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Congratulations to both of you on your engagement and your decision to enter into the beautiful vocation of married life! To help you with your planning, here are our policies regarding getting married at St. Mary’s Parish. The first step is to please read these policies carefully so that you fully understand them in advance, and then sign and return them to the parish secretary, Mary Sutarik. Then the pastor Fr. Bill Vander Werff will contact you to schedule an initial meeting.
As Catholics, we believe that marriage is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ to give couples who have chosen to make a lifelong commitment to each other the grace to live out this beautiful vocation. The purpose of any marriage is two-fold: for the mutual good of the spouses (the unitive aspect), and for the purpose of having and raising children in a loving and stable home environment (the procreative aspect). As such, couples who desire to receive the Catholic sacrament of marriage must promise to be faithful to their spouse for life and to be open to having children and raising them in the Catholic faith. It is also an expectation of any couples who wish to get married at St. Mary’s, whether they are parishioners here or not, that they be practicing their faith (i.e., attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days).
It is possible for a Catholic to marry a baptized, non-Catholic Christian or a non-baptized person. However, in this situation, both parties must agree to respect the beliefs and conscience of the other, and the Catholic party does have to promise to do his or her best to ensure that their children be baptized and raised Catholic.
Weddings can be reserved a minimum of 6 months and up to a maximum of 16 months in advance from the date of the couple’s initial meeting with the pastor. Wedding and rehearsal dates and times will only be reserved on our parish calendar when the deposit is paid (see below).
Please consult with the pastor regarding your wedding date and time. Availability is subject to the parish schedule and liturgical requirements of the Catholic Church. Weddings are not scheduled on Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation, St. Mary’s Parish Festival Saturday, and the weekends of the Coast Guard Festival. Due to our Mass schedule, the latest time weddings can begin here on Saturdays is 1:00 pm, and all photos must be completed by no later than 3:00 pm.
The fee for weddings at St. Mary’s is $350 for active, registered parishioners and includes use of the church and some of the marriage preparation-related costs and paperwork. The parish fee does not include fees for the musician, a cantor or soloist, and the wedding coordinator, which are paid directly to them. [An active parishioner is one who attends Mass weekly and has been contributing to the church collection on a weekly basis for at least six months.]
The fee for non-registered couples or for parishioners who are not contributing on a weekly basis to the parish collection is $1000. This does not include fees for the musician, cantor, or wedding coordinator which are paid directly to them. It is expected that couples who are not St. Mary’s parishioners be attending Mass weekly at their home parish and complete their marriage preparation at their home parish. They should then arrange with their parish to have their marriage paperwork sent to St. Mary’s no less than 6 weeks prior to the wedding.
An initial deposit of $200 for active, registered parishioners, or $500 for non-registered individuals or parishioners who are not contributing to the parish on a regular basis, is required to reserve the dates for the wedding and rehearsal. It should be paid after the first meeting with the pastor. The balance of the fee is due at least four weeks before the wedding. Payment must be received in full before the wedding can take place.
All weddings officiated by non-parish clergy must request and receive delegation by the pastor of St. Mary’s. They must observe all diocesan guidelines regarding clergy. If they are not from the Diocese of Grand Rapids, they must obtain a letter of suitability from their bishop or religious superior and have it sent to the Diocese of Grand Rapids (they will be familiar with this requirement). Contact information for the visiting priest is due when the deposit is made. The couple should expect to pay a stipend (not included in the wedding fee) to the visiting priest or deacon who celebrates the wedding. Non-Catholic clergy may participate in the wedding ceremony, but the Catholic minister must receive the vows and be the primary celebrant.
Liturgical Environment / Decorations
All questions concerning flowers and other decorations should be directed to the parish wedding coordinator; what is permitted will be at her discretion. Advent and Lent are special seasons of the Church and so have greater restrictions for what is permitted, so these are not ideal times to schedule a wedding.
Please note the following:
All weddings at St. Mary’s follow the guidelines set forth in the Catholic Church’s Order of Celebrating Matrimony and as set by the competent Church authorities. Traditions such as the unity candle are not a normal part of the rite of marriage and should be reserved for the reception or immediately before the ceremony rather than during the ceremony itself. Please refer any questions regarding the liturgy to the pastor or the parish wedding coordinator. All music must be approved liturgical music. Recorded music is not permitted.
Our wedding coordinator will direct the rehearsal. The date and time should be decided with her well in advance; normally it takes place the evening before the wedding, provided there are no scheduling conflicts. Please make sure that anyone who has a role in the wedding (wedding party, readers, parents) be present for the rehearsal and arrives promptly. Please allow about 30-40 minutes for the rehearsal.
Proper Decorum in Church
No rice, birdseed, confetti or similar substances may be thrown in the church building or on church property. Also, please no gum, food, or drink other than water in the church.
Use of alcohol and illegal substances on site is prohibited. Violation of this policy will forfeit deposits and fees paid and terminate the wedding celebration. Anyone found under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be asked to leave the premises; wedding couples under the influence risk invalidation of marriage.
The steps involved in marriage preparation at St. Mary’s include:
Name of Bride: _______________________________ ________________________________
Printed name Signature
Phone number: _______________________________
Name of Groom: ______________________________ ________________________________
Printed name Signature
Phone number: _______________________________
St. Mary’s Parish ‐ Effective July 20, 2022