Sacrament of Matrimony

Sacrament of Matrimony

On behalf of the entire Parish family at Holy Rosary Church, let me offer our sincerest congratulations as you begin preparing for your upcoming wedding.  As you pledge your lives to one another before the Almighty and His Church, our prayer is that the Lord may bless you in your faithfulness to one another and your future children, should you be so gifted.

Dear Engaged Couple,

The information contained in this booklet is to assist you in planning your wedding ceremony.  The priest who will be presiding will be able to help you with any questions which might arise, which are not covered in this booklet.

One of the best ways to prepare for a happy marriage is to pray for God’s blessing on your marriage.  Pray alone and together for your marriage and for each other.  Since this is a new beginning in your life, I encourage you to ask forgiveness of God for all your past sins and to open your hearts to a new life with Him.

Engaged Catholic couples need to make a thorough confession in preparation for marriage. Please inform Catholic wedding attendants that the best gift they can give to you is to also make a good confession and to receive Holy Communion before the marriage celebration because they are going to be spiritual supports for you. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available 1/2 hour prior to every Mass or by appointment.

Once again, may the Lord bless you now and in your future years together as husband and wife.

Sincerely in Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church,

Fr. Ryszard Czerniak SChr, Pastor                                                                                               


Revised July 22, 2015


Why does the Church require marriage preparation programs?

The Church is vitally interested in the sanctity and success of the marriage of its members.  Marriage is much more than just the beautiful ceremony and reception.  The finest caterer and the most skilled photographer cannot assure a happy marriage.  So the Church insists that time and effort be put into the preparation for a life which includes the very presence of Jesus Christ Himself in your marriage.  When it comes to a marriage as an act of worship, as an act of faith, the Church must be true to itself as it seeks to make the wedding more than just an event to be reported on the society page of the newspaper.

Programs such as Engaged Encounter and Pre-Cana invite couples to see Christ as part of their marriage commitment.  His grace makes marriage a sacrament.  His grace brings the couple through the inevitable stormy times their relationship will endure.  Communication through dialogue; planning for the future; the Christian attitude toward sexuality; the meaning of being “couple”; marriage as a “sacrament”; all these topics are discussed during the programs.  They are merely a beginning, a hint of the skills that married couples will need on their common journey through life.

In primitive societies, the skills needed in marriage were simple and very basic.  Life is no longer simple.  Couples learn their values, not just at home or at school, but on the streets and in the media that is often “valueless”.  In the light of today’s complexities, the Church lovingly demands that engaged couples step aside long enough to reflect on the holiness of their vocation and the importance of this step they are about to take.  (Excerpted from “Three to Get Ready,” Oblates, July/August 1987).



An appointment should be made with the priest of your choice.  At this time, the date, time of your wedding day, and your rehearsal will be scheduled, and any other details will be arranged.  Do not sign any contract with a reception hall, caterer, etc. until the parish priest who will preside at your wedding has confirmed the date and time for your wedding. The appointment should be made well in advance of the wedding.  It is recommended that you contact the parish one year before the planned wedding date.  Six months is the minimum according to Archdiocesan norms.  Enough time must be allowed for you to attend the required Marriage Preparation conferences.



A marriage can take place in the Parish of the bride or the groom if both bride and groom are of the Catholic faith. 

Obviously, a priest from Holy Rosary will preside over the ceremony and complete all the paperwork……HOWEVER….

1. A priest-relative or a priest who is a close personal friend is always welcome to officiate at your marriage. Please advise the priest that he must handle all the instructions, rehearsal, etc…  However, you need to remember that a priest here at Holy Rosary must do the paperwork 6 months in advance of your wedding date. The visiting priest, who does not belong to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is required to provide a “Letter of Good Standing” from his Bishop or Superior. Without this letter the visiting priest cannot officiate the Sacrament of Marriage in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Please supply the visiting priest’s name, address, and phone number to the parish office. It is your responsibility to offer a stipend to the priest.  We suggest that you deduct $100.00 from the wedding stipend if the priest who officiates does not belong to the parish.

2.  If you decide to use our church for only the wedding ceremony, all the paperwork will be done by the priest in your parish so the stipend will be shared between your priest and Holy Rosary Parish. You are responsible for contacting Holy Rosary Church to set a date for your wedding.

3.  When one person is not of the Catholic faith, a minister of his/her faith may be invited to be present in the sanctuary and participate in the ceremony.  Usually the wedding ceremony will be outside of the Holy Mass.

4. Should there be special reasons to be married in other places; permission to do so must be requested through the Parish priest to the Archbishop.



  1. Couples who are not registered members of Holy Rosary Parish MUST First obtain a Letter of Permission from the Pastor of their Parish where they are registered or are attending.
  2. A Baptismal Certificate is a must for each Christian person.  This certificate must be an original, issued from the Church of your baptism, within six months of the date of your marriage. They will remain at Holy Rosary Church on file with all the other documents.
  3. Marriage License from Baltimore City


City of Baltimore Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Marriage License Department

100 North Calvert Street, Room 628

Baltimore, MD  21202


 Hours        Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

 The Circuit Court Office is closed on all state & federal holidays.

 Please Note:  A documented proof of age must be presented to the Circuit Clerk when obtaining a marriage license.

 There is a 48-hour waiting period before a marriage license is issued.  Your license is good for six months, from the date of issue.  We must have this documentation to witness your marriage.  So you should obtain it well in advance.

 4. Pre Cana Certificate

All couples who plan to be married at Holy Rosary Church are expected to attend pre-marriage conferences.  These conferences are designed to provide an opportunity for each person to better understand self, intended spouse, and the obligations and responsibilities of marriage.  

The Archdiocese offers an Engaged Encounter weekend and Marriage Preparation classes.  Both are designed to give you and your intended the time to talk honestly about your lives together.

Please visit the website for further details.


 5. Prenuptial Investigation

This is an individual discussion between the priest and the future groom and the priest and the future bride. The priest will make the appointment during the 6 month preparation period.



It is customary, when both parties are Catholic, that the announcement of your wedding be published in your respective parishes on the three Sundays preceding your marriage.  Please inform the priest if you wish your banns to be announced in the case of a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic.


The witnesses (Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor) may be of any religion.  However, they should be in good standing with their particular faith community.


Many options are permitted in the Marriage Rite, which enable the bride and groom to make their wedding as personal as possible.  Please discuss these options with your celebrant. If both the bride and groom are Catholic, the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage should take place at a Nuptial Mass.

An interfaith wedding is normally celebrated at a Marriage Ceremony with its emphasis on the Word of God and the Exchange of Vows. 


Both the Nuptial Mass and Wedding Ceremony include readings from Scripture.  This is when a layperson proclaims one or both of the readings.  A member of the family, of the wedding party, or a close personal friend may fulfill this role. Also make sure that you choose someone to lead the prayer of the faithful (General Intercessions). Please be sure that the people you have chosen are able to read well in public, reading both clearly and loudly, enough to be heard by the whole congregation.


If you have friends or relatives who are altar servers in their parishes who wish to serve during your marriage, please inform the parish office at least two months in advance of the wedding.  They must bring their own altar service attire.


The ushers (groomsmen) should be at the church, ready to seat guests, one half hour before the wedding.  They should use the first few reserved pews on either side of the main aisle for the wedding party and the immediate family. 


Music at any worship service must be in accord with the purposes of the sacred rite.  Consequently, it should be chosen to express and support the religious understanding of marriage. Music in Catholic worship must express the worship of God for the mystery of the love He has created in each person and which He allows you to share with each other through this Sacrament.  These guidelines are set forth by the Catholic Conference, Secretary of Liturgy, and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  Couples are encouraged to personalize their wedding by selecting music according to this principle.

Arrangements for wedding music are made through one of our church musicians, Jozef Surowiec (1-443-996-7173), Jim Hemling (410-215-5082, or Christine Wells (1-443-756-2325).  When you meet with the organist of your choice, he or she will help you select the music for your wedding and review the various options available to enhance your marriage celebration. Special permission from the Pastor is needed if you wish to hire an organist other than those organists approved by Holy Rosary Church.



As for any church wedding, the bride and bridesmaids, and anyone (lectors, cantors, etc...) entering the sanctuary area during the wedding should be dressed appropriately.

The use of strapless gowns, sheer material, mini-skirts or low-cut tops/backs is considered immodest and is strongly discouraged in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.


A couple wishing to place flowers in the sanctuary for their wedding should make arrangements with the florist of their choice.  Once flowers are placed upon the altar for your wedding ceremony, they are already given as a gift to God and must remain.  Flowers should be in paper containers only, otherwise we are not responsible for any containers left behind on the altar.

Please do not forget to bring your unity candle with you when you have your rehearsal for your wedding.  This way it will be properly placed in the area where the priest would like it to stand before your wedding day.

You may ask either the priest or the parish secretary (during regular parish office hours) if there are any other scheduled weddings on the same day.  If so, it would be economical for both wedding parties to share the expense of the flowers by ordering the arrangements together.  The parish office phone number is 410-732-3960 and you may call this number to obtain the names and phone numbers of the other couples who share your wedding day to defray costs.



When doing your decorations for the wedding, do not fasten ribbons to the pews with tape, wire, or metal fasteners, etc…Elastic bands, pipe cleaners, or a ribbon (fastened to the flowers as a loop which fits over the pew rail) are allowed.  Candles on the pews are forbidden.

PLEASE NOTE:  The church is opened one hour prior to the scheduled time of your wedding.  Please have your flowers delivered accordingly.  If you wish to have flowers delivered earlier, you need to make special arrangements with the parish SECRETARY. (If you choose to order a white runner, the aisle in the church is 100 feet in length. The church does not supply this item.)



A photograph album can be a precious reminder of the sacredness of the moment in which the couple pledged their lives to each other, and can sustain their love through difficult periods of marriage in later years.

You are responsible for choosing the photographer and informing him/her of Holy Rosary Church guidelines for taking pictures.

Any photographer engaged by the couple should be made aware of the sacredness of the marriage ceremony and the church.  Photography should be conducted in such a manner as not to distract from the ceremony, so please tell the photographer to keep his camera on “quiet mode” so as not to distract from the wedding ceremony.



Pictures may be taken during the ceremony, provided that the…..

1.   Photographer does not enter sanctuaryThis is strictly enforced.

2.   Once the ceremony begins flash photography is not allowed.  The photographer may use a flash during the opening and closing processions only.

3.   The photographer is not allowed to stop the procession march to take the individual shots of each person in the bridal party

Photographs after the wedding must be accomplished quickly and in a dignified fashion, respecting the church as a place of worship.  The church is not a photo studio; therefore, studio umbrellas and like equipment are forbidden.  When you make arrangements with the photographer, please inform him/her of the type of group pictures you want taken in church, after the wedding, (i.e. bridal party, parents, family, etc…) This will save you time and confusion on the day of the wedding.  The photographer has 30 minutes after the ceremony ends to take the pictures.  If there is any other question, please ask the photographer to consult with the priest in advance for instructions before the ceremony begins.


PLEASE NOTE:    The weekend is a busy time for our parish, with many events scheduled. In order for the schedule to run smoothly, your wedding party and guests should leave the church 30 minutes before the next church event.  PLEASE DO NOT EXCEED THIS TIME.


A receiving line in church may not be permitted if there are other events scheduled after your wedding.  (Check with your celebrant.) If you do have a receiving line, the wedding party must immediately proceed to the front of the church for photographs.  There is sufficient time for all the photographs you want taken if you are prompt and efficient with the 30 minutes allotted to your wedding party.  Please advise the photographer of the time limit AND that the pictures should be FORMAL and taken outside of the altar rail. Again, please keep in mind the sacredness of the church and the constant presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, truly living in the Tabernacle.



In general, the rules for photographers apply to videographers.  No additional lights can be used in the church.  A stationary video camera can be set up in the choir loft or the side aisles of the church (no moving about the church during the marriage ceremony). Videotaping is not allowed in the main aisle of the church, in the sanctuary, or the sacristy.  Please keep in mind the sacredness of the church and the constant Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, truly living in the Tabernacle.


     It is very important that the rehearsal and the wedding start promptly at the scheduled time.  The rehearsal should be scheduled with the priest celebrating your Mass.  Please do this well in advance to avoid conflicts with other church events. The rehearsal practice is limited to one hour.  Make sure that all the members of the wedding party are there on time.  If you are late, you only have the remaining time of your scheduled rehearsal time. Subsequent services are severely affected by tardiness.   Make sure that the church has your marriage license and any other necessary documentation before the rehearsal.  Also have a list of attendants in the order you wish for them to be in the bridal procession.


WEDDING STIPEND Our Parish, once a large and vibrant Church, is now faced with a smaller congregation. Your wedding stipend helps to offset the expense incurred by the church (utilities, maintenance, salaries, etc…).


For regular Parish envelope users, the wedding stipend is $350.00.  A regular envelope user is defined as a person registered at Holy Rosary Church who has been an actively contributing member two (2) years prior to the date of the marriage.


For couples who are not registered members and who do not support the Parish through the regular use of envelopes, the stipend is $700.00.

Your wedding stipend should be paid four (4) weeks prior to the date of your wedding.   If you choose to do so, it is appropriate to offer a personal gift to the priest who celebrates your wedding.


The throwing of rice, birdseed, rose petals or confetti or any other substance is NOT PERMITTED here at Holy Rosary. These materials make walking hazardous for everyone. Hence, we ask you to inform your guests not to throw rice or other materials after the ceremony.


If you choose to have a flower girl in your wedding to throw flower petals as the bride processes up the aisle, please DO NOT use live flower petals, even if you are using an aisle runner.  The petals when walked on become very slippery which could cause someone to fall and also remember to designate someone to clean up the silk rose petals after the ceremony.


Due to the heavy schedules of services at Holy Rosary on weekends, the priest is not always able to attend your reception. If you wish the priest to attend your reception, it is recommended that you send him a personal invitation well in advance of the wedding date.


This booklet attempts to cover the most important areas of planning for your wedding day.  We know that we cannot possibly address all of the questions.  If there are any issues not covered, or if further clarification is needed, please feel free to ask.


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