STATEWIDE / DIOCESAN GUIDELINES
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
Civil License Needed
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 marriage license must be issued at least
72 hours before, but not more than 30 days prior, to the wedding.
More Strict Church Requirements
Catholic Church demands more, of course.
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.
Minimum Six-Month Church Preparation Program is Mandatory
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.
In 1978, the Catholic Bishops of Louisiana established a common "Catholic Marriage Preparation Guidelines”
which was refined and updated in 1988 and 2008. It can be accessed at http://www.mfldiobr.org/diocesan-marriage-documents.html both in summary form and in its complete text.
preparation must begin at least six
months before the anticipated date of the wedding. The parish priest or deacon who officiates at
the wedding normally has primary responsibility for conducting this preparation
process, which includes preparation sessions with him as well as other sessions
organized by married laypersons.
(such as marriages involving minors, extramarital pregnancy, parental
disapproval, psychological and problematic behavioral issues, etc.) will
necessitate additional evaluation by a diocesan counselor.
A priest or deacon may
refuse to witness a wedding for various reasons, such as non-practice of the
faith, lack of appreciation for the spiritual aspects of marriage, perceived
lack of readiness, refusal to participate in required marriage preparation
programs, etc. Yet, in so doing, he will
explain how the couple may overcome the specific circumstances that caused the
In cases of delay or
refusal to witness the marriage, appeal may be made to the Bishop directly or
through the Dean. No other priest or
deacon may officiate at a wedding which another cleric has delayed or refused
to witness without permission.
If a couple attempts
marriage contrary to the laws of the Church, a validation (i.e., "blessing”) is permitted only after the couple has completed the above requirements and a
period of six months has elapsed
since their wedding "outside the Church”.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, all of these Statewide and Diocesan Guidelines are in
effect. Additionally, the pastor of Our
Lady of Mt. Carmel has established other policies and regulations, which are
SCHEDULING A WEDDING
Reservation In Person
A request to schedule a wedding and reserve the Parish’s
Church and other facilities must be made in person at the parish office;
reservation requests are not taken by telephone, fax or email. A
marriage ceremony is celebrated only
in the church edifice.
Officiant Must Agree
reservation will be accepted until the proposed officiant contacts the parish office
and affirms in writing through a
letter sent to the office that he will officiate and assume responsibility for
all pre-marital preparations. Thus, a
couple who wishes to schedule a wedding at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel 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 active parishioners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel should
approach their own pastor, for his
permission is needed. He or one of the
other clergy assigned to the couple’s "home” Church parish are the best persons
to choose as officiant as well. Again, if not active parishioners of OLMC, it is the COUPLE’S RESPONSIBILITY to provide a priest or deacon to
officiate at the wedding.
persons must provide the following documents to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Parish
Office at the time of the request to schedule a wedding:
1. A signed wedding
reservation form indicating they have read and agree to abide by all of the
regulations governing weddings at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
2. Payment in full
of the ordinary fee. The current schedule
of fees is part of this Policy, but note that these fees are subject to change
at any time. Please also note that a
portion of the fee is non-refundable.
3. A written request for a letter
of delegation to supervise the prenuptial preparation and officiate at the
wedding liturgy from the priest or deacon who will preside at the wedding. This request is not necessary if a priest or
deacon at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel will preside.
4. A letter of permission
for the wedding from the pastor of a Catholic party who is not a parishioner of
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
engaged persons in time must provide the following documents to the priest or deacon who will officiate at the
proposed wedding. He will in turn
provide this to the Parish Office as part of the prenuptial file he creates.
1. Recently-issued certified copy (that is, with the originating parish’s seal affixed) of the baptismal certificate (if
Catholic). If non-Catholic and baptized
in another faith, it would be helpful (although not mandatory) to provide a
copy of that baptismal certificate for the wedding file.
2. A certified copy 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.
Church’s Own Parish Representative Required
The members of the Liturgy Committee of Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel serve on a rotating basis as parish representative. These members are listed on the attached
contact list. Once the church
reservation is made, a parish representative is assigned and the engaged couple
must contact the representative 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
church’s pastor and the parish representative necessarily take precedence over
all others and decisions shall conform to their decision.
Full Pre-Payment Required
The fee for a
wedding at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is $100.00
for registered, active parishioners
and $500.00 for others. The fee, which includes rental of the church,
preparation in the hall prior to the ceremony, utilities and maintenance must
be paid in full at the time the reservation is requested. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the fee paid is non-refundable. This fee is to be paid by check or money
order, payable to "Our Lady of Mt. Carmel”.
A second payment of $400, also required at the time of registration,
acts as a security/cleaning deposit. All (or part) of this deposit is refundable. The amount refunded will be determined
following the ceremony, and will be based upon the level of adherence to the
policies set forth in this document.
Fees For Musicians and Vocalist
fees for the organist or pianist, vocalist(s) and other musicians should be
paid directly to them by the engaged couples.
For additional details related to music, see MUSIC below.
is never any required fee for the priest or deacon who officiates at a wedding
at Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Should
individuals or families wish to provide him, or other attending ministers,
servers, etc., with a personal gift, this must be paid directly to the priest,
deacon or other attending ministers and servers. That 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.
LOCAL PRE-MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAMS
Many programs of premarital preparation, which supplement the
sessions offered by the priest or deacon who officiates at the wedding, are
offered in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. One of these must be completed by the engaged couple. However, if the couple is being prepared
outside of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, other similar programs may be accepted –
if you have any questions, please call our office.
Engaged Encounter. (recommended)
a. Weekend retreat
b. Conducted by married couples;
c. Insights into communication;
d. Principal aspects of married life; the focus of marital
e. Engaged couples are provided opportunities to talk and make
Held at the Catholic
Life Center in Baton Rouge;
g. Contact the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life at
a. Day-long program;
b. Conducted by married couples;
c. Focuses on marital decision making and values;
d. More lecture than opportunities for dialogue;
e. Contact the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life at
Couple-to-Couple marriage preparation programs
a. offered by some church
parishes – not available at this time at OLMC.
further information on these programs, please see the brochure supplied in this packet.
couple will be required to take a premarital
inventory. The purpose of taking a
premarital inventory before your wedding is to help the couple receive an objective
assessment of not only the "strengths” of their relationship, but also
help identify areas for potential "growth” as well as issues which might merit
further discussion. They are NOT
designed to tell you whether or not you should get married, but to help you
realize and deal with differences in your expectations, family backgrounds, and
personality traits. Ignoring these
issues in your marriage could result in serious marital problems.
are a number of premarital inventories that are commonly used by counselors,
pastors, mentors, and marriage educators when working with an engaged
couple. The two most common are the PREPARE/ENRICH premarital inventory and
the FOCCUS inventory ("Facilitating
Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study”). The choice of inventory is usually made by
the priest or deacon preparing the couple.
Normally, the couple will take the inventory separately (usually
online), and then, once completed, will meet with the priest or deacon for further
discussion of the results.
these two aspects, it is typical for an engaged couple to meet with the priest
or deacon who will officiate at their wedding at least three other times during
the course of their premarital preparation.
In these sessions, the Catholic Church’s doctrines regarding matrimony
are carefully explained and agreed to by the engaged couple. These appointments are made directly with the
Times of Weddings
Weddings may be scheduled on most Tuesdays through Fridays at
any reasonable hour and on Saturdays until 1:00 pm. Saturday
weddings cannot begin later than 1:00 pm in order to allow time for any
photography after the wedding liturgy and the removal of all decorations. The church must be vacated for confessions at
3:45 pm and the Saturday evening Mass at 4:30 pm.
No Weddings on Saturday Evenings or Lent
In the Diocese of Baton Rouge, weddings may not be scheduled after the Vigil Mass on
Saturday evenings. At Our Lady of Mt.
Carmel, no weddings may be scheduled during the Lenten season.
addition to the wedding ceremony, a wedding rehearsal is usually scheduled. It
may be held up to eight days before the wedding, at a time approved by the
officiant, who usually leads the rehearsal. It is expected that the entire
wedding party, parents of the bridal couple, persons serving as readers and
ushers, and all others with special roles in the ceremony attend the
rehearsal. It is helpful for organists,
vocalists and photographers to attend, particularly those unfamiliar with the
church environment. A list of all
attendants and the order of procession should be provided to whoever conducts
the rehearsal. PLEASE NOTE: The engaged
couple SHOULD bring the civil license to the rehearsal. This will allow for the completion of the
license prior to the wedding.
parish hall is available to the bride and bridal attendants for gathering
90 minutes prior to the wedding liturgy.
The groomsmen typically meet and remain in the church sacristy. There are two small public restrooms in the
parish hall. If at all possible, members
of the wedding party are advised to come to the church dressed for the wedding,
since changing in our spaces is inconvenient at best. The Parish Hall may be rented for the
reception. However, if the wedding
occurs on a Saturday, please note that the rented hall MUST be vacated by 3
pm. For fees and rules concerning the
hall rental, please call the office.
IMPORTANT: Under no circumstances are alcoholic
beverages allowed on the church premises before
or during a wedding liturgy. Nor are
alcoholic beverages allowed after the wedding liturgy unless the hall is rented
for the reception. No member of the
wedding party is allowed to participate in the wedding liturgy if he/she is
intoxicated when they arrive on the church premises. As
such, if he deems it to be so, the officiant reserves the right to postpone the
wedding liturgy. Any and all fees due to
such postponement are to be completely incurred by the wedding party.
Appropriate Music Required
The music for the wedding must be appropriate for liturgical
use and assist the gathered assembly’s worship and prayer. Any questions of suitability should first be
discussed with the music director. Final
approval, however, is reserved to the pastor.
assist with musical selection, a listing of recommended music can be found in this
packet. Other specific selections can be
discussed with the parish representative and submitted to the pastor for
The couple may use the organist/pianist of their choice. The church organist is listed on the attached
contacts. The fee is paid directly to
If the wedding liturgy includes Mass, a vocalist must serve
as cantor, and the responsorial psalm and "ordinary” parts of the Mass are usually
sung. Cantors for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
are listed on the attached contacts. You
may use another cantor, but he/she must be approved by the pastor or wedding
the wedding takes place apart from Mass, a vocalist may or may not be used,
since all music at such a service may be instrumental.
is required that skilled, experienced singers serve as vocalists to minimize
fee is paid directly to the cantor/vocalist.
The couple may contact, employ, and pay directly any
additional musicians. Please keep in
mind, however, of the space limitations near the altar and in the choir loft.
DÉCOR AND ENVIRONMENT
and other elements of decor are frequently part of the wedding
environment. These guidelines should be
shared with the florist. The church decor, including decor for a
particular liturgical season, does not
change for the wedding liturgy. The parish
representative will explain what items may not be removed.
the size of our sanctuary, no more than one floral arrangement should be placed
in the sanctuary area. The arrangement
must be anchored or secured to avoid collapse or breakage. Flowers are not permitted in front of the altar table. Florists and decorators are encouraged to
visit the church beforehand to become familiar with the environment.
ribbons may be attached to the tops of the pews. No
tape, tacks, nails, or any other fasteners that can damage the pews may be used
to attach ribbons. Nor can these items
be used to secure any other decorations in the church. Check with the parish representative
All flowers, pew ribbons, and other
decorations MUST be removed within ONE HOUR following the ceremony.
NOTE: Failure to abide by
these rules could lead to loss of security/cleaning deposit.
Candles other than the altar candles may not be used.
The aisle of the church is 5 feet wide by 45 feet long, with 14
pews on each side. Aisle runners are
photographers and videographers are highly recommended. We strongly recommend that photographers and
videographers unfamiliar with the church attend the rehearsal or visit the
church beforehand to become familiar with the liturgical space and to
predetermine areas for photos or video.
It is also recommended that the photographer discuss these issues with
the officiant prior to the service.
must do their job with reverence and dignity and in such a manner that is quiet
and not distracting. Photographers
should dress and conduct themselves professionally, and setup and use their
equipment in a clean and non-distracting manner.
shall not obstruct the "line of sight” of the officiant or congregation
throughout the ceremony. Video cameras
should be mounted on suitable fixed tripods.
Movement of cameras from one location to another is not permitted. Flash
photography is best reserved for pictures before and after the wedding
liturgy. It is permitted during the
liturgy only if it does not cause disruption.
At no time will photographers be allowed up
in the sanctuary.
may take place in the church before the ceremony and for an hour after the
ceremony but no later than 3:00 pm for Saturday weddings.
Weddings at Mass
The laws of the Catholic Church provide that weddings between
two active Catholics should take place within the context of a Nuptial
Mass. When, however, the couple really
has not been living out their faith, this is not required or even advisable.
Weddings Without Mass
a Catholic marries a baptized person of another religion, church regulations
indicate that a Nuptial Mass is not
part of the wedding ceremony. An
important reason for this is that non-Catholics are not permitted to share in
Holy Communion, and a wedding celebration is meant to emphasize the couple’s
and family unity, not the points for
which they cannot agree. For serious
reasons, a Mass may be permitted for a so-called "Mixed Religion” wedding, but
at OLMC this is the rare exception. When
a Catholic marries an unbaptized person, Mass is even more strictly
further questions regarding this matter should be addressed to the presiding
Size of Bridal Party
the small size of the church and sanctuary area, a maximum of 6 bridal attendants and 6 groomsmen is allowed. These attendants customarily are seated in the
pews on either side of the sanctuary. Flower
girls, ring bearer(s) or junior bridesmaids are not included in this
number. However, it is expected that
these "junior attendants”, once they have processed down the aisle, will be
seated with family members in the pews
It is customary to have three
readings from Sacred Scripture at the wedding ceremony. The first and second readings are taken from
the Old and New Testament, respectively, with the third reading taken from one
of the four Gospels. Readings from any other sources are not allowed.
selection of these readings should be made through the assistance of the
officiant. A helpful resource for the
selection of the readings (as well as for the remainder of the parts of the
wedding ceremony / Mass) is: "Together For Life”.