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.

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
Wedding Rehearsals are Friday evenings at 5:00pm. Weddings at Saint Raphael Parish are scheduled on Saturday afternoons at 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:

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.