Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
Dear Wedding Couple,
Congratulations on your engagement! Your wedding is extremely important to both you and the Church. We want to provide you with only the best we have to offer for one of the most important days of your lives. As you already know, the wedding ceremony itself is only the beginning of an entire lifetime of total and mutual love between husband and wife. Christian marriage brings the grace of God into the union so that it can never be broken. As a sacrament of the Church, Matrimony provides the means of holiness for a man and woman to live as husband and wife all the days of their lives.
Before any wedding preparations, we ask that you carefully read these requirements for a wedding in the Catholic Church. You may marry in a non-Catholic church with the proper permission. These regulations come from the universal law of the Church and diocesan policy. They are non negotiable so as to firmly protect the dignity and integrity of the sacrament. You deserve only the best and Christ asks the same from you, also. Our priests and deacons are available should any questions arise. Please know that we will do whatever we can to provide you with a sacred and meaningful celebration.
Either the bride or the groom, if not both, must be a registered Roman Catholic parishioner of St. John the Baptist. There is no requirement that the other person be of the same faith, nor must he or she convert before or after the wedding.
Both the bride and the groom must never have been married before, i.e., both have never participated in any wedding ceremony by a priest, deacon, minister, rabbi, or justice of the peace, unless an annulment from the Catholic Church has been granted.
Couples living together should separate before making any further plans to receive the sacrament of Matrimony worthily and to protect the dignity and sanctity of Christian marriage. While we understand the many economic and social motives to live together before marriage, it does conflict with the moral laws of Scripture and Christ’s church.
Both the bride and groom must make arrangements and meet with a priest or deacon initially, at lease nine months prior to the wedding. All dates for marriages are tentative until finalized.
The couple must also attend an Engaged Encounter or Pre-Cana program at their earliest convenience. Here at St. John’s, we have a mentor couple process which is parish based (Contact the parish office for information)
For Marriage Preparation please note: For engaged couples who are separated by distance (or for any other serious obstacle to in-person marriage prep) please note that our diocese accepts an online alternative, www.catholicmarriageprep.com.
A seminar, God’s Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage, is also required for couples seeking marriage in our diocese. (Contact the parish office for information.)
The Catholic couple must promise to do everything within their power to raise their children in the Catholic faith.
Whether there is a Mass or just the wedding ceremony, the Catholic couple is highly encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometime before the wedding, to be properly prepared for the spiritual dimension of Matrimony.
Diocesan guidelines require that all weddings take place in church. No Sunday weddings are permitted in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
For the proper celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony, couples should be actively practicing their faith. For Catholics, this means regular attendance at Mass.
Wedding services held during the season of Lent should be done in a subdued atmosphere in keeping with the liturgical spirit of this season.
In terms of the wedding ceremony, the parish community at St. John’s asks that you comply with the following guidelines to ensure that one of the most important events of your lives is remembered with romance, beauty and dignity. The utmost emphasis is on the mutual love the couple has for each other to live as husband and wife for the rest of their lives.
The other reality is that Christian marriage is a sacrament, a sacred celebration of God’s church. Consequently, peculiar and unusual elements are not appropriate for a religious ceremony. This is not meant to preclude full participation and creativity on the part of the couple. Their choices in the selection of Scripture reading, hymns and other music, and other legitimate options will always be encouraged. The Church does emphasize that as a religious ceremony and, most of all as a sacrament, Matrimony demands good taste, decorum and full compliance with liturgical principles. The priest or deacon will always be willing to discuss any of these issues, should there be any questions or concerns.
Weddings may be celebrated in the Main Church and the Historic Church.
Dates and Times
Wedding ceremonies are normally performed on Saturdays at 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM for the Main Church. Ceremonies in the Historic Church may be scheduled later in the afternoon. Wedding rehearsals are usually scheduled on the Friday before the ceremony between 5:00 and 7:00 PM. To schedule your date, please contact Shelley Pokrivka in the parish office 717-235-2156 to assure your date is reserved.
All music and musicians, whether the parish organist is contracted or someone else, must be approved by the Director of Music of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Diocesan Guidelines for music at liturgical celebrations will be followed at all times. Please consult Nelle Bailey, Director of Music 410-804-3834 or for information on an organist and or cantor.
Only readings from Sacred Scripture (the Bible) may be read at any wedding ceremony.
All photography and/or video, whether it is performed by professionals or guests, must be done in a discreet and respectful manner, honoring the dignity of the ceremony and sanctity of the House of God, the Church.
Reverence for the House of God should be maintained consistently from the rehearsal until the end of the wedding ceremony. Therefore, no food, alcohol, or smoking is permitted in the church or waiting areas. The inside of the church proper is not only the worship space for believers, but it is also the dwelling place of God Himself. Please keep it an area of prayer and reasonable quiet. Proper attire is required at the rehearsal as well as the wedding.
Flowers are normally brought to the church the morning of the ceremony. Bows, ribbons or anything attached to the pews may be done only by a non damaging method. (Absolutely No Scotch tape or thumbtacks) Flowers add to the beauty of any ceremony, and may be left for the parish to use for the weekend. If you are not leaving the flowers for the church, they must be removed following the ceremony. Any artificial petals dropped inside the church must be removed immediately following the ceremony.
In the Main Church, the bride and her attendants may dress in the library of the church. The men are asked to dress at home, since there is no dressing area available. The groom, groomsmen and ushers may assemble in Our Lady’s Chapel. Other arrangements are made for the Historic Church. Please contact the wedding coordinator about arrangements.
We ask that the wedding party arrive on time, and be ready to begin the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony promptly at the scheduled times. This is common courtesy, and should be observed by all taking part in the ceremony.
It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide the wedding program, if they choose to have one. This is not a requirement.
For insurance purposes and safety, throwing of rice, bird seed, confetti, or any other substance, inside or outside is strictly prohibited.
After the Wedding
Please assign two or three people to help clean up after the wedding. Ask them to remove all decorations brought into the church including candles. Also, ask them to go through the church, the atrium, the library, and the area outside the church to pick up any floral remains, programs, or other litter that may have been left behind. This will ensure that the church and grounds are left in good order for the next ceremony or Mass.
Catholic priest friends, deacons or relatives of the bride or groom may officiate at the marriage ceremony with the permission of the pastor.
The Father Capitani Social Hall is available for wedding receptions. Please contact Kathy Scheibner, Rental Coordinator, at 717-235-2156 for information.
Any couple not registered at St. John's or those not registered for more than six months prior to the wedding date will be asked for a $500 contribution for use of the church.
Fees for Services
Wedding Coordinator $100.00
Altar Servers $20.00/ea.
The wedding coordinator assists the couple with the wedding ceremony apart from the music. She is present at both the rehearsal and ceremony, and is a valuable resource in the wedding process. Please contact Kathy Scheibner, Wedding Coordinator at 717-235-2156 Ext. 220 for additional information.
Please Note: All fees listed are to be given to the parish office for disbursement at least two weeks prior to the wedding.
These policies and guidelines are to help you understand the beauty which is our Catholic faith, the deep heritage our faith holds for us, and the responsibility it carries for each of us who professes to be Christian.
To request more information:
Contact the Parish Office
Mon. Tues. Fri 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wed. 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Thurs. 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
You can also request more information with this form: