Celebrating Your Marriage in St. Josaphat Church

Weddings are a special and joyful time for brides and grooms, for their families and friends, and for the parish community. The new beginning, the love, the promise and hope of weddings make their celebration a grace-filled time in our lives. The Church welcomes its members to celebrate and solemnize their weddings in the context of our prayer as Christians.

Indeed, so important is marriage in Christian life that it is called a sacrament. Great care is taken to see that the prayer for this special moment is reverent, graceful, beautiful and open to the movement of God's Spirit among us.

Our celebrations of the sacraments, marriage included, are always rooted in listening to the scriptures so that we can be nourished and strengthened by God's Word. We always celebrate the sacraments as community. We gather our sisters and brothers in faith and ask for their prayerful support.

These celebrations are incomplete unless they are filled with song, with prayerful gestures and with silence in which we hear the voice of God in our lives. In this spirit, St. Josaphat parish provides the following information and guidelines.

Remember, it is the love shared between the couple that calls down God's presence in the Sacrament of Matrimony. You are the ministers of this beautiful sacrament. As you schedule and work on all the details, try to relax. The ceremony will be beautiful because the people in attendance are choosing to be there, drawn to the church by your love for each other. In the rush of things, take time for each other, support each other. 
We will do everything on our part to make your wedding a fitting and prayerful beginning to your Christian Marriage. Along the way, feel free to call (773) 327-8955 with any questions you might have for the priest or deacon. 



Step 1: Wedding Inquiry

If you are interested in getting married at St. Josaphat your first step is to complete the Wedding Inquiry form (to be filled out by the bride and/or groom). The parish office will contact you within the next few days to schedule a meeting with a priest and begin the wedding process at St. Josaphat Parish.    
Active, registered parishioners and their family members have priority over guests of our parish. Guests who reside outside our parish boundaries will be considered at the discretion of our pastor.
Please be familiar with the following expectations for weddings at St. Josaphat: 
  • The priest or deacon will deal only with the couple and not with parents or wedding coordinators to avoid any confusion or miscommunication. We expect your full cooperation.

  • We ask that you remember that unlike a hall or a restaurant, the church is not "rented" for a wedding. As a place of worship it should be respected. It is also the symbol of the faith community before which you will be exchanging your vows.

  • The parish staff (priests, music director, altar servers, sacristans, etc.) is not employed by the couple getting married.  

  • You are expected to be on time for the rehearsal and the ceremony. We will not delay the start of another ceremony in church because of a tardy start of yours. The church is open one half hour before the ceremony. All weddings have the church reserved for 90 minutes from the planned ceremony start time, and this should include picture taking.

  • Drinking of alcohol before the rehearsal or ceremony will lead to the expulsion of those drinking from the church. Failure to comply could mean the forfeiture of the privilege of marriage in St. Josaphat Church at the discretion of the priest or deacon at any point in the preparation or ceremony.  

Step 2: Set The Date


Couples are expected to talk to a parish priest or deacon at least six months before the date on which they hope to celebrate their wedding. A wedding date cannot be set until a priest or deacon has met with the engaged couple, taking care of necessary documentation and arranging for their participation in a marriage preparation program. It is the responsibility of the engaged couple to secure the date with the church before making commitments with caterers, reception halls, etc.


ONLY the parish priest or deacon can confirm availability of wedding dates/times and this is done during your meeting. The Parish Office cannot confirm wedding dates or availability.


Weddings are scheduled with respect to the couple's wishes and the availability of the church building and parish ministers. Generally, we schedule no more than two weddings per weekend, at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm on Saturdays. You can see if a wedding is already scheduled by checking our parish calendar (if there is not a wedding scheduled, however, it does not mean that the date is available).


For exceptional reasons, weddings may be scheduled on Friday afternoon/evening ONLY AFTER 3:30 pm, or on Sunday afternoon. In the case of Sunday weddings, because of the schedule of Sunday Masses, weddings will be celebrated at a ceremony only -- no additional Masses are scheduled on Sundays. Wedding times are arranged to allow for Masses and other events in church such as Baptisms, Reconciliation, and funerals. As a result, weddings must begin at the scheduled time. The parking lot needs to be cleared between services to allow for adequate parking for the next service. On Saturday, the parking lot needs to be cleared by 4:30 pm because our Vigil Mass starts at 5:00 pm.


There are a few days in the liturgical year when a wedding cannot be celebrated. There are also times in the Church year when the liturgical calendar is less conducive to the celebration of weddings. For example, the season of Lent is a time of penance in the life of the church community; that spirit touches and colors all parish liturgies between Ash Wednesday and Easter. The priest or deacon will discuss this with you if your proposed ceremony date is affected.


We encourage you to avoid holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Remember that legal holiday weekends throughout the year often provide families and individuals with their only time to enjoy a break from their work schedule without fulfilling other social obligations.


The Rehearsal date and time should also be set with the priest or deacon. 


Please note: It is not possible to guarantee a date for a wedding if either party is pursuing an annulment. The final notification of the annulment must be granted before a date can be finalized.

Step 3: Fees

Pay the Suggested Wedding Contributions & Fees
  1. The suggested wedding contribution is $1000 for parishioners, children of parishioners and alumni of St. Josaphat School. The suggested wedding contribution is $1500 for non-parishioners. Full payment of your contribution is necessary to secure the date and time for your wedding. No wedding will be scheduled without full payment of this non-refundable, non tax deductible contribution because of the scheduling restraints of so many wedding requests. If there is any financial difficulty, a wedding ceremony can be arranged for reduced or no cost. These fees support the mission of the parish and contribute to the preservation of our buildings.

  2. The church will provide altar servers for your wedding. We encourage you to make a small offering to the servers of $10 - $15 for each server.

  3. See the section on wedding music for details on music options and fees.  


Step 4: Required Documentation

Necessary Documents You Will Need to Obtain
  1. A new Baptismal Certificate dated within six months of the day you wish to be married must be submitted by each Catholic party. In the marriage of a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian, the non-Catholic is also to present a record of baptism, if that is possible. Writing or phoning the church in which the baptism took place easily obtains these certificates. Copies of original certificates are unacceptable.
  1. A Confirmation Certificate is also required for all Catholics (both certificates remain on file at St. Josaphat).
  1. A Civil Marriage License is required for the marriage to take place in church. This can be obtained at the Office of the Cook County Clerk, 118 North Clark Street, Lower Level Randolph Street in Chicago. It is good for 60 days from when it is issued, but cannot be used within the first 24 hours of receiving it. It should be brought to the wedding rehearsal. Currently, in Cook County, there are no blood tests needed to obtain a license. You need to go together and have proper identification. Obviously, no wedding can be witnessed without a valid license. If you have any questions regarding this license call 312-603-7790. Only cash is accepted at the County Office.
  1. In case of a marriage ceremony at a non-Catholic church involving a Catholic and a non-Catholic, a dispensation must be obtained from the Chancery Office of the Archdiocese before the wedding. Because of the time involved in such a procedure, it is advisable to complete all of the necessary paperwork as soon a possible.
Church Documents We Will Fill Out Together
  1. A statement of intention by both bride and groom, called a pre-nuptial questionnaire, is required.
  1. In cases where the priest preparing you for marriage does not know you or your family, two Witness Affidavits for each of you may be required. Adults who know you well complete these affidavits in any Catholic parish in the presence of a priest, deacon, or pastoral associate. Close family members (parents, sisters, brothers) are most acceptable since they can easily answer the questions asked. They need not be Catholic, but should be at least eighteen years of age. 
  1. In case of a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, a dispensation must be granted. When the non-Catholic party is Christian and has a copy of his/her baptismal certificate, the parish priest can grant the dispensation. In cases where the non-Catholic does not have a record of baptism, the Chancery Office of the Archdiocese must grant the dispensation.

Step 5: Pre-Cana

We will work with you in this process of preparation for your catholic marriage. Some of these preparations include the completion of a pre-martial inventory, and your participation in a pre-marriage preparation program approved by the Archdiocese.
Our Pre-Cana Program is held in the rectory Red Door Room from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, concluding after our Saturday evening 5:00 pm Mass. Lunch is served during the session. We offer three Pre-Cana sessions each year at St. Josaphat: one in the fall, one winter and one early spring. 
The cost of the Parish Pre-Cana is included in your wedding fee. If you are being married somewhere else, the cost of our Pre-Cana is $200.00. 
Upcoming Pre-Cana dates at St. Josaphat:
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Saturday, January 27, 2024
Saturday, March 16, 2024
We expect our couples to attend Pre-Cana at St. Josaphat, however if that is not possible it is also offered by the Archdiocese. Reservations are required for all programs and arrangements for any of the programs are the responsibility of the couple. You can also register for an online 8-hour Pre-Cana course at 
Catholic Couple Checkup Inventory
Couples taking the Catholic Couple Check Up receive a twenty page report on their relationship with a discussion guide tailored to their individual situations immediately after completing the inventory.  


Step 6: Mass or Ceremony?


First, let's understand the difference. Every celebration of Mass consists of a Liturgy of the Word (entrance rite, readings, homily, general intercessions) and a Liturgy of the Eucharistic (presentation of bread and wine, the Eucharistic Prayer, and Holy Communion). When a wedding is celebrated at Mass, the rite of marriage takes place after the homily and before the general intercessions; then the Liturgy of the Eucharist follows. When a wedding is celebrated outside of Mass it is celebrated in a Liturgy of the Word in which the rite of marriage takes place after the homily and before the general intercessions.  The rite concludes with prayers and a blessing.
If one of you is not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church (and so will be unable to share Holy Communion if the wedding is celebrated during Mass), you may want to consider what this means. Do you want to include something in this celebration in which only one of you will be able to take part? Who will your guests be? Is the celebration of the Eucharist the best way to help them to be with you and pray with you at your wedding? If many of your guests are from outside the Catholic community, you may want to consider celebrating your wedding with the Liturgy of the Word. 
Please Note: If one of you is not a baptized Christian, Church law does not allow the wedding celebration at Mass. Some people seem to think that a couple is not really married unless the wedding takes place at Mass. This is simply not true. Discuss your concerns with the staff member with whom you are working and make the decision that will provide the best context for your prayer and celebration.
Select Your Readings
The workbook you receive at the Pre-Cana sessions has the many readings and prayers used most frequently at Catholic marriage celebrations.  The priest or deacon with whom you work will give you a different, more comprehensive workbook for planning your wedding, “Together for Life.”  This booklet provides a step-by-step outline for planning your celebration. You will be asked to spend some time together reading through the many options available to you and making the selections which best express your own sense of your wedding celebration.
Most couples find the selections in this booklet more than adequate; however, you are not limited to the options provided.  If you decide to select from other sources, be sure to discuss this with the priest or deacon helping in your preparations. Scripture readings are always proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word.  If you select a prayer or reading from some other source, the placement in the liturgy will have to be discussed with the staff member.



Step 7: Plan Your Liturgy

A wedding, like any sacrament the Church celebrates, is a public celebration.  It is celebrated both for the particular persons receiving this sacrament, and in the context of the parish community.  In fact, your wedding is a public parish event, listed in the church bulletin, and all members of the parish are invited to witness your celebration of the sacrament.
Among the Items You Will Want to Consider:
  • Are the people who will be joining in your celebration mostly from St. Josaphat parish, or will they be coming from a number of parishes?
  • If they are from many parishes, it will be necessary to take into account the music they are likely to be familiar with through their regular Sunday worship.
  • Are most of those assembled going to be from the Catholic tradition, or are many from other Christian or non-Christian tradition? Because those assembled are your guests, it is important they feel comfortable in joining in the prayer of this joyous occasion. You may want to include touches from another religious tradition if a sizable number of your guests are from that tradition. If one of you is from another tradition, you may want to have your own minister present at the celebration. We welcome the participation of your minister and would like to extend a personal invitation from the staff member working with you.
Some Options to Consider for the Wedding Liturgy
  • What is a "unity candle?"  Should we have one?
Every sacrament has a primary symbol, which shows us in a tangible way what we celebrate in the sacrament.  In the Catholic marriage ritual, this symbol is the exchange of wedding vows between the bride and groom. Over the centuries, an additional symbol has been added--the exchange of rings. The rings have come to symbolize the permanence of the marriage vows (the unbroken circle) as well as the commitment in love to only one other person (the public wearing of the ring). In recent years, a third symbol--the unity candle--has been used by many brides and grooms as an additional symbolic articulation of their vows. In discussing your plans with the priest or deacon, you may find it helpful to explore whether or not you wish to include the unity candle in your ceremony.
  • Should we "make a visit" to the Marian shrine?
Bringing flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary shrine is a European custom added to the marriage ceremony, beginning around the time of your grandparents' wedding. The bride took a floral offering to the Marian shrine as an expression of surrendering her virginity. In our time and culture, it may also be a prayer of invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary that God bless the wedding couple in their new life together. With this latter meaning, the bride and groom visit the Marian shrine as a couple.
  • Are we supposed to bring roses to our mothers?
Another addition to the wedding ceremony is the presentation of a single rose or some other small floral tribute to mothers and/or grandmothers at the time of the exchange of peace. While this seems like a very nice gesture, we ask you to consider whether you are singling out mothers at the exclusion of fathers or other important members of your families, and whether or not additional flowers (besides the corsage or boutonniere) are necessary.
  • Other customs (e.g., Arras, Lasso, Vinculo, Rosario, etc.)
In many countries other additions to the ceremony are customary, including the giving of symbolic coins (arras) by the groom to the bride while asking for God’s blessing on their material concerns in their married life. The lasso is also used frequently in weddings when godparents (padrinos) place a cord/rope or a two-circled rosary over the heads of the bride and groom while a prayer of blessing is said. Similarly, a rosary (rosario) or prayer book (libro de oraciones) may be presented to the bride by godparents (padrinos).
Because some of these practices were in use before the contemporary liturgy, it is important to let the priest know ahead of time (certainly at the rehearsal) if you will be following some of these customs. For example, the lasso once stayed on the couple until the end of the ceremony or mass. However, because the bride and groom will need to accept the gifts of bread and wine at the presentation, the lasso now is removed from the couple immediately after the blessing.
Select Your Readings
The workbook you receive at the Pre-Cana sessions has the many readings and prayers used most frequently at Catholic marriage celebrations. The priest or deacon with whom you work will give you a different, more comprehensive workbook for planning your wedding, “Together for Life.”  This booklet provides a step-by-step outline for planning your celebration. You will be asked to spend some time together reading through the many options available to you and making the selections which best express your own sense of your wedding celebration.
Most couples find the selections in this booklet more than adequate; however, you are not limited to the options provided. If you decide to select from other sources, be sure to discuss this with the priest or deacon helping in your preparations. Scripture readings are always proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word. If you select a prayer or reading from some other source, the placement in the liturgy will have to be discussed with the staff member.


Step 8: Select Ceremony Participants

The Ministers of the Celebration
In the Roman Catholic tradition, the bride and groom minister the sacrament to one another; they are the celebrants of the ceremony. A priest or deacon and at least two Catholic witnesses are also required to be present.
Ordinarily, one of the priests or deacons on the parish staff will preside at weddings celebrated in the parish. On occasion, a couple may have a priest, deacon, friend, or relative whom they want to invite to preside at the wedding. In this case, the couple should mention this to the parish priest or deacon early in the planning process. The involvement of a friend or relative in your preparation for marriage can be important to you and to him.
The marriage celebration includes selections from scripture and General Intercessions (sometimes referred to as the Prayers of the Faithful). We encourage you to ask family members or friends to serve in your wedding as Lector or Reader. When choosing family members or friends, please select those who are accustomed to public speaking and have a familiarity with this type of reading. Usually three Lectors are required.
Eucharistic Ministers
If a wedding is celebrated during Mass, there may be a need for the service of Eucharistic Ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion. Family members or friends who participate in this ministry in their own parish are welcome to assist with the distribution of Communion at your wedding.
Music Director
The parish music director assists the couple in planning the music for the ceremony and is the organist/pianist for all weddings.
The groom's attendants usually function as ushers and ministers of hospitality. The bride's attendants, and, indeed, the bride and groom and their families may also act as ministers of hospitality. It is a mature, gracious gesture for all members of the wedding party to greet members of the assembly as they gather to celebrate.
Altar Servers
Altar servers from the parish will be scheduled for your wedding celebration. If you have specific servers you would like, or have members of your family who fulfill this ministry in their own parish, please let the priest know as soon as possible.
Ring Bearers/Flower Girls
Couples are asked to consider the age of children involved in these roles and their ability to participate in a church service.


Step 9: Plan Your Wedding Music with our Music Director

An integral part of your wedding liturgy is the music. As the Music Director at St. Josaphat Parish, my goal is to help create beautiful and fitting music for your Catholic wedding ceremony. 
A Wedding Music Workshop is offered at the beginning of the calendar the year, providing you an opportunity to hear the various musicians and cantors/soloists available for your wedding celebration. Though it is not required to attend, many couples find it very informative and fun! You will have the opportunity to hear a variety of instruments and voices "model" standard wedding music repertoire.
Besides this workshop, I will meet with you at a mutually convenient time. At this meeting, I will outline the Order of Service for the wedding showing you the many places where music would be appropriate. After hearing the choices, it is easy to find things that you both like and that work well in the liturgy.
Please know that St. Josaphat’s Music Ministry is an excellent resource for vocalists (male and female) and instrumentalists. Our vocalists are professionals that regularly do solo work in and around the Chicagoland area as well as sing in professional ensembles. All instruments are available and come highly recommended: trumpet, flute, oboe, violin, cello, harp as well as combinations in trios and quartets.  We even can book you a bagpiper!  The musicians that regularly play our wedding are highly-qualified and offer a fair price. Pianists, harpists, trios, etc., for your cocktail hour or reception can also be booked.
You may even want to engage our Parish Children’s Choir, Adult Choir, or Contemporary Ensemble! 
In following the liturgical guidelines of the Archdiocese of Chicago, St. Josaphat does have some restrictions as to what you may choose to have played during the church service. These can be discussed during your planning meeting.

Finally, if you have a family member or friend that would like to participate musically in the wedding, please get in touch with me to make arrangements as soon as possible. Oftentimes, extra rehearsals need to be scheduled to rehearse and learn the music. An additional fee for these rehearsals will be charged.
Our Standard Wedding Music Fees:
Director/Pianist/Organist: $225
Cantor: $100 - $175
Each additional instrumentalist - $225 (notable exceptions: harp and timpani are more expensive)
Congratulations and I am looking forward to working with you!  
Joe Labozetta, Music Director
[email protected]


Step 10: Order Your Invitations

The church address for the printing of invitations is:
St. Josaphat Church
2311 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60614
Our parking lot is located at 2312 N Wayne Ave, just north of Belden behind the church. There is room for up to 34 cars.


Step 11: Create A Wedding Program (or not)

Some couples find it helpful to provide a small booklet outlining the order of service. Some couples also prefer to place all the musical responses for the congregation in the booklet.
If you choose to provide a program or participation aid for your guests, please remember that copyright notices are required for the printing of most music and texts for the participation of the assembly. Permission for "one-time use" is usually gratis from the publisher. Check with the parish music director for more information on this part of your program preparation. He will be happy to assist you in putting this together.


Step 12: Church Flowers and Decorations

Order Flowers for the Church (or not)
It has been traditional for wedding couples to provide floral decorations for church on the day of their wedding.  If you choose to, we encourage the use of fresh flowers with strong colors. Our church is large and ornamented; arrangements of white flowers and greenery tend to "disappear" in this large space.  If there is another wedding scheduled on your same day, you may wish to coordinate with the other couple. The priest or deacon can give you their contact information.
Sanctuary Flowers
Usually two large arrangements placed on either side of the altar will serve as beautiful and dignified decorations which everyone in church can see and will not interfere in any of the movements of the wedding party.  Except during the Christmas and Easter seasons, you are welcome to move any existing flower arrangements into the sacristy during your wedding as long as someone puts them back after your wedding. If you plan to do this, please make prior arrangements with the priest or deacon.
Please do not order any flowers to be placed upon the altar itself.  The altar is meant to be kept very simple--with only the gifts of bread and wine, the book of prayers, and the chalice and paten on it.
Other Flowers
Be sure to let your florist know if you are choosing to make a floral tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary or are presenting flowers to members of your family.
Runner for the Center Aisle
If you wish to have a runner for the center aisle, this can be arranged through your florist.  The center aisle is 65 feet long -- we suggest an additional 10 feet of runner.
Pew Decorations
If you choose to have bows or other decorations placed upon pews in the center aisle, please inform your florist that they are asked not to use tape on the wooden pews (it removes the finish).  Alternatives to tape are usually available. Also, if you wish to drape ribbon along the edge of the pew, be sure the ribbon will be removed before the wedding begins. It is against fire regulations to block access to the pews in this or any other manner.


Step 13: Photography and Videography

Inform your Photographer and/or Videographer:


The still photographer may take pictures at any time as long as the wedding ceremony is not interrupted. The photographer is not allowed into the sanctuary of the church and should never stand between the couple and the congregation. Nor should any part of the ceremony (e.g., the procession up the aisle) be stopped by the photographer. Flash photography is acceptable. If time permits, the church is available for 90 minutes from your planned ceremony start time for the taking of pictures. There may be a Mass or another wedding after yours. If the services start on time, there will be more than enough time for pictures. St. Josaphat Community Park behind the church is usually available for pictures (except during Advent, when Christmas Trees are sold).


Please note: the photographer should never remove items from the altar or anywhere else before taking pictures.  


Video taping of the wedding is certainly permitted by a professional. We ask that the taping take place from one spot only and without a sustained high intensity lamp turning on and off. The videographer is not allowed to walk around with his or her equipment nor set up a camera in the sanctuary.


Please show these guidelines to the photographers so they are aware of the restrictions and abide by our rules. Then, tell them they too must talk to the priest or deacon prior to the ceremony. These guidelines will help to make your ceremony more reverent, special, and prayerful. Photographers who do not follow rules will not be allowed to continue to photograph the wedding in church.



Step 14: Your Wedding Weekend

Attend Your Wedding Rehearsal
Most couples choose to hold a rehearsal a day or two before their wedding--even a week or more before the wedding is acceptable. The rehearsal time is set with the staff person who is arranging your wedding with you.  A rehearsal takes between thirty and forty-five minutes. Please remember that the church may be in use on some evenings for Mass, prayer services or other events.
In addition to the bride and groom and members of the wedding party, you may want to have your lectors present in order to learn where they will sit, when they will read, and (if they would like) to go through their reading at the rehearsal. Parents and any of your guests are always welcome at the rehearsal. Please ask everyone who will be attending the rehearsal to be on time. Often there will be other rehearsals before or after yours or other services scheduled in the church.

Enjoy your Day
There is no Bride's Room at our church, however there are two restrooms accessible through the North side of the foyer. One is larger and has a mirror, counter and cabinet for the bride to use. There is an additional restroom available in the front right-hand side of the church. We do not supply stands, pedestals, extra candles, etc.
Please note and advise your guests that we do not allow rice to be thrown as it can be harmful to birds and can pose a risk to others walking in the area - our local birds appreciate your cooperation.


Blessings for Civil Marriages

Every year, we send a letter to every parish school and religious education program family - and also to our parish email list - inquiring if any member(s) of the families needed to receive formation to receive a sacrament they may have missed, or if anyone was seeking information on annulments. If you have been thinking about getting your marriage blessed in the Church, or are in need of an annulment before getting your current marriage blessed, please feel free to contact Fr. Francis and we would be happy to help you get the process started.
Visit the Archdiocese of Chicago's page on How to Get Married