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Robert and Rhonda Decarie

The staff of Saint Patrick's Basilica extends congratulations on your engagement! Your decision to enter into marriage is a serious one, and can serve as a wonderful sign of commitment, faith, and hope to many around you. If you are considering a wedding here at Saint Patrick's Basilica, the following guidelines will help answer many of your questions and help you plan your wedding day, in which you enter into marriage in the sight of God and before your family and friends. We invite you to read them carefully.
dove painting on sacristy wall

In the words of the marriage ritual, those who marry
enter into a union which is most sacred and most serious, a union which was established by God Himself. By it, He gave to man a share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race. And in this way He sanctified human love and enabled man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by sharing a common life under His fatherly care.
Because God Himself is thus its author, marriage is of its very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and unreserved giving of self.
In the eyes of the Church, marriage is a life-long covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life. Marriage is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. Marriage between persons who are baptized has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

The marriage of any Catholic is governed not only by divine law but also by canon law of the Church, without prejudice to the competence of the civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of the marriage bond.
PART I: Preliminaries

  1. Couples wishing to marry at Saint Patrick's Basilica are asked to contact the parish office for further information. The future bride and/or groom must be a registered parishioner(s) of the Basilica for at least 6 months prior to requesting an initial interview for their marriage. Once an initial interview has taken place and it is established through a Basilica clergy member that the marriage will take place in the Church, a date of marriage may be reserved and deposit received through the interviewing clergy member. Saturday at 2:00 p.m. is the customary day set aside for weddings at the Basilica. The wedding MUST begin on time, and not later than to 2:00 p.m. We suggest contacting the Rectory office at least nine months in advance to allow time to complete the wedding interview and marriage file. A year in advance is even better! Wedding ceremonies are discouraged during Lent.

  2. Contact our parish office at 613-233-1125.

    For Those Previously Married
    For anyone wishing to marry in the Catholic Church and who has been previously married a Declaration of Nullity or Freedom to Marry is needed before a wedding date may be booked. These are issued by an ecclesiastical Marriage Tribunal. This step is necessary even if the previously married party is non-Catholic or if the previous marriage was entered into outside the Catholic Church. This step is not necessary if the former spouse has passed away. If you have any questions please speak with one of our parish priests.

  3. Documentary Requirements:

    You have chosen to exchange your vows of love and fidelity in the Catholic Church, and your faith is an important determining factor in how you will enter into this intimate relationship of marriage. The Church is responsible for discerning your intentions and capacities for making this promise, and is required to assemble various documents.

  4. Prenuptial interview
    Until the couple's freedom to marry in the Catholic Church is established we are not authorized to book a date for their wedding. This is the purpose of the prenuptial interview. It is a straightforward process and nothing to worry about. Simply make an appointment with one of our parish priests for this interview. If you are not personally known to the priest, proof of identification should be brought with you to the interview. If both of you, or if the Catholic party, lives outside the Archdiocese of Ottawa our priest can give you directions as to where and by whom the prenuptial interview and wedding file need to be completed.

    Certificate Of Completion Of A Marriage Preparation Course
    Marriage Preparation Courses are designed to assist the couple in building a successful marriage by deepening their understanding of each other and by addressing issues of communication, finances, psychology, faith, sexuality, and family life. Marriage Preparation Courses are available at a number of churches in the Diocese of Ottawa. At the Basilica, we provide sponsored couples to assist you. To get the most out of such a course we would recommend you take it well before the wedding date.

    Baptismal Certificate
    In the case of Catholics the Baptismal Certificate should be newly issued and dated within six months of your initial interview with the clergy.  Catholics should contact their parish of baptism, inform them of the upcoming marriage, and either pick up the Baptismal Certificate or have it sent / faxed to their personal address. For Baptismal Certificates coming from a Catholic church outside Canada please include the name and complete mailing address of the church.

    In the case of a fiancé(e) who is a non-Catholic Christian a copy of his or her original baptismal certificate will suffice plus a signed letter from the parent(s) stating that he or she has never been previously married. The letter should be dated and have contact information. In the case of a fiancé(e) who is non-Christian a signed letter from his or her parents will suffice. It should state that he or she has never been baptized, never been previously married, be dated and have contact information. If your parents are both deceased the letter should come from someone who has known you since childhood (such as a brother, sister, aunt or other relative) and can vouch for your marital history. These are essential documents and should be collected as early as possible and brought to our office to be kept in your wedding file.

    Record Of Confirmation
    When a Catholic receives the Sacrament of Confirmation ordinarily a notification is sent back to the parish of baptism and it is recorded in their register. This should appear on your newly issued baptismal certificate. If it does not appear then a copy of your original Confirmation certificate will suffice. Please note that a Catholic can still be married in the Church without being confirmed but it is highly recommended that you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation before you get married. If you decide to seek Confirmation kindly contact our parish office as soon as possible. If approached early enough we can give you the necessary preparation.

    Civil Marriage Licence
    This is a necessary civil document for your marriage. All persons marrying in Ontario must obtain an Ontario Marriage Licence. It is obtained from the provincial government through City Hall. Please consult the priest before obtaining it. Marriage licences are valid for only 90 days and so should never be obtained earlier than 2-3 months before your wedding. However, please do not leave it too late. Obtain the civil licence no later than one month before the wedding date. The priest or deacon performing the marriage is responsible for completing and returning it to the Registrar General's Office and so it needs to be brought to the parish to be included in your wedding file. Please note that our parish does not use Banns of Marriage.

  5. Church Fees:

    Saint Patrick's Basilica is a vital parish providing for the spiritual needs of its parishioners, as well for those of commuters and visitors to the downtown core. Your wedding offering assists us in covering the expenses incurred by the parish in helping to celebrate your wedding day. These expenses include maintenance and upkeep of our beautiful and historic church building (including heating, lighting and repairs), cleaning of the basilica and surrounding environment before and after your wedding, and priest and staff time needed to prepare and celebrate your wedding. The parish offering for weddings is $1,000. The fee includes the music consulting services of our organist Ms. Francesca Bailey, and her services as organist at your wedding, if so desired.The engagement of additional musicians and singers, if desired, are your responsibility and does not impact the Basilica fee. Further information on wedding music is provided below.

    This Basilica fee can be paid in full immediately upon booking your wedding or in two instalments: $300 non-refundable down payment at the time of booking and the balance no later than two weeks before the wedding. If you cancel your wedding with us then all payments except for the non-refundable down payment will be refunded.
PART II: The Wedding Celebration
  1. The Ceremony:
    You probably already have many ideas about the kind of wedding liturgy you would like to have. One of the first things to consider is whether you will be having a Nuptial Mass with Holy Communion or a Wedding Ceremony without a Mass or Holy Communion. Things to consider in choosing are your own religious backgrounds and which of the two celebrations best suits the assembled guests. Saint Patrick's Basilica wants all your guests to feel welcome. Yet it would be a disservice to pretend there are no divisions within Christianity or differences with other religions. Specific concerns to ask yourself: Are those attending coming from a Catholic background or will there be many other Christians or non-Christians represented? Will the celebration of a Nuptial Mass with Communion make a significant number of your family and guests feel awkward or excluded from fully participating?

    With this in mind we recommend a Nuptial Mass with Holy Communion for a Catholic marrying another Catholic, and where both families are significantly practicing Catholics. We recommend a Wedding Ceremony without Holy Communion for (1) a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic Christian, or (2) for a Catholic marrying a person of another religion, and (3) for Catholic families which are largely non-practicing. Your priest or deacon can help you determine which option is best for your circumstances. He can also assist you in planning many of the other details for your ceremony.

    A wedding is a joyful and exciting occasion but please keep in mind that Saint Patrick's Basilica is not a venue being rented like a reception hall or restaurant. It is a sacred place for witnessing your vows before God. Respect and decorum need to be observed at all times.

  2. Readings And Liturgical Prayers:
    We will provide you with a booklet that contains a wide selection of befitting Scripture readings as well as various prayers and blessings. Non-scriptural readings, song verses, or poems are never permitted in place of the Bible. You are welcome to choose relatives or friends to proclaim the readings from the Holy Scriptures and the "Prayer of the Faithful (i.e. General Intercessions). The Gospel reading is reserved to a priest or deacon.

  3. Music:
    At a Catholic wedding the emphasis must be on liturgical music that gives honour and glory to God, whose blessings we invoke on the union of the bride and groom. As the wedding ritual puts it: "Music in Catholic worship must express the worship of God for the mystery of love he created and transforms in this sacrament." For this reason the Basilica does not allow any secular music — such as popular love songs or themes from movies. Neither do we permit recorded music.

    The couple, in consultation with our Music Director and Organist, Francesca Bailey, should plan music for the wedding jointly. She has a great deal of experience and expertise to share. If requested she can make particular recommendations. Ms. Bailey can also recommend soloists, choral ensembles and instrumentalists. For a selection list of appropriate wedding songs, click HERE.

    As our Music Director, Ms. Bailey is entrusted with the task of judging the suitability of musical selections within the context of a Catholic wedding ceremony. Ms. Bailey must approve all music decisions for our church. This applies to all events of whatever nature in the Basilica, as does the ban on recorded music.

    As our organist, Ms. Bailey is available, at no extra charge as indicated above, to play at your wedding. She does not attend the wedding rehearsal. 

    At your expense you may engage outside instrumentalists (excluding for the organ) and / or singers, subject to prior approval by the Music Director Ms. Bailey. Any music they wish to play or use must be submitted (with texts) to Ms. Bailey for approval at least three months before the wedding date. Each rehearsal with your personally selected outside instrumentalists (excluding for the organ) and / or singers will cost an extra $100 and should be scheduled for the week prior to your wedding date.

    Music Director & Organist, Francesca Bailey, may be contacted at 613-233-1126 ext. 561 or by email at .

    What follows below is a description of the points at which music is used in a typical wedding ceremony:

    Prior to the beginning of the liturgy there is a Prelude consisting of about 15 minutes of instrumental music as guests arrive and are seated. Music during this time is usually selected at the discretion of the organist/instrumentalists. Often the prelude is comprised entirely of a solo organ repertoire but the utilization of other instruments is possible.

    The seating of the mothers of the bride and groom can be accompanied by its own special music. The Processional is played as the bridal party begins to walk up the aisle. Depending on the number of bridesmaids, flower girls, etc. separate musical selections can be played for the bridal party and for the bride.

    The Responsorial Psalm can be sung but it requires the presence of a cantor.If there is no cantor the Psalm is spoken. An acclamation ("Alleluia") may be sung just before the proclamation of the Gospel.

    For those planning a Wedding Ceremony without a Nuptial Mass, the next musical moments are the Signing of the Register followed by the Recessional that concludes the service. The Signing of the Register usually allows for one fairly lengthy musical piece. The wedding Recessional is best accompanied by a festive musical selection.

    If you are planning a full Mass the liturgy continues with music during the Offertory. As this takes very little time a short instrumental selection suffices. The next opportunity for music is at Holy Communion. Depending on how many people receive Holy Communion, or come up for a blessing, time may permit for a couple of musical selections. Finally there is the Signing of the Register and the Recessional, each of which allows for its own fairly lengthy musical piece.

  4. Rehearsal:
    Rehearsals should be booked well in advance of the ceremony. They are best scheduled the evening before the wedding, when most members of the wedding party are in town and when the rehearsal will be fresh in people's minds. The rehearsal times on Friday are usually 5:30pm or 6:30pm. As with the ceremony itself, punctuality is critical. Thursday rehearsal times are generally not available. Rehearsals last about 45 minutes to one hour.

    Anyone taking an active part in the wedding ceremony should be at the rehearsal.  This would include ushers, readers, bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc.  If there is to be a flower girl/s or ring bearer they too should be present at the rehearsal. It is important that children performing these roles be at least 4 years of age in the context of worship.

  5. Flowers:
    Arrangements of flowers are left to the couple's choice. Flowers may be left in the basilica after the wedding ceremony or they may be taken to the reception hall. Please plan with someone in your wedding party to remove any runners, pew markers, flowers, programs, boxes, etc. immediately following the ceremony.

  6. Photographs & Video Recording:
    Photographers and videographers and their assistants are welcome. Because of the sacred nature of the church and the ceremony, they must maintain a respectful decorum at all times. They are to be reverent and discreet with as little movement as possible. They are not to stand on pews, nor may they come into the sanctuary (i.e. beyond the communion rail) during the service. If there is a Mass and Communion they are not to take photographs during that part of the ceremony. At the signing of the register a designated photographer may move forward. Flash photographs are to be kept to a minimum. No extra lighting equipment is to be used. Photographers and videographers should introduce themselves and consult with the priest or deacon before the ceremony.

  7. Confetti, Rice & Flower Petals:
    We respectfully ask that no confetti, rice, or bird seed be thrown inside or outside the Basilica. We also ask that flower petals not be scattered. Rice or bird seed is hazardous as people can slip and fall. Flower petals can stain the marble floor or carpeting when crushed under people's shoes. And cleaning up any of these materials after each wedding can be burdensome.

  8. Parking:
    Metered on-street parking around the basilica is currently free on Saturdays. We have a small parking lot on Gloucester Street that is available for wedding guests. Saturday parking is also permitted, during the wedding ceremony only, at the school yard of Saint Patrick's Adult School on Nepean Street, across from the church office. Please be aware of the time issues involved - spaces may be needed by others after your wedding.

  9. Wedding Invitations:
    For wedding invitations use the church address, not the office mailing address. The church address is:

    Saint Patrick's Basilica
    220 Kent Street
    (the corner of Kent and Nepean Streets)

  10. Wheelchair & Disability Access:
    There is a ramp leading into the Basilica on the Nepean Street side of the church. There is a wheelchair accessible washroom near the ramp entrance. The basement washrooms are also wheelchair accessible. Ramps leading into the basement are on both sides of the church.
PART III: Options

  1. Flowers, Pew Bows & Runners:
    The basilica is beautiful and so you need not go into extra expense to try to augment it. Arrangements of flowers are left to the couple's choice. They may be left in the basilica or taken to the reception. Flowers may be placed near the altar of sacrifice but not on it. Your florist must provide any stands or pedestals used. Pew bows are allowed as long as they are not affixed by pins, tacks, nails, staples or glue. Elastic bands, string, plastic pew clips or ribbons are suggested. Some mild adhesive tape is permitted to aid in affixing them so long as it will not damage the finish on the pews. Decorating is generally done an hour before the ceremony. Please arrange that a designated person(s) will remove any decorations, boxes, etc. immediately following the ceremony.  Sorry, we do not supply an aisle runner.  The centre aisle is 100 feet (30.5 metres) in length.

  2. Cultural Wedding Traditions:
    Some Catholic cultures have additional rituals in their wedding ceremonies, such as the 'arras' and 'lazo'. If these are part of your cultural heritage please consult the priest or deacon performing your wedding.

  3. Wedding Programs:
    Wedding programs are optional. They can be helpful in guiding the unfamiliar through a Catholic wedding ceremony, acknowledging the wedding party and parents, and as mementoes. In terms of the content that is up to the couple. We would recommend simplicity. Excessive detail can lead to guests looking too much at the program instead of at the actual ceremony.

    Before having any program printed make an appointment with the priest or deacon who will be presiding at your wedding. He can preview it to make sure everything is in the right order and nothing important is left out. We have sample programs that can be viewed for ideas. Just ask. Please consider leaving us a few of your programs as samples too.

Below are outlines for programs. Items printed in italics indicated variables that you should list in the finished product. Optional items are given in [brackets]:
Program For A Nuptial Mass
(with Communion)

Musical Prelude
[Seating Of The Mothers]    music title & composer

Introductory Rites
Processional      music title & composer
Penitential Rite
Opening Prayer

Liturgy Of The Word
First Reading      scripture reference
Responsorial Psalm      psalm number
Second Reading      scripture reference
[Gospel Acclamation]
Gospel      scripture reference

Rite Of Marriage
Exchange Of Vows
Blessing And Exchange Of Rings
General Intercessions

Liturgy Of The Eucharist
Offertory      music title & composer
Eucharistic Prayer
Lord's Prayer
Nuptial Blessing
[Sign Of Peace]
Holy Communion      music title & composer
Prayer After Communion

Concluding Rite
Final Blessing
Signing Of The Register      music title & composer
Introduction Of The Newlyweds
Recessional      music title & composer
Program For Marriage Ceremony
(without Mass & Communion)

Musical Prelude
[Seating Of The Mothers]      music title & composer

Introductory Rites
Processional      music title & composer
Opening Prayer

Liturgy Of The Word
First Reading      scripture reference
Responsorial Psalm      psalm number
Second Reading      scripture reference
[Gospel Acclamation]
Gospel      scripture reference

Rite Of Marriage
Exchange Of Vows
Blessing And Exchange Of Rings
General Intercessions
Lord's Prayer
Nuptial Blessing

Concluding Rite
Final Blessing
Signing Of The Register      music title & composer
Introduction Of The Newlyweds
Recessional      music title & composer

...................... May your wedding ceremony be beautiful as you begin your married life together..