By appoitment, at least 6 months prioe to marriage. Priest will preside. 





Marriage Preparation Guidelines 

St James/St John Parishes 



Your wedding day is a very important event for you as a couple, your families, and your parish community. In planning this day you have spent countless hours making sure all the arrangements have been made for everything from the color and style of the dress and the tuxs, the location of the reception, the menu for dinner, the photographer, the attendants, and the list goes on. While all these things are important in making this day memorable and special, it must not be forgotten that the most important part of the day is when the two of you present yourselves before the altar of God and ask him to bless and to consecrate your relationship, and your life together as husband and wife. 

The union of man and woman was ordained by our Creator in loving care for God's children and instituted by Our Divine Lord as a Sacrament in the care of his Church. It is a most beautiful gift of God to humankind. 

In conferring the Sacrament of Matrimony upon each other in the presence of the church's witnesses and the family of Faith, a man and woman give themselves totally to each other, all that they have and all that they are, freely and without reservation, for as long as they both shall live. They enter into a solemn and sacred covenant- a vowed life- with each other and with God. And they accept the responsibilities inherent in the founding of a new family, the basic unit of society. 

To protect this holy union and to help husband and wife fulfill their responsibilities, certain laws, both civil and church have long existed, And the Sacrament of Matrimony is a channel of the selflessness, the courage, the wisdom, and the total love they must have in order to be truly husband and wife. 

Through our celebration and living the sacraments, God continues to be present and active in our world, making us holy. 

Sacraments belong not just to the individual, but to the whole Church. It is the parish community, making visible the Church, which celebrates the sacraments. Each sacrament is celebrated and lived within the context of the parish community. 

The Sacrament of Matrimony is a declaration that the couple is, and intends to be part of a parish community, faithfully celebrating Mass on Sunday, celebrating God's forgiveness regularly in Reconciliation, giving evidence of the faith in daily living, contributing time, talent and tresure to the work of the parish, especially in sharing the faith with any children born to this union. 

It is assumed that Catholics preparing for marriage have already received the Sacrament of Comfirmation. Requesting the Sacrament of Matrimony while NOT practicing the Catholic faith is contrary to the very nature of the sacrament. All too many times young people, for a variety of reasons of their own, became lax in the practicing of their faith. If you have fallen into the trap of regularly missing Mass on Sunday and not practicing your faith, you are encouraged to remember that you are now an adult in the community and in the church. As such, you have a responsibilty and an obligation to both your faith and to your parish community. 

If, for whatever reason, you have been away from the sacraments and the Church for a period of time, you are encouraged to take advantage of this as a perfect and ideal time to once again become an active and participating member of your Catholic faith community. Feel free to discuss your situation with the Priest or Deacon assisting you with your Marriage Preparation. If you have been away, you will be welcomed back without judgement and with open arms. 



It is our intention to help you carefully plan your wedding together and to assist you in preparing to live out the Sacrament of your Marriage in Christ. The Church has adopted certain guidelines to help couples toward a full awareness of the sacredness and responsibilities of the vocation of Christian marriage. We wish to help you prepare not only for a wedding, but for a marriage that will be a lasting joy to each of you personally and a sign to the community that the relationship between husband and wife is a sacramental union clearly manifesting the union of Christ and His Church. 

1) At least one party should be a practicing Catholic and a REGISTERED member of the parish in which they wish to be married. A REGISTERED member is a person and/or persons who have a current census form on file in their parish. 

2) Both parties should be free to marry in the Catholic Church. 

a) Both parties are to be at least 21 years of age. A dispensation from the Bishop is required if either party is under 21 years of age. Parents of the under 21 party will be asked to fill out the standard form of the Diocese confirming the maturity and serious intent of their daughter or son.

b) In an interfaith marriage, the Catholic party is required to reaffirm his/her faith in Jesus Christ, that he/she will continue living that faith in the Catholic Church, and promises that he/she will do all that one can to have the children baptized and raised as Catholics.

c) They must never have been married before, or, if they have, they are to provide proof of the death of their former spouse or proof that their former marriage has been annulled. 


3) There is at least 6 month preparation period beginning when the priest is contacted about the marriage plans. Both are required to attend one of the following:

a) The sponsor couple program, a 4 session meeting with a sponsor couple; the sponsor couple program is a "like-to-like" ministry where a trained married couple is assigned to sponsor an engaged couple in the parish. The sessions last about two hours each and take place in the home of the married couple. 

b) The Engaged Weekend or Engaged Encounter as it is sometimes called is a weekend away to a camp or similar facilty with opportunity to share the experiences of how married Christian couples developed their relationships and responded to early marital adjustments. Besides the above the couple will meet with the priest at least six times. 

i) First meeting:

* Discuss each person's relationship with the Church

* Ascertain the freedom of each person to marry in the Church

* Answer the question, "Why do I want to be married in the Church?"

* Review the overall pre-marriage preparation program

* If the couple can accept the program of preparation, then a date for the wedding will be set. 

* Make plans to partcapte in the Sponsor Couple Program or Engaged Weekend


ii) Second Meeting:

* Fill out the necessary pre-marriage papers and, if necessary, despensation forms 

* Begin the FOCCUS Program (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study)


iii) Third/ Fourth Meeting:

* Present and discuss the FOCCUS inventory results 

* Begin planning the wedding liturgy 


iv) Fifth Meeting:

* Discuss what the Church teaches about the Sacrament of Marriage and what it means to live out the Sacrament of Marriage in today's world. 


v) Sixth Meeting: 

*Finalize the liturgy plans

* Discuss the rehearsal

* Answer any final questions


4) Marriage with or without a Mass

Since marriage is a Sacrament of the Church entered into between two persons it is celebrated in Church in the presence of the priest and two witnesses. Marriage can be celebrated either with or without a Mass. When both parties are Catholic a Nuptial Mass is required by Cannon Law. In an interfaith marriage, it may be preferable to celebrate marriage without a Mass. The decision rests with the couple in consultation with the priest. 

5) The date and time of the wedding celebration is set with the Priest who is assisting you in your marriage preparations. Dates are reserved on a first come first served basis, and as a general practice we will schedule only one wedding on a Saturday. Marriages may be celebrated on weekdays and Saturdays. On Saturdays, the wedding should begin NO later than 2:00 p.m. because of other scheduled parish activities, i.e. Masses. It is highly suggested that ALL pictures be taken PRIOR to the wedding ceremony. It is important that the wedding ceremony begin on time. Marriages are not celebrated on Sundays or during Holy Week, unless there is a justifiable reason, weddings are discouraged during the seasons of Advent and Lent. 

6) The rehearsal is usually held the evening before the wedding. The rehearsal should begin at the time agreed upon. A 1- hour rehearsal should be sufficient. 

7) In a INTERFAITH WEDDING, it is possible for an other minister to participate in the ceremony. Such participation is welcomed. Please make known the minister's name and address so that he/she can be invited and the details of the ceremony planned. 

8) It is also possible for the wedding to take place in a Protestant Church in the case of an interfaith wedding. If this would be the case, please make this known in advance so that the necessary permission can be obtained from the Bishop of the Diocese. 



Altar Servers

The couple may select trained servers -- relatives/ friends -- or the priest can select servers from the parish list. 


No beer or alcoholic beverages are to be brought in or consumed on church premises. Likewise, food and drink should not be consumed in the church. 

Celebrant of Wedding

The normal celebrant of the wedding will be the Pastor of the parish in which the couple is being married. If a relative of either partner is a priest, and the couple would prefer their priest relative to be the celebrant of the wedding, it will be premitted. All other priest friends of the couple are more than welcome to concelebrate the wedding. 

Church Decorations

Seasonal and liturgical decorations in the church cannot be altered. The church will furnish the Mass candles. The wedding couple will furnish any other candles. The church's candelabra may be used. 

Tape is not to be placed on the pews, nor is anything to be placed on the main altar. The use of pew hangers is permitted and advised if you wish to hang anything as a pew marker. 

Unity Candle

Today, the Unity Candles just seems to be a given addition to any wedding ceremony. However, it is not part of the Marriage Rite in the Catholic Church itself. Even though it is allowed, it is not necessary. But Bishop Amos, has declared that the use of a sand ceremony, or such like ceremonies during the Marriage Rite are not allowed in the Diocese of Davenport. 

Clean Up

For the sake of cleanliness, please appoint some person in the family to put the church and bridal dressing room back in order after the wedding. Please make sure that all valuable are secure during the wedding ceremony and that the church and dressing room are restored to the condition in which they were found. It is important to remember that the weekend Masses and use of the parish facilities follow the wedding almost immediately. 


The following fees have been established for weddings:

*Stipend: $50

*Servers: $10ea

*Church: $500 Non-parishioners

All applicable fees are to be received in the parish office before the wedding date will be confirmed. Servers, if requested, should be paid with an individually marked envelope before the ceremony. 

Marriage License

An Iowa Marriage License is required. The license can be applied for at the Lee County Courthouse. You will need to have a witness at the time of application. There is a three-day waiting period between the time of application and the time of obtaining the license. Please bring the license to the rehearsal so that the priest can properly fill it out before the wedding. The priest cannot marry a couple without a marriage license. He is required to return the official document to the Courthouse. This document will be signed by the couple, the two witnesses and the officiant during the ceremony or soon after the wedding ceremony. 


The music at the wedding should reflect the joy and solemnity and sacramental nature of Christian Marriage. A choir, soloists, instrumentalists, etc. are welcome knowing that they will observe the sacredness of the wedding ceremony. Note: the parish copier will not be available to copy music; etc. TAPED MUSIC IS NOT PERMITTED. 


The parish has a list of organists who may be available to play for weddings. It is the responsibility of the couple to contact the organist and soloists. 


Still pictures and videos are permitted. Photographers are requested to use discretion and avoid interference with the progress of the wedding ceremony. Guests should be discouraged from taking flash pictures during the ceremony, especially during the exchanging of vows. 


The couple may choose family members and/or friends who are good readers to read the Scripture readings. They -- one or more readers -- may read the Old Testament, Responsorial Psalm, New Testament, and Prayer of the Faithful readings. The priest reads the Gospel. 


1. Time to be arranged with celebrant

2. Bring Marriage License

3. Please be on time 

Rice, Birdseed, and Confetti

Rice, birdseed and confetti and similar material are not permitted. it is an old pagan fertility rite that in inapprociate at a Christian wedding. Also, it is unsightly and extremely difficult to sweep up. Please inform the wedding party and guests concerning this matter. 

Sacramental Records

Catholic parties need to obtain recently dated certificates of their Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation records. Non-Catholic parties need a copy of  their Baptism certificate. 


Smoking is not permitted in the church. If someone wishes to smoke please ask him/her to do so outside. 

Remember to maintain reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in church at all times. Proper decorum is to be observed in church at all times.


The State and the Church require two witnesses. The church requires that the two witnesses have the use of reason and be capable of comprehending what is happening in the exchange of consent. Attendants do not need to be Catholic, or even baptized, since their sole function is to attest to the fact that a marriage took place. Since the witnesses must be capable of comprehending what is happening, those who are incapable, even temporarily, may not be witnesses.

A big wedding does not necessarily mean a nice wedding. There is beauty in simplicity, and if you are having a number of attendants, a very definite distinction would be made between the official witnesses and the other ceremonial attendants. 

Flower girls and ring bearers are naturally permitted, however, they should be of an age conducive to the solemnity of the occasion. 

We want to assist you to prepare for the day when you will enter into that mutual loving relationship with each other and with God that is a Christian marriage. May God bless you as you prepare together for the most beautiful and fulfilling time of your lives -- your vocation of Christian marriage.