Planning Your Wedding at St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
A Prayer in Preparation for Marriage
Heavenly Father, thank you for the wonderful gift of our love, which has already brought us so much joy. Grant that we may continue to love reverently, patiently, and generously so that we may see You in each other.
We ask You to guide our understanding that our love and compassion may deepen and mature. In these hurried days of preparation, grant us the peace and the calmness to reflect upon the sacramental moment when You will seal and sanctify our vows, binding us together in profound intimacy.
Grant us the grace to realize that soon our unique love will be caught up and transformed into Your boundless love. Then we will no longer be a man and a woman in love – but husband and wife, and an image of You and Your Church, with a special right to supernatural help, and a special commission to create love in each other, in our children, and in the family of God. In joy or in sorrow, in richness or poverty, in sickness and in health, may our love grow in Your Divine love till death do us part.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is a wonderful time in your life. To love and to be loved is one of the best experiences we humans can have. One of the central insights of our faith is this: “God is love. Those who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (John 4:16)
Planning for marriage means more than just planning for a wedding ceremony. Preparing for a lifetime together in this modern world involves time, grace, and communication.
Marriage is a mutually binding covenant embracing permanence, fidelity, and childbearing in accord with the will of God.
“The Matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (Code of Canon Law # 1055).
Jesus raised the marriage contract to the dignity of the Sacrament of Matrimony, thus placing the help of His blessing toward successful fulfillment of the vocation of marriage.
In the case of a non-Catholic bride or groom, appropriate instruction is required by the officiating priest to facilitate proper understanding of the Faith commitment of the Catholic person. In a case where there has been a previous marriage, documentation can become more complicated, so no date will be set until all is in proper order in terms of the Canon Laws of the Catholic Church.
Couples should begin preparing for their marriage at the same time they announce their engagement. Adequate time must be anticipated for marriage preparation. The Catholic Church of Chicago asks that a minimum of six months be set aside.
A meeting with the parish priest or deacon should be arranged shortly after you become engaged.
Couples should not set a firm wedding date or rent a hall until after they have contacted a priest to secure a church date and time and to discuss their plans.
Couples spend an enormous amount of time preparing for the big day. We also want you to spend time in formal preparation for your lifetime together.
“The path to Heaven through the Sacrament of Matrimony.”
This is the motto of “One in Christ,” a two-day marriage preparation seminar offered monthly throughout the Chicago area, and is the standard program used by St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish.
The One in Christ Marriage Seminar is designed to prepare you and your fiancé for the Sacrament of Matrimony. One in Christ presents both the sacramental theology and the practical “tools” of Christian Marriage so that you and your fiancé may reach an understanding of how marriage is a participation in the life of Heaven and what that means for your lives together here on earth.
The course presents the truth, beauty, and goodness of marriage and family life. This approach is very appealing to today’s couples, assaulted as they are by much secular negativity about marriage. Our goal is not just to present information on marriage, but rather to help you and your fiancé see the what, why, and how of the Church’s teaching in relation to marriage.
The seminar begins with a basic catechesis on the Catholic Faith. You and your fiancé will find your faith reinvigorated by learning the Church’s teachings in the context of marriage preparation. Deeply rooted in Scripture, Catholic Tradition, the Lives of the Saints, and Papal Encyclicals, this seminar will not only prepare you and your fiancé to see the truth, beauty, and goodness of marriage and family life, but also to show how God and His grace are the means to a happy, healthy, holy, and lasting marriage.
The seminar takes place on two Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is a $250 fee which covers the two days, books, resources, catered breakfasts and lunches, Natural Family Planning class, and stipends.
Registration information can be found at: www.oneinchristmarriage.com.
At St. Elizabeth of the Trinity we also require couples to complete “Catholic Couple Checkup,” an online instrument for marriage preparation. The Catholic Couple Checkup is an assessment tool designed to identify the unique relationship strengths and growth areas of dating, engaged, or married couples.
Couples receive a 15 – 20 page report on their relationship and can download a free Discussion Guide, designed to help them learn proven relationship skills. Research has shown this process improves relationships by stimulating honest dialogue, increasing understanding, and empowering couples.
The Catholic Couple Checkup will help couples discover their relationship strengths. Strengths are what enable couples to enjoy and continue developing a healthy relationship. It will also help identify issues that are threatening the vitality of their relationship and may need to be addressed.
Go to: www.catholicouplecheckup.com to register and complete the process. Please forward the electronic results of the check-up to the priest preparing you for marriage.
Planning the Ceremony
Wedding Masses and/or ceremonies are available on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. and other days of the week, except Sunday or during Lent.
Weddings cannot start later than 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays due to Confessions at 3:30 p.m. and preparation for the 5:00 p.m. Parish Mass.
Time for photography after a 3:00 p.m. wedding is limited because of the time needed to set up the church for 5:00 p.m. Mass. Saturday Wedding Masses do not fulfill the Sunday Mass Obligation.
The priest will give you a booklet “Together for Life” containing the various Scripture readings and prayers for a Catholic Wedding ceremony.
After you have made your selections and once you have completed the Marriage Preparation, the priest will assist you in finalizing the specifics of your wedding ceremony.
- A copy of your Baptismal Certificate (no older than six months old) from where the sacrament was received.
- A Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire for both bride and groom.
- Affidavits. In general, two affidavits are required regarding each individual’s freedom to marry. Parents, siblings, or close relatives are normally the best witnesses to this fact. The papers must be filled out by a Catholic priest or deacon. Your loved one can go to their local parish to fill these out.
- Marriage License: To obtain a license, both parties must appear at the Cook County Clerk’s office. Information on office locations, hours of operations, ID requirements, fee amount, and other items of interest can be found at the following website: www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/marriage-licenses.
- The marriage license is valid for sixty days. Please give the license to the priest no later than at the rehearsal.
- Attendance card for One in Christ marriage preparation class.
Marriage banns are published in the bulletin of the home parish of each individual for the three weeks prior to the ceremony.
The Marriage Ceremony
If both bride and groom are Catholic, it is most fitting that the marriage vows be exchanged at Mass and that the Holy Eucharist be received by the couple. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is highly encouraged for Catholics before they get married.
When a Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic Christian, a Mass is discouraged, since many in attendance presumably would not be able to receive Holy Communion. If one is Catholic and one is not baptized, the Church does not allow a Mass.
Two St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Altar Servers will assist at the wedding ceremony, unless you advise us that you have chosen other servers. It is customary that each server receives a monetary gift. This is usually given immediately after the ceremony.
The Parish Music Director will assist in the selection of appropriate sacred music and songs. Although non-sacred music may have a deep personal meaning to you, it may not be fitting for the Rite of Marriage.
A guest organist or singer(s) will be allowed only upon the approval of the Music Director. In every case, the music should be played and performed by competent and well-trained artists.
The Music Director will provide you with a written contract outlining your choices, costs, etc. The Music Director sets his/her own fee and couples deal directly with him/her.
The fee for the marriage offering at St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Church is $300. This is payable no later than on the day of the rehearsal.
The rehearsal will be arranged by the officiating priest. It usually takes place one or two days before the wedding. It involves the bridal party, lectors, parents, gift bearers and the priest or deacon.
The rehearsal is a practice of the ceremony and lasts no more than an hour, provided everyone is punctual.
Flowers and Candles
Flowers enhance the beauty of the ceremony. However, since the bride and groom are the focus, we recommend restraint in designing floral arrangements. Two large bouquets, one on either side in front of the altar are often enough.
The couple should make arrangements with a florist of their own choosing. The aisle runner, if one is used, is supplied by the florist. Our aisle is 84 feet long. No wire, tape or other material which may cause damage is to be used on the pews.
Programs/ Worship Aids
Some couples wish to print a liturgical program (worship aid) for their guests. Please consult the priest celebrating your wedding before finalizing the copy. We recommend that you print an outline of the ceremony rather than the complete text of all the prayers and readings. Thus, your guests can focus their attention on the ceremony rather than the printed words of the booklet.
Our policy is to permit photographs and video taping during the ceremony, provided that they do not detract from the sacred nature of the Sacrament of Marriage. Flashes may be used only during the procession.
Please inform your photographer or videographer that they should check with the priest prior to the ceremony as to his personal preferences regarding photography.
After the wedding ceremony, photos may be taken in Church if time permits. All are reminded that this is a house of God and not a studio. People are often in Church praying, so a quiet, respectful way of doing this would be appreciated.
We welcome Visiting Clergy if there is some special relationship to the bride or groom. The visiting Priest will be responsible for: a) filling out the marriage forms and papers; b) working on the readings and wedding liturgy with you; c) handling the wedding rehearsal; and d) filling out and sending in the marriage license.
If not a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the priest needs a “Letter of Good Standing” sent from their Chancery Office.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So, faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – (1Cor 13:4-13)