Congratulations on your engagement! We are happy for you and wish you all the best as you prepare for your wedding and most importantly your marriage.
There are many ways to get married. By choosing a Catholic wedding, you are affirming your own personal faith in Jesus Christ and His Church. You are saying that you want God to bless and strengthen your marriage. You are saying that you wish to seek the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony to help you grow in holiness. If that is not where you are at right now, that’s okay but it probably means you are not ready for a Catholic wedding.
What Are the Expectations for Couples Regarding the Marriage Preparation Process?
Please take a few minutes to carefully read over the following information. When you have done so, please verify that you have read and understood all the expectations. Then please print the PDF available here, sign it and return to the St. Ambrose parish office. ONLY THEN will we be able to schedule your wedding date and have you begin your preparation process.
To schedule a wedding, you must first be registered at our parish or at another Catholic parish as an active and participating parishioner. If you need to register as a member of St. Ambrose, click here to register online or click here to download a PDF.
If you have grown up and moved away from home, this means joining a parish where you now live. If you have grown up but still live in the parish where you were raised, you must register as an adult member there. Please have the office of your local parish send an email to our parish office to verify you are a registered parishioner. The email address for St. Ambrose is firstname.lastname@example.org.
One way we demonstrate our love for God and our faith in him is by keeping his commandments. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
While we are all imperfect sinners, regular Sunday Mass attendance is how we obey the Third Commandment of keeping Holy the Sabbath and worshiping God as God Himself has asked. Attending regular Sunday Mass is expected for those seeking Catholic marriage.
The Scriptures as well as the long tradition of Church teaching affirm that due to the sacred and sacramental nature of the conjugal act, its only lawful and appropriate context is within a lifelong committed marital relationship. For this reason, premarital abstinence is encouraged while co-habitation is discouraged. Co-habitating couples are invited to prayerfully study and discern the will of God through the teachings of the Bible and the Church on this matter. At a minimum, they are encouraged to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion until absolved through the sacrament of Reconciliation and validly married.
The Diocese of Peoria requires couples to complete a questionnaire that is of great value in helping with your preparation. This is NOT a “compatibility” test, nor is it used to verify whether you are a good “match.” Rather, it is handy tool that gauges the level of communication you have shared on a variety of topics. Once you complete the FOCCUS online, a spreadsheet will be generated comparing your answers. This will then be used during subsequent preparation sessions.
Both spouses will give their emails to the parish office, which will then send links to complete the questionnaire online.
You will then need to meet with your local priest and complete a marriage file.
If the couple lives out of town, the marriage file must be completed through the local parish where they live. When complete, it will be approved by the local Diocese and then sent here, where the wedding will take place. This will mean working with the priest and staff of the local parish where the couple currently resides.
If the couple lives in town, the marriage file is completed through the local parish where the wedding will take place. This will mean working with our priest and staff.
The completed marriage file must include:
- Copies of Baptism and Confirmation certificates from the church where these sacraments took place. You are both responsible for obtaining a copy of your Baptism and Confirmation certificates from the parish you received them in. These certificates need to be obtained six months prior to your wedding date.
- Two completed witness affidavits each. (The priest will provide the document.)
- Completed certificates from two Diocesan marriage workshops. A list of workshop dates and locations is available here.
You will also have three to four meetings with a mentor couple who will discuss the results of the FOCCUS with you and also go over the basics regarding the Catholic understanding of love and marriage.
Weddings are scheduled on Saturdays for 2 p.m. at the latest or on Friday evenings.
If both spouses are Catholic, the wedding takes place within Mass.
If one spouse is not Catholic, the wedding takes place within Liturgy of the Word.
If one spouse is unbaptized, a dispensation is required from the Diocese. In that case, please note that the completed file must be sent to the Diocesan Marriage office at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to the wedding.
Readings and Music
The priest will work with the couple to help select readings. The list of approved readings for a Catholic wedding may be found here.
The couple is responsible for hiring their own musicians. Should they wish to use the local parish musician, the parish is happy to refer you. All music within the wedding itself must be sacred (that is, directly pertaining to God). Secular music may be used during preludes and after the wedding, provided it is appropriate for a church setting.
If you choose to hire a musician from St. Ambrose parish, Fr. Joe has that contact information. Keyboard and organ playing, as well as singing of mass parts, are available. If you need ideas about what music to select, this person can assist you with that too. If you want a musician from St. Ambrose to team with someone you choose, that’s fine also. Simply let that be known initially.
Recorded music is discouraged, but okay for a few specific selections.
Finally, we understand that you may have a musician already chosen who’s not connected with St. Ambrose parish. Please communicate to that person the importance of appropriate respect toward the instruments and sound system, including returning everything to the way it was previously. Thank you!
There are to be NO alcoholic beverages or marijuana at the church. This includes vehicles parked on church property. This also includes rehearsal as well as the wedding, including pre-wedding preparations in the parish hall. Anyone coming to the rehearsal and/or the wedding intoxicated or in possession of alcoholic beverages or recreational drugs will be asked to leave. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR WEDDING PARTY IS AWARE. It is your responsibility to let them know.
Please note that the bride and groom must be STONE COLD SOBER at the wedding in order for a valid marriage to take place. Exchanging vows under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs compromises the ability to act under full reason and freedom and thus nullifies the marriage.
Parish Center Policy
You are most welcome to get ready in the northwest classroom of the Parish Center. Please see the policy available here for using our facility for this purpose. You will need to sign and return to the office. Please keep a copy for your reference.