Parish Blogs

Guidelines for the Wedding Ceremony


Ministers of the Ceremony

Priest or Deacon

The role of the priest or deacon is to serve as the principal witness at your wedding celebration on behalf of the Christian community. The officiating priest or deacon is normally assigned to the parish. If you desire to have other clergy assist or additional clergy concelebrate, the invitation to that clergyman must come from the Pastor, with the permission of the Bishop. The visiting clergy should be asked to write to the Pastor, requesting permission to celebrate the Sacrament in our parish and in this Diocese. The visiting priest will also need a letter from his Diocesan Chancellor. This should be discussed with one of the priests of the parish before any invitation is extended to the other clergy. When one party is not Catholic, they may invite their Minister or Rabbi to participate in the wedding ceremony with the approval of the principle priest or deacon assisting at your wedding.


Lectors proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture during the celebration. Those who serve in this parish as lectors are available to serve at wedding celebrations. If the couple wishes to ask friends or family members to serve in this ministry, these persons are required to be at the rehearsal so they can practice to effectively proclaim the Word of God in the worship space.

Eucharistic Ministers

For most weddings celebrated within the Mass, Eucharistic Ministers are not needed. For those weddings in which a large number of Catholics will attend and the celebrant believes that Eucharistic Ministers will be needed, then those who already serve in this ministry in the parish are available to serve at weddings or the celebrant may be assisted by a deacon. If friends or family members are Eucharistic Ministers in their home parish, they may be invited to serve at your wedding provided they attend the rehearsal so that they are familiar with the worship space and communion distribution practices.

Ministers of Hospitality

The groom's attendants usually function as ushers and thus fulfill part of the Ministry of Hospitality. The bride's attendants and their families may also fulfill this role. A warm greeting is a wonderful way to show your appreciation of your guests' presence at your wedding. The bride and groom may choose to greet their guests as they arrive for the Wedding Ceremony.

Altar Servers

This ministry, when required, may be filled from the servers of the parish. If you wish, you may ask a friend or family member to serve. They must be experienced in this ministry and also be present at the rehearsal.

Ring Bearers and Flower Girls

These children are not ministers, nor are their services required for the celebration of marriage. However, if you choose to use them in your ceremony, they must be at least five years of age. We ask that you please consider the children involved in these roles and whether their presence will add to or detract from the joyful solemnity and flow of the celebration. Some children are not comfortable in front of groups.

Wedding Coordinator

We ask that if you have your own Wedding Coordinator, that their responsibility  be limited to the reception.  Our Wedding Coordinator will coordinate and be responsible for all activities (liturgical actions, appropriateness, etc.) that take place in the church. Our Wedding Coordinator is available to answer questions about the church, facilities, etc., in the months before the wedding.  She will be available on the evening of the rehearsal and up to 2 hours before the event on your wedding day. She will see to details relating to the parish, such as opening the church and other parish buildings, insuring the florist has access to the church; air conditioning is turned on, etc. She will ensure the church is secured after the wedding party and guests have departed. This does not include the closing and securing the halls following receptions; this is your responsibility. 


Arrangements for ALL music MUST be made through the Parish Music Director. Music is an important part of any wedding and great care should be given to the selection of appropriate music for your wedding celebration. Music chosen for your celebration should be Liturgical in nature and should lead the congregation to pray and participate in the celebration. Dr. Mursphy will make suggestions and help you in planning the music for your celebration. You should contact her as soon as you have set the date with the Director of Marriage Ministry.

A wedding ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church is a sacramental rite and the music used must be appropriate to liturgy.  As in all liturgies, the music is an enhancement to worship.  Persons planning the ceremony are reminded popular romantic ballads may be appropriate at the reception, but are not in keeping with a worship service.  "Background music" cannot be utilized during the service.

In planning, please remember the "Our Father" is a community prayer and should be recited in unison by the entire body.  If you anticipate a large number of guests to be present who are unfamiliar with our liturgy, it is more appropriate to recite rather than sing the "Our Father".


Our parish has several competent organists and pianists on staff that are available to play at your wedding. These instrumentalists have the first option to play for weddings at St. Paul Parish. If you choose to use an organist or pianist that is not on staff at St. Paul Parish, a consultation fee must still be paid to the Director of Music. You will still be responsible for paying the instrumentalist that you hire. Permission from the Director of Music must be obtained before an outside organist or pianist can play for a wedding at the parish.

Cantors and Instrumentalists

To assist the assembly with singing, a trained cantor should be used. The Director of Music will assist you with the selection of a cantor based on voice type needed and musical styles you have chosen for your wedding. Other instrumentalists, such as trumpeter or flutist, may be used to enhance the music at your wedding. A list of qualified instrumentalists may be obtained from the Director of Music. Permission from the Director of Music must be obtained before an outside instrumentalist or cantor can be used for your wedding.

The Ceremony

The "Together for Life" booklet specifically deals with the authorized readings, prayers, preface and blessings of the ceremony. We ask you to prayerfully study this material together and choose the appropriate selections, filling in the form in the back of the booklet. If you need any help or advice, the priest will be happy to assist you. Any changes or additions to the ceremony must comply with the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and must be authorized by the officiating priest. This can be discussed at one of the pre-nuptial conferences.



Remember, it is not necessary that a wedding be elaborate, to be beautiful. True beauty lies in the spirit and attitude of those taking part in the event.

The Altar is the natural focal point of the Church. No flowers or decorations of any nature can be placed on the altar. Flowers, candles and other decorations are to be arranged so as to not obscure the Altar, the Pulpit, or the Tabernacle. Plants, flowers or candelabras must not interfere with the movement of the priest.

Oue parish do not own any elaborate floral stands on which to place your flowers. Your florist may have these available if you so desire, or you may want to rent them. The furniture and carpet must be fully protected from moisture. We ask that mats be placed under all containers of flowers, potted palms, or greenery. Under no circumstances will any device be used which will harm or mar the sanctuary or pews, such as thumbtacks, nails, glue, tape, etc.

Christmas and Easter decorations will not be removed for weddings. Questions regarding appropriateness of a particular decoration should be addressed to our Wedding Coordinator.


Couples must provide their own candelabra if used in the ceremony. The candles must be non-drip candles (Paradise candles) and can be ordered through your florist. Plastic must be placed under all candelabra so that the falling wax will not get onto the carpet. The florist is responsible for this; however, the bride is responsible to check with the florist to make sure she or he is aware of the regulations.

Unity Candle

The parish will provide appropriate candles for the altar and the Unity candle, if used. There is a Unity Candle available at the parish. Couples are free to use their own Unity Candle if they wish. Plastic must be placed under the stand.

Set Up

Due to the high cost of energy, the air conditioning in the Church is turned on two hours prior to the ceremony. The Wedding Coordinator will be there during these two hours to accept flowers and/or give florist access to the Church or Hall. Please make sure your florist is aware of this time restriction when you place your order.

Programs for the Congregation

Some couples prepare these programs that may include the order of service, names of the wedding party, and the liturgical ministers. Couples should secure all necessary copyright releases for any music or texts reprinted in programs, booklets, song sheets, etc. The Wedding Coordinator and Music Director will assist you in preparing the programs.

After the Ceremony

Often times, families neglect to remove flower boxes, tissues, cameras, flower petals, etc. We ask you to assign the task of removing all personal items from the church and coordinate this responsibility with our Wedding Coordinator.

All decorations must be removed from the Church to allow ample time to prepare for the next liturgy. Appropriate flowers or plants may be left for display at our parish liturgies, at the discretion of the Wedding Coordinator, and would be greatly appreciated. If you wish to keep your floral arrangements, you must arrange to have the flowers picked up immediately following the ceremony.  We cannot be responsible for any flower containers left in the Church. Florists should remove their items on Monday morning following the wedding.


The purpose of the liturgy will always take priority over the making of photographs.  In order to preserve the dignity of the service, flash photography is not permitted during the service, and the photographer will not come into the sanctuary during the ceremony.

Wedding couples naturally like to have pictures of their special occasion. We ask that you be aware of the following guidelines for photography in the church. It is imperative that these policies be communicated to your photographer before engaging his or her services, and a copy will be given to you to pass along to the photographer you choose.

Photographers, both professional and amateur, should be discreet and not distract from the solemnity of the occasion. During the recessional, the photographer is allowed to use his flash equipment as the couple is going back down the aisle, but not interfere with the recessional. During the ceremony, the photographer is asked to avoid unnecessary movement causing distraction to clergy and invited guests.

Because marriage is a sacrament and the ceremony is a worship service, an atmosphere of reverence and a focus on prayer is kept. No flash pictures may be taken during the service and movement with photographic equipment must be kept to a minimum. The photographer (or other guests with cameras) may not step into the center aisle during the ceremony and no climbing on pews, etc. at any time is allowed. During the ceremony, photographs and video-tape recordings may be taken only from the rear of the church, or from a pre-arranged position at the side, and without flash or additional lighting. Corridors to the side of the sanctuary may be used by photographers.

Photographs may be taken in the church (either posed or casual) beginning one and a half hours before the service starts and concluding thirty minutes prior to the ceremony, and/or for 45 minutes immediately following the service. Clergy are usually available only immediately after the ceremony, if it is your wish that clergy be included in the photographs. The wedding couple is asked to please make plans with Wedding Coordinator in advance if they plan to use the church before and/or after the ceremony for photography. Please be aware that there may be several activities scheduled in the church on any given day, and all time needed for your wedding must be planned in advance with the Wedding Coordinator.


Rehearsals are held the evening before the wedding. Everyone who will be taking part in the wedding is to attend the rehearsal. The rehearsal should begin promptly at the scheduled time. The Wedding Coordinator will assist with the order for the processional/recessional and positioning of the wedding party at the front of the Church.

The rehearsal is normally one hour in length. Please be on time both for the rehearsal and for the wedding ceremony. Make sure to bring the wedding license to the rehearsal if you have not already brought it to the parish office.

Final preparations for the ceremony, (dressing, make-up, photos, where the ladies of the wedding party should meet, where the gentlemen of the wedding party should meet, etc.) will be made prior to the event with the parish Wedding Coordinator. Please remind all members of your party security for private possessions is a personal matter, and Church premises are places of worship.

Please insist all members of your wedding party be prompt for the rehearsal and the wedding. All members of the wedding party need to take part in the rehearsal. We realize sometimes this is not possible, but it is for your benefit that everyone be familiar with his or her role.

Readers of the selected Scripture passages should rehearse several times. Readers should practice at least once on the microphone in order to familiarize themselves with its use in order to be heard clearly by those in the pews. These readings can be read from the lectionary or typed out on paper.


If possible, please do not have items delivered to the Church prior to the time you plan to decorate the Church or Parish Hall. We do not have adequate storage facilities. We request rental equipment and personal items be removed as soon as possible after the ceremony and reception. If items are found in the Church or the parish buildings, they will be turned in to the Parish Office and you can claim them by contacting that office. The Church cannot be responsible or liable for personal items lost, damaged or stolen.

A cry room is available in the Church for those guests with little children.

Under no circumstances should any rice or confetti be used on the Church grounds. For the safety of everyone, the birdseed must be removed from walkways and the parking lot. Bubbles may be used outside the buildings only.

Our parish is  is a substance free environment, which include tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. This environment includes the Churches and all buildings and grounds.

To insure the sanctity of the wedding celebration, no alcoholic beverages shall be consumed before the wedding ceremony. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed in the parking lot area. No food or drinks are allowed in the Church.

We want your special day to be a joyous one in keeping with the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. These guidelines are provided to avoid unnecessary confusion when that special day arrives. Your understanding that many other groups also utilize the parish buildings and your cooperation in working with us are appreciated. Please see that all persons involved in the planning of your wedding read and abide by these guidelines.

We wish to make a commitment to help and support you not only in the planning of your nuptial ceremony, but throughout your life together.

After The Wedding - a variety of growth and support opportunities are available in the parish and diocese to enhance and foster growing marital and family relationships.  These opportunities include monthly anniversary blessings, Annual Renewal of Vows, Bible Study, Adult Education, Marriage Enrichment Groups, Marriage Renewal, Communication & Relationship Skill Workshops, Retreats, and growth counseling. Please watch the bulletin for information.

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Related Articles: Eight Months Before the Wedding During the Sixth Month Before the Wedding Step III: Two Month Before the Wedding One Month Before Wedding
Marriage Sacraments

Contact Info.

1109 Chestnut St. Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 522-0181
Parish Office Hours:
           8:30 am to 5pm (closed noon to 1) 
           8:30 am to 12:30pm (volunteer staffing) 
           8:30am to 1:00pm. (volunteer staffing)