Marriage Policy & Guidelines

Celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage


Weddings are a special time, and our parish community shares your joy.  We are glad that you have chosen Holy Cross Parish as you prepare to celebrate this important event.  We wish to offer you our prayerful support and assistance as you plan this cherished day.

For Roman Catholics, a wedding isn’t simply a ceremony but a sacrament and an act of worship, a communal prayer addressed to God by the gathered community.

Great care is taken to see that the prayer for this special moment is reverent, graceful, beautiful, and open to the movement of God’s Spirit among us.  Our celebration of the sacraments, including Holy Matrimony, is always rooted in listening to sacred Scripture so that we can be nourished and strengthened by God’s Word.  We celebrate the sacraments as a community.  We gather with our brothers and sisters in faith and ask for their prayerful support.  It’s important that readings, music, and actions are consistent with the liturgical practices of the Universal Church.

Therefore, we provide the following guidelines for celebrating weddings here at Holy Cross Parish.


Couples are expected to contact the parish for an initial interview at least six months in advance of the proposed wedding date.  At this time, a tentative date for the wedding and rehearsal may be set once it is determined that both parties are free to marry in the Church.


Weddings are scheduled with respect to the couple’s wishes and the availability of the parish building and ministers.  Weddings are normally scheduled on Saturday’s. The latest time to schedule the ceremony is 1:00 pm, but weddings can also be scheduled on other days and times if it fits into the parish schedule.  Weddings are typically not scheduled in the parishes of the Diocese on Sundays.


Canon Law and the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend require marriage preparation for an engaged couple.  This preparation is done with a priest or deacon, as well as attendance at a mandatory Engaged Encounter Weekend that is offered according to a schedule which is published annually by the diocese.


The required marriage paperwork is filled out in the presence of a priest or deacon.  This paperwork consists mostly of biographical data and your testimony.

Please note: If one of the individuals has been previously married, please bring this to the attention of the priest or deacon immediately.  An annulment from the previous marriage may be required.  If a widow or widower, the person would supply a copy of the former spouse’s death certificate.

An outline of the necessary paperwork is provided below:

  1. Pre-Nuptial Investigation / Marriage Inventory
    • Filled out with the priest or deacon in order to determine one’s freedom to marry.
  2. Baptismal Certificate
    1. A current, dated copy (no more than six months of the wedding date) must be obtained from the parish where the baptism occurred.
    2. A non-Catholic party will be asked to provide a copy of their baptismal certificate or, if not available, for example if the church is no longer in existence, some type of proof of the baptism or affidavits (supplied by Holy Cross Parish) testifying that the person was baptized. A non-baptized party will be asked to provide testimony that they were never baptized.
  3. Affidavits
    • Two witnesses for each person (usually parents) are required to testify that the prospective bride and groom are free to marry.
  4. “FOCCUS” Inventory
    • This is a questionnaire given by the priest or deacon who prepares you for marriage. It enhances communication between you and your future spouse in the practical aspects of married life.  This will entail a meeting to review and discuss the results.
  1. Dispensations or Permissions
    • In some instances, such as marriage to a non-Catholic party or marriage of someone under 18 years of age, a dispensation, or permission, to marry is required from the Bishop. These forms must be filled out and sent to the Bishop at least four weeks prior to the wedding.


These requirements include the marriage license, rubella verification, and proof of age.  The couple should contact the Office of the County Clerk.  There is no waiting period and licenses are valid for 60 days.

Please direct any questions to: Clerk, St. Joseph Circuit Court: 101 Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601 (574-235-9635)


In the Roman Catholic Church, the bride and groom minister the sacrament of Holy Matrimony to one another.  A priest or deacon, and at least two other witnesses, are also required to be present.  Ordinarily, one of the parish priests will preside at the wedding at Holy Cross Parish.  However, if a couple has a special relationship with another priest or deacon they are welcome to ask him to witness the marriage vows.  In this case, the couple should mention this to the priest or deacon early in the preparation process.

Please note, in order for a priest or deacon from outside the parish to officiate at a wedding at Holy Cross Parish he needs to be delegated by the pastor of this parish.  Additionally, the policy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend is that he must present a current “Letter of Good Standing” from his Bishop or religious Superior.  Without this document he will not be allowed to officiate at the wedding.

If the couple wishes to ask friends or family members to serve as lectors, they will be asked to invite persons who are comfortable in this liturgical role, since proclamation of God’s Word is a ministry and act of faith.  These persons are required to be at the rehearsal so that they might practice in the worship space with the sound system.

If the marriage is celebrated with a Mass, persons might be needed to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion.  This will be decided during the planning of the Mass.  If this is the case, the persons must be presently serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at their parish.  Other candidates for this ministry could be invited after consultation with the priest or deacon.

The groom’s attendants normally function as Ministers of Hospitality (ushers), but others might serve in this capacity as well.

Ring bearers and flower girls are not ministers, nor are their services required at the wedding.  Couples are asked to consider the age of the children involved in these roles and whether their presence will add or detract from the solemnity of the occasion.  Also, under no circumstances are flower girls permitted to drop flower petals, or anything else, in the aisle.  Our maintenance employees do not work on weekends.

NOTE:  Alcoholic beverages are NOT permitted on parish property!  A priest or deacon cannot allow a wedding to take place if either person is impeded and unable to freely enter into marriage.  Please wait to have toasts until you leave the parish premises.  We kindly ask you to also make this known to the limousine driver.


Good taste and liturgical guidelines dictate the décor of a church with respect to weddings.  Flowers are permitted in the sanctuary, though you may wish to use flowers that are already in the church for the liturgical season in order to save money.  If you do place flowers in the church they are considered a donation to the parish and are not removed after the wedding.

The delivery of flowers should be scheduled no more than two hours prior to the wedding so as to not disrupt other ceremonies taking place in the church.  The florist should call the parish office to set up a delivery time as the church is always locked when it’s not being used.

Pew bows are permitted at the end of the pews.  It is required that they’re attached with elastic bands and not wire so as to not scratch the wood.  There are 19 pews on either side of the main aisle and 23 pews on each side of the main aisle.

A “runner” is also permitted, though it’s not required and is an expense that you might want to consider not incurring for yourself, but if you do use one the aisle is 70 feet long.


Music can include instrumental and vocal selections.  Organ, piano, guitar, strings, and flute are all appropriate instruments for the celebration.  The parish has a piano and organ available for use.  Secular music is not permitted under any circumstances.

The name and telephone number of our parish music director will be provided to you.  It is your responsibility to schedule an appointment with her to plan the music for your wedding.

There is a fee for the music director and the cantor.  You are to pay them directly at least two weeks prior to the wedding.

The fees are:

Pianist / Organist:  $150                            

Cantor / Singer:  $100


Congratulations on your engagement and impending marriage.  You will remain in our prayers.  If there is anything that we can do for you, please call and speak to one of the priests.

May Almighty God bless you!

Rev. Jim Fenstermaker, C.S.C. , Pastor

Rev. Thomas Zurcher, C.S.C., Associate Pastor


-Revised July 2018-