MARRIAGE PREPARATION

Contact: stthomaswedding@sta2.org

Welcome! Congratulations on your recent engagement!

Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9)

The sacrament of holy matrimony is both an extraordinary gift and a lifelong vocation. It is far more than a contract; it is a covenant between a man and a woman, which beautifully images the unity of the Trinity in the expression of intimacy, self-gift, and generativity.

A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace. Through marriage, couples are invited and enabled to witness God’s perfect love. As Christ loves his Bride, the Church, so husbands and wives are called to love one another (Ephesians 5:25). In the marriage covenant, “a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1660).

At St. Thomas the Apostle, we are honored to walk with you during engagement and celebrate with you as you enter into the covenant of marriage. We are committed to providing marriage preparation which will enrich and strengthen your relationship as you prepare for a lifelong commitment.

If you are considering St. Thomas for your wedding, please take a look at our brochure CLICK HERE FOR THE WEDDING BROCHURE

First Steps

As we celebrate many weddings at St. Thomas each year and invite all of our couples into a comprehensive marriage preparation program, it is necessary to reserve the church at least one year in advance of your desired wedding date. There are three steps to the reserving the church:

  1. Complete the Wedding Application and Reflection Questions CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION. This may be submitted in person at our parish office or via email to stthomaswedding@sta2.org
  2. Our wedding coordinator will reach out to you to arrange a meeting with a deacon or a priest. In this meeting, the deacon or priest will conduct a Marriage Assessment to determine freedom to marry in the Catholic Church.
  3. After the Marriage Assessment is completed, the wedding coordinator will send you a Reservation Agreement. The Agreement must be signed and a deposit paid in order to secure a wedding date.

Catholic Marriage

“Firmly established by the Lord, the unity of marriage will radiate from the equal personal dignity of wife and husband, a dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love” (Gaudium et Spes, 49)

In order to marry within the Catholic Church, at least one of the couple must be a baptized, confirmed, and practicing Catholic. Both parties must be free to marry according to the Canon law of the Catholic Church.

Non-parishioners must provide a letter of good standing from their current parishes.

Weddings between two Catholics typically take place during a Eucharistic Liturgy and must be held inside a church. The Nuptial Mass includes special readings, which may be found here, and specific prayers.

If either the bride or the groom is not Catholic, it is necessary to obtain a dispensation from the local bishop. Learn more about ecumenical and interfaith marriages here.

If either the bride or the groom is divorced, the previous marriage must be declared invalid or dissolved by the Tribunal; this is generally called an annulment. It is not possible to set a wedding date before this process is completed. Learn more about how to begin this process in the Diocese of Lansing here.

Reserving The Church

Before reserving the church, you must first submit a Wedding Application (WEDDING APPLICATION HERE) and then meet with a priest or deacon to complete a Marriage Assessment. After these steps are completed, our wedding coordinator will send you a Reservation Agreement.

Fees

Church Reservation Fee for Registered Parishioners

If the bride, the groom, or an immediate family member has been a registered parishioner for at least six months prior to the submission of the wedding application, the cost to reserve the church is $400. A partially refundable deposit of $300 is required to secure a wedding date.

This fee may be reduced if the bride, groom, or an immediate family member regularly tithes time, talent, or treasure to the church.

Church Reservation Fee for Non-Parishioners

For non-parishioners, the cost to reserve the church is $1000. A nonrefundable deposit of $300 is required to secure a wedding date.

Additional Fees

Additional fees, which include stipends for the priest or deacon, the sacristan, the organist, and the cantor, amount to approximately $800. This fee is liable to change.

All outstanding fees must be paid one month prior to the wedding.

Marriage Preparation

Please note that we have recently begun using the Witness to Love marriage preparation program. If you began marriage preparation with us before we made this change, you do not need to complete the Witness to Love program but should continue with the Pre-Cana/Agape course.

During your engagement, we know that there are a lot of things to think about. However, this time isn’t just about planning a wedding. It’s about creating a strong foundation for your marriage as you prepare to enter into this sacrament. Our marriage preparation program is designed to guide and support you as you grow in your relationship.

We highly recommend that you complete your marriage preparation where you reside. If neither of you currently live in the greater Ann Arbor area, please contact your local parish to discuss marriage preparation.

Our program consists of the following steps; please use our Wedding Prep Checklist (WEDDING PREP CHECKLIST HERE) to keep track of your progress.

  • Take an inventory designed to spark conversations about areas of growth within your relationship. You may take either the Prepare & Enrich Inventory found here or Dynamic Catholic’s Better Together Inventory found here. The inventory results must be shared with stthomaswedding@sta2.org.
  • Participate in Witness to Love, a program intended to support you as a couple both before and after your wedding. The wedding coordinator will provide you and your chosen mentor couple with materials. 
  • Learn about Natural Family Planning (NFP) through an online course found here, with opportunities for in-person workshops. The online course provides training on scientifically-based methods of fertility awareness proven to help achieve or postpone pregnancy. Please visit the Diocese of Lansing’s NFP resource page here to learn more about different methods, local NFP teachers, and the theology of the body.
  • Complete the Diocese of Lansing’s Love Takes Learning course. Links for this course are sent by the wedding coordinator.
  • Discover more about the theology of marriage and family life on formed.org; use the parish code J8KTVM to create an account. We especially encourage you to watch the Beloved series or any of the other videos on marriage, and strongly recommend that you write two reflections on this content. These reflections can be sent to stthomaswedding@sta2.org.
  • Six months prior to the wedding, request copies of your baptismal certificates, with proper notations, be sent to the church. These must be requested from the church where you were baptized. Please inform this church to send the certificate directly to St. Thomas the Apostle; Attn. Wedding Coordinator.
  • Complete a liturgy planning form (LINK TO LITURGY PLANNING FORM) and discuss music options with our Director of Music. The readings for the Nuptial Mass may be found here.  
  • Thirty days prior to the wedding, obtain a civil marriage license. This is a legal requirement; St. Thomas must have a copy of this license in order to proceed with your wedding. Please visit the Washtenaw County Clerk website for more information on this process.

Music

St. Thomas provides an organist, degreed in both piano and organ, and a cantor, degreed in voice and experienced in singing the wedding liturgy. All guest musicians must be approved by our Director of Music. Additional musicians typically cost $125 each; this fee is liable to change, as the Director of Music consults with the couple to determine the final amount.

Please contact our Director of Music, Jeanne Marie Gerig, to discuss music options for your wedding: jmgerig@sta2.org

Click here for Liturgy Planning Form to look at Mass selections and readings.

FAQ’S

Parking:

St. Thomas the Apostle has a large parking lot adjacent to the church. There is also street parking available, but please note the signs as some of it is permit-only and all of it is regulated by the city. We’ve had everything from limos to firetrucks to vintage ice cream vans parked in front of the church for weddings; let us know in advance if you will have any special vehicle after the wedding. 

Please note that Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan and St. Thomas is located in the heart of downtown. We encourage you not to schedule a wedding on the same date as a home football game, due to traffic and noise levels.

Music:

St. Thomas provides an organist, degreed in both piano and organ, and a cantor, degreed in voice and experienced in singing the wedding liturgy. All guest musicians must be approved by our Director of Music. Additional musicians typically cost $125 each; this fee is liable to change, as the Director of Music consults with the couple to determine the final amount.

Please contact our Director of Music, Jeanne Marie Gerig, to discuss music options for your wedding: jmgerig@sta2.org.

Photography and Videography

Due to our busy event schedule at St. Thomas, we ask that the wedding party and guests leave the church fifteen to twenty minutes after the end of the ceremony. Please plan to take photos at the church before the wedding. You may arrive at the church anytime, provided that there is not another event taking place; confirm the schedule with the wedding coordinator at least a month in advance.

Please keep in mind that the church is a sacred space. We ask that all photographers and videographers dress accordingly. Business casual attire is recommended. As stated on the reservation agreement, no jeans or shorts are allowed.

Bride’s Room

The bride’s room is adjacent to the ladies’ restroom, to the right of the main entrance. We do not have a groom’s room and encourage the men to arrive ready for the wedding. 

Possible Wedding Dates and Times

St. Thomas celebrates weddings on Saturdays at 11:00am and 1:30pm, Fridays between 2:00pm and 5:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm. Please contact stthomaswedding@sta2.org for information about weekday weddings.

While the Catholic Church does not prohibit weddings during the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent, there are certain restrictions on the celebration during those times. We recommend that, if possible, you schedule your wedding for outside of these seasons.

Decor

You are welcome to decorate the church but we do ask that you follow certain guidelines. Flowers may be placed in front of the ambo or by the bride and groom’s kneelers but not in front of the altar. You may decorate the ends of the pews provided you do not use any materials that might cause damage (e.g. adhesives or tacks). Aisle runners are allowed as long as you supply them and remove them after the wedding.

Flower girls may throw flower petals, but these must be cleaned up after the wedding. We do not allow rice or confetti.

We recommend that flowers be delivered the day of the wedding. They may be left in the vestibule to the left of the church’s main entrance. Please note that we have Mass at the church every day; it is your responsibility to ensure that deliveries do not occur during a Mass time. 

Bridal Party

St. Thomas does not limit the size of bridal parties, but we do ask that you inform us of how many attendants you will have within a month of the wedding. Please keep in mind that the church is a place consecrated to worship; we expect all members of the bridal party to dress in a way that respects this sacred space.

Liturgy

The forms of the wedding liturgy are established by the Church and may not be modified. The Rite of Marriage is typically celebrated within a Nuptial Mass. The readings and certain prayers will be chosen by the couple with the assistance of the wedding coordinator. The couple may request additions to the Prayers of the Faithful, which must be approved by the wedding coordinator. Many couples choose to present flowers to Mary after Communion; please communicate with the wedding coordinator if this is a tradition you wish to include.

Visiting Priests

If you wish to invite a priest to either be a presider or to concelebrate with the presider, please let us know well in advance. If the priest is from outside the Diocese of Lansing, we will need to receive a letter of good standing from his diocese. Our parish priest must then send a letter of permission. You may also invite deacons to participate; the procedure is the same as for a priest. Ministers or Rabbis may participate by offering a blessing.

Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers, and Servers

We ask that you provide lectors and, if necessary, extraordinary ministers, who must be trained. We provide altar servers; however, if you have relatives or friends who are altar servers and would like them to serve, this is allowed.

Programs

All programs must be designed and printed by the bridal party. The church will not provide these. If you would like to include information about the Catholic Mass, the wedding coordinator can send you resources to reference.

Wedding Coordinator

Our sacristans will coordinate your rehearsal and wedding. We are happy to have the assistance of your wedding planner, if you have one, but we do ask that you respect the sacristans’ authority within the church.

Parish Hall

If you choose to reserve St. Thomas for your wedding, you also have the option to reserve the parish hall for your rehearsal dinner and/or wedding reception. This must be done at the same time as you reserve the church and is submitted through our website; the event request form may be found here

Marriage Prep Elsewhere

If you do not live in the Ann Arbor area and plan to travel to St. Thomas for your wedding, we strongly recommend that you complete your marriage preparation at a local parish. Please contact stthomaswedding@sta2.org for more information about prepping for your wedding outside of the Diocese of Lansing.

Other Links:

St. Thomas the Apostle Church