Please contact the parish office at least 9 months prior to the intended date of marriage. No wedding date is set until initial interview and pre-marriage inventory is complete. Couples seeking a Catholic wedding are expected be to living a Catholic-Christian lifestyle prior to wedding.
PROGRAM AND POLICIES
Welcome to the sometimes bewildering world of marriage preparation. For many couples planning marriage, there seem to be a lot of confusing elements to the preparation process, and being in the dark about these elements can add unnecessary tension to a period in your life that is already filled with anxiety.
There are many decisions that have to be made, and we at Immaculate Conception want to help you through these pressures of preparation in a way that will best meet your needs. This information is intended to help you understand better the process of getting married in the Church and to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about marriage preparation. You will, no doubt, have questions even after reading this brochure, but these can be answered by one of our parish priests or deacons when you meet with him for the initial interview.
HOW DO WE BEGIN ?
The first step is to contact the parish office at Immaculate Conception (303-665-5103) to make an appointment with Fr. Bob or Fr. Tom. This initial contact must take place AT LEAST NINE MONTHS PRIOR to the expected date of marriage. This initial contact must be made by the bride-to-be or groom-to-be.
THE FIVE MAIN ELEMENTS OF MARRIAGE PREPARATION
(1) FOCCUS is an inventory of attitudes and ideas that each couple is asked to complete. This assists the couple and the counselor/priest to determine the levels of mutual understanding of the couple in some of the following areas:
|Life style expectations
||Religion and values
|Friends and Interests
(2) COUPLES' WORKSHOP on "God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage" given by the Archdiocese of Denver. This one-day couples workshop explains in a positive, contemporary way the timeless wisdom of Catholic teaching on God's plan for marriage and offers practical suggestions on how couples can implement it in their own lives.
The morning session, Catholic Faith and Your Marriage, provides an overview of biblical teaching on marriage and explains the meaning and importance of the commitments made in the exchange of vows.
The afternoon session Sacramental Sexuality, draws from the scriptural foundation already laid to present the beauty and goodness of God's plan for sexual union, explaining the whats of Catholic teaching in a way that makes sense to woman and men today. Honest, positive discussion throughout the day aims to demonstrate the true joy of embracing God's plan for marital love.
The workshops are held on Saturdays throughout the year, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and the cost of the workshop is $75.00 per couple (includes lunch, workbooks and text book). More information is available in a brochure which can be obtained at your the initial meeting.
(3) LIFE SKILLS FOR MARRIAGE is a series of sessions looking at various aspects of married life, augmented by the personal insights and experiences of married couples and allowing for discussion and feedback by the engaged couples attending. Our parish works with Sacred Heart of Mary in Boulder who offer the Friday night-Saturday program. There are several other alternatives available as well. These can be discussed at the initial meeting.
(4) NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING A series of three or four meetings, one month apart, are offered at various locations in the greater Denver/Boulder metro area to instruct couples in the process for practicing natural family planning. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a method of observing the signs and symptoms of a woman's recurring fertility and infertility in order to act on this information to either avoid or achieve pregnancy. Learning how to observe and chart and interpret the various changes in the woman's monthly cycle can take three or four classes, including individual follow-up. But this method of planning helps the couple to develop a stronger, more loving and supportive sexual and spiritual relationship. It is an investment of time that will pay great physical, emotional and spiritual dividends.
(5) PERSONAL MEETINGS will be scheduled with the priest/deacon who will be witnessing your wedding. It is important that the priest/deacon get to know you, and this will also help the couple to be more at ease at the time of the rehearsal and wedding. If you are not getting married at Immaculate Conception, it will still be necessary to meet with one of the priests or deacons at Immaculate Conception to take care of the pre-marriage documentation and permissions.
There are forms that have to be filled out for the Church (cf. below) as well as planning the actual wedding ceremony, and the priest/deacon will help you through this as well.
DOCUMENTS TO BE FILLED OUT
If you are getting married at Immaculate Conception or outside the Archdiocese of Denver all of the pre-marriage documentation is handled here at Immaculate Conception. If you are getting married at another parish within the Archdiocese of Denver, the documentation can be taken care of there. Basically the forms are simple and few.
(1) Pre-nuptial testimony of both bride and groom.
(2) Pre-nuptial testimony on behalf of bride and groom by parents or someone who has known them well for years.
(3) In the case of a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, a permission or dispensation request is made which includes a promise made by the Catholic party as follows:
“I, N , reaffirm my faith in Jesus Christ, and, with God's help, intend to continue
living that faith in the Catholic Church. At the same time, I acknowledge the respect
I owe to the conscience of my partner in the marriage. I promise to do all that I can
to share that faith which I have received with our children by having them baptized
and reared as Catholics."
Obviously, this is a matter which involves the cooperation of the non-Catholic spouse even though he/she does not have to make the promise.
OTHER DOCUMENTS NEEDED
(1) Baptism records for Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. For Catholics the certificate has to be issued within six months of the date of the wedding. The priest/deacon can assist you in obtaining this record.
(2) Record of First Communion and Confirmation for Catholics. The record of Confirmation should be with the newly issued Baptism certificate. If not, it will have to be obtained separately. If the Catholic has not been confirmed, this should be discussed with the priest/deacon.
(3) A marriage license from the state in which you are being married must be obtained. If you are being married in the state of Colorado, you can obtain a license from any county clerk's office in the state. Both parties must be present to get the license, and it is valid for 30 days from date of issuance. No medical tests are required in Colorado. Other states may have different requirements.
(1) PREVIOUS MARRIAGE It may happen that one or both of the parties to be married have been married before. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of all marriages unless it can be shown that there were elements lacking in the previous marriage which would make it possible for the Church to declare that the previous bond is nullified. This applies to previous marriages of both Catholics and non-Catholics. No formal wedding preparations can be made until the previous marriage(s) are declared nullified by the Church.
2) PERMISSION TO BE MARRIED IN A PLACE OTHER THAN A CATHOLIC CHURCH The proper and appropriate place for the wedding is in a Catholic church. Permission is never given for two Catholics to be married in a place other than a Catholic church, or for a priest or deacon to witness the wedding of a Catholic and baptized non-Catholic in a place other than a Catholic church. A dispensation to have the wedding in a church other than Catholic and by someone other than a Catholic priest or deacon can be obtained if significant circumstances warrant such a dispensation.
Although dispensations and permissions were given more readily in the past, such is not the case now. Do not presume that you can be married anywhere you choose because the necessary dispensations or permissions will likely not be given. Outdoor weddings and weddings in hotels, restaurants and catering centers are inappropriate for the celebration of a Catholic wedding.
THE PRIESTS AND DEACONS AT IMMACULATE CONCEPTION WILL NOT WITNESS MARRIAGES IN ANY PLACE OTHER THAN A CHURCH.
(3) PERMISSION TO BE MARRIED BY SOMEONE OTHER THAN A CATHOLIC PRIEST/DEACON Circumstances may arise in which it would be necessary for a Catholic and non-Catholic to be married in a place other than a Catholic church and by someone other than a priest or deacon. Special permission can be obtained for such circumstances so that the Catholic can remain in good standing in the Church.
FOR THE WEDDING ITSELF
1. FLOWERS AND DECORATIONS A general rule for decorating is: keep it simple. There is a lot of movement on the altar platform during the wedding, so flower arrangements will have to be placed so that they are not in the way. Pew decorations can be used, but only masking tape or strapping tape can be used. Most cellophane tapes or plastic tapes are either hard to remove or damage the wood on the pews. Please check with the priest or deacon if there is a question.
2. PHOTOGRAPHY The wedding photographer can have the use of the church until 15 minutes before the start time for the wedding. After the wedding, photographs can be taken for 30 minutes. Flash pictures can be taken of the procession and recession, but not during the ceremony itself. If there is a question regarding the lighting in the church, speak with the priest/deacon. Video taping of the wedding is permitted, but the camera and videographer should be inconspicuous. The wedding photographer is not permitted in the sanctuary area during the wedding. Remember that this is a sacred ceremony noy a photo-op.
3. RICE/CONFETTI/BIRDSEED None of these are permitted to be thrown anywhere on church property. Regarding flower petals dropped in the church in front of the bride: silk petals rather than real petals must be used because the real petals get stepped on, crushed, and stain the floor. Flower petals, aisle runner (if used), unity candle, flowers, pew decorations, all trash, hangers, plastic bags, flower boxes, etc. must all be removed from the church. The wedding party/family/friends are responsible for leaving the church and its environs in the same condition as they found it. The trash can be placed in the trash receptacles.