Planning your wedding
The few months of planning before a wedding can be far from peaceful. Planning a wedding can be particularly difficult because it involves not only your future spouse, but your family, your spouse’s family, your friends, and your parish Priest. Most couples start out trying to not hurt anyone’s feelings and to accommodate everyone’s idea of what your wedding day should be. Negotiating these potential mine fields can turn a wedding into one of the most anxiety-ridden events of your life.
One of the issues is that people view a wedding as a cultural event, not a religious one. And usually it is the cultural aspects of the wedding which rule the day and the religious aspects get lost in the shuffle. You may think you are planning your own wedding ceremony but more often than not, and without even knowing it, you are basing your plans on someone else’s wedding day, what you saw at a friend’s wedding, or images from your favourite movie or reality TV show.
Couples often try to accommodate too many extremes in order to keep the peace, or they bring in too many “extras” to enhance the liturgy only to find that what they want is not acceptable by the Church’s standards.
During this period of planning, try and be aware of the cultural, familial and personal influences that are guiding your choices. Some can contribute to making this a meaningful and prayerful event, but we have seen many couples who overloaded the simplicity of the marriage rite with extras that distracted from the commitment they were making and rendered the marriage liturgy mundane and disappointing.
What will you be doing?
Your marriage is first and foremost a sacrament. Through your wedding vows, you will make known the loving presence of God as revealed through Christ and His Church. You should be concentrating on the unity you will be bringing into your lives, your commitment, and the blending of two people into one.
The Priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy. He will help you to see the sacramental nature of this day. He will discuss with you those things that will not be allowed to interfere with the sacredness of the ceremony.
What do you believe?
Your wedding liturgy communicates what you believe. What you do in the liturgy demonstrates this. So, speak your vows loudly and clearly, respond to the prayers and the songs. Your attention to each other and the sacrament is more precious than posing for photos.
A wedding ceremony is not a staged event in which only a few have starring roles. These guidelines are meant to help you make this a sacred day. The Priest will suggest some things which will seem new and different to you, but they are true to the Church and to the faith of the worshipping community.
The Essential Symbol
You are the essential symbol of the sacrament, not the arches made of flowers, not the dress nor the rings. You, your love, and your commitment to each other are the essential symbols and the liturgy is designed around this fact. Filling up the Church with distracting clutter and over the top wedding decor diminishes your role. You are the minister of the sacrament, not the Priest. You are the one who speaks the words that bring about the reality of the sacrament. Your consent made before God and before your guests make this a marriage. Everything else is window dressing and, if not properly attended to, can detract from the sacredness of the sacrament.
St. Michael’s Cathedral is a very active and vibrant community and we receive many requests from couples every day who wish to be married here. We have developed certain criteria to accommodate these many requests:
1. Just like any other parish, the Cathedral has parish boundaries and parishioners who have supported it for many years. Those who live within our parish boundaries or are registered and have contributed to its mission have the right to be married in the Cathedral.
2. Couples who do not live within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Toronto and wish to be married here must demonstrate some prior personal or familial connection to the Cathedral (i.e. grew up in the parish). These cases will be reviewed by the Rector and must receive his approval before a date may be set.
Please do not book a venue for your wedding reception until the date for your wedding has been set.
Availability of dates at the Cathedral can be limited, due to other Archdiocesan events and celebrations, and by the sheer volume of weddings that we have. Many couples have booked the Cathedral a year or two in advance of their proposed wedding date.
At the first interview, the Priest will begin to fill out the Pre-nuptial Inquiry (Form 1) by taking down your basic information and recording your wedding date on the form and in the parish book. If you do not set a date at this meeting, the responsibility will be yours to follow up and ensure a wedding date has been set.
Archdiocesan guidelines require that the couple contact the parish at least one year in advance of the proposed date of the wedding. However, scheduling a date is still subject to the Rector’s discretion, and the availability of dates. Adequate time must be allowed to meet the requirements for marriage outlined in this booklet. Official forms for the wedding may be completed once a date for the wedding has been finalized.
No marriage may be celebrated in any parish until the couple has received proper instruction on marriage. Our couples will be expected to take a Marriage Preparation course and submit the Certificate of Completion upon the course’s end.
There are several courses of instruction conducted each year in the Archdiocese of Toronto. You will be responsible for making your own arrangements with one of the following:
|Catholic Engaged Encounter|
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
|11 Earl Street, Toronto, ON, M4Y 1M4|
416- 924- 6257
|Catholic Family Services ***||1155 Yonge Street,|
2nd Floor, Toronto, ON, M4T 1W2
|Paulist Centre for Catholic Evangelization|
The Catholic Information Centre of Toronto
|830 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON, M5R 3G1|
*** Those who have been married before and/or those couples who are living together must take a specialized course at Catholic Family Services.
Form I – Acceptance of Wedding Conditions
This document must be signed in the presence of the Priest at your first interview, prior to booking your wedding date.
Proof of Baptism
Every Catholic being married must produce a current Record of Baptism, that is, one that has been issued within six months prior to the wedding date. The Church of Baptism should be contacted in due time so that you will have the certificate by the second interview (about 2 months before the wedding day).
If one of the parties wishing to be married is a baptized Christian, they must submit their baptismal certificate as well, although theirs can be an original copy.
Consent of Parents
If one of the parties wishing to be married is under the age of eighteen, written consent is required of the parents (or guardians).
- If a previous marriage existed, the following documents are required:
If the former spouse is deceased, an authentic certificate or satisfactory proof of death of the spouse.
- If divorced, a copy of the previous marriage certificate, a copy of the divorce decree, and official confirmation from the proper ecclesiastical court with regard to the dissolution or nullity of the marriage.
Note: No wedding date will be booked until it is established that one or both parties is free to re-marry.