St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception


Wedding Celebrations at St. Mary’s Cathedral

Policies and Procedures

I. Introduction

Congratulations on your engagement and your upcoming wedding!  All of us at St. Mary’s Cathedral share your joy, and we look forward to celebrating this important day.  

As you know, marriage is a sacrament, a sacred union, in which two people commit themselves to a permanent, faithful, and fruitful union.  In the love of husband and wife, we see reflected the very love of God.  Indeed, we say that the love of husband and wife, and the bond of marriage itself, point to the intimate union of Christ, the bridegroom, with his spouse, the Church.  There is no greater bond than this.

With that in mind, a wedding at St. Mary’s Cathedral will always respect the sacred character of the Sacrament of Marriage.  The policies and procedures which follow are all directed to a worthy and joy-filled celebration of your marriage.  As you plan your wedding, these guidelines will make sure that your wedding is both a happy and a holy event.

St. Mary’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Portland.  As such, it is also the “bishop’s church.”  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Cathedral to model good liturgy, to respect liturgical norms, and to maintain a decorum that is worthy of a sacred place.  

Please feel free to contact the parish if you have any questions regarding your marriage.  It is our hope that your wedding day will be the happiest day of your life.  As it says in the Rite of Marriage, “God abundantly blesses your love.”  And so do we.

II. Planning for Your Wedding

1. The first step in planning a wedding at St. Mary’s Cathedral is to call Sister Connie at the parish office (503-228-4397).  The wedding calendar fills up quickly, so it is best to call the office at least six months to a year before the wedding.  Sister Connie will assist you with some basic information, check the calendar for available days and times, provide a “marriage policies and procedures” brochure, and answer any questions you may have.  

2. To be married at St. Mary’s Cathedral, one or both parties should be a practicing Catholic.  

3. Weddings are celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral either by one of the priests or deacons assigned to the Cathedral, or by another priest or deacon selected by the couple.

a. Under normal circumstances, a priest or deacon at the Cathedral will witness the marriage.  This priest or deacon will also assist the couple with the necessary paperwork and preparations.  A priest or deacon from the Cathedral can also assist couples who plan to marry outside of Cathedral Parish.  In this case, please provide the name of the priest who will witness the marriage and the place where the marriage will take place.

b. A couple may also ask another priest or deacon to witness a marriage at the Cathedral.  In this case, the Cathedral must have the name and address of the priest or deacon when a date is set on the calendar.  Marriage preparation is normally done by the priest who will celebrate the marriage.  If this is not possible, a couple may ask a priest or deacon at Cathedral to assist them, or another priest or deacon of their choice.

4. Once a couple has selected a date for the wedding, they should make an appointment with the priest or deacon who will celebrate the marriage.  When it is established that a couple is able to enter into a Catholic marriage, the Cathedral is reserved for a specific day and time. There is a non-refundable fee of $100 to reserve the Cathedral for a wedding.

III. Times for Weddings

1. Weddings at the Cathedral are scheduled on Saturday, either in the morning or the afternoon.  Morning weddings are scheduled at 10:30, and a wedding party has use of the facilities from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  Afternoon weddings are scheduled at 2:00, and a wedding party has use of the facilities from 12:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

2. Rehearsals take place on Friday, either from 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., or from 3:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.  Rehearsals may be at other times by special arrangement.

IV. Marriage Preparation

1. A priest or deacon will lead a couple through marriage preparation.  This preparation includes official documentation, pre-marriage counseling, and liturgical planning.

2. The “official documentation” includes the “Freedom to Marry” form, witness forms, and the necessary permissions and dispensations.  Catholic parties must present a valid baptismal certificate that was issued within the last six months.  Christians baptized in other religious denominations should also present a baptismal certificate.

3. Various programs are offered to couples for “pre-marriage counseling.”

4. While much of the planning for the wedding ceremony is handled by the wedding coordinator (see below), the priest or deacon will assist in the liturgical planning for the wedding.

V. Wedding Mass or Wedding Ceremony?

1. When two Catholics marry, the Rite of Marriage normally takes place within the context of a Mass.

2. When a Catholic marries a baptized member of another Christian denomination, the Rite of Marriage may take place either in a Mass or outside the Mass.  If done in the context of a Mass, only the Catholic party receives Holy Communion.

3. When a Catholic marries a non-baptized person, the Rite of Marriage takes place outside of Mass in a “Wedding Ceremony.”  Holy Communion is not distributed.

VI. Wedding Coordinator

1. There is a $100 nonrefundable fee to secure the use of the cathedral for your wedding. Once you have submitted your $100, Sister Connie will contact our wedding coordinators. One of our coordinators will then contact you.

2. All weddings at St. Mary’s Cathedral must use the services of a Cathedral coordinator.  She will assist a couple in the practical planning of the wedding:  the seating, the entrance (bridal) processional, the placement of bridesmaids and groomsmen, the use of readers and Eucharistic ministers, access to dressing rooms, the wedding rehearsal, and general coordination of the wedding itself.

3. The fee for coordinator services is $400.  This fee is paid directly to the coordinator on the day of the rehearsal.  

VII. Music

1. St. Mary’s Cathedral follows the guidelines of the Catholic Church regarding appropriate music for liturgical celebrations, including weddings.  Music is provided by Cathedral musicians and cantors, under the supervision of the Director of Music, Angela Westhoff-Johnson ([email protected]).  No outside musicians are permitted.  If a party wishes, an outside singer may present ONE song.  Secular music is never permitted.  The Director of Music will assist a couple in choosing music that is suitable both for a wedding and the Cathedral.

2. Fees for music are $250 per musician; i.e., organist, cantor, trumpet player, violinist, etc.  Checks made out to musicians are given to the wedding coordinator on the day of the rehearsal.

VIII. Photographers and Videographers

1. Photographers and videographers are permitted to take pictures and video around the altar before and after the ceremony.  They may also use the courtyard.

2. Flash photography may be used during the opening processional as well as the closing recessional.

3. Once the bride and groom are in place at the altar, and during the ceremony itself, no flash photography is permitted.  Photographers and videographers are never permitted up the steps of the sanctuary (around the altar) during the wedding ceremony.

4. Photographers and videographers should remain unobtrusive throughout the ceremony, respecting the sacred character of the Cathedral and the wedding itself.  

IX. Flowers

1. Couples make their own arrangements for flowers.  Before selecting flowers, it is recommended that a couple check with the wedding coordinator to make sure that floral arrangements are appropriate for the Cathedral and in the spirit of the liturgical season.

2. Flowers are never placed on the altar, nor should their placement touch the altar.

3. If bows are attached to the pews, pew clips (and not tape) should be used.

4. The wedding party is responsible for seeing that flowers are removed from the Cathedral after the ceremony.

5. If a wedding is scheduled within two weeks of Christmas Day or one week of Easter Sunday, the wedding party must use the floral arrangements already set up in the Cathedral.  The Cathedral florist will refresh any flowers and/or foliage as needed.  The wedding party is responsible for the expense of this refreshment.

X. Other Practical Considerations: Candles, Servers, Aisle Runners, Rice, Birdseed, Flower Petals, and Alcohol

1. The standard liturgical practice at the Cathedral is to have four lit candles around the altar.  Couples may have a Unity Candle on a small table in front of the altar.  Other candles are generally not permitted.

2. Altar servers are the responsibility of the couple, though they are generally not needed.  If a couple wishes to have servers, they should arrive at the Cathedral at least 15 minutes before the ceremony.  It is customary to give a server $15-$20 for services.

3. An aisle runner may be rented ($100) from the Cathedral.  No outside runners are permitted.

4. Rice and birdseed are never permitted in the Cathedral or on the Cathedral steps (bubbles are permitted outdoors).  Flower petals, including silk petals, are not to be dropped down the main aisle of the Cathedral.  They create a hazard and can stain the marble.

5. No sand (in place of a Unity Candle) is permitted in the Cathedral.

6. Alcoholic beverages are not appropriate in the Cathedral, on the Cathedral grounds, or in the dressing rooms on the day of the wedding.

XI. Fees for Use of the Cathedral

1. There is a $100 non-refundable reservation fee given at the time a date is set.

2. There are two categories of fees for weddings at St. Mary’s Cathedral: 1) a parishioner, or the child of a parishioner; and 2) non-parishioners who wish to have their wedding at the Cathedral.

a. Parishioners

For the purposes of a wedding, a parishioner is a member who, at the time he or she inquires about a wedding, has been registered at Cathedral Parish for the previous 12 months.

The cost for the use of the Cathedral by a parishioner is $600 (this does not include the Cathedral Wedding Coordinator or the musicians).

b. Non-Parishioners

The cost for the use of the Cathedral by a non-parishioner is $1,500. The services of the Cathedral Wedding Coordinator and musicians are in addition to this.

3. Fees for the use of the Cathedral are the property of the Cathedral (not the priest/deacon who celebrates).  A check should be made out to “St. Mary’s Cathedral.”  Church fees are due one month before the wedding.

4. If a couple wishes to give an honorarium to the priest or deacon who celebrates the wedding, it should be clearly indicated with his name and given to him personally.

XII. Checklist of Wedding Expenses

_____$100 Non refundable fee to reserve the cathedral, due at the time the wedding

    is scheduled. Checks should be made out to St. Mary’s Cathedral, with “wedding”

    noted on the check.

_____ $600 fee for the use of the cathedral. This fee is in addition to the fee noted above.

    If either the bride or groom has been a parishioner for one year at the time the 

    wedding is scheduled, this fee applies. This fee also applies if the parents of either

    the bride or the groom is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Cathedral. *

______$1500 fee for the use of the cathedral. This fee is in addition to the $100 reservation

    fee and applies to couples who are not parishioners at St. Mary’s Cathedral.*

* Our business manager will invoice you one month before the wedding. The fee is due at that time. Checks should be made to St. Mary’s Cathedral, with “wedding” noted on the check.

______The fee for the wedding coordinator is $400, paid to the coordinator at the time

    of the rehearsal.

______The fee for each musician is $250, given to the wedding coordinator on the day of 

      the wedding.

______The couple may use the optional cathedral runner for a fee of $100, paid one month 

    before the wedding, along with the fee for the use of the cathedral.

______Altar servers are the responsibility of the couple, although they are usually not

    needed. If a couple wishes to have servers, the servers should arrive at the 

    cathedral at least 15 minutes before the ceremony. It is customary to give each 

    server $15 - $20 for services.

______The couple may wish to give an honorarium to the celebrant (priest or deacon)

    at the time of the wedding. The honorarium should be clearly marked and 

    personally given to the celebrant.