Marriage Preparation Guidelines
Congratulations on your recent engagement
Immaculate Conception Church
North Easton, Massachusetts
As your parish community, we rejoice with you and pledge to you our prayers and support. As Catholics, we believe that marriage is a sacred covenant, and as such, is a sacrament; a visible sign of Christ’s presence which empowers us with His grace. In the living out of this sacrament, God’s love is present in our world.
Of all the many preparations which you will make over these months prior to the wedding, none is more significant than your spiritual preparation. Please make time to pray together by coming to Mass each week and for those who are Catholic, to avail yourselves to the sacramental life of the church. During our time together we will discuss not only the details of the wedding, but, more importantly, we will assist you to prepare for your life together as husband and wife.
A wedding is a day;
a marriage is a lifetime.
The slogan above, a familiar refrain in the Marriage Preparation programs, is short but it speaks volumes. A wedding and a marriage are not the same thing. Your family and all the other people who have nurtured you in love, if given a choice, would want for you a happy and fulfilling marriage rather than the picture perfect wedding day. This is also the wish of the pastoral team and the people of Immaculate Conception Parish. The celebration of this holy sacrament of Marriage on your wedding day should be the start of a happy and holy life together. We offer you all the resources of this family of faith. Our goal is that you and the whole congregation you will bring together will experience a memorable time of worship and prayer.
Who can be married at Immaculate Conception Church?
The steps for marriage preparation at Immaculate Conception Parish are based on the guidelines issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River.
Step 1: Initial Appointment:
- Both the bride and the groom must be free to marry in the Catholic Church according to the church’s practice. This also includes a non-Catholic person or an unbaptized person.
- At least one of the parties must be a practicing Catholic, and, must reside in the parish or be currently registered as a parishioner. Other couples may need to obtain permission from the pastor of the parish in which they reside.
- If there exists a prior marriage for one or both of the parties, please contact the pastor for more information.
At least 8 months before the wedding, the bride and groom themselves should make an appointment with the pastor. At this first appointment the date will be arranged in the parish calendar and the necessary documentation will begin. No dates will be discussed or arranged over the phone or by e-mails. Nor will arrangements be discussed via third parties.
The following documents are required to complete the pre-marriage questionnaire.
- A recently issued Baptism and Confirmation record for both parties. These are only issued by the parish at which the sacraments were celebrated. They must be dated close to the date of the initial meeting and must include the embossed seal of the parish. To locate records of churches which may have been merged or closed, call the Immaculate Conception parish office.
- If there is one party who is baptized but not Roman Catholic, he/she must submit a Certificate of Baptism or Christening issued by the church where the sacrament was celebrated.
- If one party is unbaptized, procedures will be discussed at the initial meeting.
At this initial appointment, you will also be provided with an information packet containing:
- Ceremony Preparation Booklet - "Together for Life" by Fr. Joseph Champlin
- Marriage preparation requirements for the Diocese of Fall River
- labeled envelopes for specific fees and honoraria
While many couples already have a particular date in mind, please remember that
no firm commitments to other venues should be made until after this first meeting. Because of the schedule of parish Masses and other events, weddings are scheduled at the following times;
Saturday: 11 am – 2:00 pm
Sunday: 2 pm – 4 pm (Sunday weddings may require the use of specific scripture readings and other prayers determined by the church’s liturgical practice).
A couple where both parties are Catholic generally will be married at a Nuptial Mass. A marriage of a Catholic and someone of another faith tradition may celebrate the Rite of Marriage outside of Mass.
Step 2: FOCCUS process
After this initial meeting, the process of preparation will involve several meetings to deepen a couple’s understanding of the sacrament as well as to deepen their knowledge of each other.
To schedule an appointment, call the parish office at 508-238-3232 ext. 307
(Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study.)
This process is required by the Diocese of Fall River for all couples. It is a self-diagnostic inventory designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. The FOCCUS survery is completed on-line. For this purpose, the bride and groom must provide separate email addresses which our office uses to set up a couple's log-in access. You will receive an email with all the information you need to login and complete the survey.
Remember: The survey must be completed individually and alone. Discussing the survey invalidates it. There is a $23.00 per couple to process the scoring of the results, payable at the login process.
Step 3: FOCCUS follow-up
The results will be sent to the pastor's email, which you must provide in your logon information. When Father receives the information, you will be contacted to make an appointment to review the results.
Step 4: Marriage preparation program
There are several programs to choose from which are sponsored by the parish and/or the Diocesan Office of Faith Formation. You can register for the marriage preparation program by going to the website of the Diocese of Fall River. Click on the link at the upper left of this page. Once in this website, click on the "Marriage" tab.
Step 5: Meeting with the pastor and wedding coordinator
Soon after your participation in one of the Marriage Preparation Programs, you should contact the pastor. At this time, you will be invited to discuss your participation in the program you attended. Also, we will then begin discussion about the wedding ceremony using the booklet given to you at the initial meeting, “Together for Life” by Joseph Champlin, published by Ave Maria Press.
Step 6: Civil License
Couples must obtain a Civil License from any municipality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Since the wedding will take place in Easton, it is recommended that application be made at the Easton Town Hall. Couples must appear at the town clerk's office in person to complete the documents. Blood tests are no longer required. The license is valid for 60 days and requires 3 days to process. The license must be in the possession of the celebrant two weeks prior to the wedding. The parish office completes the license and returns it to the municipality from which it was issued.
Step 7: Rehearsal
The rehearsal is directed by the parish wedding coordinator, who will also be present on the wedding day.
If you have hired a private wedding planner, please notify them that, at the church, our wedding coordinator is responsible for all details of the rehearsal and the ceremony. Generally, the rehearsal is scheduled one or two nights before the wedding. All involved in the wedding party are invited to participate. If you have invited family members or friends to serve as Lectors, they should be asked to attend. 2 - 3 weeks before the rehearsal, please be sure to provide them with the scripture texts you have chosen so they may be well-prepared. The wedding party is expected to arrive 10 minutes before the start of the rehearsal.
Step 8: Your Wedding Day!!
This is the day you have been waiting for. We are looking forward to celebrate this joyful day with you and your family and friends.
Fees: A list of fees is provided in the information packet given at the initial meeting with the pastor. Envelopes labeled for specific fees must be received by the parish no less than two weeks before the rehearsal.
Church: Our parish is pleased to support you in the celebration of the sacrament of marriage. While there is no “fee” charged for the celebration of sacraments, a contribution to the parish which is proportionate to typical wedding expenses is gratefully accepted.
Music and Musicians: All liturgical celebrations in our parish require the use of our music director and one of our trained cantors. Fees for their service, extra musicians you may request, as well as any additional rehearsals they may require are contractual agreements between the musicians and the wedding party. These fees, listed in the initial information packet, are the responsibility of the wedding party and are separate from any contribution to the church or honoraria.
Wedding Coordinator: The fee for the Wedding coordinator will be provided in the initial information packet.
Other gratuities: An honorarium for the celebrant is appreciated and may be made separately from the contribution to the parish. There are other persons who will provide services for you on your wedding day and it is customary to provide gratuities for their service. Your packet of information will include pre-labeled envelopes for your use to show your appreciation to our parish volunteers.
Flowers and decorations: It is customary, although not required, for the wedding party to provide flowers for the sanctuary. It is appropriate that flowers used to adorn the sanctuary should remain in the church following the wedding ceremony. During some seasons, particularly the Easter or Christmas seasons, the church is already extensively decorated and no additional flowers are needed. Seasonal decorations in the church will not be re-arranged, changed or removed under any circumstances. Please plan your decorations accordingly. If your florist has never worked at Immaculate Conception Church before, he/she should contact us to know what is approved. Decorations may not be placed on the altar, nor should any standing arrangements impede free movement around the altar. Decorations on the pews must be attached only with materials that will not mar or damage the pews or the finish. No adhesives, tape, metal, or tacks are permitted.
Aisle Runner: Please do not use an aisle runner. They constitute a safety hazard for the congregation.
Wedding favors/rice throwing:
Throwing of rice, bird-seed, confetti, or any other substances inside or outside the church is prohibited. Distribution of wedding favors should be reserved for the reception.
The photographer or videographer is required to introduce himself/herself to the celebrant upon arrival to the church. Protocols will be explained at that time.
If there are any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact the rectory at 508-238-3232, or