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Weddings within the parish of St Anthony's 

Congratulations on your intention to join yourselves as husband and wife in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. As you prepare to share your vows in the presence of God and His Church, our parish community is eager to assist you in whatever ways you may need.

This site is meant to guide you in the preparation of your marriage liturgy and celebrating your marriage either at St Anthony's or at the Abbey Church of St Leo. We hope it will answer your questions so your wedding ceremony is a joyous celebration of God's love for you and your love for each other. 

If you need more information regarding marriage at St. Anthony of Padua or the St. Leo Abbey, please complete the Marriage Inquiry Form.  Upon receipt you will be contacted to discuss the requirements for the preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Diocese of St. Petersburgh.

First Steps - Before the Wedding can take place

  1. One or both of you must be a registered, practicing member of St Anthony of Padua Parish. If you are a member of another Catholic parish, a letter of parish membership and permission from your pastor is necessary.   You must begin the process of marriage prep 6(six) months prior to the date of your marrige, if you are doing your preparation outside of the parish of St Anthonys we require a letter from your priest assisting with preparation stating the course that you are doing and the date started that must be 6 (six) months prior to the date of your planned wedding, no date will be set without this step being compleated.
  2. Catholics wishing to be married in the Church are to be practicing their faith by attending Mass every Sunday. This cannot be stressed enough. It is vital that we gather with a community on a regular basis to hear God’s word and share in the Eucharist.
  3. Commitment to your parish through stewardship of time, talent, and treasure allows us to continue to strive to do God’s work. We hope you will prayerfully consider how you can share with your parish in all three areas.
  4. Marriage prep is a process in which you and your intended spouse meet several times with a married couple from the parish to discuss communication habits and healthy relationships. A couple trained in this process will call you several months before your wedding to schedule a meeting. If you have any questions about the Marriage Prep process or have not been contacted at least 6 (six) months before your wedding date please contact your presiding priest or the Marriage Prep office.
  5. Attend a Marriage Enrichment Conference for the Engaged. An Enrichment Conference for the Engaged is a Saturday retreat with your spouse-to-be and with other couples preparing for marriage. It is a day sponsored by the diocese of St Petersburg and the purpose of the day is to help you to continue to reflect on your relationship, your faith and the life-long commitment of marriage. Please return the certificate you receive at the Enrichment Conference to the parish office so it can be added to your marriage file. Participation in this day is mandatory.
  6. All Catholics being married in the church are strongly encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before their wedding celebration. You can discuss this with your presiding priest.
  7. Completion of necessary paperwork and preparation sessions with a priest is required.
  8. Please present a newly issued certificate of Baptism with notations if you are Catholic. Simply call or write the church where you were baptized and ask them to send the certificate to the presiding priest you are working with. If you are not Catholic, then present a photocopy of an original baptismal certificate.
  9. Please bring your marriage license to the rehearsal. The wedding can not take place without it!
  10. Times and Days Available - Friday afternoons and Saturdays at  2:00pm are the times usually reserved for celebration of weddings. Certain times during the Church’s year are less appropriate for weddings.  For instance, weddings are not celebrated during Lent, except in special circumstances as determined by the presiding priest you are working with.

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Liturgy Preparation

Planning Your Wedding Celebration

The planning of your wedding liturgy will take place with your priest and the Director of Music and Liturgy at the parish your wedding will take place. 

You will meet with the Director of Music and Liturgy to choose your music.  We encourage you to get fully involved in planning the wedding celebration.  It is good to get your friends and relatives involved in the roles of readers and ushers, (with a Mass; Gift Bearers, and if you have friends or family that are trained as Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) provided you can be assured that they will do a good job.  Selection of these roles should be based upon individual talent and ability in these areas and their familiarity with the guidelines of Catholic ritual.

  • Readings can be found on this website under Readings & Petitions. Here you will find recommended Scripture readings for the liturgy. You will need to make one choice from each section: an Old Testament Reading (section B), a New Testament Reading (section D), a Gospel Reading (section F) and a set of Prayers of the Faithful (section J).  The Responsorial Psalm is sung and you will select a musical arrangement when you choose your music.
  • You will receive from the priest at your first meeting a handout with all the current dates and locations for the Engaged Enrichment Conference sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  Follow the directions in this handout to sign up for only one date.
  • The Liturgy Preparation Form is an interactive tool that will allow you to communicate all of your wedding preferences to your Parish's Director of Music and Liturgy. The form can be found under the Things to Know menu and on the homepage. One form is for the marriage celebration within Mass (Holy Communion) and one is for the marriage celebration outside of Mass. You need to determine which celebration you will have with your presiding priest.  

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The musicians for the wedding are customarily the parish Director of Music and Liturgy and a parish cantor. If you choose to involve other musicians, through personal or family relationship - or desire additional instrumentalists, all arrangements are to be made through the Director of Music and Liturgy before any commitments are made with other musicians at least six months in advance. All musicians must be competent, know their music and demonstrate a professional and prayerful approach ministry of a Sacred Musician.  

The Order of Worship

The celebration of the Rite of Marriage in the church is celebrated by the entire gathered assembly. Every attempt must be made to engage the prayerful participation of those who have gathered for your wedding celebration. In 2011, the translation of the church’s liturgy was revised. The parts of the liturgy that perhaps we had previously been able the recite from memory may now be unfamiliar. The Director of Music and Liturgy will be able to assist you with the creation of the Order of Worship that will enable you and your guests with feeling comfortable to enthusiastically participate in the celebration of your marriage, and to pray with you and for you.

The body of the liturgy will be provided for your Order of Worship. It will contain all of the people’s responses and the music that you have selected. You may add your own cover and the names of your Wedding Party etc. Once you feel you are ready to have it printed you are required to send a copy to the Director of Music and Liturgy at your parish for final approval. Below is an example of a page from a wedding Order of Worship as it would be provided to you.

The Wedding Liturgy is the focal point of your wedding day and so it should be the center of preparations for the day.  We encourage you to tailor your ceremony so that it reflects the Christian commitment you make to each other and the God-centeredness of the sacrament. 


Music adds so much to the festivity, joy, solemnity and prayerfulness of the occasion.  The following will help you in selecting the music appropriate for your wedding.

  1. Contact the Director of Music and Liturgy at your parish to plan your wedding music. The Director of Music and Liturgy will plan the music with you and be the principal musician at the wedding. Your initial contact with the Director should be at least 3 - 4 months ahead of your wedding date, 6 months if you plan to invite or include other musicians.
  2. A parish cantor will be assigned to sing at your wedding; that fee is included in the parish fee of $550. We often use other instruments such as flute, violin or trumpets. The Director of Music and Liturgy can help you choose the instruments that would most enhance the music you have selected. We have musicians that we work with often and we are familiar with the quality of their performance and their reliability. If you are interested in using these instrumentalists, please contact the Director of Music and Liturgy at least 6 months in advance.
  3. The Instrumentalist’s fee is separate from the director and cantor. If you would like a family friend or family member to sing, they are welcome to do so during the prelude, and at the presentation of flowers at the Blessed Mother Shrine.  The parish cantor will lead the assembly in the Responsorial Psalm and the Service Acclamations.
  4. On this website you can listen to some musical selections that would be appropriate for your wedding ceremony. These selections can be used as a starting point in selecting music that will help you celebrate this most important day!  After you have had a chance to listen to the music, make arrangements to meet with the Director of Music and Liturgy to finalize your selections. You may choose appropriate music other than what is listed. If you wish to have something other than what is on this website, please talk with your Director of Music and Liturgy at your parish.
  5. All music during the marriage ceremony is a form of prayer.  It should reflect the religious dimension and Christ-centeredness of the Sacrament of Marriage and the sacredness of the rites.  Secular music is inappropriate during the wedding liturgy, including prelude or candle ceremony songs. 
  6. The people you have invited should be given the opportunity to join in song since their prayer is essential to the celebration.  All Mass parts are sung. This includes the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation, and the Eucharistic Acclamations.

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Flowers and Decorations

Flowers are optional. Our church is beautiful as it is. However, should you want flowers in the church, please keep these guidelines in mind:  

  • No flowers or centerpieces may be placed on the altar.
  • We DO NOT permit unity candles, sand or rope ceremonies, the Catholic Rite of Marriage speaks beautifly in it self and is in no need of the additions of the secular world.
  • Flower arrangements may be placed on either side of the tabernacle, or ambo (where the reader stands). Other appropriate locations that work well may be approved by the Marriage Coordinator in advance. 
  • Pew bows or flowers may be used. They must be tied or clipped on the pew end - NO tape, tacks or staples are permitted!
  • No guest books are allowed in Church; please save those for the reception.
  • NOTHING! may be thrown in aisle (flower petals - fresh or silk) or outside of the church (rice, birdseed, balloons, bubbles or releasing of birds).
  • No decorations outside of the church are permitted! This includes handrails or wreaths on the doors of the church - inside or outside.

It is most important to note that our parish environment has various seasonal decorations. These decorations cannot be disturbed to satisfy the varying tastes of individual couples. Please convey this information to your photographer as well.

Aisle Runners, Etc.

Aisle Runners are NOT to be used because of safety concerns and are not necessary for the liturgical celebration. The use of flower petals, silk or fresh, tossed in the aisle is not allowed.

If Bows are to be used on the pews, it is a good idea to use them at regular intervals along the entire length of the aisles, enhancing the whole worship space and the assembly which fills it. Pew bows can be tied, or you may use a floral clip. No tape of any kind is allowed. No hurricane lamps or votive candles are permitted on the pews.

Outside of church we ask you to inform everyone to refrain from throwing rice, confetti, bird seed, flower petals, (including silk flowers), either within or outside the church. This is done out of courtesy to all parishioners and neighbors. It causes unnecessary cleanup but more importantly, it can be very dangerous.

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Readers and Readings

The priest may proclaim all the scripture readings, but it is preferable that you ask friends or relatives to read the Old Testament, New Testament and Petitions (or Prayers of the Faithful), provided you can be assured they will do well.

The priest (or deacon) alone is to proclaim the Gospel.

Readers do not have to be of the Catholic faith though they are to be a church-going Christian who regularly hears the Word of God. Suggested Scripture readings may be found on this website under "Readings & Petitions." You are to select one reading from each section: Old Testament Reading, New Testament Reading, Gospel Reading and Petitions (or Prayers of the Faithful).

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Guidelines Regarding Photography and Videotaping

  • Photographic personnel are welcome to attend the wedding rehearsal. Please ask your photographer and/or videographer to speak to the priest before the liturgy. Photographic personnel are to observe strictly the time limits surrounding your wedding celebration, namely, a two-hour time block beginning one half hour before the liturgy is scheduled to begin. (Thus, for a 2:00pm wedding the time block is from 1:30-3:30pm).
  • Photographic personnel are expected to behave in a professional, courteous manner at all times. They are not allowed in the sacristy or the sanctuary (altar area) during the liturgy. They are not to climb on or move any furniture. Throughout the liturgy, they are to create no distractions, and are never to obstruct the view of anyone. They are to leave no litter behind.
  • Flash photography is ONLY allowed during the entrance procession and the recessional. Movie lights are not allowed. During the entrance and recessional processions, photographic personnel may not stand in the center aisle, but rather must stand at the edge of the aisle within one of the rows of pews. There is to be no signaling of directions to persons in the processions.
  • Photographers and videographers are welcome to use the balcony without interfering with the musicians who have an important role in the liturgy.
  • All posed pictures are to reflect a basic respect for the church as a house pf prayer; e.g. no “garter shots” of the bride or “gag shots” in or around the church.
  • No flowers, candles, photographic equipment, wedding booklets, etc. are to be placed on the altar.

Please share these guidelines with your photographer and/or videographer prior to the day of your wedding.

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Visiting Clergy and Delegation (including Abbey Clergy)

If you have a priest or deacon that you would like to be a part of your ceremony, please make arrangements with the pastor of St Anthony's regarding this request, prior to inviting the priest to preside at your wedding. Also, please take note of the following information:

Please clarify with our pastor whether the visiting clergy will be doing your preparation work or if you will be doing the work through our parish. This includes all paperwork, Baptismal certificates, Freedom to marry forms, and completion of a course of marriage preparation comparable to the requirements of the Diocese of St Petersburg. If you are unsure of any of the requirements, please contact the marriage ministries office for more details.   sacraments@saopccfl.org

A priest requesting to preside at your wedding who resides outside the Diocese of St Petersburg needs to present a “Testimonial for Suitability for Ministry” from his Bishop or religious superior to the Chancery Office of the Diocese of St Petersburg. This must be done before the priest can be given delegation to officiate at your wedding, this is also needed for Wedding ceremonies at the Abbey of St Leo. Delegation is needed from the Pastor of the parish for any priest or deacon wishing to celebrate a marriage at the Abbey Church, this includes priests from the diocese of St Petersburg and priests that belong to the Abbey community.

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