Guidelines for Preparing for Christian Marriage
Hello and welcome! Congratulations on your engagement to be married. If you are interested in having your wedding at St. Benedict’s, please read the following guidelines first. Then contact the parish office (262-275-2480) to check on availability. You must contact the parish at least 6 months prior to the requested wedding date. This is the time needed to complete your required marriage preparation. We suggest that you contact the parish office prior to arranging a date with a reception venue or caterer.
Diocesan policy prohibits the sacrament of Marriage outside of a church. Outdoor weddings are not permitted.
We allow two weddings per weekend (Friday-Saturday).
Fridays – 2:00 pm
Saturdays – 11:00 am or 2:00 pm
The rehearsal most often takes place the evening before the wedding at 5:00 pm. The time for the rehearsal must be arranged with the parish priest. Plan on the rehearsal lasting about one hour.
Weddings are not permitted during Advent or Lent.
Outline of Your Preparation
Preparing for Marriage, in any Catholic parish in Wisconsin, includes three basic areas:
- Liturgical Planning
Assessment includes your initial meetings with the parish priest (usually twice). A questionnaire called FOCCUS will be completed during one of your visits with the parish priest. The priest will “assess” your readiness to marry with the help of the FOCCUS questionnaire.
Instructions are provided by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at various locations throughout Southeast Wisconsin. A brochure entitled “Enrichment for the Engaged” provides a listing of dates, a description of the workshops and retreats, and a registration form. This brochure can be found at https://www.archmil.org/MarriagePreparation . You must register online.
Liturgical planning for your wedding ceremony is guided by the parish priest or deacon and the pastoral musician.
The parish provides you with Together for Life, a planning book for the ceremony. The final planning session with the priest performing the ceremony usually occurs about one month prior to the wedding date. The parish priest needs to be made aware of any special requests and/or circumstances, such as guest celebrants.
Wedding information and Fees
please click HERE to view
Engaged Couple Wedding Handbook
please click HERE to view
As a member of the Parish Pastoral Staff, it is the Pastoral Musician’s responsibility to oversee the application of our parish’s policy to all music performed during every marriage ceremony here at Saint Benedict.
The suitability of music for worship is determined through the following judgments:
MUSICAL JUDGMENT asks whether or not this music is technically, aesthetically and expressively good.
LITURGICAL JUDGMENT asks whether or not the music, and especially the words, are appropriate for a service of worship and are in keeping with a full understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage.
PASTORAL JUDGMENT is the ‘here and now’ judgment. It evaluates the music in terms of its ability to enable the people gathered for this specific occasion, in this place, to express their faith through this celebration.
It is the policy of St. Benedict Parish that one of our parish accompanists and cantors will lead the music at your wedding. Any guest soloists or instrumentalists must be approved by the Director of Music and Liturgy and will be under the direction of the Director of Music and Liturgy.”
St. Benedict has many talented accompanists and cantors. Our policy is that you use our musicians. You may add guest soloists for some special music and instrumentalists if you would like.
Wedding Music Guidelines
Because the Marriage Rite is a liturgical celebration, it calls for liturgical music. The requirements for music at the wedding liturgy are the same as for Sunday Mass or any other liturgical celebration. Each piece of music for the liturgy needs to be evaluated according to liturgical, pastoral, and musical criteria:
Is it connected to the liturgical action and does it use a text suitable for that particular part of the rite?
Does it draw the gathered assembly more deeply into the holy things being celebrated?
Is the music of good quality, capable of expressing the profound mystery of God’s love?
These criteria are drawn from the U.S. bishops’ music guidelines, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, which states…when selecting music for your wedding, there are three basic criteria:
1) Music must be able to be sung by the assembly.
2) Music must fit the spirit and structure of the liturgy.
3) Music must be of high quality and appropriate content.
The music selected for use within the wedding liturgy (whether or not that includes the Liturgy of the Eucharist) must speak of Christian marriage as a covenant involving not only a man and a woman, but also God. Wedding music should therefore, be a prayerful expression of the commitment the couple makes in the presence of other Christians. It should also be music that can involve all who are present in the praise and worship of God.
There are many songs to choose from within both the contemporary and traditional music styles that fit the above criterion; Karol Bidwill, the Director of Music and Liturgy will be happy to meet and assist you in planning the music for your wedding. The following pages contain suggestions of music commonly used during Wedding Celebrations. These suggestions can be used as a starting point to help you plan music for your Wedding day. Please feel free to consult with Karol to discuss other options, which may not be contained on this list. We are usually willing to accommodate any special musical requests you might have.
Any added guest musicians must be approved ahead of time, and are required to adhere to the guidelines set forth for a Catholic Wedding.
*Please do not make any arrangements with guest musicians before consulting with the Director of Music Ministry.
Wedding Music Suggestions
(Although commonly used, the following songs are only suggestions. Be sure to check with the Director of Music and Liturgy if you have a special song in mind that is not listed here. Please note, an additional fee may be required for the purchase of sheet music for special song requests not in our library.)
Preludes/Seating of Mothers (Select 1-3 songs):
- *Ave Verum
- Come With Me
- I Will Be Here
- Love Never Fails
- *In Love We Choose To Live (873, GC)
- In This Very Room (prelude only)
- Irish Blessing
- He Has Chosen You For Me
- Love Has Brought Us Here Together (968, G III)
- One Hand, One Heart (prelude only)
- *Panis Angelicus
- The Prayer (prelude only)
- *Set Your Heart On The Higher Gifts
- The Wedding Song
- *When Love Is Found (966, G III)
- *Where’er You Go (Bist Du Bei Mir)
- *Wherever You Go (872, GC II) or (968, G III)
- *Covenant Hymn (904, G III)
- *A Nuptial Blessing (971, G III)
- *How Beautiful
- *Every Morning in Your Eyes
- *Holy Is Your Name (102, G III)
- You Raise Me Up
- *Love Is the Sunlight/Morning Has Broken (967, G III)
- No Greater Love (701, GIII)
- other: ______________________________________
Processional for Bridesmaids (Instrumental):
Air on the G String from Orchestral Suite No. 3 (J.S. Bach)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFwZeEF5uog
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPrKqbctx8U
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (J.S. Bach)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3UuGPCCm_I
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKq5IcBFyeQ
The Ash Grove (Welsh Folk Song)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XUbkmnhggg
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avX71s18Ep4
piano version https://youtu.be/PFx3a7KfN0c
The Swan (C. Saint-Saens)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJdna626sAk
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQIDSCYnGP0
Processional for Bride (Instrumental):
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqj6ZpAD4L0
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK6heUdRr-E
Ode to Joy
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6XUFbkTQNM
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avOUHTjsWto
Trumpet Voluntary (Jeremiah Clarke, Henry Purcell)
Organ Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWpO_4YSqfA
Piano Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLs6MtFUYyw
How Beautiful (Twila Paris)
*A traditional hymn coming from the Parish hymnal could also be used as an instrumental during the processional for bridesmaids or bride (i.e. “Lord of the Dance,” “Lord of All Hopefulness,” “Canticle of the Sun,” “City of God.”)
More suggestions can be found at the following link:
For Catholic brides and grooms, we must have a recently issued official Baptismal Certificate (not more than six months old with parish seal of the issuing parish). Photocopies are not acceptable. These are obtained from the parish office of the Church in which you were baptized. No fee is charged for this service. If you need a phone number or an address we have a listing of all Catholic parishes in the United States.
For brides and grooms baptized in other Christian churches, a copy of any official baptism record is sufficient. These certificates are retained in the permanent record folder and are held by Saint Benedict Parish as official documents, so you may wish to make a photocopy to keep for your own records.
During your first meetings with the parish priest, the Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire is filled out and signed by each of you and by the priest. This is the Catholic Church’s official record of your sacrament of marriage. If you live quite a distance from Fontana, it may be more practical to arrange this step with the priest of your local parish.
If either of you have been married before, either in a church or in a civil ceremony, you need to inform the parish priest immediately. Depending upon the circumstances, more paperwork may be required which could have an effect on the date of your wedding. If your previous spouse has died, we need a copy of the death certificate. If you are out of the state of WI, you must arrange an interview with your pastor at your home parish to request an affidavit for freedom of marry. This must be signed by the pastor and witnesses.
Couples often have a relative or a family friend who is a Catholic Priest. Guest celebrants are most welcome. This includes interfaith marriages in which a minister from another Christian denomination is most welcome to co-witness the marriage in a Catholic Church. You may need a Delegation of Authority. This is written permission that officially welcomes the visiting priest or deacon to perform the wedding here at Saint Benedict. It is the responsibility of the guest celebrant to request the Delegation. If you choose to have a guest celebrant perform your wedding it is your responsibility to make sure the celebrant contacts Fr. Mark in advance of the wedding. If a guest celebrant is chosen it will be their responsibility to make sure that all the required paperwork is completed and given to Fr. Mark.
All couples that are not parishioners need a letter of Delegation to perform the wedding at St. Benedict Church. This gives permission to Fr. Mark to perform the wedding here at St. Benedict. Contact your home pastor to request this permission.
If the officiant is a priest or deacon, not from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he must include a copy of documentation that confirms he is a priest or deacon in good standing.
Other documents may be required depending on the status of the parties.
The Civil License
The civil marriage certificate is entirely your responsibility. You apply at the Walworth County Government Center, Clerk’s Office no sooner than 30 days and no later than 7 days prior to your wedding date. The Office is at 100 W. Walworth, Elkhorn, WI, Room 101, and open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. So for example, if a couple is planning on being married on a Saturday, they would have to apply at least by the Friday preceding the week of the marriage. Persons who have been divorced should contact the County Clerk’s Office for further information regarding dates and necessary papers required. Residents of the State of Wisconsin must apply before the County Clerk of the County in which either is a resident for at least 30 days. They may be married in any county in the State of Wisconsin. Non-Residents of the State of Wisconsin must apply before the County Clerk of the county which they will be married.
Both the bride and the groom must be present at the time of the county application. You must bring along a certified copy of your birth certificates and documentary proof of identification and residence (e.g. Driver’s License). The County Clerk will not accept photocopies, or a hospital certificate, or any baptismal records.
If there has been a previous marriage, the County also needs a certified copy of the Death Certificate or the Judgment of Divorce. Also, Social Security Numbers are required from both parties to assist in any future Child Support Enforcement.
There is a cash fee of $80.00 for the civil license. Checks are not accepted. You may wish to call the Walworth County Clerk at (262) 741-4241 for more information.
Please remember to bring the civil license with you to the rehearsal at Saint Benedict Church. Please note also that witnesses to a marriage, who sign the certificate, must be 18 years of age. Following the ceremony, the priest is required by law to mail the completed certificate to the Register of Deeds in the county where the ceremony occurred. Please contact the Walworth County Register of Deeds to request a copy of your marriage license:
Please contact St. Benedict Music & Liturgy Department for a list of fees.
Many visitors have worshiped at Saint Benedict Church over the years. They have come to enjoy the hospitality and spirit of summer life around Lake Geneva. While we will do our best to accommodate a wedding for non-parishioners, it is our main responsibility to respect the requests of members of Saint Benedict Parish and their immediate families. Therefore, when it comes to setting a date and a time for a wedding ceremony parish families will be given first choice. All dates and times require the approval of the Pastor.
Because of the extra details which are often included in the planning of wedding ceremonies there needs to be an increased sensitivity to the daily schedule of parish events. We ask that you and your guests please be considerate of other people or groups coming to the church and parish hall. Please check the parish bulletin or inquire at the parish office if you are unsure of our parish routine.
All altar and sanctuary decorations or flowers are to remain in place. This is most important during the main liturgical seasons. If your florist has never been to Saint Benedict Church, it may be helpful to request that the florist contact the parish prior to signing any final contract with you. Mainly, we ask that the sanctuary be left in the same condition as you found it.
It is your responsibility that whatever you bring in for the ceremony you also remove afterwards including pew bows, programs, runners, etc. We cannot be responsible for items that are to be returned to florists. Please instruct your florist to retrieve all rented items immediately following the ceremony. It is your responsibility to let the florist know these regulations. We ask that nothing be thrown or scattered on parish property, e.g. flower petals, rice, birdseed, confetti, etc. These make walking hazardous for the elderly, and cleanup is difficult. See page 4 of the Engaged Couple Wedding Handbook.
There are no aisle runners allowed at St. Benedict.
The unity candle is a secular practice that began in the 1970s. It is not a set part of the wedding liturgy. If you would like to have a unity candle, please discuss it with the celebrant. You must provide the candles and holders. Candles have special significance in Catholic liturgical celebrations. Candles are present at the tabernacle, the altar and the pulpit to represent the light of Christ. Except for the unity candle, no other candles are added to the sanctuary. This includes candelabras. Candles are not permitted in the aisle.
If you will be using pew decorations, you must use pew clips or ribbons to attach them. No tape or any other material is permitted. The decorations must be removed immediately after the celebration.
St. Benedict Parish does not provide altar servers or Eucharistic ministers for weddings. If you have more than 50 guests you are asked to provide Eucharistic Ministers. Please talk to your priest about how many are needed. Anyone of the Catholic faith may serve as a Eucharistic Minister.
Most photographers and videographers are aware of church regulations. If there is any doubt, we request that your photo/video company contact the celebrant before the wedding.
The dressing room for the bride and her attendants is located in the lower level of the building in the youth room. For security reasons, the wedding party is responsible for removing all of their belongings, decorations, trash, etc. before the start of the wedding. The parish is not responsible for lost or stolen items left unattended. It is expected that the wedding party will pick up and straighten up the room to the way they found it.
We ask that you not leave personal belongings unattended at the church. We are not responsible for anything lost, stolen or left behind.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL BE NO DRINKING OF ALCOHOL ON CHURCH PROPERTY (INCLUDING THE PARKING LOT) FOR EITHER THE REHEARSAL OR THE WEDDING. ANY EVIDENCE OF INTOXICATION FROM ANY MEMBER OF THE WEDDING PARTY WILL RESULT IN THAT PERSON NOT BEING ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE WEDDING CEREMONY. IF EITHER OF YOU, THE BRIDE OR GROOM, HAVE BEEN DRINKING, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO CANCEL THE WEDDING CEREMONY. THERE WILL BE NO USE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS ON THE CHURCH PROPERTY AT ANY TIME.
If food/non-alcoholic beverages are brought on the property, it is the responsibility of the bridal party to clean up completely. Because of the sacredness of the worship space, please refrain from chewing gum and silence your cell phones.
The bride and groom are responsible for communicating the above policies to members of the wedding party, family members, guests, and vendors.