"For Christians, marriage, which has its origin in God the Creator, also implies a real vocation to a particular state and a life of grace." (Pontifical Council for the Family)
Guidelines for Wedding Ceremonies
In accord with pastoral guidelines for marriage preparation in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and all the dioceses of Florida, these instructions are meant to help those preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. We have compiled them from our experience and believe they answer most of your questions. If you need help, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope that your wedding day will be beautiful and meaningful and that these guidelines will help you prepare for this special day.
Who can be married at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More?
Any Catholic wishing to be married at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More is welcome to choose this church. Priority is given to parishioners. “Parishioner” means either the bride or the groom or their parents have been registered supporting members of the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More for a minimum of one year prior to the first marriage preparation appointment with one of our priests or deacon. By “supporting” we mean regular, identifiable contributions to the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More.
There is a fee of $600.00 for all non-parishioner couples who plan to be married at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. This fee helps to cover regular building expenses like electricity and maintenance. It does not include the services of our parish’s wedding coordinator, musicians or use of O’Brien Hall. A non-refundable deposit of $300, half of the total fee for non-parishioners, is necessary to secure your wedding date. No date will be set without this non-refundable deposit. The other half is required at the time of your wedding rehearsal. There is no charge for registered, supporting parishioners.
Before you make any commitment for your wedding, parishioners are to contact the priest or deacon who will celebrate your marriage, ask for an interview, and find out the necessary requirements. The priest or deacon will enter your anticipated wedding date in the parish calendar. Non parishioners must have a letter sent from their home parish to Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More at least 6 months prior to the anticipated wedding date, giving permission for marriage at St. Thomas More before a wedding date can be entered in the parish calendar. It is also necessary that you obtain a copy of “Guidelines for Marriage Preparation for Non-Parishioners” which lists requisites and fees for your wedding at St. Thomas More. This is available through the church office in electronic and paper formats.
Scheduling the Ceremony and Rehearsal
Weddings may be scheduled on weekdays or weeknights or on Saturdays between 9:00 and 11:00 AM, 1:30 and 2:30 PM and at 7:30 PM. Nuptial Masses are not permitted on Saturday evenings or on Sundays. Wedding dates can only be set after the couple has met with either the priest or deacon. Not all weekend dates are available. Usually, wedding dates are not scheduled for major holy days and holidays and the weekends connected with them:
Please check with the priest or deacon concerning Saturdays which fall on holiday weekends (i.e. Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day).
Keep in mind that the periods of Advent (4 weeks before Christmas) and Lent (the 40 days before Easter) are considered solemn, penitential periods in the Church calendar. Because of the joyous nature of your celebration, marriages may be discouraged during these times, however they are still allowed.
Planning the Ceremony
If you are being married by one of our parish priests or deacons you may wish to use our wedding coordinator, Mary Fran Strickland. You are required to use the church wedding coordinator if a visiting priest or deacon will marry you. If you are being married by a visiting priest or deacon, he will need to send a letter or email to Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More requesting faculties within three months of your scheduled wedding date. Basic services include pre-planning of the ceremony, rehearsal coordination and assistance at the wedding for a fee of $200. Half of this payment is due within 2 weeks after scheduling your wedding date. The other half is due at the wedding rehearsal. Please contact Mary Fran Strickland (523-9845, cell: 445-0275) as soon as your wedding date is determined.
1. Wedding rehearsals are generally held the evening before the wedding. A specific time must be set with the priest or deacon who will be celebrating the Sacrament. All members of the wedding party, lectors and musicians taking part in the ceremony should be present for this practice. Arriving on time is essential because of other scheduled activities. Rehearsal should last no more than an hour.
2. Final preparations for the ceremony, e.g., dressing/ make-up, rooms where the ladies and gentlemen of the wedding party gather, must be made in advance with the priest or wedding coordinator in consultation with the parish secretary. The Co-Cathedral is not responsible for personal possessions or items rented for use in the ceremony.
3. Alcoholic beverages before the rehearsal and the ceremony are forbidden out of respect for the Sacrament of Marriage and the church as the House of God.
4. Florida Law requires a license issued by the Clerk of Courts in order for the marriage to be solemnized. Your marriage cannot be officially recorded with the County Clerk without this. You must present your marriage license to the celebrant at the time of the wedding rehearsal.
Music selected for a wedding should be sacred in nature. To respect the solemnity of your ceremony the Church has set forth clear guidelines regarding the music that it considers acceptable. Your choices will be made from a wide selection of liturgical music either classical or contemporary. In planning the music for your Nuptial Mass or wedding ceremony, please contact our Director of Music, Mrs. Colleen Nixon at: 222-9630 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Mrs. Nixon at least three months prior to the wedding. Musician fees are paid directly to musicians.
Placement of floral arrangements must allow for ease of movement by the celebrant and servers. Flowers are never placed on the altar itself. Floral displays are strongly discouraged during the Lenten Season. Christmas and Easter decorations and floral arrangements will not be removed or rearranged.
Couples provide their own candles, candelabra and/or unity candle if used in the ceremony. Candles are never placed on the altar itself. If the candles are not drip-less, plastic must be placed under all candelabra so that the falling wax will not get on the carpet. Candles are not permitted on the windowsills. Unity candles are not liturgical symbols: however, you may use them as part of your ceremony.
Photos in moderation are permitted during the ceremony. Photographers are not permitted in the center aisle or on or beyond the steps in the sanctuary/altar area. Please keep flash and strobe photography to a minimum. Pictures may be taken after the ceremony and guests have exited the church. We request that a time limit of one hour be placed on photo sessions. Non-professional photographers must check with the celebrant before the ceremony. Videotaping is permitted but must be discussed with the priest or wedding coordinator in advance.
There is a fee of $600.00 for all non-parishioner couples who plan to be married at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. This fee helps to cover regular building expenses like electricity and maintenance. It does not include the services of our parish’s wedding coordinator or musicians. There is no charge for registered, supporting parishioners.
O’Brien Social Hall can be reserved for wedding receptions by arrangement with the Parish Office. There are separate guidelines and charges for the use of O’Brien Hall If you are considering using O’Brien Hall, it is important that you request from the office a copy of the facilities use guidelines. The guideline contains fees, hours of use as well as information helpful to coordinating your reception.
No rice or birdseed is allowed on parish premises. Live flower petals may not be dropped in church. Liturgical banners can not be changed for weddings.
A suggested gift is $100 for the celebrant and $25 each for the servers
We ask that all members of the wedding party be aware that the central focus of the day is the Sacrament of Marriage. Be mindful of the House of God.