Wedding Policies


Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! We are happy that you have chosen to celebrate your vows within the Parish of Ss. James and Patrick. We, the staff of Ss. James and Patrick, want to help you through the process of preparing for this important day, which is the beginning of a new phase of your life in Christ. The following Wedding Policies should answer some questions you might have about celebrating this sacrament at either of our two worship sites, St. James Church (742 E. Clay) or St. Patrick Church (407 E. Eldorado). Our parish policies follow the policies of the Diocese of Springfield, whose website can be viewed at

One or both members of the couple should be registered in a Catholic parish. If you grew up in our parish but have not yet registered as an adult, separate from your parents, you should do so right away. A parish registration form is enclosed. Please fill it out and return it with your Contact Information form and Wedding Policies Acceptance form. Please understand that parishioners are expected to contribute to the life of our parish on a regular basis through gifts of time, talent, and finances. Be sure you are willing to support the mission of our parish in these ways before committing to membership. If you do not have a previous attachment to Ss. James and Patrick Parish and/or do not intend to be a contributing, active member in the future, please note the difference in the parishioner and non-parishioner fees on page 10.

If you live outside the Diocese of Springfield, you need to do the following within 2 weeks of your first meeting with the Pastor of Ss. James & Patrick:

  1. Contact the Pastor of the parish in which you reside.

  2. Make arrangements with that Pastor for all the proper forms and documents to

    be gathered and completed.

  3. Send to the Pastor of Ss. James and Patrick: the name, parish, phone number,

    email address, and mailing address of the Pastor with whom you made contact.

It is very important for you to make this contact and get the forms completed early in your planning process. The documentation allowing you to get married in a diocese other than where you reside has to travel through several steps, so you should not delay in contacting the Pastor where you live. The documentation is filled out with the Pastor where you live; that Pastor sends it to the diocese where you live; that diocese sends it to the Springfield diocese; and finally the Springfield diocese sends it to our parish Pastor. Only then do you have permission to celebrate your wedding in our parish.

Preparation of the Couple

Your first step is to meet with the Pastor of Ss. James and Patrick Parish. He is the only person who schedules weddings in the parish. (If you live outside the Diocese of Springfield, please see the special instructions on page 2 of this policy booklet.) Following your initial meeting, you will set additional meetings as needed with the Pastor. These meetings will give him the opportunity to ensure that you are indeed ready to enter into this sacrament and that there are no impediments to your planned marriage (i.e., pending annulments). One of the tools our parish uses is FOCCUS, a marriage inventory that you will take online through our diocesan website ( Follow-up sessions with the Pastor will be devoted to discussing the results, which can help to open up discussions in key areas of your planned marriage.

You will need to attend a Pre-Cana conference during your preparation process. Pre-Cana is a program offered by the Diocese of Springfield that gives you the opportunity to set aside a day with your spouse-to-be for prayer, discussion on important life topics, and listening to the experience of married couples. Pre-Cana days are offered several times throughout the year. A schedule is available by contacting the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life (217-698-8500 or You may register for the program online when you view the schedule. You may also view the Engaged Couple’s Guide, published by the diocese.

You will need to contact our parish coordinator of instruction in Natural Family Planning (NFP). Information on that program is included in the wedding packet.

You have the option of choosing either St. James Church or St. Patrick Church for your Rite of Marriage. In the policies that follow, you will note some slight variations in procedures for the two sites. Those will be clearly indicated. If no specific site variations are noted, the policies apply to both parish sites.

If both parties are Catholic, the Celebration of Matrimony may take place within Mass. Scripture readings, prayers, and Eucharist (Holy Communion) would be celebrated. A priest would preside. If one of the parties is not a Baptized Catholic, the Celebration of Matrimony would be celebrated without Mass. Scripture readings and prayers would still be included, but there would be no celebration of Eucharist. If that is the case, a priest or deacon would preside. Our Pastor, in the course of your meetings, will help you determine which celebration is appropriate for your wedding.


Our parish pastoral associate will meet with you to plan music for the wedding liturgy. Several music sessions will be scheduled throughout the year, and you will be asked to choose one to attend. Both the bride and groom are encouraged to attend the meeting. During the sessions, couples will hear several choices for processional music, psalms and other liturgical music, instrumental music, and vocal solos. A session schedule and registration information is included in the wedding packet.

All music that is played or sung in our church buildings needs to lead our hearts and minds to God. It must be sacred music appropriate for sacred liturgy. If you have a special song that you want played or sung, you are welcome to bring it to the music session for approval. First, though, be sure that it is religious in nature (i.e., that it praises God, is based on Scripture, and/or speaks of God’s love for us as well as your love for each other).

If you choose a song that is not in our music library, and it is approved, you must purchase an adequate number of copies from the music publisher for all who will be playing and/or singing it. No instrumentalist or singer may use photocopied or downloaded sheet music (if it has a copyright) without the permission of the publisher. This is a matter of justice to the composer as well as a matter of legality for the parish. All music suggested at the music planning meeting already meets the copyright requirement.

Our parish organist is responsible for playing all the parish weddings. If for some reason our organist is unable to play for your wedding, we will secure a capable replacement.

Cantors are musicians who lead the assembly in singing the psalm (with solo verses), hymns, and acclamations. They can also sing any optional vocal solos that you choose to include in your wedding. A cantor is necessary for the full celebration of your wedding liturgy. Because cantors are actually music ministers who lead the assembly in prayer—as well as sing solos—we ask that you choose a cantor who regularly serves in that role in our parish. We have several cantors in the parish, and we will be happy to recommend them to you during your music planning meeting. If you have friends or family members that you wish to include as singers for your wedding, they may prepare and sing a vocal solo rather than attempt the ministry of cantor. Vocal soloists may sing a special song (that meets the sacred music requirement) at certain points in the liturgy, but they do not have the responsibility of leading the assembly in sung prayer, which is the ministry of the cantor.

Any cantor you select who is a regular part of the music ministry of Ss. James and Patrick Parish (i.e. a regular cantor or choir member) will be well prepared to sing the music you have chosen. If you choose to have a family or friend sing a special solo, we expect that person to be capable of learning and practicing the music on his/her own before the day of the wedding. Our organist will be available one hour before the wedding to run through the music with your soloist. Your soloist should be well prepared on his/her part before meeting with the organist to finalize tempos and volume levels. If that time is insufficient for your soloist, additional rehearsals with the organist may be arranged at a fee of $50 per hour, payable at the extra rehearsal.

You are encouraged to hire instrumentalists for your wedding. Our parish music staff can provide you with names and phone numbers of outstanding musicians who play brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments. We are willing to work with whatever instruments you choose. Fees for the instrumentalists are variable and generally are payable directly to the instrumentalists.

Liturgical Ministries

Readers - You are encouraged to ask family members or friends to proclaim the Scripture passages and the Universal Prayer at your wedding. In order to do this important ministry effectively, they should prayerfully prepare the readings in advance. You will receive practice copies for your readers to use at home. It is important that the readers attend the wedding rehearsal so that they can practice at the microphone.

Servers - Servers assist the priest or deacon at weddings that take place within Mass. If you have family members or friends who serve in this ministry in their own Catholic parishes, you may invite them to serve at your wedding. If you don’t have family or friends who do so, the parish can supply servers for you.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion - If you are celebrating your wedding within Mass, you may invite family or friends to serve as EMHCs as long as they are commissioned and serve in this ministry in their own parish.

Optional Actions during the Liturgy - There are some options that you may include in your wedding liturgy, whether it is within Mass or without Mass. These options are not part of the official Catholic ritual, so you should choose to do them only if they have particular meaning for you. These options are:

1. Arras (after the Blessing and Giving of Rings)
2. A unity candle (after the Blessing and Giving of Rings
3. Lazo or veil (after the Lord’s Prayer)
4. Presenting flowers at the statue of Mary (after the Rings, after the unity candle, or after Communion)
5. Presenting flowers to your parents (after the Rings, after the unity candle, or after the Sign of Peace)

If there is a cultural tradition other than the above that is customarily celebrated during weddings of your family, you may ask the Pastor about including it. Rituals involving sand are not allowed. 

Use and Care of the Facilities

We expect you, your wedding party and your guests to treat the church and other facilities with care and respect. In addition to the church buildings, there are other areas at both sites that you are welcome to use on your wedding day. Remember that these areas are open beginning at 11:00 a.m., unless you make other arrangements with the Pastor. Please note that parish events such as funerals take precedence over wedding set- up and preparations. Parish staff will keep you advised if there are any potential conflicts.

At St. James: The bride and bridesmaids may use the parish house to dress and prepare. The groom and the groomsmen should plan to come to church already dressed. They may use the main level of the parish house as a gathering place.

At St. Patrick: The bride and bridesmaids may use the area behind the partition in the corner of the church basement to dress and prepare. The groom and groomsmen should plan to come to church already dressed. They may use the church basement as a gathering place. Please note that, while the dressing/gathering areas are available at 11:00 a.m., St. Patrick Church itself is not available until noon because of the Sacrament of Penance schedule. Do not plan to be in the body of the church until noon.

No alcohol is allowed on the church premises. Consuming alcohol on church premises, including parking lots, is considered trespassing, and the parish will deal with it accordingly. Please make sure your attendants are aware of this. You are responsible for your wedding party and guests. No food or drink is allowed in the main body of the church or the sanctuary at any time. If you have food or drink in the dressing areas, those areas must be properly cleaned before your wedding party leaves the building. No smoking is allowed inside any church buildings or within 15 feet of any entrance.

You are expected to leave the church and all other areas that you use in the same condition as when you arrived. You will need to appoint a friend or relative to be responsible for clean-up. This person would need to make sure before leaving that all areas of the church (sanctuary, nave, vestibules, sacristy, basement, bride’s dressing area, outdoors) are cleaned up. Your packet contains a checklist to help that person know what areas to check so that all areas of the church are in good order after your wedding. Your clean-up person should not leave for the reception until all clean-up is complete.

Environment/Florist Information

Included in this packet is a Florist Information Sheet for you to discuss with your florist. It is your responsibility to make sure that anyone providing flowers or any other decorations for you abides by the parish’s expectations. Be sure that your florist has this information in advance.

You may arrange to have additional real (not silk or other artificial) flowers in the church during any season except Advent and Lent. Please respect the existing decorations in the church. Our Art and Environment workers spend countless hours arranging the decorations in the churches for each season. You may add to the decorations that are in place in the churches, but you may not move or remove anything that the Art and Environment committee has arranged. Nothing may be placed on or in front of the altar.

Your florist should always check with the parish office the day before the wedding to make sure that there is nothing going on in the church when s/he plans to decorate. We occasionally have other celebrations in the church on Saturday mornings, and florists need to work around those celebrations. Please also be sure to inform your florist of the time the church will be open.

If you use bows or other decorations on the ends of the pews, they must be attached with ribbon, covered wire, or other method that will not harm the finish on the pews. No tape is to be used. No decorations may hinder access to the center or side aisles.

Outdoor decorations may be used (i.e. bows, ribbons, wreaths on the outdoor pillars and doors), but you must arrange to have them removed immediately after the wedding.

Throwing of birdseed, rice, confetti, or anything else is not permitted inside or outside the church. Due to environmental concerns, balloons may not be released. Many couples have chosen to blow soap bubbles or ring bells as an acceptable alternative.

No flowers or flower petals may be dropped on the floor at any time. We recommend that if you have flower girls, you have them carry baskets and/or hand flowers to people as they walk down the aisle.

No aisle runners are to be used. No wagons, signs, or pets are allowed in the procession. 


Included in this packet is a Photographer/Videographer Information Sheet for you to discuss with your photographer/videographer. It is your responsibility to make sure that anyone doing those services for you abides by the parish’s expectations. Be sure that your photographer/videographer has this information in advance.

Generally, you may begin pictures at noon or later on the day of your wedding. At St. Patrick, the Sacrament of Penance takes place in the church from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Saturdays; you should not plan to be in the church before noon. Due to the Penance and Mass schedule, all photography needs to be finished and the church cleared out by 3:30 p.m. at St. James and by 4:30 at St. Patrick. We recommend taking as many photos as possible before the service so that you are not rushed afterward.

Your wedding is a sacred moment in the life of the Church. Your photographer should help maintain the dignity of the event. During the wedding liturgy, the photographer should avoid using flashes. S/he should also refrain from distracting the other wedding guests by moving around excessively. Video cameras may be placed in the choir loft or near one of the pillars in the nave. They are not to be placed in the sanctuary (the area that holds the altar, ambo and chair, including the steps). They must remain stationary once the liturgy has begun. Your photographer/videographer should bring his/ her own stepstool/ladder if one is needed.

There is to be no posing for pictures on, around, or behind the altar, ambo or chair. These are sacred furnishings. We treat them with respect and reverence at all times.

Greeting of Guests

We urge you, as a gesture of hospitality to the many people who will come to celebrate with you, to have someone greet your guests as they enter the church. Personally greeting your guests at the door will help them all (especially non-parishioners and non-Catholics) feel welcome in our church, thus ensuring a better celebration of your wedding liturgy.

Our church buildings are not arranged in a manner conducive to a receiving line. You should plan to greet your guests at the appropriate place—the reception. There is to be no pew-by-pew dismissal of guests by the couple at the end of the service. Remember, too, that there are time constraints on Saturday afternoons. You need to make sure that church is cleared out by 3:30 at St. James and 4:30 at St. Patrick.

Payment of Fees

The following fees are due at least one month prior to your wedding:

  • Church fee – $300 for members of Ss. James and Patrick Parish o $500 for non-parishioners (Make check out to Ss. James and Patrick Parish.)

  • Organist fee -- $200 (Make check out to Cathryn Tiemann unless she has provided you with a substitute organist.)

  • Cantor fee -- $150 (Make check out to your cantor.)

    Please deliver the checks to Therese Allen at the St. Patrick site (407 E. Eldorado). She will distribute them to the appropriate people. Be sure to make out separate checks, but put them all into one envelope addressed to “Therese Allen”.

    Your gift to your priest or deacon should be given directly to him.


Parking - Your guests are welcome to park in the church parking lots during the wedding. Please make sure that all cars get moved after the wedding. You might include such a request in the wedding program. Both churches have Masses on Saturdays (St. James at 4:00; St. Patrick at 5:30), and we need to have the spaces in our parking lot available for our parishioners who come to those Masses.

Marriage License - Be sure to obtain your wedding license from the Macon county clerk’s office before the day of your wedding. Give the license to the priest or deacon at your wedding rehearsal.