Dear Parishioner,                                                                                                                                                                                       Español


Weddings are special times for brides and grooms, for their families and friends, and for our parish community.  The new beginning, the love, the promise and the hope makes the celebration of marriage a special and grace-filled time in our lives.  The Church welcomes its members to celebrate and solemnize their weddings in the context of our prayer as Christians.  Indeed, so important is marriage in life of a Christian that Jesus Christ made marriage one of the seven Sacraments of his Church.


Great care is taken to see that the prayer for this special moment is reverent, graceful, beautiful, and open to the movement of God’s Spirit among us.  We celebrate all of the Sacraments as a community, gathering our brothers and sisters in faith and asking for their prayerful support.  These celebrations are incomplete unless they are filled with song, with prayerful gestures, and with that solemn silence in which we hear the voice of God in our lives.


Before a wedding can be celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, there are certain requirements that are set forth 1) by the universal law of the Church, 2) by the local laws and customs of the Archdiocese of Washington, and 3) by the State of Maryland.  In addition to following all three of these sources of law, we must also observe the customs and traditions that our parish has set forth in order to promote our life as a believing community and to maintain good order.


These requirements are described on the following pages.  They are not meant as a burden, but as a clear, concise set of procedures to help you plan your wedding properly.  We appreciate your compliance. 




The parish has the duty to prepare adults for the Sacrament of Marriage and to educate and help them grow in their understanding of marriage.  A couple wishing to marry should present themselves to their pastor or associate pastor as soon as they become engaged.  The initial approach to the priest or deacon must be made at least six months prior to the wedding date.

Dates will be booked only after the priest or deacon has had sufficient opportunity to meet with the engaged couple, to take care of the necessary paper work, to make an initial deposit toward expenses, and to arrange for their participation in the marriage instruction program. A “tentative date” may be scheduled.

On occasion, a couple may have a priest friend whom they want to invite to preside at their wedding.  The couple should mention this to the priest of our parish early in the preparation process.


Initial Meeting with the Priest and the Marriage Questionnaire


Each engaged couple must meet with the priest, fill out a marriage questionnaire, and complete other required paperwork.  The engaged couple will have to provide biographical information and testify, under oath, to your intention to enter into a Christian marriage according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

If one party to the marriage is not a member of our faith and/or Church, other forms will be required.  Any and all questions in this regard can be answered in consultation with the priest who is to preside at your wedding.

After the engaged couple has read this booklet and has made the initial deposit, the tentative date for the wedding will be confirmed.


Baptismal Certificates


Catholics must provide our parish with a certificate of baptism that has been issued within six (6) months of the wedding date by the parish in which they were baptized.  Where possible, they should also provide a certificate showing the baptismal status of the non-catholic.  This will be retained in our permanent files.  If you cannot get a recent copy of the certificate, but have the original certificate, then discuss this matter with the priest taking care of the papers in preparation for your marriage.  If one is uncertain about being baptized or about the place at which one was baptized, check with parents or others who may remember about the ceremony.  The baptismal certificate should be obtained as soon as possible and given to the priest.


Statement of Freedom to Marry


Since some of our marriages are between people who are not known to us, each of the parties must present a statement, preferably from a parent or other close relative, attesting that the party is free to marry and has never been married before.  In this diocese, a person under 21 must also provide notarized letters from both parents granting permission to marry.


Letter of Permission


If you are catholic, but not a member of this parish, you must obtain a letter from your home parish giving you permission to be married here.  This is a universal requirement of the Church.


Marriage license


Civil law requires that the couple obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery County Court House, located at Washington and Jefferson Streets, in Rockville, Maryland.  No blood test is required.  Either party can apply for and pick up a license.  The license cannot be issued until 48 hours after the application.  Anyone under 30 years of age must present proof of age.  The license is good for six (6) months only.

Bring the marriage license with you at least a week before your wedding.  (In case of marriage validation, where the couple had already been married civilly, the original marriage license is needed.)

Bring the marriage license with you at least a week before your wedding.  (In case of marriage validation, where the couple had already been married civilly, the original marriage license is needed.)




If either the bride or the groom is not of the Catholic faith, the Archbishop of Washington must grant a dispensation.  Promises are involved in this dispensation which will be explained by the priest.




It is necessary that there be two witnesses to the marriage: The best man and the maid (or matron) of honor serve as the witnesses for a traditional American wedding; the two principal sponsors are the traditional sponsors for a traditional Filipino wedding.


Marriage Preparation Sessions


In addition to their meetings with the priest, each couple needs to be involved in a pre-marriage program.  This is required of all couples and should be completed as soon as possible.

In addition to their meetings with the priest or deacon, each couple needs to be involved in the parish marriage preparation program.  This is required of all couples and should be completed as soon as possible.

The priest or deacon will assigned each  couple to a sponsor/mentor couple, who will assist in the preparation of the engaged couple. This service is provided in English and in Spanish.

A part of the preparation is taking the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Communication, Understanding and Study) self-study profile assessment to help couples to learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. Either the clergy or sponsor/mentor couple will administer this assessment and discuss the results of the assessment with the couple.

The engaged couple will meet over a five-to-six weeks time span with the sponsor/mentor couple. Each couple will be given the marriage preparation booklet entitled, For Better and Forever (Ligouri Publications). Using this material, the sponsor/mentor couple will cover topics, such as marital spirituality, prayer, parenting, faith, sexuality, communication, problem solving, money matters, and other key concepts.  

These sessions may take place either in the home of the sponsor/mentor couple or at the parish at a time amenable with the sponsor/mentor and the engaged couples .

The engaged couples will also be encouraged to participate in the Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Program and the Natural Family Planning meetings. The clergy or the sponsor/mentor couple will provide the schedules for these two programs.

The engaged couple  may participate in the  Engaged Encounter Weekend.  This is a weekend retreat experience that is led by married couples and a priest.  They offer personal sharing on such topics as self-image, communication, decision making, sexuality, and the sacramental character of marriage.  Time is provided for individual reflection and private couple sharing.  It is a private weekend where engaged couples are encouraged to focus on each other and all aspects of their relationship.  There is a charge of $300 per weekend depending on the location.  For information regarding the Engaged Encounter Weekend, call 301-330-3074 or 1-800-820-2701. This program may be used in place of the Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Program.

In cases where one or both parties are in the Armed Forces, or living outside the area, special arrangements must be made with the military chaplain or with the local parish.  Again some form of marriage preparation is mandatory before any wedding can take place.


Ceremony Booklet


Each couple is given a booklet entitled “Together for Life,” containing an outline of the marriage ceremony, plus a large collection of prayers, blessings, and scripture readings from which to choose.  In this way, each couple can design a more personal ceremony in accord with the Catholic Rite or Marriage.  The priest will explain the ceremony in more detail during one of your meetings with him.

It is also recommended that the couple use this booklet as a prayer book, using the contents for daily prayer and reflection, as they prepare for their wedding.

If you are a Filipino and want to have a traditional Filipino wedding with the coins, veil and cord, and candle, please inform the priest of your desire to include these in the ceremony as soon as possible.


Sacrament of Penance


For Catholics, an indispensable part of the preparation for Marriage is the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance prior to the wedding.  This is a serious responsibility.  One should always approach the altar worthily, in the state of grace, open to all of the blessings the Lord has to bestow.  One should likewise desire to start married life in a state of innocence, purity and holiness.  On the wedding day, therefore, the couple should stand before as beautiful spiritually in the sight of God as they are physically in the sight of the guests.



Weddings are scheduled with respect both to the couple’s wishes and the availability of the church building and the priest.  Weddings are usually scheduled on Saturdays between 12:00 noon. and 2:00 p.m.  No wedding on Saturday may begin later than 2:00 p.m. under any circumstances because of the schedule of confessions and evening Mass.  Those scheduling a 2:00 p.m. wedding must ready, willing, and able to begin their wedding on time.

Usually weddings are not scheduled on a Sunday.

The wedding ceremony with Mass lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.  The wedding ceremony without Mass lasts approximately 30 minutes.

A wedding ceremony with Mass is highly recommended when both parties are Catholic.  A wedding ceremony without Mass is recommended when only one of the parties is Catholic. For wedding invitations, the address of the church is 805 Wayne Avenue.  The business address of the Parish is 824 Pershing Drive.  Both are in Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910.




After the date of the wedding is set, a day and time must be scheduled for the rehearsal.  Normally, it is the evening before the wedding, although other days are also possible.  The rehearsal should be attended by all who will play an active role in the ceremony.  A rehearsal usually takes one hour.  Often, there will be another rehearsal following yours, so there are time constraints.  Please ask participants to be on time.


Ring Bearers and flower Girls


Ring bearers and flower girls are not ministers, nor are their services required for the celebration of marriage.  Couples will be asked to consider the age of children involved in these roles and whether their presence will add or detract from the joyful solemnity of the celebration.  We discourage ring bearers and flower girls below the age of four.



The music that accompanies a wedding must be dignified and blend appropriately with the themes of the liturgy.  The director of music for this parish is Mr. Kenneth Louis.  He is available to help you with your selections.  He can be reached at (301)589.1155.

We insist on the use of our musicians.  This is done to maintain the required standards of liturgical music.

Secular or romantic songs or show tunes are inappropriate for use in church and must not be sung or played during the wedding and Mass.  Such music should be reserved for the reception.




You may arrange with the florist of your choice to provide flowers.  Because the church is carpeted, it does not require a runner.  However, if you elect to have one, this should be arranged through your florist.  The length of the aisle is 85 feet.

The flowers will remain on the altar for the Sunday Masses as a memorial of your wedding, except during the seasons of Lent and Advent, when no flowers are permitted for Sunday Masses.



Moderate decoration of the pews is permitted; however, no tape of any kind is allowed as this will deface the finish of the pews.  Ribbons or flowers should be attached by elastic bands or plastic hooks set over the end of the pews.  Please make this known to your florist when ordering.  Anything attached to the pews with tape will be removed 




The practice of throwing rice, bird seeds, or flower petals is prohibited both inside and outside the church.  It not only creates a mess, which must then be cleaned up before evening confessions and Mass, but also poses a slip and fall danger.  Save the rice for the reception.  Please make this clear to all guests prior to the ceremony.




The church is the House of God. It is a sacred place.  It is not a studio or a movie set.  Although pictures are permitted both during and after the ceremony, they should be taken in moderation and with due regard for the sacred character of the space.  You should plan to have as many family photos as possible taken at home, at the reception, or in the studio.  Remember that your wedding is not what photojournalists would call a “photo opportunity.”

During the ceremony, no photographer or video-grapher is allowed in the sanctuary area.  During the ceremony, all photography and taping must be done from the body of the church with as little moving around as possible.  Absolutely no video lights are allowed in the Church.

Following the ceremony, you may wish to have a few photos of a religious nature taken in the sacred setting.  Ten or fifteen minutes is a reasonable amount of time for this endeavor.

The conduct of all those involved in the picture taking should reflect their awareness that they are in the house of God and in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.

Please make these guidelines clear to the person(s) taking photos in advance, so there will be no misunderstanding.


Receiving line

The church is not the place for a receiving line.  The reception is the proper place for introductions, congratulations, and conversations.




The fee for the musicians and planning information for the music for your wedding are in the attached brochure.

For active and contributing parishioners, we also ask you to consider an appropriate donation for the Church.   For inactive and non contributing or non-parishioners, the fee is $300.  All fees to the musicians and to the parish must be paid at four weeks prior to the wedding.  Any gift to the celebrant is up to your discretion.


Program note


If your wedding ceremony is within a Mass, and if you are creating a program for your Wedding Mass, the guidelines on the following page are to be included the program to clarify who may receive Holy Communion.


Guidelines for Receiving Holy Communion

For Catholics — Catholics fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when the receive Holy Communion in fulfillment of Christ’s command to eat his Body and drink his Blood.  In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, communicants should not be conscious of grave sin, have fasted for an hour, and seek to live in charity and love with their neighbors.  Persons who are conscious of grave sin must first be reconciled with God and the Church through the Sacrament of Penance.  A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

For other Christians — We welcome to this celebration of the Eucharist those Christians who are not fully united with us.   It is a consequence of the sad divisions in Christianity that we cannot extend to them a general invitation to receive Communion.  Catholics believe that the Eucharist is an action of the celebrating community signifying the oneness in faith, life, and worship of the community.  Reception of the Eucharist by Christians not fully united with us would imply a oneness which does not exist and for which we must all pray.

For those not receiving Communion — Those who are not receiving sacramental Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

For non-Christians — We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus.  While we cannot extent to them an invitation to receive Communion, we do invite them to be united with us in prayer.




In selecting Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church for the celebration of your marriage vows, you recognize the deep religious importance of your marriage consent. You also as a matter of faith accept the sacramental nature of your marriage vows. It is because of this importance that the parish is here to assist you in whatever manner possible to make this moment and your marriage a permanent success.


This guide has anticipated many of questions, you may have.  You should refer to it at any time and you  may contact the rectory and the priest or deacon helping you.




Click here to download the contract. Fill it, scan it, and email it back to us at


805 Wayne Avenue

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tel.: 301-589-1155

Fax: 301-328-0819

© 2014 by St. Michael the Archangel

Archdiocese of Washington

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