According to our Catholic faith, Jesus lifted marriage to the level of a sacrament – revelatory of the love of God for us. The fact that his first miracle occurred at a wedding and his view on the unbreakable marital bond are sited as arguments for this. Nevertheless, it took the church more than 1,000 years to develop a ritualized and codified sacrament of marriage. And it was not until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that marriage became a universally recognized sacrament.
The council of Trent iterated that a marriage could not be valid unless it was celebrated in the presence of a priest and two witnesses. It had to be publicly announced several weeks in advance and was to be registered in the parish records. In light of the second Vatican Council, the wedding liturgy, which had been very rigid and clerical became much more individualized and called for greater participation by all present.
The 1983 Code of Canon law describes the sacrament of marriage as a “covenant by which a man and a women establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children (Canon 1055).”
As an assembly of believers, we focus our lives on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By seeking the sacrament of marriage, a couple indicates that they intend Jesus’ message to be the guiding factor of their life together. The community, in turn, commits itself to support the couple in this pursuit.
The celebration of the sacrament of marriage, which is rooted in the Sunday assembly, is not a private family function, nor is it merely a social affair or a personal expression of your love for one another. Rather, it is an action of the entire Church, in whose presence two people commit themselves to one another. Because the sacrament of marriage is worship, it is above all, congregational. And because it is congregational, every effort should be made to enable the assembly to participate in a full and active manner.
The liturgy is neither a show nor a performance and it is not enhanced by the presence of passive observers. Everyone present should be able to hear, see, speak, sing and pray.
To have a wedding at St. Peter the Apostle Church, the bride or groom must be a registered member of St. Peter the Apostle for at least 3 months prior to booking a wedding date.
Since we are a downtown, centrally located and beautiful church, we receive many requests for weddings here and must be sure that we do have dates available for our members. In addition, since sacraments are celebrations of the whole parish community, we require parish membership to celebrate the sacrament of marriage.
Wedding Times Friday evening: 5:00pm Saturday: Noon and 3:00pm
Marriage Preparation at St. Peter the Apostle provides an opportunity for reflection and discernment on the sacramental and vocational nature of the life-long commitment to marriage. Our preparation program fulfills the standard marriage preparation requirements for the Diocese of Allentown.
St. Peter’s is committed to doing all we can to make sure that couples are prepared for this important, holy and life-long commitment and not just prepared for the wedding day.
Our preparation program is designed to make sure that couples have discussed all aspects of marriage; spiritual, relational and practical. We expect couples to begin their marriage preparation at least one year before their wedding. Our preparation includes:
- Welcome meeting (class dates given)
- Administration of a pre-marriage inventory called “PREPARE”
- Meetings to review results of the PREPARE inventory (with marriage director or a marriage mentor couple from the parish)
- Pre-Marriage Temperament retreat (a separate fee)
- Wedding workshop
- Individual meeting(s) with a wedding liturgy planner
- Production of a wedding program/leaflet
- Meeting with wedding officiant: priest/deacon
- Wedding rehearsal
- Parish Wedding Coordinator on day of wedding
Couples are given a timeline to follow as they move through their preparation process. The timeline is specifically designed to make sure that the couple has enough time to truly benefit from each step and have started early enough to allow time to work on relationship issues that may surface. We have also discovered that if a couple is too close to their wedding day, they have a hard time giving adequate energy to the relationship aspects of the preparation and tend to get caught up in the wedding day preparation only. The following is a quick overall of the timeline.
12 Months Out: Secure the wedding date, Welcome meeting (specifics of requirements explained, class dates given, and paperwork begun)
11-12 Months Out: Attend PREPARE class (Instructions for PREPARE inventory given)
7-10 Months Out: Begin meetings to review results of PREPARE inventory (2–4 meetings of approximately 1 hour each with marriage director or mentor couple)
6-8 Months Out: Attend the Temperament retreat (day long retreat based on couple’s Temperaments)
3-4 Months Out: Attend Wedding workshop
2 Months Out: Individual planning meeting with wedding liturgy planner, schedule a meeting with priest/deacon
1 Month Out: Meeting with priest/deacon, Worship program materials due
Wedding Day: Relax and celebrate
MARRIAGE PREPARATION FEE
The Basilica charges a marriage preparation fee of $1200. At least half of this fee is due to secure the wedding date with the balance due two weeks prior to the wedding. One half of the full marriage preparation fee is refundable if the wedding is canceled. If a 50% deposit is made to secure the date, this is non-refundable.
Marriage Preparation only (wedding elsewhere) costs $500.
MOST COMMON QUESTIONS
Q: We are not members but have been attending St. Peter the Apostle Church. Does that count to be able to book a wedding date?
A: Unfortunately, no. Since we get so many requests for weddings we need to honor our 3 month policy consistently.
Q: If my fiancée/fiancé is not Catholic, can we still be marriage at St. Peter the Apostle?
A: Yes, only one of you needs to be Catholic.
Q: We don’t want to wait a year. Can we book a sooner date?
A: On rare occasions, if a couple has already done some marriage preparation elsewhere we may be willing to book a sooner date. Or, if the couple is willing to begin our preparation, at least completing the premarriage inventory and a review meeting before securing at date so that we can get a good sense of the strength of their relationship, we may consider a sooner date.
Q: My fiancée/fiancé does not live in the ara. How can we do the preparation?
A: We can often be quite creative about how to accomplish the preparation when couples or one of the two do not live locally.
Q: We are members here but will not be getting married at St. Peter the Apostle Church. Can we still do our preparation here?
A: Yes. A “preparation only” fee will be discussed.
Q: One of us has been married before. Will that prevent us from booking a wedding date?
A: In the Catholic Church, all previous marriages must be dealt with before a wedding date can be booked. The marriage director can determine what will need to be done about the previous marriage. If an annulment is needed, the marriage director can explain that process and help you begin.