When the Catholic Church teaches that marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament, it is saying that the couple’s relationship expresses in a unique way the unbreakable bond of love between Christ and his people. Like the other six sacraments of the Church, marriage is a sign or symbol which reveals the Lord Jesus and through which his divine life and love are communicated. All seven sacraments were instituted by Christ and were entrusted to the Church to be celebrated in faith within and for the community of believers. The rituals and prayers by which a sacrament is celebrated serve to express visibly what God is doing invisibly.

In a sacramental marriage, God’s love becomes present to the spouses in their total union and also flows through them to their family and community. By their permanent, faithful and exclusive giving to each other, symbolized in sexual intercourse, the couple reveals something of God’s unconditional love. The sacrament of Christian marriage involves their entire life as they journey together through the ups and downs of marriage and become more able to give to and receive from each other. Their life becomes sacramental to the extent that the couple cooperates with God’s action in their life and sees themselves as living “in Christ” and Christ living and acting in their relationship, attitudes and actions.

Catholic teaching holds that sacraments bring grace to those who receive them with the proper disposition. Grace is a way of describing how God shares the divine life with us and gives us the help we need to live as followers of Christ. In marriage, the grace of this sacrament brings to the spouses the particular help they need to be faithful and to be good parents. It also helps a couple to serve others beyond their immediate family and to show the community that a loving and lasting marriage is both desirable and possible.

Pope Paul VI wrote: “By it [the Sacrament of Matrimony] husband and wife are strengthened and…consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection, and the Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world” (Humanae Vitae, n. 25).

Planning for Marriage in the Catholic Church - Engaged Couples

Important Online Forms and Documents for Engaged Couples Getting Married at Saint Raphael Parish

Pre-Marriage Assessment Form | Engaged Couples Brochure | Liturgical Planning Form | Wedding Planning Information

Since the Catholic Church believes that marriage is a commitment made for life, preparation for marriage must not only recognize that commitment but also seek to insure that both parties are capable of making such a commitment. The Diocese of Pittsburgh requires that those wishing to be married give a minimum of six months notice.

All engaged couples are required to attend a Pre-Marriage program. Fr. Chris Donley recommends all couples participate in the Diocesan Pre-Marriage program that takes place at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland.  All information on Pre-Marriage programs can be found at www.diopitt.org  under faith resources.  Whichever program you choose, remember to give the certificate of completion provided to the priest or deacon as soon as possible. 

Engaged couples are asked to initiate the process by completing our online Pre-Marriage Assessment Form.

Planning a Wedding at Saint Raphael Parish

Dates and Times
Rehearsals are Friday evenings at 5:00pm. Weddings at Saint Raphael Parish are scheduled on Saturday afternoons as follows:

  • Easter to Thanksgiving: 1:00pm or 3:00pm
  • Thanksgiving to Easter: Noon or 2:00pm

Ceremony Details - Liturgical Planning Form
Engaged couples are required to complete our online Liturgical Planning Form at least 2 months prior to the ceremony.

You will be asked to choose one of each of the following:

Father Chris recommends Tobit 8: 4b-8 as follows:

A reading from the the book of Tobit

Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah,

“Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.”  So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying,

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors,
    and blessed is your name in all generations forever.
Let the heavens and the whole creation bless you forever.
You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve
    as a helper and support.
    From the two of them the human race has sprung.
You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;
    let us make a helper for him like himself.’
I now am taking this kinswoman of mine,
    not because of lust,
    but with sincerity.
Grant that she and I may find mercy
    and that we may grow old together.”
 And they both said, “Amen, Amen.”

The Word of the Lord.

Response:  Thanks be to God.

Or you can choose from one of the following readings:

  • Tobit 7:6-14
  • Genesis 1:26-28, 31a
  • Genesis 2:18-24
  • Genesis 24: 48-51, 58-67
  • Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
  • Song of Songs 2: 8-10, 14, 16a, 8:6-7a
  • Sirach 26: 1-4, 13-16
  • Jeremiah 31: 31-32a, 33-34a

Father Chris recommends Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 as follows:

Response:  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the Lord;
The lowly will hear me and be glad.

Response:  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the Lord with me,
Let us together extol his name
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.

Response:  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, a
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the Lord heard
And from all his distress he saved him.

Response:  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the Lord encamps
Around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the Lord is;
Blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Or you can choose from one of the following Responsorial Psalms:

  • Psalm 33:12 and 18, 20-21, 22
  • Psalm 103:1-2, 8 and 13, 17-18a
  • Psalm 112:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7b-8, 9
  • Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
  • Psalm 145:8-9, 10 and 15, 17-18
  • Psalm 148:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-13a, 13c-14a

Father Chris recommends 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a as follows:

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Corinthians

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never ends.

The Word of the Lord.

Response:  Thanks be to God.

Or you can choose from one of the following readings:

  • Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39
  • Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 or 12:1-2, 9-13
  • Romans 15:1b-3a, 5-7, 13
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
  • Ephesians 5:2a, 21-33 or 5:2a, 25-32
  • Philippians 4:4-9
  • Colossians 3:12-17
  • Hebrews 13:1-4a, 5-6b
  • 1 Peter 3:1-9
  • 1 John 3:18-24
  • 1 John 4:7-12
  • Revelation 19:1,5-9a

Father Chris recommends John 2:1-11 as follows:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it.  When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom  and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”  Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The Gospel of the Lord

Response: Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ

Or you can choose from one of the following Gospels:

  • Matthew 5:1-12a
  • Matthew 5:13-16
  • Matthew 7:2;1,24-29 or 7:21, 24-25
  • Matthew 19:3-6
  • Matthew 22:35-40
  • Mark 10:6-9
  • John 15:9-12
  • John 15:12-16
  • John 17:20-26 or 17:20-23

If you wish to have any special flower arrangements in church for your wedding, please contact a florist of your choice to coordinate using the following guidelines:

  1. One floral arrangement is permitted on each side of the altar where Mass is offered.  If you wish, additional floral arrangements may be placed on pedestals at either side of the high altar.  If any stands or pedestals are to be used, these should be set up by the florist.
  2. Pew bows are permitted, but they must be secured in place with ribbon or rubber bands only.  NO thumb tacks, tape or clip-on holders are permitted.  It is the florist’s responsibility to set up such decorations. Candles or torches of any kind are NOT permitted in the aisles or attached to the pews.
  3. You may wish to use a crash (or aisle runner).  For planning purposes, the aisle of our parish church is 100 ft. long.  It is the florist’s responsibility to set up the crash for the center aisle.
  4. The church will often be available for florist preparations after 11 a.m. on the day of your wedding.  Because other services may be scheduled on that day, please make sure to have your florist confirm the availability of the church at a given hour by calling our parish center at 412-661-3100.
  5. While a unity candle is permitted for a wedding ceremony, please note that the use of any other candles as part of your decoration plan must be specifically approved before their use in the church.  Additional standing or branched candelabra are not in church.
  6. The florist or one of your family or friends should distribute the corsages and boutonnieres.  Choose someone who will know the other members of your family so that they can make all of your invited guests feel welcome and comfortable.

Please remember that seasonal decorations in the church (such as those used on Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, Thanksgiving, etc.) require many hours of planning and set-up.  All such decorations are to remain undisturbed in the sanctuary.  Please be aware of this as you plan for your wedding.  Any additional flowers you may use should complement the seasonal decorations already in place.

Wedding Coordinators
Our wedding coordinators will assist you during your wedding rehearsal and on your wedding day (beginning 30 minutes before the wedding Liturgy).  You will be contacted at least one month prior to your wedding date by one of our wedding coordinators -- Nan Pischke (412-661-2692 – home or 412-638-0963 – cell) or Pam Matia (412-661-4912 – home).  The fee for the wedding coordinator (payable at the rehearsal) is $75.

Marriage License
By PA state law, no wedding may be conducted without a valid marriage license.  Therefore, if you have not already given your marriage license to the priest or deacon officiating at your wedding prior to the rehearsal, you must give it to the wedding coordinator at your rehearsal. Neither the wedding rehearsal nor the wedding ceremony will begin until you have provided a valid marriage license.

Visiting Priest
You may wish to invite a priest or deacon who is not from St. Raphael Parish to officiate at your wedding.  Visiting Catholic clergy in good standing with the Catholic Church are welcome at St. Raphael Parish with the express permission of the pastor.  They will be expected to act in accordance with our parish guidelines and according to Church law.  Make sure to tell the parish priest about any visiting clergy in advance so that everything can be arranged.

The priest or deacon who will officiate at your wedding will complete all paperwork that is necessary for the church’s records. You will be asked to provide a recently issued Baptismal certificate (no more than 6 months old) and any other documentation that details the Sacraments you have received. 

Before and After the Ceremony
At the wedding rehearsal, please remind your bridal party and friends and family to be mindful of the sacredness of the church and the upcoming wedding.  Before and after the ceremony:

  • It is expected that all will act respectfully and dress accordingly. 
  • Absolutely NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES are permitted in the church or on church grounds – before or after the wedding. 
  • Please remember that you are responsible for making sure that the church and all the pews are clear of facial tissues, water bottles, etc. both after the rehearsal and after the wedding liturgy. You may wish to ask the ushers or other members of your family to ensure this task is completed.
  • Please remind all of your guests that no rice, birdseed, confetti, or rose petals may be thrown either in front of or in the parish church.  All such items create a safety hazard and require great care to clean up or remove. 
  • If there are any plans to use festive or helium-filled balloons, these must absolutely remain OUTSIDE the church building at all times.

We want you to enjoy your wedding day, but remember that other parishioners will be using the church after your wedding party has departed.

Photography and Videography
Photo and video memories can be a precious legacy of your wedding day.  We hope that you can capture the spirit and the events that will make this day so special for you and that you may have the opportunity to enjoy these memories in years to come with your family and friends. Please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Photographers should be as inconspicuous as possible throughout the ceremony.  The church is not a public building, and the wedding is not a public event, but a sacred action.  The clergy and staff of the parish respect the professionalism of the photographers and expect that they in turn will respect the sanctity of the occasion.
  • Photographers must be out of the church 1 hour and 15 minutes after the wedding begins.  Other church services are scheduled on Saturdays immediately following this time.
  • Upon arriving at the church, please have all photographers or videographers speak with the priest, deacon, or parish wedding coordinator. 
  • St.  Raphael Parish will not provide photographers with extension cords, ladders, or other items and / or props.
  • Photographers and videographers are NOT permitted beyond the altar rail.
  • Videographers, please note, generally the clergy will not wear a wireless lavaliere microphone.

Dressing Areas
A small, but private, dressing area is available for the bride in the church vestibule (the main entrance to the church).  The groom may make use of the rest room in the church sacristy (the room near the front of the church where the priest prepares for Mass).

Please contact Dolores Shipe, Director of Marriage and Family, or the Parish Office with any questions.