Holy Matrimony


"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

Why get married in the Catholic Church? Check-out this short video on the Sacrament of Matrimony!

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish a life-long partnership between themselves derives its force and strength from creation, but for the Christian faithful it is also raised up to a higher dignity, since it is numbered among the Sacraments of the new covenant. A marriage is established by the conjugal covenant, that is, the irrevocable consent of both spouses, by which they freely give themselves to each other and accept each other. This union of a man and woman is ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children, which requires complete fidelity and the indissoluble unity of the marriage bond (Order of Celebrating Matrimony, no. 1-2). 

Congratulations on your engagement!

Some notes on the wedding ceremony

Getting Started

We would like to share in preparation for this wonderful day with you as you prepare to begin your married life together.

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.

Please contact the parish office at 434-1878 to set up an appointment. One of the parish priests will meet with you on several occasions to prepare you for Holy Matrimony. You will also be required to attend a Diocesan Sponsored Marriage Preparation program. Please provide recently issued baptismal, first communion, and confirmation certificates (with NO NOTATIONS on the back) from the parishes where you received them if you did not receive your sacraments at St. Francis Xavier Church.

Marriages are typically celebrated on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, with rehearsals the evening or two evenings before. Please be aware some Saturdays are unavailable due to the Parish Feasts.


The plans for your ceremony are made only by you, your fiancé, and the priest who will preside at the wedding.

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 Ceremony

It is extremely important that both the wedding rehearsal and ceremony begin promptly on time.

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 a 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 “unity candle“ 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.


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 church’s 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 church’s own lighting, flash photography is not necessary, however it is permitted during times when photographs are allowed.


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.


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.

Limousine Service

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

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.


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.


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.

$10.00 – for each altar server (please use separate envelopes labeled appropriately)