Marriage Preparation

*Please note that due to planned painting of the interior of the church, no weddings will be scheduled for July 2017*

If a couple would like to be married at St. Augustine’s Parish, planning should begin at least one year in advance.  It is highly recommended that church availability be determined prior to reserving a date at the reception venue.  Either the bride or the groom or their parents must be registered parishioners of St. Augustine Parish or a resident of Andover. Engaged couples who wish to be married at St. Augustine’s must regularly practice their faith.  Individuals who were once parishioners and moved away, or individuals whose extended families actively participate in parish life, are welcome to have their marriage solemnized in the parish.

A well-planned marriage celebration will take at least a year of preparation and involves five steps:

  1. Paperwork – this involves gathering the paperwork necessary  to perform the ceremony and begins with filling out a marriage application form.  It also includes the gathering of Baptismal and Confirmation certificates, determining if there are previous marriages to consider or any obstacles to the marriage.
  2. Communication Exercise – this involves filling out an extensive questionnaire geared toward determining how open communication is between the bride and groom. The questionnaire is divided into ten different categories such as family, sexuality, etc. Each of the intended fills this questionnaire out separately and when the results are returned a meeting is arranged with a parish priest to discuss the areas where the couple disagree with each other.
  3. Formal Marriage Preparation – For complete information regarding marriage preparation, please refer to the Archdiocesan web page for Marriage Ministries.  In this step the couple receives formal marriage preparation from the Church in these three phases:
    1. Introductory Phase – Meetings with a priest or deacon in the church in order 1) to enhance or initiate your relationship with the Church, 2) to explain and invite you to reflect on and further appropriate the Church’s understanding of marriage, 3) to establish your freedom to marry, 4) to overview the whole preparation process, 5) and to invite you to live your married lives in communion with the Church.
    2. Engaged Couple Workshops – These workshops provide the couple a chance to explore various areas of marriage and family life and consist of presentations, panels, and small group discussions. They are offered in many locations throughout the Archdiocese of Boston and in many different time formats. Visit the Marriage Ministries web page for a complete listing of times and locations.
    3. Follow up Sessions (with priest or deacon) – This is an opportunity for you 1) to reflect on your experience of the Workshops, 2) to respond to any question or difficulties raised by the Workshop experience, 3) to be assisted in your ongoing appropriation of the Church’s understanding of marriage, 4) to plan (in final detail) the Wedding Mass or Ceremony, 5) to be encouraged in regular practice of your faith, 6) and to ensure that all of the canonical and civil requirements for marriage are completed.For additional information, please also see the US Bishop’s web site on marriage.
  4. Music Preparation – Our Director of Music, Cynthia Arsenault, will assist you in the hiring of musicians for your wedding, whether they be from inside or outside the parish. She is responsible for the content, supervision, and approval of the music for all weddings in the parish. All music must be liturgically approved.  The Music Ministry of St. Augustine’s looks forward to becoming a part of your wedding celebration and will provide assistance to help you choose appropriate music.  We welcome your musical relatives and friends who sing.  If you wish to have your own musicians, we still require a bench fee of $125 which is part of the annual salary.  We take great care in following the liturgical guidelines of the Archdiocesan Office of Divine Worship thus ensuring the suitability of music for worship.
  5. Liturgical PreparationThe couple will be provided with a booklet entitled “Together For Life” which contains a selection of scripture readings for your wedding service. The engaged couple chooses from these liturgically approved readings whether or not Mass will be celebrated.

Visiting Priests

The request of a visiting priest will be honored on conditions that he is a relative or long-standing friend of the family, possesses diocesan faculties and is willing to:

  1. conscientiously fulfill Archdiocesan requirements
  2. be present for the rehearsal
  3. submit to us the completed paperwork a month before the marriage is scheduled to take place
  4. request in writing, permission to officiate at your wedding; a letter of welcome and delegation will follow
  5. if he resides outside the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we will forward a civil delegation application required by the State.  When completed and sent to the proper authority, it will be forwarded to us.

License Considerations

In order that a license be considered valid, it cannot be less than one week or more than sixty days old prior to the marriage.  Please consult your physician or the town clerk regarding blood testing.

Seating Capacity, Fees, etc.

Seating capacity at St. Augustine Church is 525. There are 19 rows of pews plus 3 rows of chairs in front.  It aisle length is 82 feet.  Aisle runners are not allowed as they are a source for tripping.
Saturday wedding times at St. Augustine are 10 AM, 12 Noon, 2 and 6 PM and are strictly adhered to.   Sunday weddings are not encouraged as the church is extremely busy.
Seating capacity at St. Joseph Church is 180.  Its aisle length is 59 feet.  Greater flexibility in scheduling exists at St. Joseph and largely depends upon the celebrant’s availability.
Weddings during Advent and Lent, while not forbidden, are discouraged as they are not in keeping with the season.

Couples who wish to have a less festive celebration and desire to stay realistically within their means are certainly within the parameters of good taste.  For those seeking simplicity, please be assured that the Church is eager to accommodate you in this regard.

Flowers add a special touch when tastefully displayed.  No flowers are permitted on the altar.  Neither tape nor tacks may be used to secure flowers or other decorations (bows, etc.) to the pews or other furniture.  Couples being married on the same day are welcome to share the expense of flowers. During the Christmas and Easter seasons the churches are extensively decorated.  It is suggested that additional flower arrangements for a wedding may be unnecessary and even undesirable.  During these seasons the couple’s florist should make a personal visit to the church before proposing any additional floral arrangements.  No removal of the seasonal decorations is allowed.

A photographer is to be inconspicuous, and, out of respect and reverence, should avoid being a distraction while the Mass or Ceremony is underway.  It is recommended that, during the Mass or Ceremony, the photographer remain in the back of the church.  Flash photographs are not permitted during the liturgy.  Video taping may be done from the rear of the church or from a stationary position on the side without the use of extra lighting.

Bride and groom need to make decisions together and be actively involved in their marriage preparations.  We are pleased to guide you in these matters.

Please note that the fees listed below do not include a personal gift for the priest or altar servers though  it is customary to include one.  The amount is left to the discretion of the couple.
Parishioners            $850   (must be registered in the parish; $100 deposit required within one month of receipt of application)
Non-parishioners    $1250    (a deposit of 50% is required for non-parishioners within one month of receipt of application)
Music fees vary based on a couple’s choice of music and will be arranged by the Music Director.