Matrimony

Frequently asked questions

Can we get married on a Sunday or weekday?

Although the traditional day to get married is on Saturday, many couples have found they can save money on reception halls if they get married on days that are in less demand, like Sundays and weekdays.

We may permit you to get married on a Sunday or weekday, depending on the date, time and availability of the church. Visit the church office for more information.

Call the church office at least six months in advance.

Call the church office at (323) 255-6142, email stbernardla@stbernardla.cc, or visit us in person.


Planning your wedding at St. Bernard Church

Congratulations to the two of you on your engagement! A wedding is an exciting time with a multitude of plans to be made.

It is important to understand what a Christian marriage is. The commitment which you will make to each other, is a public act shared by family, friends and the entire Catholic community. The heart of this celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant or promise made between the two of you and God. It is primarily a religious event. Since marriage is a Sacrament of the Catholic Church, at least one party in the marriage must be a practicing Catholic and a parishioner of St. Bernard Church. Certainly, one of the signs of a practicing Catholic is worshiping God weekly at your parish church.

The following information has been put together for your convenience to answer the usual questions asked by those planning on marriage and to acquaint you with the procedures and requirements of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and St. Bernard Church.

Spiritual preparation

As stated above, at least one of the parties in the marriage must be a practicing Catholic. It is not enough that an engaged couple wants to get married in the Catholic Church because parents desire it, because the church is a nice setting for a wedding or because it is just an obligation. Receiving a sacrament implies a relationship both with God and his church. A priest will gladly discuss this with any who might wish to have this point clarified. It is presumed that Catholics will be attending Mass regularly.

Before planning their wedding, the parties in an inter-faith marriage (where one party is not Catholic) should discuss the raising of the children in the Catholic faith. Indeed, all couples planning marriage should discuss the role that God and faith will play in their future marriage. In an inter-faith marriage, the Catholic part is required to sign a promise that he or she intends to remain a Catholic and will do all in their power to see that the children will be baptized and raised as Catholics.

The church

The church is the proper place to celebrate Christian worship and the Sacraments. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles does not permit priests to celebrate weddings other in the church. Since the church building is consecrated for the worship of God and a place for prayer, proper reverence is expected at all times and respect will be observed. Loud talking and unnecessary noise (which might disturb those who have come to pray) is always to be avoided. Gum chewing is not permitted within the church.

Preparation for the sacrament of marriage

In order to give themselves sufficient time to plan, not just got their wedding, but for their marriage, couples are to let the church office know of their intention to receive the sacrament of marriage by making an appointment with the church pastor at least six months prior to the desired date of their wedding. This is a requirement of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and not just of this parish; therefore, we are not at liberty to change to this requirement. However, couples are advised to call for an appointment as far in advance as possible. This may prevent disappointment over finding that day or time already reserved, and where there has been a previous marriage, additional time will be available to deal with the requirements of the church.

Where one or both parties have had previous marriage, even though it may have been just a civil ceremony, no wedding date can be scheduled until the requirements of the church have been met with regard to the previous marriage. Normally, the priest with whom the couple meets will be the priest who will assist them in the preparation period and also be the priest who will perform the ceremony.

Documents needed

Catholics must furnish a recently issued baptismal certificate from the parish of their baptism. This is obtained by contacting the parish of baptism and requesting a copy. It must be issued no earlier than the previous six months. We also ask to see a copy of the first communion and confirmation certificates. Catholics and non-Catholics alike must submit the sworn testimony of the parents and intentions of the couple.

It is mandatory for the couple to secure a civil marriage license. This does not mean that the couple must be civilly married. For more information on marriage licenses, contact the County of Los Angeles Registrar Recorder/County Clerk at (562) 462-2137 or at (323) 260-2991, or visit Marriage preparation course

All couples preparing for marriage must complete a Marriage Preparation Course and submit the Certificate of Completion to the priest before the wedding date.

For a list of Archdiocese of Los Angeles marriage preparation courses in your area, click here.

Marriage Preparation Courses provide an opportunity for engaged couples to assess their readiness for marriage and to assist them in understanding that marriage is a vocation, a covenant and a sacrament. The preparation courses are required of every couple preparing for marriage in the archdiocese. Course options are made available for couples who have been married or who have never been married before. The priest will assist you in selecting the best possible preparation course for you.

Besides the marriage preparation course, the priest may ask you to take a written communication inventory called FOCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study).

FOCUS is designed to identify those areas where the couple already has good communication skills with one another and where they do not. Basically, the FOCUS pre-marital inventory is a tool to assist the couple in their communications with each other. The couples will review the results with the priest.

Liturgical planning

In order to make your wedding day as personal and joyful as possible, the priest will be happy to help the couple plan and prepare for the wedding ceremony. Careful, prayerful planning and selection of texts and scriptures for the wedding can add a great deal of warmth and meaning to the wedding ceremony. We encourage family members and friends who are Catholic to read the scripture readings and the Prayer of the Faithful if so desired.

The marriage to two Catholics should take place during a Nuptial Mass. In this Mass, the couple may receive Holy Communion under both species of bread and wine. The parties of an inter-faith marriage, that is, between a Catholic and a Non-Catholic, may also be married at a Nuptial Mass providing that the Non-Catholic is a baptized person and therefore, a Christian. Only the Catholic party may receive Holy Communion.

Wedding time

Because of the parish schedule of confessions and Mass, no wedding may take place later than 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Wedding music

A wedding, like any other service in the church, is an act of worship to almighty God. Consequently, music is to be religious in nature as well in good taste. The music selected must be in keeping with the regulations of the church.

If services of a musician are required, our two highly competent musicians on contract with the parish are available. The music fee is $100. Mariachis are also permitted. To employ one of our musicians, call the church office at (323) 255-6142.

Flowers and decorations

Floral arrangements are optional. It is always appreciated when the wedding flowers are left for use at the Sunday Mass. Additional decorations, if used at all, should be simple and always in good taste. Bows for the pews can be used only if fastened by string, rubber bands or wire. Tape can never be used since it damages the finish of the pews. The throwing of rice, confetti, birdseed, etc., in or around the church, is strictly forbidden.

Fees

All fees must be paid in cash at the church office at least one week before the wedding. A receipt will be issued. As regards the amount of the donation to the church, recommend the biblical concept of tithing, which would be 10% of the entire cost of the wedding; however, a minimum of $450. This donation goes not to the priest who performs the ceremony, but to St. Bernard Church and is used to help provide church ministries, staff, facilities and fee for the wedding coordinator.

Confession

The Sacrament of Reconciliation should be preceded the Sacrament of Marriage, and Catholics in the wedding party are also encouraged to receive Holy Communion at the nuptial Mass.

Confession is not normally available on the night of the rehearsal. Couples should inform the other members of the wedding and family that if they wish to go to confession, they should do this at their own parish church (or any Catholic Church) on the Saturday prior to the wedding.

Our hours of confessions are from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday afternoons from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For any other times you will need to make arrangements with the priest who is assisting you with the wedding preparations.

Photography and video recording

Professional photographers and video camera operators must consult with the priest in the church prior to the ceremony. They will, at that time, receive instructions designed to facilitate their task and at the same time protect the dignity and the sacred character of the ceremony. All others with cameras are requested to remain in their seats so as not to interfere with the professional photographer or the ceremony. Posed pictures are permitted after the ceremony if the church schedule allows time for that; however, the picture taking must be done quietly and respectfully.

Rehearsals

The wedding coordinator will contact you in advance to arrange for the rehearsal. Rehearsals begin promptly at the scheduled time. Lateness will result in a short and inadequate rehearsal. All members of the wedding party, including parents, ushers and scripture readers should be reminded to be present on time for the rehearsal and should dress and conduct themselves in a proper manner while in church.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. These, along with all certificates and documents, should be directed to the priest who is assisting you.

We, at St. Bernard, wish you God's blessing now and in the future. We pray that happiness will fill your hearts and your home. May the Lord bless you with a long life together and may your Sacrament of Matrimony always be a source of grace to you and to all others who will be touched by your love for each other.