Wedding Guidelines

“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined, let not man put asunder.”

Mark 10:6-9

St. Mary’s Parish congratulates you as you prepare for one of the most sacred moments of your lives: your Marriage. In choosing to celebrate Marriage as a Sacrament, you have chosen to invite God into your new life together in an intimate and powerful way. Christ performed His very first miracle, the changing of water into wine, at a Wedding in Cana of Galilee. May He now transform your beautiful love into something even richer, stronger, and more enduring by His grace.

St. Mary’s is honored to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage with you and we stand ready to assist you in every way. Please carefully review the Marriage information on the following pages, and feel free to call us if you have any additional questions. May your Wedding day mark the beginning of great happiness, as you follow Christ no longer separately, but as a man and woman united in His love. God bless you!

Preparing for your Marriage

Meetings with the Priest

Prior to setting the date for your Wedding, it is required that you plan an initial meeting with a parish priest. It is recommended that this meeting take place as soon as possible and at least six months prior to your Wedding. This will be one of a series of meetings that will allow both you and the priest to get to know each other as well as to discuss the vocation of Marriage. The gathering of documentation required for the Marriage register, as well as planning the Wedding celebration will occur at these meetings. If you wish to integrate special cultural customs into your ceremony please discuss these customs with the priest at this time. Even if you are inviting visiting clergy to officiate at your Wedding, a meeting with the parish priest is required.

Setting the Date and Time

In order to allow ample time for the celebration of your Wedding ceremony it is important that it be planned around regularly scheduled parish liturgies. Weddings may take place any day of the week. On Saturdays, Weddings may be scheduled no earlier than 10:15 AM and no later than 3:00 PM. On Sundays, Weddings may begin no earlier than 2:00 PM and no later than 4 PM. You may discuss the availability of a Wedding date and time at your initial meeting with the priest. Please schedule your rehearsal at that same initial meeting so that conflicts do not arise with additional church events.

Visiting Clergy

If you wish to invite a visiting priest or deacon to preside at your Wedding we are happy to accommodate you. Visiting clergy must receive delegation from the pastor for this forthcoming Marriage. Out of state clergy are also required to gain authorization from the Office of the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Also, an initial meeting with a priest from St. Mary’s is still required before a Wedding may be booked. The couple will be expected to arrange (with either the visiting clergy or the parish priest), discussions pertaining to the vocation of Marriage, the planning of the Wedding celebration and the conducting of the Wedding rehearsal. Please note that all St. Mary’s Wedding policies still apply if a visiting priest or deacon presides at your Wedding.

Marriage Preparation Program

As Marriage is a lifelong commitment, participation in a Marriage Preparation Program is required. These programs, sometimes called Pre-Cana, are meant to give you the opportunity to reflect on the important issues relating to Marriage and the unique aspects of your own relationship.You are welcome to enroll in Marriage Preparation at any Catholic parish or Catholic Retreat House offering programs. The Diocese of Boston has additional information about its Transformed in Love program including a schedule of upcoming sessions at Evangelize Boston.

Wherever you attend, a certificate of completion must be returned to St. Mary’s.


A new copy of your ‘Baptismal record with all sacramental notations’ should be mailed directly from the church of your Baptism to St. Mary’s Parish (8 Church St., Holliston, MA, 01746) in care of the priest doing your Wedding. This must be dated within six months of the Wedding date (no sooner). Other church documents may be requested according to your situation. You must also contact a Massachusetts town or city hall to obtain Marriage license information. The Marriage license must be presented at your Wedding rehearsal.

Your Private Preparation

As an engaged couple, you are always spiritually preparing for your Wedding day on your own. Just as you work on your relationship with each other by spending time together, talking, and listening to each other, so these same efforts should be happening to strengthen your relationship with God, Who will be the third partner of your Marriage. One of the most important ways you do this is by your participation in Sunday Mass each weekend, one hour a week that you dedicate specially to God. God is everywhere, but He promised that when two or three gather in His name He will be present in a very powerful way. Furthermore, Jesus instructed us to celebrate the Eucharist in order to stay close to Him, ‘Do this in memory of me.’ Luke 22:19

It is at Sunday Mass that you talk to God in prayer united with His whole family the Church, and that God speaks back to you through the Scriptures, His living Word. It is at Mass that God will feed you spiritually with the Body and Blood of Christ, strengthening you in holiness of life. The more perfectly you are able to ‘love God and love your neighbor as yourself,’ the better prepared you will be for your new life together. The Mass will help you in this way.


Sexual intimacy is a beautiful gift from God. It is an expression of love and commitment. It is the means by which God’s greatest gift, the gift of new life, is bestowed. It is also something that only finds its proper and most meaningful expression within the Marriage covenant. There are today many financial and societal pressures on a couple to consider cohabitation prior to Marriage. Nevertheless, living together outside of Marriage is gravely contrary to Christian moral teaching and very often has a detrimental effect on later married life. In fact, couples who cohabitate are statistically twice as likely to divorce as those whose engagement is chaste.

It is therefore expected that a cohabitating couple preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage will privately determine when they will again embrace the chastity to which all single Christians are called. This should happen as soon as possible, and be immediately followed by reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This will allow Catholic engaged persons to receive Holy Communion once more, since their lifestyle will now be in harmony with the moral teachings of Jesus Christ. It will also allow them to experience a wonderful sense of ‘newness’ when they finally do come together as husband and wife on their Wedding day, Wedding night, and beyond. Most importantly, it will allow the couple to receive the Sacrament of Marriage in a state of grace.

Planning your Wedding


Music enhances the sacred nature of your Wedding. Immediately after you have had your first meeting with the priest, (at which he will officially book your wedding), please contact St. Mary’s Parish Music Ministry. at: [email protected]. Together you will discuss the selection of music for the Wedding service. Guest musicians, whether singers or instrumentalists are always welcome. However, experience in the music of Catholic liturgy is required. The priest must approve all guest musicians and their program ahead of time. For a sample of typical instrumental selections, please click here.


Your family or florist may decorate the church with fresh flowers keeping in mind the importance of maintaining the liturgical environment. Flowers placed in the sanctuary traditionally remain after the ceremony. Your offering of flowers beautifies God’s altar throughout the weekend Masses, and allows the people of St. Mary’s Parish to share your joy.

Depending on the date of your Wedding, the church may already be decorated for a special event such as Easter or Christmas. Weddings scheduled during Lent and Advent will be more subdued in the extent of decoration. The priest will answer any questions about decorations when you select your date.

It is suggested that two flower arrangements be placed in the sanctuary. If you wish, four arrangements may also be used. Remember that the kneelers for the bride and groom are always placed in the center of the sanctuary facing the altar, so flowers placed there would not be seen and do not allow ample room for the priest to conduct the Wedding. Please note that flowers are never placed on top of the altar table itself.

Other suggestions for decoration are bows or simple sprays attached to the center aisle pews, decoration of the outside railings with bows, ribbon, or simple sprays. Florist clips or elastic should be used to attach such items to pews and railings. Tacks or tape that may damage finished wood surfaces may not be used. Removal of such decorations by your family or friends must be completed promptly after your Wedding.

For your information, the center aisle of the church is 68 feet long. If you are having a white aisle runner please make arrangements with your florist to position and pin the runner at the head of the center aisle before the ceremony. As most runners today are made of disposable materials, removal and disposal of the runner will take place after your ceremony unless prior arrangements have been made with you to keep it.

Check with the priest to see at what time your florist may decorate the church, as this varies according to the schedule of other events in the church that day.

Church Capacity

There are 20 pews on either side of the center aisle seating up to 400 people. The church has an elevator making it handicap accessible. Restrooms are located in the Parish Center, which is handicap accessible from the main parking lot.

Planning your Liturgy

Structure of the Wedding

Your Wedding may take place as either a Nuptial Mass or a ceremony. You will discuss the difference between the two at your meeting with the priest. You may review the literature you will be given (e.g., Together for Life) to guide you in selecting readings and responses for your celebration. Any questions you may have are welcome and should be directed to the priest who is working with you.

Your Wedding Party

When selecting those special family members or close friends to be your bridal attendants and ushers careful consideration should be given to choosing Wedding party members who will both assist and enhance your liturgy. If you are asking young children to be part of your Wedding party, please consider how they will respond to being in front of people in a church setting as well as their ability to follow instructions.


To uphold the sense of the sacred, we ask that your photographer or videographer familiarize her/himself with the actual ceremony and church layout so as to be as unobtrusive as possible. We ask that they not enter the actual sanctuary area. Your photographer should introduce her/himself to the priest performing the ceremony ahead of time. Depending on the time of your Wedding, approval for picture taking inside the church after the ceremony must be obtained from the pastor as other parish activities may be scheduled. Note: Visiting clergy may not be aware of the parish schedule.

Other Important Facts

The Rehearsal

The Wedding rehearsal will be conducted by the priest or clergy presiding at your Wedding ceremony. All attendants, readers, gift bearers, and parents should attend the rehearsal so that every aspect of the ceremony may be reviewed. As mentioned earlier, the time of your rehearsal should be scheduled at the same time the Wedding itself is scheduled. Again, other church activities may be scheduled before or after your rehearsal so punctuality is urged for all attending. Your Marriage license must be brought to the rehearsal and given to the priest, who will complete and mail it in. We recommend that all offerings also be handled at this time.

Wedding Planners

If a Wedding planner is involved with your Wedding, his/her responsibilities do not extend to the rehearsal or ceremony in the church. All protocols for the Wedding ceremony, as well as activities at the church before and after the ceremony, are directed by the parish clergy.

Receiving Lines

If time permits, receiving lines may be held outside the church. Please speak with the pastor in advance to obtain approval.

Respect for Church Property

It is important to note that alcoholic beverages (including champagne) are prohibited from church property. This information should be relayed to limousine drivers and well-meaning family and friends. Gum chewing inside the church is also inappropriate.

Note: Flower petals, confetti, birdseed or rice may not be thrown inside or outside of the church as they present a safety hazard to others and are difficult to clean up especially in wet weather. Balloons are also discouraged due to the environmental concerns. Bubbles and bells are allowed.