Wedding preparation program
Married couples are among God’s most cherished gifts to the Church. We believe in what Saint John says in one of his letters, “Where love is, there is God.”
To witness the love of a man and woman in the sacrament of marriage is to glimpse God. That is why marriage fills us with wonder and gratitude. For this reason too, we as Catholics take preparation for the sacrament of marriage seriously.
As you consider the possibility of celebrating your marriage in the Saint Louis Cathedral Basilica, these guidelines will detail some of the specifics surrounding the planning of a wedding here. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Mary Ann Fox at 314-373-8208.
Part I: Confirming the Cathedral for your wedding
Before any arrangements can be made, please call Mary Ann Fox, Event Coordinator, at 314-373-8208 to reserve a date for your wedding. You may schedule your wedding on Friday evening, Saturday morning, or until 1:30 pm Saturday afternoon. If you wish a weekday wedding, you may arrange for this with the Cathedral Staff, pending availability of the Church. On days when more than one wedding is scheduled, there will be an interval of one and one half hours between them.
Once a tentative date has been reserved, you will need to do the following:
- IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE CATHEDRAL PARISH, you should contact a member of the Cathedral clergy prior to arranging any of the other details of your wedding. The initial meeting will enable the priest/deacon to outline the requirements of marriage preparation for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, as well as specific details for weddings at the Cathedral. This meeting will also allow you to clarify any questions you may have regarding the requirements. The date will be held once the priest / deacon agrees to the date and the contract is signed. The couple WILL need to attend 2 meetings in addition to their marriage preparations sessions–one for music; the other to review general protocol with the wedding sacristan. For parishioners who have been registered and actively supporting the parish for a minimum of 6 months, a $1,000 donation is required before the date is confirmed. For parishioners who have been registered for less than 6 months at the time the wedding date is booked, a $2,000 donation is required. This is suggested as the minimum offering for use of the Church, and is not intended to limit your generosity. This fee also includes a professionally trained cantor and wedding sacristan.
- IF YOU LIVE WITHIN THE CATHEDRAL PARISH BOUNDARIES BUT ARE NOT REGISTERED AS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE CATHEDRAL PARISH (or have not been active for at least one year), a member of the Cathedral clergy will be happy to meet with you to discuss your marriage plans. The requirements and meetings detailed above for registered parishioner still apply, however the minimum donation required before the date is confirmed for a non-registered or inactive resident is $2,000. This is suggested as the minimum offering for use of the Church, and is not intended to limit your generosity. This fee also includes a professionally trained cantor and wedding sacristan.
- IF YOU ARE NOT A REGISTERED ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE CATHEDRAL PARISH AND YOU LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE PARISH BOUNDARIES, you must:
- Obtain written permission of the Pastor of the parish in which either the bride or the groom reside, if both are Catholic. If only one member of the engaged couple is of the Catholic faith, then the written permission is obtained from the Pastor of the Catholic party. This permission is granted by completion of the “Form for Pastor’s Permission”, included in the initial marriage preparation packet. This form not only grants permission for the couple to marry outside of their own parish boundaries, but also confirms the person/couple’s status as Catholic(s) in good-standing.
- Contact the priest/deacon who will be officiating at your wedding. This may be a priest/deacon from one of your parishes or another priest/deacon with whom you are acquainted. He will need to agree to the following: accept responsibility for sharing in your marriage preparation with you; complete all the necessary paperwork and file it with us PRIOR to the time of your wedding rehearsal; be present for your wedding rehearsal; witness your marriage.
- A $2,000 minimum donation is required before the date is confirmed. This is suggested as the minimum offering for use of the Church, and is not intended to limit your generosity. This fee also includes a professionally trained cantor and wedding sacristan;
- Sign and submit the contract, all forms, and full payment; and
- Attend 2 meetings with Cathedral Staff – one to set up music; the other with the wedding sacristan to review policies and protocol, as well as discuss all elements of ceremony, including method and order of entrance procession, Liturgy of the Word, presentations to Blessed Virgin (if desired), and whether Cathedral Basilica servers will be required.
Whether registered parishioner or non-parishioner, complete and return contract and all required forms with your check to Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 4431 Lindell Boulevard, Saint Louis, Missouri, 63108, by the due date provided on the contract. Note well: No date is considered final until all of the above is received by the Cathedral.
** YOU MUST CALL THE WEDDING COORDINATOR AT 314-373-8236 TO REVIEW CERTAIN PROTOCOL BEFORE MAKING ARRANGEMENTS WITH FLORISTS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, ETC.
Part II: Preparing for your marriage
In accord with the marriage preparation policy established by the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, you will need to complete the following:
- Preliminary assessment of readiness for marriage (FOCCUS).
- Participation in at least one Archdioceasan recommended marriage preparation programs.
- Completion of the necessary forms for our Church records, including copies of baptismal certificates.
- Plan the ceremony with the assistance of priest/deacon and Director of Music Ministries for the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
- If the priest/deacon who is to witness your marriage serves outside of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, please discuss this with a member of the Cathedral Pastoral staff as soon as possible.
Part III: Planning your ceremony
Your wedding celebration must follow the directives of the Church; however, you will have some options within those directives from which you can personalize your wedding celebration. In approaching the planning sessions, please be mindful of the following:
- The Cathedral Sanctuary can accommodate wedding parties, including the bride, groom, and attendants, up to 14 people. Additional attendants may be included in the wedding party, however, they will be required to sit outside the communion rail.
- If both bride and groom are practicing Catholics, you are encouraged to celebrate your wedding within the context of the Eucharist.
- If one of you is not Catholic, it may be more appropriate to celebrate the wedding ceremony within a service of Scripture readings and prayers which would enable all of your guests to fully participate.
- If either the bride or the groom has never been baptized in any Church, the wedding ceremony outside of the Eucharist is the only option.
- All music for your wedding will be arranged at a meeting with the Cathedral organist scheduled to play for your wedding. Contact the music department at 314-373-8228 to set up a meeting 2-3 months prior to your wedding in order to discuss musical selections for your wedding or to schedule additional musicians or choirs.
- Only music integral to the wedding liturgy and appropriate to the sacredness of the celebration is permitted.
- The Cathedral organist is employed for all weddings and will suggest the use of cantors and instrumentalists for you to employ.
- Arrangements for visiting vocalists and instrumentalists are made with the Cathedral organist.
- All fees and stipends for your organist and/or any additional musicians are to be paid at the time your wedding contract is returned.
- Photographers are never allowed to enter the sanctuary, balcony, or pulpit.
- Flashes and camera lights are not to be used during the ceremony.
- Videographers are requested to remain stationary during the ceremony.
- With permission, posed photographs may be taken for up to thirty minutes following the ceremony in the All Saints Chapel only. Weather permitting, posed pictures may be taken outside on the grounds of the Cathedral.
Flowers and Decorations
- The use of “Unity” sand, flowers, candles and/or candelabra in the sanctuary is not permitted.
- Only fresh cut flowers and live plants are permitted in the sanctuary. Flowers used to decorate the sanctuary and altar will not be allowed to be removed from the church following the ceremony. Ribbons or tulle may be used to decorate/mark pews.
- The use of aisle runners of any kind is not allowed.
- No bottled water, gum, food, or drink of any type is allowed in the Cathedral or on its grounds. For insurance reasons, we cannot allow rice, birdseed, flower petals, or any other items thrown in or on the grounds of the Cathedral.
- Appropriate dress for rehearsal and wedding is required. No strapless gowns are allowed unless a jacket, shawl, or other covering is worn over the shoulders during the ceremony. If the attire of any member of the wedding party is deemed inappropriate, the Cathedral is within its right to immediately cancel the wedding with no refund of the wedding stipend provided. No exceptions.
- There is no facility in the Cathedral available as a dressing area.
- The wedding sacristan, on the behalf of the Cathedral Basilica and the officiating priest/deacon, assumes the responsibility for maintaining the sacred nature of the church, directing the entrance procession, and ensuring that the ceremony begins on time. Wedding parties who do not respect the space or are not prepared to begin on time run the risk of having their wedding cancelled, with no refund of the wedding stipend provided.