Congratulations on your decision to marry! The whole Church shares your joy and looks with eager anticipation to your wedding day.

The weeks and months leading up to a wedding are a time of intense preparation. There is much to organise, but your wedding ceremony is just the beginning of your marriage. Above all, engagement is a time of preparation for the life-long commitment of your marriage which begins on your wedding day.

The following guidelines must be observed by all couples marrying at St Anthony’s.

What is marriage?

Marriage is a covenant by which one man and one woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, which is directed to the good of the spouses and to the nurturing of children. This union was designed by God, so that a husband and wife can share in the greatest work of creation, namely the continuation and education of the human race. Marriage is a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and permanent giving of self. Therefore, being well prepared for your marriage is important, not just for yourselves, but for the benefit of your children, the Church and our society.

Marriage in the Catholic Church

Marriage between two baptised people takes on an even greater beauty and importance because Christ elevated it to the dignity of a Sacrament. Sacramental marriage is an icon of the bond between Christ and his Bride, the Church. This bond gives married people the grace to imitate Jesus’ model of self-sacrificial spousal love. To enter into such a lifelong union, one must be free to do so: psychologically, emotionally and physically. Mutual consent is at the heart of marriage. Both individuals must know themselves and each other well enough to make an exclusive commitment that they can keep in joy and in sorrow, in good times and in bad, until death. Marriage images God’s love, which is faithful, fruitful, forgiving and forever. It is within the family, based on the Sacrament of Marriage that we aspire most closely to the life of the Trinity. As a Sacrament, Catholic marriage demands that we accept the challenge to be real.

Guidelines for Marriage at St Anthony’s

1) Live in the parish

Church law states that the normal place where a marriage should take place is the parish where the bride or groom regularly attends Mass. Therefore, St Anthony’s gives priority to parishioners who are registered and who worship at St Anthony’s on a weekly basis, followed by parishioners who live within our boundaries. Others may be considered if their parish gives permission and they commit travel to the preparation meetings at St Anthony’s.

2) Adequate notice

The couple should contact the parish at least six months before the proposed marriage date. Given the significance of marriage, the preparation program and necessary paperwork takes some time to complete. When you contact the parish office, you will need to nominate your preferred day and time for the wedding. Once confirmed, this will need to be secured by a $50 deposit.

3) Baptised

In order to get married in the Catholic Church, at least one member of the couple needs to be baptised. We will require a copy of your baptism certificate(s). If you don’t have your original, you will need to contact the parish where you were baptised and ask them for a copy.

4) Free to marry

If the bride or groom has been married before either within the Catholic Church or elsewhere, then we are unable to set a date for your wedding at St Anthony\u2019s until the status of the previous union has been resolved. The priest will discuss this with you at the first meeting.

5) Preparation

The Catholic Church appreciates the significance, beauty and challenges of marriage. For this reason, couples who marry in the Catholic Church are required to undertake structured marriage preparation at the direction of the deacon, priest or bishop who celebrates their wedding. St Anthony’s, Melton South and St Bernard’s, Bacchus Marsh recommend SmartLoving Engaged for marriage preparation. SmartLoving is an intensive online course, supplemented by in-person meetings with a mentor couple and your celebrant. The time you invest in SmartLoving will help you lay the foundations for a happy and holy life-long marriage.

6) Liturgical requirements

There are two settings for celebrating a Marriage within the Catholic Church: Nuptial Mass or a Marriage Service. The Nuptial Mass is normative when both parties are baptised and practising Catholics. The Nuptial Service is normative when one party is not Catholic or when one or both parties are Catholic but not regularly practising their faith.

Couples will be required to select sacred music for use during the wedding, including for the Bridal Entrance, Signing of the Register, and Recession. At a Nuptial Mass, sacred music may also be employed at the Offertory and Communion. Music used at Catholic weddings must be appropriate for the sacred setting and must be approved by the celebrant. Secular music, i.e. music that commonly features on the radio, is not suitable for a Catholic wedding. Couples will also be required to select readings from Sacred Scripture for use during the wedding. These must also be approved by the celebrant.

7) Donations

In order to secure a booking for your chosen date and time, St Anthony’s requests the following donations:
i) $50 – deposit
ii) $450 – church donation, due by the time of the wedding rehearsal
iii) $500 – celebrant donation, usually given at rehearsal or the last preparation meeting

8) On the day

You are welcome to decorate the church with flowers. You may wish to do this the day before the wedding. Usually the parish secretary will be in the office on Friday and will be happy to unlock the church for you or a friend. We are happy to recommend florists familiar with our church. Confetti is not to be used on church property. After the ceremony you will be presented with an official marriage certificate. The priest will retain all other paperwork and forward this to the Registry Office. Usually marriages are processed by Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria within a month of the wedding.

SmartLoving Engaged

St Anthony’s, Melton South and St Bernard’s, Bacchus Marsh recommend SmartLoving Engaged for marriage preparation. SmartLoving is an intensive online course, supplemented by in-person meetings with a mentor couple and your celebrant. The time you invest in SmartLoving will help you lay the foundations for a happy and holy life-long marriage.

A standard marriage preparation program integrating SmartLoving would look like this:

  • Meet with celebrant to initiate marriage preparation
  • 9 online lessons of approx. 90 minutes each
  • Meet with mentor couple after each lesson
  • Meet with celebrant at the end of the course
  • Rehearsal
  • Nuptial Mass / Service

SmartLoving is designed to be completed over nine consecutive weeks but your celebrant may be able to arrange for you to complete the course over a longer period if necessary.

Topic 1 | Mission to Love

This session introduces the concept of Smart Loving – a practical insight designed to make your efforts to love more efficient by helping you learn the specific ways in which your fiancé experiences love. Learn how gratitude and affirmation can transform your life and your relationship.

Topic 2 | Being One

Using the L.I.F.E. communication framework, you will learn how to communicate effectively and intimately with each other. A technique for accomplishing Emotional Communion (empathy) is also taught along with practical tips for everyday communication.

Topic 3 | Knowing Me, Knowing You

A detailed examination of your attitudes and beliefs about roles, work, family traditions, children, sexuality and marriage, looking particularly at your family of origin. The impact of other significant relationships is also addressed along with a strategy for processing emotional injuries.

Topic 4 | Building Unity

Evaluate your priorities and examine your expectations for your future life together. Learn how to use the Stop-Reflect-Connect tool for values-based decision- making so that you can make genuine couple decisions that will always bring you closer.

Topic 5 | Restoring Unity

Examine the dynamics that lead to conflict and learn how to avoid it. Unpack your conflict patterns and learn strategies for healing your relationship after an argument or hurt. Learn how to restore your unity with the Stop-LIFE- Reflect-Connect – a powerful process of reconciliation.

Topic 6 | Sex: Sacred Embrace

Discover how marital sex is an intimate communication rather than just a recreational activity; a powerful resource for healing, reconciliation and rejuvenation. The theology of sex as a sacramental gesture and a renewal of wedding vows is explored.

Topic 7 | Love Gives Life

Discover the wonder of human fertility and learn how to live harmoniously with your bodies in may that protects your health and honours the creator. Discuss your family goals and learn how to achieve them with modern, effective Fertility Awareness Methods.

Topic 8 | A Living Sign

Learn about the sacramentality of marriage and how a Catholic marriage differs from a secular one. Discuss the commitment you are making on your wedding day and prepare your wedding liturgy.

Topic 9 | Soul Mates for Life

Explore your unique spirituality and unlock the power of spiritual intimacy. Learn how to pray together and what to pray for. Reflect on your learning and design your marital fitness plan to take you into marriage.

Before registering for SmartLoving, make sure that you have spoken or met with your priest celebrant and received his approval to use SmartLoving. He should also give you the contact information for a mentor couple from the parish. When you register, be sure to select “Yes, we want to have a sponsor couple,” then click “Add to cart” and proceed to payment. The cost of registration including a mentor couple is $170. This cost includes access to the course, a pair of workbooks for you, and a pair of workbooks for you to give to your sponsor couple at your first meeting.

Once you have purchased SmartLoving Engaged, you will be able to access the course. The first segment of the course is “Lesson 0: Admin.” Complete this carefully, reading all the information. Since the $170 course includes printed workbooks, you will not need to order any from the “Workbook” section of the “Admin 0” tab. You will also need to input information about your celebrant, including his email address, and about your sponsor couple.