Wedding Policies and Protocol

Congratulations on your engagement! Whether you celebrate your wedding day here at St. Francis Xavier or elsewhere you have our prayers and best wishes. For your convenience the following is a list of policies for all weddings that are celebrated here at St. Francis Xavier Parish.

Who May Celebrate Their Wedding at St. Francis Xavier?

  • You must have some reasonable connection with St. Francis Parish. That is, you would have to be a full-time or a part-time registered parishioner, or have roots here.
  • You must be a practicing Catholic.
  • If you are a member of a Catholic Church other than St. Francis, you will need to present us with a letter from your pastor stating that you are a member in good standing in your parish
  • Though full-time and part-time parishioners of St. Francis Parish have priority, we do make exceptions for those who do not have any connection with the parish. This would hinge on whether they practice their Catholic faith and are registered members of their parish back home. Such couples would normally have to provide their own priest for the wedding ceremony. 

Prior Marriage

If one or both parties were married previously and the spouse died, a death certificate is required.   In case of divorce, a decree of nullity is needed before a wedding date can be set, and before any marriage preparation work can begin.

Setting the Date and Time

It is wise to set a wedding date one year in advance, when possible. Non-parishioners can only reserve a wedding date within the current calendar year.  This date should be set prior to arranging for a reception site. Wedding times are set between noon and 2pm. No weddings will be permitted on Friday evenings when weddings are scheduled for that Saturday.  No weddings are ever permitted on Sundays.

Choosing a Presider

The parish pastor or associate pastor will preside at all weddings of full or part-time parishioners. Normally, other couples would provide their own priest. The guest priest must be able to produce proof that he is a priest in good standing within his own diocese. A word of caution: It is not easy getting a priest to witness a marriage in some other town. Priests are busy on weekends with their own responsibilities. You must be certain that your priest will be available.

Marriage Preparation Requirements

All couples are obligated to participate in a marriage preparation program. Those who live in another town will be expected to take their marriage prep in their own parish. This would include all paper work and any needed dispensations. You must notify St. Francis Parish via a formal letter where your marriage preparation will be taking place. That is, the name of the church, address, phone number and the name of the priest. When your marriage preparation is completed your priest will send us a letter stating that you have fulfilled the obligations of the parish and diocese. All couples must be ready to produce baptismal records.

Liturgy Planning

Early in your marriage preparation, you will receive some material that will help you plan the details of your wedding liturgy. If both parties are Catholic, a wedding is normally celebrated within Mass. If one party is not Catholic, a wedding is celebrated outside of Mass. All details of your wedding liturgy are subject to approval of the pastor. Please note the following:

  • You should choose a lector (or two). Your lector must be a practicing Catholic if you have a Mass. If you are celebrating your wedding outside of Mass, your lector must be at least a practicing Christian. Choose someone who has the ability to do public reading well.
  • If you are celebrating your Wedding within Mass, you should choose two Eucharistic Ministers.
  • Your Lector would normally read the General Intercessions.
  • Depending on the size of your wedding, you should have at least two Ushers. The Groomsmen can fulfill this role or at least help the Ushers.
  • If you have flower girls, or ring bearers, they should be at least 5 years of age or mature enough to fulfill their role.
  • No aisle runners and no throwing of flower petals on the floor.
  • The Unity Candle is not part of the Catholic Ritual of Marriage.
  • For maintenance reasons, do not throw rice, birdseed, or anything else in or outside the church
  • Flowers to Mary are optional.
  • Mass Servers are optional.
  • Flowers are optional. Please keep it simple, as the church is already very ornate. You may take the flowers with you after the wedding or leave them for the parish to enjoy
  • Dress modestly and appropriately for a church wedding.


Registered Parishioners:  $550  (includes the Organist and Cantor Fees).

Sons or daughters who do not live in Petoskey but whose parents are registered members of St. Francis Xavier Parish will be charged the above fee.

Part-Time Registered Parishioners:    $650 (includes the Organist & Cantor Fees).

Part-Time Parishioners are those who have a second home in the Petoskey area. 

Destination Weddings:      $1,000 (includes the Organist and Cantor Fees).

Destination Weddings are weddings of couples who are not residents of the Petoskey area and whose parents are not residents of the Petoskey area. 

All fees are to be paid the Parish Finance Office no later than two days prior to the wedding. 

There is not an obligation to pay the priest who witnesses your wedding. If you wish to give him a personal gift it is your perogative and always appreciated.

The Marriage License

No wedding can take place without a marriage license.   You must bring the marriage license to the parish office no later than two days prior to your wedding day.   At the same time, the marriage fee for the parish may be brought in. 


The parish Director of Music, Marti Krusell, is here to serve you. It is your responsibility to make an appointment with her well in advance of your wedding date. Her office phone number is 231-348-2996, and her email address is Only liturgical music is appropriate for a church wedding, and the music director has the final say on your musical selections. As Music Director, one of her roles is to play organ and/or piano for weddings at St. Francis. If you wish to have other musical instruments played by guest musicians, you may do so, with the Music Director's approval. Cantors and soloists are available through the parish. You also may wish to ask a qualified soloist to sing; a tape, recording, or CD of the soloist must be provided to the Music Director, and final approval is up to her.

The Rehearsal

The wedding rehearsal normally takes place in the late afternoon or early evening the day before the wedding. Keep in mind the ability of your wedding party to be present. Parents, lectors, ushers, wedding party, bride, and groom should all be present for the wedding rehearsal.

The Photographer

The photographer should be a professional. Only one person is allowed to take pictures at a wedding, your photographer. You may also have someone videotape the ceremony if you wish. All guests are requested not to use their cameras.

The Timing

A Wedding Mass lasts for approximately 50 minutes. The Rite of Marriage outside of Mass lasts approximately 35 minutes.  On Saturday afternoons, the entire wedding party must be out of the church by 4p so the Church can be prepared for 5p Mass.  Be sure to appoint someone to do a walk-through of the church upstairs and down to check for any personal articles let behind.


Please contact the parish office at (231) 347-4133 with any questions you may have.