Marriage Preparation - The Details


Of course, every couple is unique and has their own special story of commitment. We presume that most couples are ready for marriage, but they may not be sure of what a Catholic Marriage involves, even if a Catholic education was part of their background. During this engagement time, as adults, you can learn together. Each event will be explained in this section as well as how to make arrangements for each one.

It is important to participate fully in these events and to discuss openly and honestly your feelings about the Sacrament with your priest. Your ceremony will be the most authentic, honest and significant if you both really know well what you are saying when you give each other the Sacrament of Marriage. These events will help.

Meetings with your priest: This is an opportunity you both can use to get to know one another before your wedding. You may choose to have them here at Holy Cross, or if everyone's schedules permit, even go out to dinner or lunch for a more informal meeting. Your priest is the main person responsible to make sure that the ceremony reflects an authentic event, that is, that you know, understand, and accept the promises of the wedding vows. He will also make sure that all the paperwork, requirements and events of our program are accomplished. He will let you know how often you should get together.

Engaged Couples Weekend:  This is a weekend seminar with about 40 other engaged couples held at a local Retreat Center. The day is filled with one-hour workshops divided into three twenty-minute segments. First, there is a presentation from a priest and two married couples on a topic of marriage. They introduce key ideas and then share personal stories on that topic. Next, you separate from your fiancée and are given four or five questions on that topic. For the next twenty minutes you respond in writing in your own personal notebook. Finally, in the final twenty minutes, you reunite with your fiancée, exchange your notebooks, quietly read each other's responses, and dialogue about them. There is no group discussion, and, of course, no one else reads your books. It really is 40 or so private retreats going on at the same time. You have the wonderful chance to spend the whole weekend with your future life-partner, both talking and writing about important marriage topics, and away from all distractions. The retreats are held just about every weekend either in Santa Barbara, Malibu, or the San Gabriel Valley. The brochure is in the packet you will be given, but is self-registering on the web at  Just pick a weekend, register, and enjoy. It is a popular event so be sure to register about two months in advance.  If you have any questions on this, please contact Mary Lupe Ellis at our Parish Office. 

The FOCCUS Instrument: This is a paper and pencil form that you would fill out in the Administration Offices. "FOCCUS" stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study . It is a brief survey that identifies some of your preferences and areas of agreement and disagreement. It lists about 150 or so statements for which you would indicate simply, "I agree, disagree, or have no opinion." Your responses are scored by computer and the results are yours to keep and use to make your good communication skills even better. The FOCCUS instrument is administered and interpreted at the Admin Offices by a qualified marriage counselor.

Ceremony Planning Meetings: You will have the chance to meet as a couple with our director of music to go over the details of your ceremony, and our wedding coordinator to arrange the details for your rehearsal. You can arrange those meetings simply by calling them directly.

Documents You Will Need

  1. 1.Catholics should provide a copy of their Baptismal Certificate recently issued from the church of Baptism. Simply contact the office where you received your Baptism and request a new copy to be mailed to you. Catholics who also received First Communion and Confirmation should also request new certificates from those churches where you received those Sacraments.

  2. 2.Couples will fill out a form called the Pre-Nuptial Inquiry. This is our main biographical record of you. It affirms your identity as well as your intentions to live your vows faithfully and that you are both free of any force or pressure.

  3. 3.Close relatives (preferably parents if possible) or friends will sign a similar form about you indicating that you are getting married of your own free will.

  4. 4.You will need a California Marriage License.

Planning Your Ceremony

There is a lot that you can do to make the ceremony reflect our faith and your personality. After all, in our tradition you are the ministers of the sacrament in that you declare yourselves a married couple in front of the priest and the community. Therefore you should help set the style and tone of the ceremony. Together with your priest or deacon, you can choose the scripture readings, the music, decorations, and within a few guidelines, even write some of the prayers for your wedding day. The ceremony can be with or without a Mass. There are many options open to you and we encourage you to make your ceremony as personal and meaningful as possible.

Note:  To ensure successful planning, it is imperative you contact our wedding coordinator, Mary Mesick at (805) 520-2544 or (805) 298-2164 or email as soon as possible.  Couples need to be aware of the guidelines Holy Cross has for wedding ceremonies.


Our wedding coordinator will call you prior to your wedding date to arrange for the rehearsal. We usually schedule rehearsals one or two nights before the wedding. We do schedule rehearsals to begin and end at definite times as many people and groups throughout the week share the church.

Please tell your wedding party to assemble at the front doors of the church. They will be brought into the church by the wedding coordinator.

Our wedding coordinator will go over all the details that your attendants will need to know for the ceremony. There are some standard or usual ways that attendants process in to the church and stand at the altar. You are free to suggest changes; just please make sure you have discussed them with your priest, deacon or coordinator before the rehearsal. We also have a flyer that you can give to your attendants that has their role outlined for them. You are also most welcome to include any appropriate cultural or ethnic traditions as well.

We have a Bride's Room for your convenience on your wedding day. It is a large place where the bride can wait for the ceremony to begin with her attendants. It also includes a restroom.


Our wedding coordinator will discuss appropriate decorations for the church with you. Some florists are unfamiliar with our church so we recommend they contact our wedding coordinator for some helpful guidelines. It would be terrible on your wedding day if your decorations ended up in the wrong place!  There is a handout in this packet we recommend you give to your florist.

We must also require that there be nothing thrown such as rice or flower petals. They can be dangerous and slippery to walk on.

Certain times of the year are special seasons in the church and are symbolized by special colors, such as purple before Easter and Christmas. Colors and seasonal decorations cannot be changed.

We would like to ask, if you choose to have floral arrangements on the altar, that perhaps two arrangements would remain after the wedding as your gift to the church and be the decorations that will be used the next day-- Sunday --for the whole parish community.


We also recommend you have as many pictures as possible taken before the ceremony. Then you are free to enjoy your guests afterwards. We encourage you to have the ceremony photographed as well. Professional photographers and video photographers must check in on the wedding day with our Wedding Coordinator. Video cameras can be set up as long as they are stationary.

After the ceremony there can be a few posed pictures inside the Church. You might also consider taking a few pictures outside for variety. There is a handout in this packet we recommend you give to your photographer and/or videographer.


Please contact our Music Coordinator for help in choosing appropriate music for your ceremony. During the ceremony, the music should really be of a religious nature. Other songs or appropriate popular music may be played before the ceremony while your guests are being seated. Other musicians and singers are welcome also, if approved by the music coordinator. There is a lot more about your wedding music later in this pamphlet.

Expenses, Donations and Fees:

Weddings can quickly get out of control and become enormously expensive.  We seriously encourage you to consider carefully each and every expense involved.  Not everything that society or tradition or custom says "must" be done is actually needed. Sometimes simplicity is more beautiful.  Whatever arrangements you make throughout the day, they should reflect who you are and your values, especially Christian values of love for God and service to others. Let your words and actions on your wedding day be genuine, personal, and authentic. Let them reflect you!

Fees for the musicians, soloists, and the Music Coordinator will vary depending on how much is done. We do ask for a gift of 5 or 10 dollars for the altar servers as a "thank you" for serving your wedding (especially on a Saturday!). Of course, in our tradition you may not pay for the Sacraments. They are God's free gift of Himself to us. It is a custom for couples to make a donation to the church as a concrete and real expression of thanks. Gifts for the Priest or anyone else involved in the ceremony are entirely optional. If any fees or donations present a financial hardship, feel free to discuss this with your Priest or Deacon.


Congratulations again on your engagement and in considering the Sacrament of Marriage. Please feel free to call on us at any time for help. Our secretary will arrange an appointment with one of our priests. Your relationship is important to us, and we are here to serve you. May God Continue to Bless You and the Love You Share!

Holy Cross Catholic Church