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Marriage Preparation Guidelines

Congratulations on getting engaged.  Marriage is a sign of God’s love.  It is a special grace for the couple and an important sign for the community. The public, communal nature of Catholic marriages requires that the consent be received by, and the exchange of vows be witnessed by, an official church witness; normally a priest or deacon. This is what most people call being “married in church.”

At OLMC, we are happy to prepare our parishioners for marriage and celebrate their weddings in our church.  We only celebrate weddings for parishioners or their close family.  


Before making any arrangements for reception halls, caterers, etc., it is important to meet with the Marriage Preparation Coordinator, Deacon Juan Faus, at least nine months in advance of the date on which they hope to celebrate their wedding. He will assign you to a priest or deacon who will assist in your marriage preparation.  The focus for this process is not planning a ceremony, but getting prepared to live the vocation of marriage as God intends. Once you have begun marriage preparation, you will meet with the Wedding Coordinator to set a date and begin planning the ceremony.   


Weddings are normally scheduled on Saturdays in the church at 1:00 pm or 3:00 pm. We do not schedule weddings on Sundays. On occasion, a wedding may be celebrated on a weekday evening. Weddings are not scheduled at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel between December 12 and January 1. 

To finalize the reservation for the tentatively set date and time we must have received:

SIGNED OLMC MARRIAGE GUIDELINES ACCEPTANCE AGREEMENT: The couple agrees to abide to the Marriage Celebration Guidelines of OLMC, and

NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT: $250.00 of Our Lady of Mt Carmel facilities use fee Couples being prepared outside our parish must also submit the following documents:

PASTORAL CARE AGREEMENT:  For those couple being prepared outside of the parish, the preparing priest or deacon needs to ensure that the Marriage Preparation is in process and promises that all the required documentation will be submitted to us at least one month before the scheduled wedding date.

VISITING CLERGY AGREEMENT: A priest or deacon from OLMC is usually assigned to preside at the wedding. Sometimes couples have a close connection with a priest or deacon from another parish and wish that person to preside.  He must agree to abide to the guidelines established for Marriage Celebrations at OLMC. He must also have faculties to celebrate marriages.


Marriage Preparation in the Diocese of San Diego consists of one or more of the following:

DIOCESAN MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAM (Pre-Cana), a session to assist each couple to focus on the essential elements of a Christian marriage. At this time, the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communications, Understanding, and Study) Couple Inventory is administered.

CATHOLIC ENGAGED ENCOUNTER (CEE): an approved marriage preparation program available to couples who are being married in the San Diego Diocese. This weekend retreat for engaged couples is designed to deepen, develop and enrich their lives together.

EVENINGS FOR THE ENGAGED (EE): this program is similar to the CEE weekend, but meets one night per week, forsix weeks. It is recommended that a couple be prepared to register for a CEE program in case the EE program cannot be scheduled.

INTRODUCTION TO NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING: this is a session, where the Church’s teaching on married love and responsible parenthood is examined.

AWARENESS AND PREPARATION FOR REMARRIAGE: this program is designed for couples entering a second marriage because of a divorce or the death of a spouse.


Some documents for church records are needed:

Baptismal certificates for bride and groom.  These must be original copies issued from the church of Baptism no earlier than six months prior to the marriage.

Statement of Freedom to Marry.  When the couple is not personally known to the priest or deacon these forms state that neither the bride nor the groom has been married before. The forms are available at the parish office and must be signed by a relative in the presence of either a priest,  deacon, or notary public.

If one of the partners is a baptized non-Catholic Permission from a priest or deacon with faculties is needed. The Diocese of San Diego recommends marriage rite celebration without Mass (Celebrating Matrimony 8.)

If one of the partners Is non-Christian Dispensation from a priest or deacon with faculties is needed. Marriage cannot be celebrated within Mass (Rite of Marriage 8.)

To celebrate the wedding the following documentation is required two weeks before the wedding date:

  • Full Original Marriage Package

  • This includes items like the baptismal certificates, marriage preparation certificates, permissions/dispensations, etc.

  • Parish Wedding Coordinator Paperwork

  • Florist, photographer signed contracts. Liturgical planning worksheet.

  • Other Documents

  • These will be defined by the Marriage Preparation Coordinator depending on your specific circumstances.

  • Marriage License. Please obtain your civil marriage license at least one month before the wedding.


The Ministers of the Celebration


The role of the priest or deacon is to serve as the principal witness on behalf of the Christian community at your wedding celebration. For OLMC parishioners the pastor or associate pastor of the parish will witness your wedding with mass, or a parish deacon will be the witness if outside mass. Couples being prepared outside our parish must procure the celebrant themselves.

Parishioners, under special circumstances, and with the approval of the pastor, may have a priest friend or relative preside at your wedding. You should mention this early in the process. There is a form stating the requirements, which will have to be filled out and returned .

All visiting priests or deacons will be asked to observe the parish policy concerning marriages and the liturgical customs of the parish.


Guidelines about music and musicians is included in your packet of materials at your initial interview with the Wedding Coordinator and includes lists of suggestions for music and approved musicians. Only the qualified music ministers of the parish may provide the music for weddings celebrated at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. They are familiar with a vast repertoire of beautiful and appropriate Catholic music available for worship. Any arrangements for outside musicians to play or sing along with our parish musicians must be made in coordination with our parish musicians.


Friends and family members who are trained in these ministries and serve at their home parishes may participate. If you ask them to serve in any of these ministries, they are required to be at the rehearsal so that they can practice in the worship space.


The groom's attendants usually function as ushers and thus fulfill part of the Ministry 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 and gracious gesture for all members of the wedding party to greet the members of the Assembly as they gather for the celebration of the wedding.

A Note About Ring Bearers and Flower Girls:

The procession of the wedding party to the altar is to be a reverent and dignified moment.  Therefore, we recommend that children in your wedding party and/or procession be at least six years of age.  We ask that you please consider the children involved in these roles and whether their presence will add to or detract from the joyful solemnity of the celebration.

Preparing for the Liturgy

In consultation with the preparer, the couple will determine if the marriage is to be celebrated with Mass or without Mass. The determining criteria will center around what form of liturgy will best enable a particular wedding assembly to celebrate with the bride and groom.  In preparing the wedding liturgy, couples will be asked to incorporate elements which will encourage the active participation of those who gather for the celebration. This will include participation through sung and spoken prayer. As a part of the couple’s preparation, engaged couples will be asked select the Scripture readings. Our Wedding Coordinator will be happy to help you incorporate special cultural traditions or ceremonies, such as presenting flowers at the shrine of Our Blessed Mother and using the veil, cord or lasso, and coins in your ceremony.

The Environment of the Worship Space

As a part of the preparation for the wedding, the parish Wedding Coordinator will show each couple different seating arrangements for the bride and groom, witnesses and attendants and options for the placement of flowers. A contract containing a complete set of guidelines for florists will be provided to you to present to the florist of your choice. Standing candelabra and the use of aisle runners are not permitted.

Also no rice, birdseed, confetti, bubbles, flower petals or the like is to be thrown (inside or outside) or otherwise spread on Church property.  It is your responsibility to inform those invited to the wedding of this limitation.

Photography and Videotaping

To preserve the dignity and solemnity of the Sacrament of Marriage, a contract containing a complete set of guidelines for photographers and videographers will be provided to you to present to the photographer/videographer of your choice.


A rehearsal is required and is usually scheduled on the Thursday or Friday before your wedding. It allows the members of the immediate wedding party to become familiar with the environment of our church building and with the public roles they will assume as part of the liturgy. The parish Wedding Coordinator will direct the rehearsal and will give a brief overview of the liturgy to help all concerned understand the prayerful nature of the celebration. We ask that you make sure that all members of the wedding party are present for the rehearsal and that they arrive on time. Please allow at least one hour for the rehearsal.

Dressing Rooms

One special room is available as “waiting area” for the bride and her attendants.  OLMC is not responsible for valuables left in the room, or any other area of the church. This room has a mirror and direct access to the women restrooms, but the Bride is still encouraged to dress at home.

Wedding Coordinator & Musicians

We rely on the time and talent of our Wedding Coordinator and parish Musicians to assist you in the planning and execution of a wedding ceremony that, by its dignity and beauty, will lead all who are present to a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and, consequently, to a greater commitment to it. The fee for parish musicians is between $150.00 for a single vocalist/instrumentalist to a maximum of $350.00 with additional instrumentalists or singers. In your introductory packet you will receive contact information for the Wedding Coordinator. The fee for the services of the Wedding Coordinator is $300. The Wedding Coordinator will provide you with the contact information of the parish musicians.

Offering to the Church

It is customary to make an offering to the Church on the occasion of the celebration of a marriage.  As a Sacrificial Giving Parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel lives by a firm belief and trust in God’s abundance. We apply that trust to everything we do at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Naturally, we incur expenses whenever we use our facilities so we have set a fee for their use in the celebration of the Marriage Sacrament: $450 for active registered parishioners; $900 for non-active or newly registered parishioners. For parishioners, the fee includes the celebrant.

A Final Note...

Today, we, the Church—especially married couples, parents, priests, deacons and teachers—have a grave responsibility to help our people to enter into a a marriage that gives promise of being grace-filled, happy and successful. We consider it a privilege, a pleasure and a serious responsibility to assist you in preparing to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony

Call the Parish Office today for an appointment at (858) 484-1070 or e-mail Deacon Juan Faus,