top of page

Marriage FAQ

Who can be married at St. Norbert Parish?


Anyone who meets the necessary requirements and lives within the territory of the parish. Since our purpose is to establish sacramental Christian marriages in the context of the community of the Church, our responsibility is to celebrate marriages in which at least one party is an active, practicing parishioner, or at least seriously desires to start living our faith. Please remember, our churches are not wedding chapels. They are the home of a parish community in which people are invited to encounter Jesus Christ through His Word and the Sacraments so that they might be strengthened by His grace to live out the Christian Faith.


One possible exception would be a case in which both the bride and groom live outside the parish boundaries, and at least one parent of the bride or groom is an active member of our parish. In addition, either the bride or groom (or both) must be a practicing Catholic (or has the sincere desire to begin practicing our Faith) in his or her local parish, and the pastor of that parish must certify that the couple would be eligible for marriage in that parish.


One aspect in which God calls engaged couples to live their faith God is by living chastely until they exchange the sacred vows of marriage – the giving of the body seals and celebrates the giving of the life in the marriage vows. Though it may be increasingly difficult in our culture, we ask all engaged couples preparing for marriage at St. Norbert Parish to live as faithful disciples of the Lord by abstaining from sexual activity during their engagement. To this end, we also ask all couples preparing for marriage to live separately until the wedding.


If you do not meet these requirements and think that you may have circumstances that merit special consideration, please contact Fr. Jerry.

When can weddings take place at St. Norbert?

It is necessary to consider the regular life of the parish community when scheduling marriage ceremonies. On Saturdays, we have confessions at 3PM. As a general rule weddings may be scheduled at any time between 11AM and 1:30PM on Saturdays. Other days and times are possible, but should be discussed with Fr. Jerry.

Should the wedding be celebrated with or without Mass?

Typically a marriage between two Catholics takes place within a Nuptial (Wedding) Mass. However, if many relatives of the couple are not practicing Catholics (or if there are other considerations that lead you to think it might be better to have a wedding liturgy outside Mass), that is certainly permitted. The Nuptial Mass is a privilege, never an obligation.


A marriage between a Catholic and a person of another Christian denomination usually takes place in a liturgy outside Mass. A Nuptial Mass is not permitted for the marriage of a Catholic and an unbaptized person.


How do we arrange a wedding date at St. Norbert Parish?

Please contact us at least six months before your intended marriage date. This minimum period is required to provide an adequate period of discernment, and to give sufficient time for the various components of marriage preparation. When you call, you will need to schedule your first appointment. At that meeting, Fr. Jerry will explain the marriage preparation process and reserve a date for your wedding and rehearsal. Plans such as securing a reception hall or printing invitations should not be considered until after the date has been set at the church. By making your arrangements at church first, you will avoid disappointment and inconvenience. Lastly, please note that all arrangements for weddings are made directly with the parties themselves, not through parents, relatives, friends, or wedding planners.


Can we have a priest from somewhere else officiate our wedding?

Fr. Jerry ordinarily presides at weddings here. Exceptions to this norm are possible, especially when a member of the family or a very close friend is a priest or deacon. If you wish to invite another Catholic priest or deacon to preside at your wedding, you should submit a written request to Fr. Jerry, giving the name, title, address, and phone number of the priest or deacon you want to invite. Ultimately, it is the pastor who grants permission for a visiting priest or deacon to preside at a wedding in his parish. Please remember that if you do have a visiting priest or deacon witness your marriage, there will be an extra $50 charged to compensate a member of our parish staff who will be on hand to help with practical details at your rehearsal and wedding.


What documents are needed to get married here?

Catholics are asked to provide a recently issued baptismal certificate. (The original copy is not sufficient because it does not carry notations – as, for example, information about a prior marriage, confirmation, etc. Getting a newly issued baptismal certificate is one way of establishing a Catholic’s freedom to marry). A recently issued certificate may be obtained by contacting the church of your Baptism. We can assist you in finding contact information if necessary. If there are absolutely no baptismal documents available, Fr. Jerry can help you obtain an Affidavit of Baptism.


Non-catholic Christians are requested to bring any information or documentation they have regarding the date and place of their Baptism – including an original baptismal certificate if available.


Marriages between a Catholic and a non-catholic person require a dispensation or permission from our diocesan bishop. We take care of obtaining this document when the Catholic party makes the necessary promises: to maintain the practice of the Catholic Faith, and to have the children born of the marriage baptized and raised as Catholics.


Affidavits (statements under oath) will be taken from the parties – and usually from a parent relative or longtime friend of each – vouching for their freedom to marry and intention to enter a true Christian marriage.


If either party has been married previously, written evidence that the previous spouse has died or that the previously married partner is now free to marry according to the norms of the Catholic Church must be presented. A date cannot be set and marriage preparation may not proceed until this step is completed.


A valid marriage license from the State of Wisconsin must be presented to the priest or deacon at the rehearsal. After the wedding, he will sign it and mail it in.


In the exceptional case that neither of the parties to the marriage is a registered parishioner at St. Norbert Parish, we must have the written permission from the pastor of at least one Catholic party to have the wedding here.


What kind of marriage preparation must be completed?

Flowers, cake, photographer, reception hall – it can all be so overwhelming! Alas, when it is all said and done your wedding is just one day and your marriage is a lifetime. So while planning for the ceremony and reception is an acknowledged reality, it is preparing for married life that is far more important. In order to have sufficient time to prepare for marriage, you must arrange your wedding date and begin the preparation process at least six months before your wedding date.


  1. The first aspect of preparation is an initial meeting with Fr. Jerry to discuss the marriage preparation process and schedule a wedding date. 

  2. At the same meeting or the next, Fr. Jerry will conduct a prenuptial investigation by interviewing you and your fiance to determine your freedom to marry.

  3. You will need to meet with Fr. Jerry several times to receive an overview of the Catholic Faith. One of the purposes of these classes is to help couples preparing to be married in the Church know what the Faith says about the mystery of life, and the place of the Sacrament of Matrimony in that mystery.

  4. At some point before your wedding, you will arrange a Liturgy Planning Session with Fr. Jerry. Earlier in the process, you will be given a booklet describing the liturgical options. In a meeting with the officiant, you will finalize the Scripture readings, prayers, songs, and so on.

  5. In order to be in a state of grace and so be truly receptive to the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony, Catholics should receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation shortly before their wedding day.

How much does a wedding cost at St. Norbert Parish?


A non-refundable $100 deposit is required at the time a date is set and the church reserved. This deposit is required to ensure the cleanliness of the church upon completion of the wedding ceremony. The deposit will be returned after the wedding if the church is left as it was found.


Of course, you never have to pay to receive the Sacraments of the Church. In order to help defray the costs of utilities, maintenance, use of church halls, and the officiant’s stipend we do ask a fee of $200. (In a case of genuine financial hardship where the wedding must be celebrated on a minimal budget, this fee may be reduced). In the exceptional case where neither of the parties is a member of the parish the fee is $300. If you are having a visiting priest, we ask an extra $50 to compensate a member of our staff who will be at the church to help with practical details for the rehearsal and wedding. All payments should be submitted no later than one month before the wedding date.


We will gladly provide you with a resource list of organists and cantors, but any fees for musicians are separate and subject to agreement among the parties.


What about wedding rehearsals?


Except in the case of the simplest ceremonies, a rehearsal for the wedding is conducted to familiarize all participants with the liturgy and their involvement in it. Rehearsals are usually scheduled the day before the wedding is to take place. Wedding rehearsals typically begin between 5:00 and 6:00 PM, and usually last about 30 to 45 minutes (depending on whether there is a Nuptial Mass). Please remember that rehearsals are taking place before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament residing in the tabernacle. All activity in the church should be reverent and respectful of the sacred space.


What about flowers, decorations, etc.?


Please review the following guidelines with your florist and those decorating.


Flower arrangements that obstruct the view of the tabernacle or the action on the altar are not allowed. Flowers are not to be placed on top of the tabernacle or the altar. Flowers and other decorations may be placed in the sanctuary near the altar, or in other locations.


The main altar is a consecrated object and should not be used as a worktable or convenient shelf while the church is being decorated.


If the florists want to decorate the church more than one hour before the wedding, they cannot expect the air conditioning to be run in the church for extended periods of time before the ceremony for the sole purpose of keeping floral arrangements cool.


After the wedding, we would certainly appreciate your leaving us your flower arrangements for the weekend Masses in the church; but they do of course belong to the couple.


Tape, tacks, and staples are not allowed when attaching decorations to pews. Pew decorations are easily attached by means of ribbons or plastic hooks.

Aisle runners are not allowed for safety reasons.


Since the Eucharist is the primary and most excellent sign of both Christian and marital unity, there are no unity candles allowed in the celebration of a Nuptial Mass (wedding within the context of Mass).


If candles are used (even the so-called "dripless" candles), you need to provide sheets of plastic underneath them, to catch dripping wax. Candelabras are not permitted.


During the Liturgical Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, the decorations and the colors used in the church are to be considered permanent. During Ordinary Time (essentially the entire summer and fall), you still must consult Fr. Jerry before moving any parish decorations or furniture. Any decorations or furniture that is moved must be returned to its former place once the wedding is over. Weddings during the Lenten season should be modest in their festivity, in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season.


Rice, birdseed, confetti, or flower petals are not to be thrown inside or on the grounds of any of our churches. This is to ensure the safety of all and to respect the sacred space.


Someone from the bridal party, the family or the florist is to be appointed ahead of time by the couple to be responsible for removing flowers, candles, bows, empty floral boxes, trash and wrappings from the church after the ceremony. Please make sure everything is cleaned up before everyone has left the church.


The church is not responsible for anything left after the wedding nor is it legally responsible for musical instruments rented by the wedding party and used in the parish.


Visiting priests or deacons are to abide by these guidelines, the provisions of Canon Law, and the approved Rite of Marriage.


How do we determine what music to use in our wedding?


The ceremony in which the Sacrament of Matrimony is received is an act of worship in the Catholic Church. Therefore, music selections need to reflect the common faith of the whole Church. If you wish to use a particular piece of music or have a visiting musician perform in your wedding ceremony, please consult well in advance with Fr. Jerry.


Do not overlook the effectiveness of congregational hymns as a part of your ceremony. The singing of hymns by the congregation draws your guests into more active participation in the celebration.


Music for the ceremony is your responsibility. We will be happy to give you names and phone numbers of organists, pianists, and vocalists, but it is up to you to arrange with them for your wedding.


Musician fees are between you and your musician. Pre-recorded music or accompaniment tapes should not be used in the public liturgy of the Church.


What do we need to observe regarding photography and videography in the Church?


Photographs or videotapes of a wedding can bring back memories for many years to come, but they can also serve as a distraction for everyone involved if proper etiquette is not observed. If you plan to have photographs taken or to have the ceremony videotaped, we ask that they take care not to interfere with the religious nature of the ceremony.


All photographers (still and video) should clarify expectations with the priest or deacon prior to the ceremony. Photographers are not allowed in the sanctuary (the elevated floor area at the front of the church) at any time during the wedding liturgy and are to remain at a respectful distance so as not to distract the congregation. They may also not interrupt any part of the ceremony including the procession.


No extra camera lights may be used during the liturgy. This includes flash lighting. Extra lighting is permissible before or after the liturgy. Photographs can be taken before or after the wedding ceremony. In all cases St. Norbert's must be vacated by 3 PM on Saturdays.


If the couple would like pictures taken with the officiating priest or deacon after the wedding, these should be taken first to allow him to get on with other duties. Please maintain reverence while taking pictures in order to respect the sacredness of the sanctuary area. Photos intended to be comic or risqué should never be taken in church.


What do we have to do regarding a marriage license?


Please contact the Sauk County Clerk for all the details you will need to know about obtaining your marriage license. Please give the marriage license to the priest or deacon at the rehearsal. After the wedding, he will sign it and mail it in. The marriage license is a civil document; it is not signed in the course of the ceremony, nor on the altar afterwards.


What’s this all about?

Our policies come first and foremost from our desire to invite all couples to the fullness of Christian marriage. Many of the practical details come from our previous experience with weddings. We hope to anticipate many of the most common issues that arise during the planning and celebration of weddings. While it might seem a bit tedious to go into such detail, we think it is helpful to you to have as much information as early in the process as possible.


We know that you want your wedding to be perfect and that you have probably been planning this day in your imagination for many years. We are also aware that some of the things you may have imagined may not coincide with the expectations proposed in these marriage preparation and wedding policies. We ask you to remember, though, that while your marriage ceremony is an intensely personal moment for you, it is also a public celebration of one of the seven Sacraments given to the Church by the Lord Jesus.


So, while Fr. Jerry and the rest of the staff and people of our parish want you to have the most wonderful wedding day possible, we want more than anything else that you encounter Jesus Christ in your wedding liturgy and in your marriage. And it is that very desire for all persons to truly live out their life with Christ that inspires all of our marriage preparation and wedding policies. If you have any questions about any of these policies, please feel free to speak with Fr. Jerry.

bottom of page