Getting Married

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Getting Married At St Raphael’s?

We share your happiness and pray that God blesses you abundantly during your time of marriage preparation and throughout your married life. Marriage usually is experienced on two levels — personal and public. It is personal in that it involves two individuals who promise to become one in a covenant of love. It is public because it provides companionship, continues the human race and assures the welfare of family life and society at large. As Christians, we recognize a third dimension of marriage, the spiritual. We believe when men and women commit to a marriage in faith, we get a glimpse of the deep love that God has for us.

Therefore, your marriage is more than a private contract or public exchange of vows. It is an act of worship in which you promise to love each other and receive promises of support from your families, friends and the whole church as represented by a priest or deacon. Your wedding is more than “your day” because you also celebrate and rejoice with the church. Your guests come not just to watch, but to participate by offering their support and encouragement in your lives.

To enter into a valid marriage in the Catholic church, both parties must be free to marry and possess the capacity to enter into an exclusive, life-long commitment.

The church wants you to have the best possible start for your marriage; therefore, we will help you reflect on its meaning and prepare for it. St. Raphael’s requires that you participate in a two stage process which includes (1) FOCCUS and (2) either the St. Raphael’s Pre-Cana Program or an Engaged Encounter Retreat Weekend. Please note: Engaged Encounter is a Diocesan program with separate fees.

FOCCUS, which stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study, is a pre-marriage inventory designed to help you gain insight about your relationship. Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter will help you work on important issues for married life and connect you with the parish and the wider church community.

The initial meeting with a priest or deacon will help you begin your wedding plans. When you come for this meeting, you will need to bring a baptismal certificate from the bride’s and groom’s church(es) of baptism. (If you were baptized at St. Raphael’s, this step is not required.) Certificates must be issued within six months of the date of your wedding. If necessary, inter-faith marriage requirements will be explained.

Once you complete your initial meeting, a wedding date will be penciled in the book. It will be finalized when you complete the FOCCUS inventory and return for your second meeting with the priest or deacon.

A marriage license must be obtained within sixty days of your wedding, but must have been issued at least twenty-four hours before. The marriage cannot be performed within twenty-four hours of issue of the license.

Scheduling Your Ceremony

Weddings can be scheduled on any day of the week provided they do not interfere with parish celebrations such as the Eucharist or the sacrament of Reconciliation. If you choose to celebrate your marriage during the season of Lent, we will ask you to keep the celebration simple out of respect for the solemnity of the season. Weddings never take place on Holy Thursday, Good Friday or Holy Saturday.

The ordinary witness to marriage is the clergy assigned to a parish by the bishop. If you wish to have your marriage witnessed by clergy from outside the parish, please let the priest or deacon know about this request.


The services of a professional are strongly encouraged. To avoid distraction during the ceremony, we require the photographer and videographer to take pictures and/or record without flash or bright lights. All picture-taking must be done as inconspicuously as possible during the ceremony.

Flowers and Decorations

Flowers should adorn rather than overwhelm the sanctuary. In particular, flowers should not obscure the altar, which is a symbol of Christ for Catholic Christians. Also please note: flower petals may not be thrown in the aisle.

We know that choosing flowers for the church can be a difficult task. What we’ve found is that if a florist isn’t familiar with the church, the flowers don’t always fit the space, and couples are disappointed. The parish works with a florist who knows the best way to arrange flowers in our sanctuary. We can order altar flowers designed for the large urns near the altar. If more than one wedding is scheduled on a given day, couples can share the expense of the flowers with the other couple. While you certainly don’t have to order flowers through the parish, we’ve found that couples are happy with the results and surprised by the cost savings. Consult your presider for details.

A Few Other Decorating Rules

  • Please do not move or remove any of the furnishings in the sanctuary for any reason.              
  • Please do not add any additional furnishings such as candelabra.
  • Ribbons or flowers may be attached to the pews to designate reserved seating, but please do not use tape or similar substances which may damage the surface of the pews when the decorations are removed.
  • After the ceremony, please remove any decorations or personal items brought into the church.
  • Please use only bubbles to greet the bride and groom outside after the celebration. Rice, bird seed or anything else that needs to be cleaned up cause problems for our maintenance staff and for parishioners coming into church after your ceremony.


A deposit of $100.00 is required at the time you reserve the date for your marriage.

The total parish fee is $700 which includes $100.00 for marriage preparation (the costs associated with FOCCUS and St. Raphael’s Pre-Cana), our parish musician and singer and church fees. If you choose to participate in Engaged Encounter, which has additional costs, the total parish fee is $600. There are no other parish costs to you. Please make payment of this fee no later than the week before your wedding. If paying by check, please make it payable to St. Raphael’s Church.

Compensation for additional musicians at the ceremony is negotiated directly by the couple with the individual or ensemble. All payment arrangements are the direct responsibility of the bride and groom.

Your Wedding Day

St. Raphael’s is a parish with many liturgical celebrations. In all likelihood, there will be another celebration directly after your wedding. Please be on time and leave the church promptly after your ceremony is concluded so that other parish celebrations will not be delayed.

After the Wedding

After your wedding, if you plan on residing in the East Meadow area and are not already members of the parish community, we would be most happy to have you as registered members. When you get settled, notify the parish office to register and receive information regarding the many opportunities for ministry, and other activities in which you may participate.

Recommended Planning Schedule

At least nine months before the wedding

Contact the parish for an appointment to set a date and time for the wedding. The paperwork can be completed at this time. At this time, you should also begin thinking about plans for your ceremony. During this time you should take the FOCCUS instrument and register for your marriage preparation program, either St. Raphael’s Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter.

Four to six months before the wedding

  • Contact the director of music for an appointment to discuss music for the wedding and related details.
  • Obtain baptismal certificate(s) from church(es) of baptism.
  • Return signed forms from limousine, photographer, and videographer to the rectory.

One Month before the wedding

  • Contact the priest or deacon to go over all finalized plans, and to set the date and time for your rehearsal if not already done.

At least one week before the wedding

  • Make final payment for church fees.


  • Bring the marriage license and the envelope in which it came, stamped.
  • Bring wedding candles if you are having a candle ceremony.
  • Please be on time: the rehearsal will not exceed 45 minutes. Under ordinary circumstances, musicians are not present.

Relax! Enjoy!

The prayers and good wishes of
St. Raphael's Parish are with you!

Page Updated December 31, 2011
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