Marriage Matters

weddingIn the Christian tradition, marriage is a covenant, an expression of God’s covenantal love with His people. In the Catholic Church, it is one of the seven (7) sacraments which are expressions of God‘s love and presence in our midst. The love between husband and wife in a Christian marriage becomes an expression of God’s self-giving and self-sacrificial love for all of us. Their love for one another is patterned, influenced and inspired by God’s love for all of us. They become witnesses of God’s love and presence in our world. They commit to a loving union that is generous, faithful and life-giving. The Church rejoices in this celebration of God’s love in the life of the bride and the groom as they join together as husband and wife through the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage. To assist couples in their preparation for this special day in their life together and in the life of the church community, the following guidelines have been outlined for guidance and implementation. A wedding planner or consultant might be helpful, but we do planning and preparation with the bride and the groom together, not with wedding consultants or parents of the bride and/or the groom.

An INITIAL INTERVIEW of the bride and groom with a priest or deacon begins the process of documentation, including the setting of the date and time of the wedding celebration. Weddings are scheduled on Saturdays, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm. Weddings during Lent are allowed but they are to be “low key” (e.g., no flowers). There are no weddings scheduled on Sundays. The interview is preferred to be held during office hours. If one of the parties has been married before, this will require further consultation. Couples in this circumstance should contact the church at least a year before the proposed wedding.

A THANKSGIVING FEE of $450.00 is suggested has to be made on the day of the initial interview. Otherwise, the booking of the wedding date will be deferred until receipt of the thanksgiving fee. The fee can be paid by debit or credit. This fee includes fees for music performance and/or supervision. Fees for visiting musicians are extra and are paid for by the wedding party. The honorarium/mileage (enclosed in a thank you note) for the visiting priest or the minister designated to officiate the wedding, for his efforts spent for the preparations (documents/rehearsal) and the wedding ceremony itself, which is paid to his name, is the responsibility of the wedding party. A card of thanks is always appropriate.

A MARRIAGE PREPARATION COURSE is required in the Diocese of Calgary. Sacred Heart Church offers marriage preparation courses (Call the office @ 403-244-2741 Ext 221). Other courses are offered by the Engaged Encounter Program (Jane & Mike McLeod at 403-912-0421), the Life and Family Resource Centre (Gabriele Kalincak @ 403-218-5504) and the Catholic Family Services at 403-233-2360. Our parish strongly recommends and administers a marriage inventory called Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study (FOCCUS).

BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATES for the Catholic parties are required, with pertinent notations and issued for marriage purposes and dated after the initial interview to conform with the diocesan requirement to establish freedom to marry. You may contact the parish of your baptism for a recent copy. The non-Catholic party also needs to present a document to establish his/her religious affiliation.

A MARRIAGE LICENSE, which can be obtained at any registry office in Alberta and expires in ninety (90) days after date of issue, must be submitted with the other requirements at least forty-five (45) days before the wedding, together with complete names and postal addresses of the two witnesses (usually the maid of honor & best man).

The WEDDING CEREMONY is celebrated within a Mass or within a Liturgy of the Word. Mass is celebrated when both parties are practicing Catholics. If the marriage is one of mixed religion, Mass is not celebrated. The wedding parties are expected to involve themselves in the planning of the ceremony, including the selection of Scripture readings, prayers, readers. A Wedding Ceremony Form is available in our website. They may discuss with the presider some of the reasons of choices of readings which may help him in preparing his homily/reflection for your wedding.

Readers/Lectors or Proclaimers of the Word to be chosen for the celebration should possess the necessary gifts to proclaim the Word of God effectively and reverently. They have to be present during the rehearsal.

Normally, servers or acolytes are not required. If, however, family members or friends are invited to exercise this ministry, they are required to be present during the rehearsal.

Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, if required, may be the relatives or friends of the bride and groom, if they serve in this ministry in their respective homes parishes.

MUSIC has to be sacred and religious, in keeping with Catholic liturgy. Music is meant to accompany an action (entering or leaving the church), to proclaim the Word of God or to offer praise to God. Samples are available in our website. Please contact Barbara Orlowska, our music director, at (403) 248-6595 for consultation. Barbara directs, supervises and approves all music details. Guest musicians have to coordinate and have their music repertoire approved by the music director. The designated place of musicians is in the choir loft. Taped music is not allowed. Please be aware that there are copyright rules governing publication/printing of copyrighted music compositions.

GATHERING AND PROCESSION. The bride and the groom, who are the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage, are encouraged to be present in the gathering area of the church prior to the wedding ceremony to welcome guests. All enter the worship space through the same door (main door facing 14th Street), avoiding any suggestion that one person is more important than another. The bride and groom may also consider entering the church in procession together. “Giving the bride away” hearkens back to the days when daughters were considered a chattel. The slightest suggestion of this idea is not part of a Catholic wedding celebration.

FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS are the responsibility of the couple. Only fresh flower arrangements are to be used. You are encouraged to leave some for the weekend services. Aisle runners or extra candles like candelabras are not allowed for safety reasons. An arch is not allowed at the entrance. In using pew bows, use elastic ribbon or string to attach them. Adhesive tapes are not allowed.

NO CONFETTI, rice, birdseed or flower petals are allowed inside the church or within the church property. Flower girls cannot scatter petals as they come in or out of the church. Bubbles are not appropriate to be used inside the church. Please inform your decorators, florists and others involved about these restrictions. It is recommended that decorations be kept simple and tasteful.

The so-called Unity Candle ceremony is not included in the Catholic wedding ritual. The product is sold as a trio of candles, two small ones and a large one, with the expectation that the bride and the groom share in lighting the larger candle with the light from the two small ones. For liturgical reason, this is not included in weddings celebrated in this church.

If ringbearers and flower girls are to be included in the celebration, they should be at least be of school age or completed the age of five (5) years. They have to be present during the rehearsal.

WEDDING CARS are to be to parked on 13th Avenue or in the parking lot. Stopping or parking in front of the church on 14th Street is a traffic offense. Please inform your drivers or chauffeurs about this important detail. No vehicle is to be left in the church/school parking lot following the wedding or rehearsal. Carpooling from the church/school parking lot to the rehearsal dinner or wedding reception is not allowed. The parking lot is required for the church celebrations following the weddings.

PHOTOGRAPHS. The designated photographer is asked to consult with the presider during the rehearsal or prior to the wedding. A separate guide sheet for taking pictures indicates the designated areas for non-flash pictures or video coverage during the ceremony. Friends and relatives are asked to put cameras away after the entrance procession and can resume taking pictures during the signing of the register. No additional lighting may be used in the church.

PUNCTUALITY. The party for the Saturday 11:30 am wedding has to arrive 15 minutes before and leave the parking lot by 12:45 pm at the latest. The party for the 1:00 pm wedding starts to arrive at 12:45 pm and has to leave the parking lot by 2:15 pm. The party for the 2:30 pm wedding starts to arrive at 2:15 pm and has to leave the parking lot before 4:00 pm when the next church service begins. Our security personnel will see to it that photography within the church area is finished by the time allowed for the respective wedding parties.

VISITING PRIESTS. Permission from the bishop and authorization from the Government of Alberta are required for visiting priests to solemnize marriages. The visiting priest has to inform the office of his intention to officiate the wedding by e-mail, fax or mail within thirty (30) days after the registration of the wedding. The visiting priest agrees to abide by the pertinent parish customs and policies regarding the celebration of marriage.

THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION is strongly recommended as part of the preparations for the Catholic parties to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony as they make marriage a new beginning. Sacred Heart Church celebrates the Sacrament on Saturdays, 4:00 to 4:45 pm or by special appointment. The non-Catholic party may choose to talk with the priest about issues which might be helpful in the marriage.

REHEARSALS are scheduled the day before the wedding. All those having a part in the wedding are to be present, including bridesmaids, grooms, ushers, readers and parents. This is only a “walkthrough” of the ceremony. It is not a time for musicians, including singers, to “rehearse”. Punctuality is to be observed. Please consult the city or its website for road repairs or traffic issues happening in the area on your wedding and rehearsal days.

WEDDINGS FROM OTHER PARISHES. If neither party belongs to Sacred Heart Church, written permission from the parish priest of bride and/or groom, also indicating his willingness to help complete the wedding requirements if this is the case, is required. In order to book the wedding, a copy of a completed FORM 1A and the thanksgiving fee of $450.00 are to be submitted. All required subsequent documentations are to be received by the office forty-five (45) days before the wedding.

CANCELLATION should be considered if there are pressures to get married or if there is lack of preparation for this lifetime commitment. Marriage must be a free choice. The priest should be able to help assess your readiness and maturity to receive the Sacrament of Marriage. If the wedding is being cancelled, let the priest and parish know about it sooner than later. Re-imbursement of fees can be considered.




At least six (6) months before the wedding, the wedding parties meet with the priest or deacon for the initial interview and the setting of the wedding date.

At least six weeks before the wedding, the wedding parties attend a Marriage Preparation Course or Workshop. A certificate of attendance is part of the marriage documentation.

At least six (6) weeks before the wedding, the wedding parties meet with the priest for the canonical interview and complete the required documentation, including the following documents:


  1. Certificate of Baptism for the Catholic party/parties, issued for marriage purposes after the initial interview. A copy of baptismal certificate of baptism of the non-Catholic party.
  2. Proof of freedom (Form 2A) & Concerning Baptism (Form 2B)
  3. Certificate of Marriage Preparation Course
  4. Musical program (approved by parish musician)
  5. Wedding Service program (readings, prayers, vows & blessings)
  6. Permission letter from parish priest (if from another parish)
  7. Marriage License
  8. Complete legal names of two (2) witnesses with their respective complete mailing addresses (with postal codes) and Phone Numbers.

At least a month before the wedding, the Catholic parties celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation as an immediate preparation for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.