St. Francis Xavier Church
Wedding Preparation Guidelines

The Saint Francis Xavier Parish family rejoices with you as you prepare for the sacrament of marriage. Wedding ceremonies are happy and meaningful celebrations. Your wedding day marks the beginning of the life-long commitment that you will live through the Christian sacrament of marriage.

You - the bride and groom - are the ministers of the sacrament; you confer it to each other. It is also a church event. You, as members of the Roman Catholic community of Saint Francis Xavier Parish, are part of the larger Catholic Church and tradition. We, as a parish community, are here to help you in preparing for Christian marriage. Therefore, we offer these guidelines and instructions to help facilitate your preparation for your life-long commitment of love and fidelity to each other as a married couple, as well as the celebration of the wedding day itself.

As you read through our ceremony guide, please know that it has been prepared thoughtfully and carefully. It is the result of experience, discussion, and prayer. These guidelines are intended to serve one purpose: to provide you with a sacred and memorable wedding day.

We rejoice with you and will do everything in our power to provide you with a joyous wedding – a grace-filled expression of your love and vows of life-long fidelity in the Lord. In the meantime, be certain of our prayers for you.

"Christ abundantly blesses your love. He enriches and strengthens you by a special sacrament so that you may assume the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity." - Rite of Marriage

Getting Started

Weddings at Saint Francis Xavier Church are celebrated for parishioners only. Therefore, you are expected to be a registered member of Saint Francis Xavier Church. More importantly, you are expected to attend Mass at Saint Francis Xavier Church regularly. If you or your fiance believe that you may have difficulty meeting this expectation, please consult with the priest.

All weddings are scheduled for Saturday at either 12:00pm or 2:00pm only. Please be aware some Saturdays are unavailable due to the Parish Feasts.

Records and Paperwork

Catholics must obtain a recent copy of their baptismal record, as well as records of their First Communion and Confirmation (original copies of baptismal records are not accepted). These records must be obtained from the church or churches where the sacraments were received. Non-Catholics must provide a copy of their birth certificate and call upon two witnesses – preferably close relatives – to testify under oath that they are free to marry according to the laws of the church.

Diocesan Marriage Preparation Office 401-278-4576

All couples preparing for the sacrament of marriage within the Diocese of Providence must complete a pre-marriage preparation program called the Pre-Cana program. This program is to be arranged with the diocesan Marriage Preparation Office (401-278-4576) and should be done so as soon as possible. Your certificate of completion, which will be given to you at the end of the course, should be sent to the priest upon your receipt of it.

You and your fiance must apply for a valid Rhode Island state marriage license within 90 days of the wedding. The license should be delivered to the priest handling the marriage at least one week prior to the wedding. No priest has the legal authority to marry a couple that has not obtained a valid marriage license. Click here to see "Marriage Requirements in the State of Rhode Island" for details on the state's license application process. (

Church and civil laws require that two people serve as official witnesses of your wedding. These witnesses can be any two people who attend your wedding, and not necessarily the Maid of Honor and Best Man. Rhode Island law requires that witnesses be at least 18 years of age.


If you choose to hire a "wedding planner," or if you designate someone to coordinate your wedding plans, please know that he or she has no authority to make any decisions in regard to the liturgical celebration of your wedding. All aspects of the wedding rehearsal and the wedding are directed solely by the priest.

The plans for your ceremony are made only by you, your fiancˇ, and the priest who will preside at the wedding. Parents, friends, or other parties may not schedule weddings, or make any arrangements with the priest on your behalf.

Your wedding rite will take place either within the celebration of Mass or outside of Mass during a Liturgy of the Word celebration. If the bride and groom are both Catholic, then the wedding normally takes place during the celebration of Mass. While it is presumed that a wedding between two Catholics who are in a position to celebrate and receive the Eucharist will take place within the celebration of Mass, you may choose to celebrate your wedding outside of Mass. Since the wedding ceremony should be a sign of all that unites the bridal couple, when one member of the couple is not a Catholic, and would therefore be unable to receive Communion, the wedding is celebrated during a Liturgy of the Word celebration instead of a Mass.


The use of wedding programs is strongly discouraged. The attention of your guests should be focused on you and the celebration, not on a piece of paper. If you do plan to use programs for your guests, please consult with the priest handling your wedding prior to printing them. The program must be approved before it can be distributed in church.


Sacred music is used at the wedding ceremony because it reflects the sanctity of the event. All of the selections you choose for your wedding must respect and serve the worship and prayer that is being celebrated. Therefore, it is important to have musicians who are familiar with Catholic Mass and liturgy, sacred music, and the musical instruments in the church.

Vocal soloists are respected and accepted, but they should not exclude or replace the musical participation of the assembly. Those invited to the wedding become a worshiping assembly joining the couple in praising God and celebrating this sacred event. The music also reflects the purpose of various parts of the wedding liturgy. While we prefer that you use the parish director of music, under exceptional circumstances, a guest soloist, perhaps a friend or family member, may participate in the wedding music. The use of recorded music is prohibited.

The director of music provides music for parish weddings. The priest arranging your wedding will put you in touch with him so that you can discuss the music for your wedding; he will be happy to assist you in appropriate planning and choices.


Flowers add to the festive nature of your wedding ceremony. All flower arrangements that you use at your wedding are to be left in the church after your ceremony as a sign of your gratitude to God and to signify that your wedding is connected to the liturgical life of Saint Francis Xavier Parish. Flowers for your reception should be ordered separately, as they are not used in the church.

It is never acceptable to place any objects on the altar table such as candles, plants or flowers.

Please inform your florist that the use of any kind of tape on the church pews is not permitted.

The use of an aisle runner is strongly discouraged. Guests wearing high heels puncture and tear runners because the churchÕs aisle is carpeted. Also, older guests have been known to trip over the edge of runners as they exit pews at Communion time and at the end of the ceremony.


The recording of your wedding ceremony through the use of photography or videotape must respect the sacred nature of the liturgy and must not be a distraction to you, your bridal party, your guests, or the priest. Please tell your photographers to consult with the priest before the ceremony so they know what is allowed. It is extremely important for us to maintain reverence and respect for you and this sacred ritual.

Photographers may take pictures of the wedding, but they may not enter the marble sanctuary area. Also, no pictures are to be taken during the homily or during Communion, and the photographer may not take pictures of your guests during the ceremony – those pictures are to be reserved for the reception.

Video cameras must be positioned on a tripod and remain in a stationary position throughout the ceremony. They may be set up in either or both of the seating areas located on the left and right sides of the marble sanctuary. We recognize that the camera may have to be moved to record the procession.

Photographs may be taken in the church after the ceremony, but only if there is sufficient time to do so before the next scheduled function.

Given the adequacy of the churchÕs own lighting, flash photography is not necessary, however it is permitted during times when photographs are allowed.

Limousine Service

Please inform your limousine service provider that serving champagne or other alcoholic beverages outside the church is strictly prohibited.

The Ceremony

It is extremely important that both the wedding rehearsal and ceremony begin promptly on time. It is not acceptable for the bridal party to arrive late. There is no reason why your ceremony should not begin at the time you and your fiance have chosen. Courtesy to your guests, the tight schedule of clergy, and the use of parish facilities for subsequent services demand attention to this matter. Late starting times may result in an abbreviated Liturgy of the Word service.

We ask that you choose ushers to greet your guests and to consider having your guests seated anywhere in the church, rather than being selective by sitting on the bride's or groom's "side." Your guests come to your wedding to celebrate you as a couple and should not have to make a decision about whose "side" they will sit on. Ushers should not lead guests to pews toward the back of the church.

If your wedding will take place within the celebration of Mass, you may choose two people to bring up the bread and wine during the Preparation of the Gifts.

Please consult with the priest as to whom you will choose to read during your ceremony. Readers should be well-spoken and able to read loudly and clearly in front of the congregation. Readings are chosen from the selections available to you from the priest. Secular readings or poems are not appropriate for the wedding ceremony and are best suited for your reception.

Ring bearers and flower girls are a welcome and beautiful addition to many weddings. However, to avoid embarrassments and disruptions of the ceremony, any children who take part in the procession must be at least 5 years old, or be accompanied by an adult. No wagons, carriages, or strollers may be used in procession.

The lighting of a Ņunity candleÓ is not a part of the Rite of Marriage. Wedding rings are the traditional and perfect expression of nuptial unity. If you have purchased a unity candle, or if you receive one as a gift, consider lighting it at your wedding reception.


Parishioners work hard to keep the church and its grounds clean. We will do everything possible to make sure that the church is clean for your wedding. Help us to offer the same benefit to those who will come to the church for worship after your ceremony. Please designate someone who will be attending your wedding to spend some time in the church immediately following your ceremony to ensure that nothing is left behind, and that the church is in order. All items that you bring (flower or tux wrappers, pins, programs, boxes, bags, etc.) are to be taken with you when you leave. Because of maintenance considerations, no rice, bird seed, or confetti is to be thrown either inside or outside of the church. Animals, birds, insects or other objects may not be released on the premises.

Please inform your guests that proper dress and appropriate behavior is expected at all times on church grounds. Anyone who appears to be under the influence of alcohol - at the rehearsal or the wedding - will be asked to leave the premises.

NB:  If for any reason you must postpone or cancel your wedding, or, if your telephone number or address changes before your wedding, please notify a parish priest as soon as possible.

The fees for the wedding are as follow:
$400.00 – St. Francis Xavier Church (administration/church/music/organist fees)

Payment may be made in cash or by check payable to St. Francis Xavier Church.  Sorry no credit cards are accepted.
$10.00 – for each altar server (please use separate envelopes labeled appropriately)