The Sacrament of Marriage

Congratulations to those who are newly engaged!  The Office of Campus Ministry at the University of Saint Thomas, and the Church as a whole, rejoices at your witness of God’s love in the world.  Should a couple prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage at St. Thomas, we look forward to helping them prepare for their wedding, a very special day, and also for their marriage, which lasts a lifetime.
 
A wedding in the Church is different from a wedding elsewhere.  By exchanging one's consent in the presence of God, with the witness of clergy, family and friends, two baptized people enter into the Sacrament of Marriage.  This sacrament is a visible sign to the world of God’s love, and through it a couple receives the grace needed to live out this sign.
 
On their wedding day, a couple promises to be faithful to one another, be open to the gift of children and care for the good of their spouse for their lifetime.  We are honored to help prepare couples for these vows exchanged on their wedding day and lived out every day after as husband and wife.

Marriage As Sacrament - For Your Marriage

Sacrament of Marriage - Vatican

Sacrament of Marriage - US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Reserving the Chapel

Those eligible to reserve the Chapel for weddings are: St. Thomas alumni, members of the current faculty or staff, current students, as well as children of current faculty or staff and children of alumni. To be married in the chapel, one or both of the engaged couple must be a practicing and confirmed Catholic; a couple also registers in a parish - if they are not currently registered, we are happy to assist with this process or answer questions. (If a bride or groom is currently an undergrad, s/he is not required to join a parish.) Permission to be married outside of one's parish is required from one's pastor; we recommend a couple contacts his or her pastor before reserving a date.  If a previous marriage (civil or sacramental) is involved, official documentation of a declaration of nullity must be provided prior to securing a wedding date.  To learn more, please contact the Sacramental Coordinator, Christina Crow by email or by phone (651)-962-6567.

Weddings are typically scheduled at the following times at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas:

  • Fridays late afternoon or early evening
  • Saturdays @ 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The Chapel is reserved for a four hour time frame to allow for set up, photos, the liturgy itself, and clean up.

No weddings are scheduled on the following days:

    • July 4th holiday weekend
    • Labor Day weekend
    • All Saints Day (Oct. 31/Nov.1)
    • Thanksgiving Weekend
    • Christmas (Dec. 24/25)
    • Christmas break*
    • Solemnity of Mary (Jan. 1)
    • Easter Break*
    • Commencement weekends*
    • Choir concert weekends*
    • Various other Campus events dates*

*Consult the academic calendar

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Fees

The total fee for the use of the Chapel is $1,050.  This includes but is not limited to: the initial $250 non-refundable processing fee, use of the Chapel for the rehearsal and wedding, costs associated with some marriage preparations, support staff, an organist, a wedding coordinator who will coordinate a couple's rehearsal and wedding, and up to 200 worship aids. 

Some items not included in the total fee are: a cantor, some marriage preparation costs, instrumentalists beyond the organist.

Couples that follow all Chapel policies and procedures are eligible for a $100 refund following their wedding date.  If eligible, the refund will only be processed if a couple requests it and sends a current mailing address to the Director of Weddings.

There is an additional fee should a couple wish to extended their contracted time beyond the four hour limit.

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Marriage Preparations

The following briefly highlights some examples of preparations for marriage:

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Documents Needed for Marriage

Special Permission of the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis: The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas is not a parish, and therefore each wedding must have the permission of the Archbishop to be celebrated at the University; it is a privilege that couples are granted this special permission.  The bride and groom are responsible to insure all documents are received by the Office of Campus Ministry six weeks prior to their wedding date.
 
If you are Catholic and residing in another diocese, please be certain to discuss this circumstance with the Director of Weddings, as the diocese in which you reside must give delegation for you to be married in our diocese.
 
PLEASE HAVE ALL PAPERWORK SENT DIRECTLY TO:

Christina Crow, Center for Ministry, Mail #5028
University of Saint Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN  55105

    • FORM 1 (and FORM 2) provided by a couple's priest or deacon
    • Certificate of Completion from Pre-Marriage Preparation Retreat (see link to retreat under MARRIAGE PREPARATIONS) 
    • Baptismal Certificates (for Catholics, must be dated within six months of wedding date; for baptized non-Catholics there are no date restrictions)
    • Pastor Permission Form
    • Declaration of nullity, if applicable

You must also obtain a civil marriage license from the state of Minnesota. More information can be found at the following county websites:

Hennepin County 
Ramsey County 
Washington County 
Dakota County 
Anoka County


No wedding can be performed unless the above Church documentation and civil marriage license is complete.  All Church documentation must be mailed to Christina Crow as mentioned above; a civil marriage license must be brought to the couple's rehearsal.

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Securing a Presider

Since  the Office for Campus Ministry has limited clergy staff, we are unable to meet the many requests received for witnessing marriages. It is necessary for couples to make arrangements with a Roman Catholic priest or deacon to preside at their wedding, preferably from their current parish. Couples must first secure a presider in order to secure a wedding date. Parish clergy are not obligated to witness weddings at the University of St. Thomas.

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Music Guidelines

The Director of Weddings will provide a variety of selections in many musical styles for couples to choose from at the Liturgy Preparation Session.  All music for the wedding must be Catholic, liturgical music.  The Director of Weddings must approve all music selections.

  • There is to be no change in music for the bride’s entrance, since the bride and groom share equally in their exchange of consent to this covenant.
  • No recorded music is allowed in the Chapel.
  • While some traditions may allow secular music in the wedding service- secular, top-40, movie soundtrack, or Broadway show tunes are not allowed, even if lyrics are ‘Christian’ in nature, at Chapel weddings.  They are appropriate at the reception or at other events surrounding the wedding.

The following are some of the selections not allowed: 

 

"Faithful Friend"
"The Wedding Song"
“The Prayer”
“Wedding March” – Mendelssohn*
“Bridal Chorus” - Wagner**
“You Raise Me Up”
“The Lord’s Prayer” - Malotte
“Only Time” – Enya
“The Rose” - McBroom
“Here We Stand” – T. Carter
“Grow Old With Me” – Lennon
“We are Man and Wife” – Featherstone
“God Gave Me You” – Barnes
“Your Love” – Jim Brickman
“One Hand, One Heart”
“I Will Be Here”
“From This Moment”
“Sunrise Sunset”

(Additional details, particularly regarding an organist and a cantor, are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Some Additional Liturgy Details

A procession begins an act of worship.  It begins with the crucifix, like Sunday processions.  However, unlike Sunday processions when the priest enters last, in a wedding procession the couple enters last, because together they are the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage.  At the Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas, couples have three options for their wedding procession which symbolize they are both the ministers of this sacrament, who come from their family of origin and now bridge these two families, and also begin a family of their own.

Option 1:

  • Crucifix (Cross Bearer)
  • Servers (if chosen)
  • (Priest or Deacon, who may choose to already be at altar)
  • Bridesmaids – Groomsmen
  • Maid/Matron of Honor – Best Man
  • (Ring Bearer/Flower Girl, who must be old enough to walk alone, without stroller/wagon)
  • Father* - Groom - Mother*
  • Father* - Bride - Mother*

*Or close family member/friend

Option 2 & 3:

OR following the wedding party: the groom, then bride
OR following the wedding party, bride and groom enter together- as they are the ministers.

  • The rite only requires two witnesses (commonly known as a best man and maid of honor), but often in our culture a couple has additional witnesses (groomsmen and bridesmaids). If a couple has more than 10 witnesses, there is one adaption that will be made during the liturgy; contact Christina Crow about details.
  • We strongly encourage couples to savor all of their allotted time in the Chapel together.  Waiting to see each other until the Entrance Procession makes for a stressful first appearance, and it can take away from that special moment between bride and groom.  The tradition of not seeing each other originated in arranged marriages, in which the groom was not allowed to see the bride lest he changed his mind upon seeing her and called off the wedding.  Today, couples know one another.  Consider arranging a special moment when arriving to the Chapel- first seeing each other alone in the garden, or in the Sacristy; this allows couples a special, stress-free chance to quietly enjoy that moment together, and then enjoy the rest of their time in the Chapel together on their wedding day. 
  • Couples may include the following liturgical lay ministers: Cross Bearer, Server, Lector, Gift Bearer, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Ushers.
  • The Chapel is often set with seasonal decorations (e.g. Advent, Lent, and Easter) which are for the primary worshipping community at Saint Thomas.  We respectfully ask couples and their vendors to not alter or remove any elements of the décor, nor furniture, at any time. Couples marrying during the Christmas season should discuss the nativity scene with the Director of Weddings.
  • The use of rice, confetti, birdseed, sparklers (anything that may be left on the ground) is not permitted inside or outside of the Chapel.  Bubbles or handheld items (bells, ribbons) are permissible but must be cleaned up.
  • The unity candle, sand ceremony, wine box ceremony and other popular traditions which are not part of the Catholic wedding rite will not be allowed at weddings in the Chapel.

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Additional Information

Reception facilities are also available for both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception; a discounted rate for reception facilities is available for couples marrying in the Chapel. Please call the Conferences & Event Services at (651)-962-6670 for more information.

Both chapels are handicap accessible. The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas is accessible via an elevator with a few stairs to follow; also available is a handicap lift, with no stairs. The Chapel of St. Thomas More is accesible by elevator, with no stairs. A wedding coordinator will show the ushers how to help guests with these options at the rehearsal.

Conferences & Event Services

US Conference of Catholic Bishops Marriage Website - For Your Marriage

Vatican Website

The Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis Website

Catholic Dioceses in MN

 

 

Location of Chapel/Parking

The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul is located on Cleveland Avenue approximately two blocks north of Summit Avenue, between Ashland Avenue and Laurel Avenue. 
The Chapel of St. Thomas More in Minneapolis is located in the School of Law at 1000 LaSalle Avenue.

All visitors are subject to the same parking rules as faculty, staff and students. Please be aware that the Chapel is on a university campus where many events take place on weekends. Parking lots cannot be reserved for weddings. Parking is not permitted in fire lanes, handicapped, rideshare, restricted or reserved spaces without proper permits or authorization. For campus maps, directions, and parking information, click here.

(Additional details are provided when a couple receives their Guidelines for the Sacrament of Marriage booklet.)

Liturgy details