Planning a Wedding?

ringsMarriage Preparation
Because marriage is a sacrament of the Church and a life-long commitment, the common policy of the Dioceses of New Jersey require a preparation period of not less than six months from the proposed date for a wedding ceremony.  Therefore, couples that wish to marry at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish  are required to participate in a formal process designed to help prepare you for your new life together.  This consists of meetings with the priest (or deacon) who will conduct your ceremony, and additional sessions with married and other engaged couples.

The purpose of meeting with the priest or deacon is to familiarize you with the requirements for marriage in the Catholic Church, gather necessary information, explore the sacramental dimensions, and help you to prepare the various components of your wedding liturgy. Meetings with married and other engaged couples are designed to assist you in exploring the various joys and challenges of married life.  There are three varieties of these sessions:  Pre-Cana, Preparing to Live in Love, and Engaged Encounter.  You are free to choose one of these experiences.  At your first meeting with the priest or deacon, you will receive more information on these sessions and how to register for them.

Setting the Date
Only a resident priest of this parish can schedule the date and time of your wedding.  Office staff cannot schedule a wedding under any circumstances.  A secretary can inform you of the availability of a date but cannot confirm it unless an outside priest or deacon will perform the ceremony (see “Requesting a Priest or Deacon,” below.)

Weddings may be scheduled for any convenient time on a weekday, including Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and afternoons and Sunday afternoons throughout the year. Saturday and Sunday evenings are not available.  Weddings also cannot be scheduled for Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day, and the days of Holy Week.  (Please see the notation about weddings during Lent under “Church Decorations.”)

The latest a wedding may begin on Saturday is 1:00 PM. due to our regular weekend schedule.  Please note that you are allotted a time period not to exceed 90 minutes.  A nuptial Mass generally takes about an hour of that time.  Therefore it is imperative that the ceremony begins on time.  If you arrive late, portions of the ceremony may be eliminated, as well as use of the Church for pictures afterwards.

Requesting a Priest or Deacon
You may request a particular priest or deacon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish to conduct your wedding liturgy but this is subject to his availability.  If you desire a Nuptial Mass, a priest must be included, but a deacon may conduct the actual Rite of Marriage within the Mass.  If you have no preference, a priest or deacon will be assigned to help prepare you and conduct your liturgy.

You are welcome to invite any validly ordained priest or deacon (e.g. a relative or family friend) to conduct your wedding liturgy.  However, he is required to contact the parish office directly to arrange the date and time for both rehearsal and wedding, conduct the preparation sessions with you and submit the required forms.

Additional priests and deacons are always welcome to concelebrate your wedding liturgy.  We also welcome the participation of clergy from other religious denominations.  However, arrangements for these must be discussed with the priest or deacon who will conduct your ceremony.

The Wedding Party
There are no restrictions concerning members of the wedding party.  Please note, however, that only two witnesses can sign the marriage license and be entered into the parish marriage registry.  We strongly recommend that children under the age of 5 be excluded from the wedding party, as they tend to become frightened, are often uncooperative and can be very distracting.

LITURGICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Church Decorations
Two baskets of flowers for the Sanctuary are sufficient.  However, flowers are not permitted in the Sanctuary or elsewhere in the Church during Advent or Lent.  Colors should be coordinated with the seasonal environment within the Church.

If there is more than one wedding on a given weekend, we encourage the respective couples to combine resources and share the cost of decorations.

The use of a white aisle runner is not permitted, as it is unnecessary, cumbersome, sometimes even dangerous, and rooted in superstitious practice.  Pew markers (ribbon, bows, etc.) are permitted, but they may not be affixed with tape or other adhesives and must be removed after the wedding.

Seasonal decoration in the Sanctuary and elsewhere in the Church can be dismantled or rearranged only by hiring the parish Church Environment Committee to accomplish what is often a complex process.  We encourage you to consider this when choosing a date for your wedding.

The Procession
Since the celebration of marriage is a rite of the Church, we encourage the practice of a true liturgical procession at the beginning of the ceremony.  This includes the altar servers and presiding priest and/or deacon, the members of the wedding party, the bride and groom and their parents.  Readers who are not members of the wedding party also could participate in the procession, as well as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (if they are needed).

Readers
Members of the wedding party or other invited guests may be chosen to proclaim the Scripture readings and Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful) chosen for the celebration.  Trained Readers or public speakers are preferable, but those who are not must be sufficiently rehearsed.  Up to 3 persons may be selected for this ministry.

Wedding/Unity Candle
The lighting of a wedding/unity candle is not part of the Rite of Marriage in the Catholic Church. Therefore it is strongly encouraged that the lighting of a wedding/unity candle be conducted as part of the blessing/grace at the reception banquet.

Gift-Presenters
If your wedding will be celebrated during a nuptial Mass, two members of the wedding party or other invited guests (with or without an escort) may be chosen to present the gifts of bread and wine to the priest.  Please note that the gifts are limited to the bread and wine to be consecrated; no other articles may be included in this procession.

Tribute to the Blessed Mother
The custom of placing a flower before the statue of the Blessed Mother at the end of the ceremony is optional.

Type of Celebration
When both parties are members of the Catholic Church, the wedding should take place within a Nuptial Mass.  If one of the parties is a baptized member of another Christian denomination, the wedding may take place at a Nuptial Mass or a Nuptial Ceremony (which does not include Holy Communion).  If one of the parties is unbaptized, the wedding can take place at a Nuptial Mass only with the written permission of the Bishop of Camden.  Otherwise a Nuptial Ceremony will be conducted.  Keep in mind that the Eucharist cannot be offered to those who are not in communion with the Catholic Church.

Rehearsal
A rehearsal is to be scheduled with the priest/deacon who will conduct the ceremony, including all members of the wedding party, and any others who will participate (e.g. readers).  If the priest/deacon is not from this parish, the date and time must be coordinated with one of the parish priests.  Couples must bring their marriage license to the rehearsal and submit it to the priest/deacon.

Selecting Music
Music is an integral part of any wedding celebration.  As it is a sacred celebration, only approved liturgical music is permitted before, during and after your wedding liturgy. We will be happy to assist you with the musical component of your wedding by recommending organists and cantors who you can contact to hire for your wedding.

Any cantors and/or principal accompanists are required to have at least some training in Catholic liturgical music. We request that you choose them from among those who regularly minister to our parish community. Additional instrumentalists are welcome to participate providing that a trained liturgical music minister is present to direct them.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Rice, Confetti, Etc.
Throwing rice, confetti, birdseed and other matter is not permitted.  If desired, this custom is more suitable when the married couple leaves their reception banquet.

The launching of helium-inflated balloons is also not permitted, as prevailing winds take them out to sea, where they eventually fall to the surface and pose a serious hazard to marine life.

Alcoholic Beverages
The use of any alcoholic beverages on Church grounds is strictly prohibited.  This includes a champagne toast following the ceremony, a custom that is more appropriate at the reception banquet.  Kindly notify the members of your wedding party, your guests, and your drivers/Limousine Company of this prohibition.

While your guests are encouraged to fully enjoy this celebration, we strongly discourage the use of any alcoholic beverages prior to their arrival.  Members of your wedding party exhibiting any sign of alcohol or drug use will not be permitted to participate in your wedding liturgy.  Please be sure to make them aware of this restriction.

Photography/Videography
The hiring of professional photographers/videographers is encouraged.  They may use flash equipment, if necessary.  However, they are never permitted to enter the Sanctuary (the raised area around the altar) and are asked to be as unobtrusive as possible.  Prior to the ceremony, they should check with the priest or deacon for any other directives.

Guests may also take pictures during the ceremony, but they are never to leave their seats in order to do so.

FEES

The offering for use of either church varies on your parishioner classification:

Classification
Non-parishioner
$850
Non-contributing parishioners
$550
Regularly contributing parishioners
$350
Cooperation deposit for all*
$100

Offering and cooperation deposits must be paid in full and submitted with the Acknowledgement and Confirmation of Dates and Times form at booking to secure your requested date and time.

  • Fees for music and cantors must be negotiated with individual musicians/cantors;; payment is to be made one month prior to the wedding date
  • A $10 stipend is customary for each altar server and can be given directly to to the servers.
  • Nothing (i.e. rice, seed, flower petals etc…) can be thrown inside or outside the church.

*The cooperation deposit covers a breadth of courtesy considerations including, but not limited to: all decorations, programs, and items brought into the church are removed; church facilities are left in a reasonably clean condition; and all times listed on the acknowledgement of times form, are properly observed.

NOTE: Rehearsal is 1 hour and wedding 1.5 hours. Starting and ending times are interpreted to include all pictures and receiving lines. Observation of these times is an integral part of cooperation with the church and failure to observe the times may result in a loss of the cooperation deposit.

CHECKLIST OF DOCUMENTS NEEDED
(To be submitted by the second meeting with the priest/deacon preparing the couple)

For Catholics:
• A newly issued baptismal certificate from the Church of baptism (please do not submit originals or photocopies of originals).

For those baptized in another Christian denomination:

  • A photocopy of the original baptismal certificate. If the original cannot be located, a newly issued certificate from the Church of baptism; if this is not possible, a signed  Affidavit of Baptism.*
  • Affidavit of freedom to marry.*

For those who have never been baptized:

  • Affidavit of freedom to marry.
  • Affidavit of non-baptism, except if the party is Jewish or Muslim.*

*Forms are available through the priest/deacon preparing you for marriage.

For those who have been previously married:

  • Copy of previous spouse’s certificate of death
  • Or copy of divorce decree and Church annulment.

For all couples:

  • Marriage license (to be submitted at the wedding rehearsal).

Other forms may be required in specific cases (e.g. marriage of minors, distant relatives, etc.)

If you have any questions about this information, please do not hesitate to call the Parish Office (609-652-0008). Good luck with your wedding plans, and may God bless you with a lifetime of happiness, peace and, most of all, love!

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

  • Church Offering, Cooperation deposit and confirmation form must be completed and submitted to secure the date.
  • Music fees should be paid in full one month before the wedding date.
  • Altar Servers customary offering is $10 per server.
  • Seasonal decorations – read Church Decorations area of booklet carefully
  • No runners, confetti, flower petals, rice, seed etc.
  • No alcohol