedding, you may stay in the church for 30 minutes for posed pictures.  The officiant will be happy to pose with you in the first picture immediately after the ceremony; please understand that he will have many other weekend commitments, and may not be available if your pictures are delayed.


The following guidelines are in effect for videography and photography:

  • Photographers and videographers should be appropriately dressed for their work in a sacred place.
  • All video equipment must be in place no later than 30 minutes before the wedding begins. Flashes of light, electronic camera noises, movement of camera equipment or photographers, loading and unloading of film, etc. create a very disturbing environment and disrupt the prayerfulness of worship.
  • Once in place, video equipment may not be moved during the ceremony.
  • No additional lighting may be used.
  • Additional microphones must be approved in advance so as not to interfere with the church’s sound system.
  • Photographers and videographers are not permitted to interfere with the processional or recessional.


  • The sanctuary is a sacred place in our Catholic tradition.  The altar is consecrated as a symbol of Christ’s presence.  It is inappropriate to use the sanctuary as a studio for casual photographs.  Sitting on the floor or on the sanctuary steps, and moving the altar or leaning against it are not permitted.

Please deliver a photocopy of this page of the guidelines to your photographer and your videographer in plenty of time before the wedding.

Worship Aids

To help your guests feel comfortable participating in the Liturgy, you may want to consider preparing a special program for your wedding.

In this program, you should only include the congregation’s responses.  For the Scripture readings and prayers, it is better if your guests watch and listen rather than read along.  Please remember the serious obligation of acquiring copyright permission for the reprinting of copyrighted songs and texts.  The Director of Music will be glad to assist you in this endeavor.

All programs must be approved by the Director of Music and the wedding coordinator two weeks prior to the wedding.