Marriage Guidelines


Civil and Church Considerations for Marriage

Canon Law (which is the law of the Catholic Church) is complex regarding marriage. Each couple wishing to marry will review their particular situation with a member of the parish staff to determine their freedom to marry. In general, however, to be married in the Catholic Church, the following must be true:

    • At least one member of the couple must be a baptized Catholic person.

    • If either or both members of the couple have been previously married, every previous marriage on the part of either party (regardless of whether that occurred within or without the church) must be resolved by either a declaration of nullity (an annulment) or a Petition in a Lack of Form Marriage or the  death of the former spouse.  If you have any question regarding the status of your previous marriage , please contact the pastor.  This is also true for non-Catholic persons. If any prior marriages have already been declared null, the declarations of nullity must be provided.


    • No wedding date may be set at any parish until all former marriages have been resolved.

    • The wedding ordinarily takes place in the parish of one or both of the parties.

    • A Catholic person must provide a copy of his or her baptismal certificate issued within the last six months. A baptized, non-Catholic must provide a copy of his or her baptismal certificate (regardless of the date of issue) or a letter from the church of baptism testifying to the baptism.

    • Additional documents may be required and/or additional paperwork necessary. If so, that will be explained to you at the time of your meeting with a member of the pastoral staff.

In the State of Michigan a valid marriage license, which is arranged through the county clerk, is required for marriage. Once issued, a license is valid for 30 days; there is a three-day waiting period between the day of application and the day it can be picked up. It is the responsibility of the couple to make arrangements for the license and to deliver it to the parish office at least 2 days before the wedding.


Preparation for Marriage at Saint Joseph Parish

Preparation for marriage at Saint Joseph complies with the guidelines of the Catholic Church in the State of Michigan and is typical of Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit.

    • At a meeting with a member of the parish pastoral staff, the couple completes a pre-marriage inventory. A pre-marriage inventory is a series of statements about various elements of the couples relationship (such as communication, marriage expectations, finances, family and friends, sexuality, children, etc.). Independently, the couple responds by agreeing or disagreeing with the statements and their responses are then collated. There is a fee for processing the pre-marriage inventory that is payable to the company that does the inventory.

     • The couple meets (typically two to four times) with another couple from the parish, trained in the use of the inventory, who will review with them the results of the inventory. The goal, of course, is to help the couple strengthen their relationship, identify potential areas for growth, and prepare for married life.

     • A couple may wish to participate in an Engaged Encounter, a weekend experience for couples. Engaged Encounter is an optional but suggested experience. The parish staff can provide more information.

Time Line for Marriage Preparation

Since each couple is unique and each marriage celebration has its own characteristics, this time line is offered only as a general guide to planning your wedding at Saint Joseph Parish.

1 to 2 Years in Advance
•Pick up from the Parish Office a copy of The Rite of Marriage at Saint Joseph Parish, which is the folder of materials you are presently reading.

    • Read the information carefully.

    • Contact the Parish Office for an initial appointment. At that time, review the civil and church requirements for marriage, begin the necessary paperwork, determine a more specific timeline for marriage preparation.

    • In any event, guidelines for marriage for Catholics in the State of Michigan require that the initial contact with the parish must be at least six months before the desired wedding date.

6 Months to 1 Year in Advance
    • Complete the pre-marriage inventory and review it with a couple from the parish.

    • Carefully read Celebrating Marriage, a book provided by the parish that includes the readings, prayers, forms of the vows, etc., which can be used in a Catholic wedding. Begin making selections for the wedding liturgy.

    • Contact the music director. The date should be reserved with the music director of the parish regardless of who will provide the music for the wedding.

6 Months in Advance
    • Plan the wedding ceremony with the priest or deacon who will witness your vows.

    • Set a date for the rehearsal.

1 Week Before the Wedding
    • At least two days before the wedding, deliver to the parish office all the copies of the marriage license that you received from the county clerk.

    • Complete the rehearsal.

After the Wedding
    • Register as a couple in the parish within whose bounds you reside. If you are changing to a new parish, notify your former parish or parishes of your departure.

Important Information and Options in the Rite of Marriage

The Rite of Marriage allows for the possibility of many options. Some of these are noted here for your consideration.

Availability of the Church Building
The church and related areas will ordinarily be available to the wedding party for 1 1/2 hours before the scheduled time of the wedding until 30 minutes after the conclusion of the ceremony. The arrival of the wedding party, photographer, flowers, etc., should be arranged for that time period. Receiving lines at the church are not encouraged; the time taken for a receiving line will reduce or eliminate the opportunity for photographs after the wedding.

Scheduling a Time
Weddings can be celebrated on Friday afternoon or evening at almost any time, depending on the parish calendar. Saturday weddings can be scheduled no later than 2:00 PM because of the parish weekend schedule. A confirmed date is determined by the desire of the couple, the parish calendar and the calendar of the deacon or priest.

A Gathering Place
The music room is usually reserved for the gathering of the wedding party before the wedding. It is equipped with a full-length mirror and is convenient to the restrooms.

Rehearsal and Wedding Times
As a matter of courtesy to guests, the wedding party, and the parish staff, both the rehearsal and wedding must begin on time. The wedding party and other participants in the liturgy should make the necessary allowances for distance and traffic to be present at the scheduled times.

Respect for Our Place of Worship
The church building is the place where the community gathers to worship God; it is the place where the sacraments of the church are celebrated. The wedding party and guests should respect the nature of the church, parish facilities and grounds. Appropriate respect will be expected at all times. Likewise, food and drink may not be brought into parish buildings at any time. Alcohol is prohibited; evidence of alcohol or other substance use can cause a marriage to be declared invalid and could cause cancellation of the wedding itself.

Flowers for the church are optional. If provided, flowers or plants should be real (never plastic or silk); they should be simple and tasteful and should be left in church following the wedding. Arrangements are placed on the sanctuary platform, never on the altar. The parish does not provide stands for flower arrangements. Flower petals may not be sprinkled in the aisle during the procession into church.

Runners are also optional and, for reasons of safety, are not encouraged. If a runner is used, it should be 60 feet long. Runners are usually ordered or rented from a florist.

Pew Bows
Pew bows may be used as long as they are fixed to the ends of the pews with a loop of ribbon, a rubber band or a plastic pew hook. No kind of tape may ever be used. Someone should be designated to remove the bows at the end of the service.

Entrance Procession
The entrance of the liturgical ministers and members of the wedding party can be arranged in a number of ways. Attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen) may walk in singly or as couples. Both parents may walk in with the bride, just as the parents of the groom may walk in with him. The bride and groom, as ministers of the sacrament of marriage, are encouraged to walk into the church as a couple; as a couple, they may also welcome their guests in the gathering space before the liturgy begins. One of these options, or some variation thereof, may be an appropriate alternative in certain family circumstances.

Unity Candle
The lighting of a unity candle is not a part of the Catholic Rite of Marriage but may be included. If so, the couple may provide just the unity candle (a pillar candle), or may provide all three candles (a pillar candle, two tapers, and holders for all three). The lighting of the unity candle takes place after the blessing and exchange of rings.

Flowers to Our Lady
The presentation of flowers at the image of the Blessed Mother is not a part of the Catholic Rite of Marriage but may be included if one or both members of the couple have a particular devotion to Our Lady. The couple provides the flowers and they are presented following the prayer after communion.

During the ceremony, photographers should remain behind the last pew of guests and keep their movements to a minimum; flash photos may not be taken during the liturgy. Group photos may ordinarily be taken before and after the ceremony depending on the parish schedule. Buildings and grounds are usually available to the wedding party for 1 1/2 hours before the liturgy begins and for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the liturgy. Photographers may not bring screens or backdrops into the church or gathering space for formal, posed pictures.

There are two positions from which a wedding ceremony may be videotaped. Once chosen and in place, the video equipment and operator must remain stationery. No portable lights may be used during the liturgy. Only parish microphones and microphones which are a permanent part of the video equipment may be used. No microphone may be attached to any person, including the wedding party.

[Questions regarding the policy for photographs and videotaping should be addressed to the parish well in advance of the wedding day. The couple to be married is responsible for informing the photographer and video operator well in advance of the wedding day.]

Rice, Birdseed, etc.
Throwing of rice, confetti, birdseed or any other material is not permitted for reasons of safety and aesthetics. Balloons or bubbles may be released if the couple wishes.

No offering is expected of members of the parish who financially support the parish and offer their time and talent regularly to the parish community. From those who do not support the parish in these ways, a minimal offering of $250.00 seems reasonable. Donations go toward the general parish fund.

A gift to the deacon or priest is neither necessary nor expected. If a personal gift is made, it should be placed in an individual envelope with the name of the priest or deacon written on it. Fees for the director of music or other musicians are negotiated with them individually.

Music in the Rite of Marriage
The Rite of Marriage takes place within the wedding liturgy, either within Mass or outside Mass. Music is a basic and essential element of Catholic worship; certain parts of the liturgy must be done with music. The same principles that apply to selecting music for other liturgical celebrations also govern the choice of music for a wedding liturgy.

There are three basic criteria. Music chosen for a wedding celebration:

 1.        should enable the active participation of those assembled;
 2.        must be good music;
 3.        must fit the spirit and structure of the liturgical event.

In choosing music for the liturgy, the focus is always the prayer and action of the community assembled. Those present should not be passive observers. The most important moments for music in the wedding liturgy are all the times for congregational song; therefore, music that the assembly can sing is an important category of music to think about for your wedding. This doesn't mean that instrumental music has no place, but rather that its place is secondary. Appropriate use of instrumental music may be, for example, as a processional and/or recessional (although a strong hymn would find a place here, too). Music borrowed from the entertainment world does not suitably express the faith present at a Christian marriage. Some love songs may be fine music, and may have a place on your wedding day, but that place is not the wedding liturgy; consider the use of such music at the reception.

Included in this packet are an outline of the wedding liturgy and a list of music that would be suitable for a Catholic wedding liturgy. Many of the songs on the list can be found in our parish hymnal. The instrumental music is based on the repertoire of the parish music director. Many of the selections listed may not be familiar to you by title. You may borrow a tape or CD provided by the music director to assist you in making your choices. There may be other music that would be acceptable; check with the music director.


The couple may choose to hire the parish music director to play the organ, piano and/or sing at your wedding liturgy. Guest musicians may also be used, including family and friends of the couple and non-parish musicians hired by the couple. In choosing musicians, the criteria mentioned above should be kept in mind. The person (or persons) engaged should have knowledge of and experience of Catholic liturgy, be capable and preferably experienced at leading the singing and accompanying the song leader. The joint effort of the parish musician and a guest musician is a possibility.

Amplification of the musicians must be limited to the use of the church sound system.

The parish instruments are available for use by competent musicians.

It is the responsibility of the parish music director to review and approve all music used at your wedding liturgy. It is essential that you consult with the parish music director before selecting musicians or planning the music.

The parish music director can be reached at the Parish Office.

A Suggested List of Music

Instrumental Music
These selections may be appropriate for an instrumental prelude, processional or recessional:
 ARIOSO - Bach
 CANON IN D - Pachelbel
 HORNPIPE - Handel
 LOVE IS THE SUNLIGHT (Piano) - Cotter/Haas
 ODE TO JOY - Beethoven
 SPRING I - Vivaldi

Psalm Response
The responsorial psalm follows the first reading; these are some possibilities:
 Ps 33                Let your mercy be on us
 Ps 34                Taste and see the goodness of the Lord
 Ps 34                The Lord hears the cry of the poor
 Ps 103              The Lord is kind and merciful - Reagan
 Ps 103              The Lord is kind and merciful - Prowse
 Ps 103               Loving and forgiving are you, O Lord
 Ps 114/115        We praise you, O Lord
 Ps 128               Blest are those who love You
 Ps 128               May the Lord bless us
 Ps 145               I will praise your name

Other Songs
These may be appropriate for a prelude, unity candle, preparation of gifts or communion:
 AVE MARIA - Bach or Schubert (Not at communion)
 HAIL MARY, GENTLE WOMAN (Not at communion)
 * ONE BREAD, ONE BODY, #820 (Communion)
 * SING A NEW SONG, #607
* Can be found in the parish hymnal, Journeysongs.


pdfmidClick here to print the necessary marriage form.

Mass Schedules

Weekend Mass
Saturday at 5:00 PM
Sunday at 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 Noon

Weekday Mass
Tuesday at 7:00 PM
Wednesday & Friday at 9:00 AM

Holy Day Mass as Published

Sacraments And Pastoral Concerns

Sacrament of Baptism
The sacrament of baptism is ordinarily celebrated on the second and fourth Sundays of the month following the 12:00 Noon Mass. Please call the Parish Office at 248-446-8700, at least two months in advance in order to make arrangements. There is a required Baptismal prep class which is normally offered on the second Monday of each month. Please call the Parish
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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
(RCIA) is the process whereby new members are initiated into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist, and baptized Catholics may complete their initiation. For information, call Brian Roberts, Director of Outreach Ministries Ext. 113..
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Sacrament of Marriage
Please call the Parish Office at least 6 months before the proposed marriage dates in order to arrange for the necessary preparation. An appointment is necessary before a wedding date may be scheduled.
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Order of Christian Funerals
At the time of death, contact the funeral home of your choice. The funeral home will then contact
Saint Joseph Parish.
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Registration in the Parish:
You may come to the parish office or call 248-446-8700, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM.
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Interpeter for Hearing Impaired at 5:00 PM Mass on the third Saturday of each Month.