The Sacrament of Marriage

Marriage is an “event of grace” in which God joins the lives of a man and a woman so intimately that they become “one body” (Mark 10: 8)

Message of Welcome

The Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption welcomes you to our parish community as an engaged couple.  As you prepare for your forthcoming wedding within our parish community, we trust that this will be another opportunity for you to grow spiritually and that you will want to celebrate your wedding in the presence of family, relatives, friends and fellow parishioners of our community.

The following information and guidelines is made available to you so that you may enter the Sacrament of Marriage more meaningfully. Parish procedures, resources available to assist you in planning your wedding ceremony, and general information regarding this sacrament within our parish is included.

Married Already?   

When a couple are married in a non-Catholic ceremony (before a justice of the peace, minister, etc.) then the marriage is not recognized as a Catholic Sacrament.  When a couple wish to make the marriage valid in the eyes of the Church, they are required to prepare for marriage in the same way as a non-married couple.

Wedding Guidelines

We are happy that you are considering celebrating your marriage commitment with a church wedding.  We know that planning a wedding is a major task, and that a lot is expected of you by your family, future in-laws, and friends. Please take the time to read these wedding guidelines which serve to clarify some church-related issues.

About the Sacrament of Marriage

Marriage is an “event of grace” in which God joins the lives of a man and a woman so intimately that they become “one body” (Mark 10: 8). It is a covenant with God, each other, and the Church community to be a sign of God’s love. A covenant is a mutual pledge to be faithful in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, all the days of your lives. It does not itemize or spell out. It is open-ended.

The purpose of Christian marriage is two-fold: to grow in love of one another and God, and to cooperate with God in bringing forth new life. Both of these purposes involve a permanent commitment of unconditional self-giving on the part of husband and wife.

Clearly, the Catholic Church takes the vow of marriage very seriously. Marital love and fidelity create the context and the environment into which children will be born and grow into responsible Christian adulthood.

We believe that worshipping with our community regularly is an indispensable part of preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage.

Our Parish Procedures

Once the decision to be married has been made, we ask that you contact our parish priest to make an appointment to set a proposed date and time for your wedding.  The proposed date and time of your wedding should be confirmed within six months to one year in advance of the proposed date.

Couples are asked to attend a Marriage Preparation Weekend.  Registration for couples living in North Bay is available by calling the parish office at 705-472-3970.  Do not wait too long to call as sessions are limited in size and fill up fast.  For couples living outside of North Bay, you must register for preparation with your local parish.

After the wedding date has been confirmed, you are required to attend a meeting with one of our priests or deacons.   If you do not reside in North Bay, you must have your prenuptial marriage investigation completed at your own local parish.  They in turn will provide us with the completed file prior to the marriage taking place.

At the meeting the following will take place:

  • General introduction and sharing expectations for your marriage and wedding.
  • A premarital investigation which is simply an interview required by church law.
  • You must bring with you a recently issued copy of your Baptismal Certificate (not more than six months old) for our files.
  • Options will be explained for some of the aspects you might have for your celebration.

Once you have completed Marriage Preparation and met with a priest or deacon, you should make an appointment to see our Music Director by calling the parish office at 472-3970.  Approval for the music must be given by the Music Director prior to printing of any programs or the finalizing of music plans.  More discussion on music can be found in the Music section of the website located under the Wedding Music Planning.

Your final meeting is on the day of the wedding rehearsal (usually the night before the wedding). This rehearsal is a brief run through of your wedding so that on the “big day” you can relax and be comfortable and pray.  There may be more than one rehearsal booked for the same evening so please be on time and make sure that all those involved are at the church for this rehearsal. Participants in the rehearsal should be appropriately dressed for church.  An atmosphere of proper respect should be maintained which includes no chewing of gum, eating or drinking.

At the rehearsal, those you have chosen to read the scriptures and intercessions may practice using the microphone.  It is also recommended that your photographer, videographer or recorder come to the rehearsal to be made aware of where they can perform their duties.  Those you have chosen for gift bearers, servers and Eucharistic Ministers (if not from the Pro-Cathedral) must also come to the rehearsal.  However, the rehearsal night is not the time when the musicians rehearse or perform for the wedding party.  This is done well in advance of the wedding day.

The entire group of attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen) should be actively involved in the liturgy by responding to the prayers and singing the songs.  They sit in front of everyone else and are very visible.  They are the “official” witnesses to the vows even though the entire assembly are also witnesses.

The ushers (or groomsmen) are responsible for returning the Cathedral to its clean condition after the ceremony.  This includes clearing away flower arrangements, making sure the pew decorations removed and clearing the pews of any papers, programs or garbage.

Wedding Mass/Wedding Ceremony

Your wedding is a liturgical celebration.  The marriage of two practicing Roman Catholics usually takes place within the celebration of the Mass as both parties have a common bond in their belief in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.  When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic the wedding ceremony normally takes place outside of Mass as there is not a “common” belief in the Eucharistic presence.  The celebrant will discuss this with you, to make sure that what is best for you is what will be celebrated.

From the minute you announce your plans to be married, many people will try to talk you into a lot of things “you simply must have, or must do” for the wedding.  Please be careful!  Don’t do anything or buy anything that doesn’t make sense to you.  If they say “It’s a tradition!” please ask “What does it mean?”

Part of the wedding celebration is the observance of wedding traditions.  Some of these traditions are, and can be very meaningful and thus very beautiful.  Some of them, however, don’t mean much anymore.  We offer some suggestions to you which we feel are meaningful variations on some old wedding themes.  You might enjoy taking a fresh look at some old wedding customs.

The tradition that the groom shouldn’t see the bride before the wedding is an old one which was based on superstition.  At some weddings, the bride and groom now stand at the front door of the church and greet their guests.  This can make everyone feel welcome.

The tradition of the father “giving away” the bride comes from a time when the father delivered the bride to seal the deal with the dowry.  It is now a good idea to include the parents of both the bride and the groom in the processions.  This makes a nice procession and is more in keeping with a church service. It also acknowledges the mother and father of both the bride and groom.

Aisle runners made sense in the day when streets were not paved and aisles were not carpeted.  All avenues around the Pro-Cathedral are paved and we do have carpeting.  For these reasons, as well as their being an issue of safety, we do not need aisle runners.

Since we have no maintenance personnel available on Saturdays, there is no one to clean up before the Saturday evening liturgy.  We ask that rice, confetti, bird seed and rose petals not be used inside or outside of the church.   The use of “Bubbles” outside the Cathedral is acceptable.

Because Copyright laws dictate proper citation of all texts and the Pro-Cathedral and its staff are subject to these regulations, your wedding program or leaflet should be approved/proofed by the Music Director prior to your program being printed.

Planning Your Wedding Liturgy

Please read all of the following sections carefully.

We have attached a link to a Sample Prayers of the Faithful and the Most Common Scripture Passages Read at Weddings here for your convenience.

Confession/Sacrament of Reconciliation

Since marriage is a change of life-style, it is highly recommended that Catholics prepare for this change by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to their wedding ceremony. The sacrament is available at the Pro-Cathedral every Saturday from 3:00 pm until 3:45 pm or by individual appointment with a priest at the rectory by calling the parish office at 472-3970.

The Ceremony

A wedding is a gracious function in the life of the parish community and its members.  It is also a special moment in our lives here at the Pro-Cathedral.  As part of your formal marriage preparation program, you will be given the book “Together for Life’ to help you plan a meaningful marriage celebration. This book discusses the various wedding traditions and contains the Scripture readings, prayers and wedding vows used at marriage celebrations in the church.  The Priest or Deacon will review the book with you in helping plan your wedding ceremony.

There are several ministries involved in your wedding ceremony.  The Presider is either a priest or deacon and is the one who celebrates the ceremony.  The Cantor is the leader of song for the assembled community (your guests).  He or she does not have to be from the Pro-Cathedral but those from outside parishes must meet with our Music Director well in advance of the wedding day.  The Soloist sings songs that the congregation does not at limited points throughout the ceremony.  In some cases, the Cantor and Soloist can be the same person.  The Organist/Pianist and Instrumentalists provide the instrumental music throughout the ceremony and accompany the Cantor, the Soloist and the Assembly.  The Organist/Pianist and other Instrumentalists for the parish are organized and retained by the Music Director.  Because of the complexity of the Organ at the Pro-Cathedral, only Organists on staff are permitted to use the pipe organ.  Including family and friends in this aspect of the celebration is a possibility please discussed this with the Music Director prior to inviting them to act in this role.  See more detailed information for Wedding Music Planning.

The Altar Servers (Ministers of the Altar) assist the Presider in his duties. Servers from outside the Pro-Cathedral are permitted, but must attend the rehearsal.

Eucharistic Ministers assist the Priest in the distribution of Communion. If you are anticipating a crowd of over 100 guests, please let us know so that we can schedule one of our Eucharistic Ministers. We also would like to encourage reception of Communion under both forms: the Body and Blood of Christ. If you have family members and friends who are Eucharistic Ministers, let the Presider know during your planning so that they can help out with Communion.

Offering for the Wedding

There are costs involved in ensuring that your celebration takes place in a clean, safe building and that those involved provide a quality service. There is suggested offering for this purpose of $350.00 and is income tax receiptable.

Additional costs may be added should you request additional instrumentalists (guitarist, brass player, etc.) as we have to pay them their fee for providing this service.  Please discuss these fees with our Music Director.

Cheques are to be made out to the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption.  We also accept Visa and MasterCard.

Church Decorations

Please contact the parish office at 472-3970 daily from Tuesday to Friday for all concerns and questions regarding church decorations.  It is best that you inform us of your decoration plans well in advance of the wedding day.  It would be helpful as well, if we knew what time your flowers will be delivered and if you will be leaving the flowers in the Cathedral or removing them to the reception.

If you choose to use ribbons or bows on the front pews, we have some available.  During certain times of the year, there will be decorations appropriate to the Liturgical Season.  You may not require additional flowers or decorations.

Our insurance company has asked that we refrain from using lighted candles, lanterns, aisle runners, trellises or archways in close proximity to the general public.

With respect to the fact that other services or weddings may be taking place immediately prior to or immediately after your wedding, it is important that all your decorations are easily removed on completion of the ceremony.

In some cases, you may have to be flexible in decorating the church prior to your ceremony. For example, a funeral may be celebrated in the Cathedral on the day of your ceremony with there being little time for decorating for your celebration.

Photo and Video Guidelines

Photographs and videos serve as an attractive reminder of a wedding.  However, we would hope that the taking of pictures and videos would not interfere with the liturgy or with other church functions that take place in the church before and after your wedding. Therefore, we ask, if possible, that your photographer or videographer be present for the rehearsal as the day of the wedding is too busy for the presider to explain guidelines and answer questions.

Music Guidelines

Please see Wedding Music Planning for full details.


Frequently Asked Questions (& Answers)

Marrying a Non-Catholic

Marriages of Catholics with non-Catholics, commonly called “mixed marriages” or “inter-faith marriages” require special attention.  Each party must appreciate the challenges and the responsibilities of the Catholic party in such a marriage.

In an “inter-faith marriage” the Catholic Party is asked to make a Declaration of their Faith and a promise to do all in their power to share this faith with their children and have them baptized Roman Catholics. The non-Catholic party is informed of this, so that they are aware of the responsibilities on the part of the Catholic Party in this area.

Visiting Clergy

If you wish to have a relative of the bride or groom, who is a priest or deacon, witness the marriage vows, please discuss this at your initial appointment with a member of our clergy.

Marriage License

All couples are required to obtain a Marriage License at City Hall.   The license should be brought to the parish office as soon as it is obtained.  In keeping with the law of this province, it will be completed and forwarded to the Registrar General of Ontario after the marriage has been celebrated.