Marriage at Sacred Heart


To be married at Sacred Heart at least one member of the couple must be a registered, active parishioner; or parents/grandparents are registered and active. Others must bring their own priest/deacon officiant and make a $1200 contribution to the Sacred Heart church Endowment Fund.

Sacred Heart Parish

Revised: October 2016


Please take a moment to read the following important information. You are responsible for knowing and understanding it.  Questions are welcome and may be addressed to the Sacred Heart priests. Please be aware that the Church and its buildings are not incidental to your celebration; you are seeking to receive a sacrament that is the custody of the Church. Your efforts to prepare well spiritually for the sacrament of marriage as well as your prayerful participation in the ceremony are necessary for the proper celebration of the sacrament.


Setting a Date:

            The Diocese of Pittsburgh has established norms regarding the preparation for marriage.  These norms are to be observed in all parishes of the diocese.

            At least six months prior to marriage, the couple must contact one of the priests in the parish where the marriage is to take place.  The couple must meet with the priest for an interview during which the couple is given information regarding the preparations which must be made prior to the marriage.  Following a maximum of two meetings, a wedding date may then be reserved.  However, THIS DATE WILL NOT BECOME FINAL UNTIL ALL THE PRE-MARITAL REQUIREMENTS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED.

            A wedding date cannot be reserved by phone.  Since the Church has the important responsibility to determine that a couple is suited and ready for marriage, a date can only be reserved after the couple has met with a priest for an initial interview and assessment.


The Time for the Wedding:

            Marriage ceremonies can be celebrated on any day except Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.  They will only be scheduled for times that do not conflict with the regular worship activities of the parish.

            At Sacred Heart, the ordinary wedding ceremony time is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The wedding party may arrive 45 minutes before the scheduled time, and must depart from the church no later than 90 minutes after the scheduled time.  Please make photographers aware of this requirement.

After the wedding, all photographs must be completed by 4:00 p.m. at the latest.


Requirements For Bride and Groom:

            The bride and groom must be free to marry according to the marriage laws of the Catholic Church.  Any prior marriage in the background of either party must be discussed and resolved (by annulment or the death of the prior spouse) before any date, time, or other arrangement is made for a marriage.

            Either the bride or the groom must be a registered and participating member of Sacred Heart Parish at least 6 months prior to setting a date for a ceremony.   (Exceptions will be made if parents are still practicing, registered members.) Expectations include regular participation at Mass on Sundays and Holydays, financial support of the parish, and a sharing in parish activities. – It is the norm of the Catholic Church that a marriage takes place in the church of the bride or the church of the groom.  Hence, persons who are not registered members of Sacred Heart Parish are best served by their “home” pastors.


     Special pastoral concern must be shown when a couple finds itself in the following circumstances:


  1. When a Catholic party does not practice the faith regularly;


  1. When the couple is cohabiting.  Special care must also be taken in the case of pregnancy.


Such cases may be the cause of delay in planning a wedding ceremony.


Officiating Priest:

           Ordinarily, the priests assigned to the parish will assist in the preparation of a couple for marriage and will preside at the wedding liturgy. The couple may select and contact a particular priest of the parish if they wish.

Visiting Priests:

            Visiting priests are welcomed to celebrate weddings at Sacred Heart.  When invited by the couple, a visiting priest should be informed that he would be expected to follow this policy where applicable, as well as make the personal, spiritual, and documentary preparations for the wedding.  All of the pre-marital documents must be presented at Sacred Heart at least one month before the marriage.  The visiting priest will be given the necessary delegation for the marriage once these preparations have been completed.  The visiting priest, if from outside the Diocese of Pittsburgh, must present a letter of good standing before he will be permitted to preside at the ceremony. 

            The couple should make the priest-visitor familiar with the parish policies, and ceremonial arrangements.


Pre-Marriage Instructions:

        The couple is required to take part in a formal pre-marriage preparation program.  The options include:


  1. The Diocesan Pre-Marriage Series is held at St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland.  Registration forms are available from the Rectory.  Call 412-456-3114 for more information.


  1. Catholic Engaged Encounter:  A weekend “retreat-like” program.  Call Brian & Nancy Stevens (412-861-0262) for information.


  1. Programs are also available through some individual parishes.  Contact must be made through the parish involved.


If the couple is unable to take part in such programs, the priest should be informed in sufficient time so that an arrangement for instructions might be made.


Because it satisfies the moral teaching of the Church regarding the regulation of birth, participation in a program on Natural Family Planning is highly recommended and encouraged. This teaching should not be taken lightly. Instruction in Natural Family Planning is offered through Mercy Hospital.  Call 412-232-7692 for information.


Documents For Marriage:

       The following documents are required for all marriages:

  1. Baptismal Certificate:  Each party must provide a recently issued (no older than 6 months) certificate of baptism (with all notations) which must be obtained from the church where the baptism took place.

  • For Catholics, this means contacting the parish of baptism for a certificate.

  • For members of other Christian churches, an original document or an authenticate copy of the original baptismal certificate may be provided.

  1. Pre-nuptial forms:  Each party will complete the proper forms with the priest who is preparing them for marriage.

  2. Civil marriage license:  A civil marriage license issued by a county in Pennsylvania.  For Allegheny County, the couple must apply together at the Marriage License Bureau, first floor, City-County Building.

  3. Other documents may be required in specific instances.


Marriages Between A Catholic And Member Of Another Christian Community:

            Preparations entail respect for the religious convictions of the person of another faith and sensitivity to the special considerations present.  Prior to the marriage, the Catholic party must indicate his/her intention to continue the practice of the faith and to have children baptized in the faith of the Catholic Church.  In the course of the marriage preparation, the Catholic party will be asked to accept this duty by a written declaration.  The non-Catholic party to the marriage will be informed of this obligation.

            It is possible for a “mixed religion” marriage to be celebrated in the church of the non-Catholic spouse with the permission of the Catholic Bishop. It is most appropriate that interfaith marriages be celebrated within the Liturgy of the Word of God.

            Mass may be celebrated for “mixed religion” marriages when both spouses are baptized.  It should be kept in mind that Communion may be received only by Catholics, since in the Catholic Church the Eucharist signifies not only a personal union with Jesus Christ, but also a union with the Catholic Church.  There is no inter-communion between members of the Catholic Church and other Christian communities, i.e., Catholics do not receive Communion in other communities and those who are not members of the Catholic Church do not receive Eucharist at Mass.



for Catholics

            As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion.  We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently.  In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour.  A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession.  In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 917).  A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all. 


for our fellow Christians

            We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters.  We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us.  We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

            Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion.  Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4).  Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches.  According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).


 for those not receiving Holy Communion

            All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.


for non-Christians

            We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ.  While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and unity of the human family.

            Ministers of other Christian communities are welcome to be present for and to take part in a “mixed religion” ceremony according to the ecumenical guidelines of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (lay ministers) are not permitted to function outside of their parish. They are not permitted to participate in that capacity at the wedding.

            Note:  Whatever plans may be involved, all of the usual preparations for the marriage must be made by the Catholic priest so that all of the necessary approvals may be secured.


The Liturgy Of Marriage:

            For the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament. The couple should stress their desire that the wedding guests be present for the liturgy to give the support of their prayers, to fully participate in the spoken and sung worship of the Church, and, where possible, to share the Eucharist.

During the liturgy, the Lector proclaims the Word of God to the couple and to the congregation.  The reader must be qualified and carefully prepared to proclaim the Sacred Word of God competently, reverently, and intelligibly.  The reader should be a believer in the Word which is proclaimed. If Mass is celebrated, the reader must be a member of the Catholic Church.

            The cantor leads the singing during the ceremony.  The cantor leads the responsorial psalm and the Gospel acclamation, the sung responses, and the hymns.  Sacred Heart provides cantors for weddings.  Arrangements must be made through organist Bela Pater.

            The altar servers are provided by Sacred Heart Parish unless the couple wishes to choose other trained servers.  Altar servers are scheduled months in advance, so please let us know your decision as soon as possible.

            A parish wedding coordinator is available for services at the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony. Stipend is $50 per day.



            The date and time of the wedding rehearsal must be scheduled with the priest and placed in the parish’s master schedule to avoid conflict with other rehearsals or other liturgical functions.

            All who are present for the rehearsal should recognize the sacred nature of the church where the rehearsal is taking place and the sacred nature of the marriage ceremony for which the rehearsal is preparing.  Given the cooperation of all concerned, the rehearsal should begin on time and be completed in a maximum of thirty minutes. Please keep in mind that the priest’s schedule includes your event among others.  It is not appropriate to affect his schedule by tardiness to the rehearsal.

            Catholics in the wedding party should approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the rehearsal.  Sacred Heart Parish does not have the custom of providing for confessions following the rehearsal.  Reconciliation is an important preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony as Catholics are to be in a “state of grace” when receiving sacraments of the Church.  Sacred Heart regularly schedules the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturdays 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm.  Confessions are also heard at any time by appointment.

            The marriage license and the appropriate fees for the wedding should be given to the priest one week prior to or at the rehearsal.  (See page 9.)


            Out of respect for the sanctity of the church environment, no bottled water or food may be brought to the rehearsal or ceremony. Beverages are never to be distributed to guests upon arrival to the church.


Wedding Music:

            All music before, during, and following the wedding must be appropriate for a sacred place, time, and event.  It must be suited for its place within the worship service and rendered by those who are both musically and liturgically competent.  Music composed for theatrical or entertainment purposes is not appropriate for a sacred place or sacred occasion.

            Bela Pater, organist for Sacred Heart Parish, is responsible for the music in all marriage celebrations.  Bela is available to advise the bride and groom on all matters of music.  Everything relating to the music of the ceremony must be handled directly through him.  He must approve all selections and plans for music.  The couple should be in contact with Bela three months before the wedding.  He may be contacted at the rectory, 412-661-0187, ext. 126, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (except Wednesday and Friday)


Flowers And Decorations:

Outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons, it is customary for the couple to provide appropriate flowers for the sanctuary of the church. Under normal circumstances the flowers should remain in the church. The floral decorations cannot obstruct the congregation’s view of the altar.  The priest will make the final decision about the placement of decorations in the sanctuary.

Times for funerals, other weddings, and scheduled Masses may affect the arranging and removing of decorations.  Florists may enter the church one hour prior to the wedding.

            No decorations are permitted on the pews. Tacking or taping anything to walls or entrances of the church is strictly prohibited. Flower petals of any kind are prohibited from the aisle.  Additionally, wax candles are not permitted in the aisles of the church

            Because of concerns involving liability and safety, a “crash” is not permitted for use.  Please note that there are two floor grates at the beginning of the aisle.  Neither metal grate in the main aisle is to be covered, as this may cause problems with airflow and/or heating of building.

            It is the couple’s responsibility to inform all involved with the decorations about the parish’s policies and procedures.


Photography / Videography:

            Time is available before and after the liturgy for photographs. During the processional and recessional, photos may be taken from the center aisle without disruption of the flow of the movement.  During the liturgy, photographers are restricted to the side areas of the church.  Using discretion, flash pictures may be taken during the liturgy.

            After the liturgy, if the church schedule permits, photographs of the wedding party may be taken in the chancel area.  Photographers are bound to the time restrictions as written in this policy. The furniture which adorns the sanctuary area should not be disturbed during any picture taking session.  Photographers and members of the wedding party should be reminded that respect for the sacredness of the church is required even during the photography.

            Video taping is permitted from a fixed position.  Additional lighting is not permitted.  Wires and equipment are not to be visible.  Videographers must use battery-operated equipment since electrical outlets are not available in the area of the church where the wedding takes place.


            Photographers and videographers who ignore this policy may find their future welcome at Sacred Heart compromised.


Fees, Stipends, And Honoraria:

(All fees and stipends are to be sent to the parish rectory one week prior to the ceremony.)

            When either the bride or the groom is a registered and participating member of Sacred Heart Parish, there is no established fee for a wedding.  Keeping in mind the time spent by parish staff in both preparing paperwork and the ceremony itself, it is customary that the couple makes an offering to the parish as a sign of thankfulness on this very happy occasion.

            The generous labor and sacrifice of the people of the parish are necessary to maintain our beautiful church building.  Justice dictates, particularly if the couple doesn’t regularly support the parish through formal contributions, that the newlyweds assume some financial responsibility proportionate to the total costs involved in the wedding. A monetary offering for the parish is expected ($500 is suggested).

            An offering of $10.00 minimum to each altar server (2) is suggested.

            The amount of the offering made to the priest/deacon witnessing your vows is a personal decision of the couple.  Many engaged couples use this opportunity to acknowledge the time commitment made by the priest/deacon, beyond the ceremony, i.e. pre-marriage instruction, meetings, diocesan paperwork processing, homily preparation, and travel. By way of minimum donation to benefit the priest, if a Mass is celebrated, diocesan law calls for a stipend of $10.00 to be made to the parish.


Miscellaneous Information:

            * The members of the couple are the “ministers” of the sacrament of marriage. The exchange of marriage vows requires full consent of one’s will.  Therefore, the use of alcohol or other mind-altering substances are not permitted in the church and environs.  The sacrament will be delayed until a further and more appropriate time if the bride or groom is considered incapable of giving full consent to the marriage vows. 

            * While weddings are usually celebrated in the sanctuary of the main church, smaller parties may choose the Blessed Sacrament Chapel or the Lady Chapel.

            * Parking is available at the Activities Building parking lot (down Shady Avenue) or on the street. 

            *Brides should plan to remain in their limousine / car until the time to move into the church for the entrance processional. The car may be parked in the carport area on the Shady Avenue side of the church building.

            *  Tables in the vestibule are not to be moved as these are used for the express purpose of providing and displaying parish information.

            * Rest room facilities can be found in the vestibule of the church and also below the vestibule.

            * The throwing of any items including rice, confetti, birdseed, grass seed, candy, or use of bubbles etc., is strictly prohibited both within and outside the church building.

            * Because of time constraints, there will be no receiving line at the church and no exceptions to this will be made.  Please arrange to have a receiving line at your reception. Immediately following the recessional, the wedding party should return to front of the church for photographs for the remaining allotted time.