Sacrament of Marriage

The Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic community welcomes you with great joy as you prepare to celebrate your wedding day with us! 

You may be a lifelong member of our parish, a frequent visitor, or perhaps, our graceful and intimate church building has beckoned you to choose the Shrine of the Sacred Heart for your wedding.  However you have found us, we hope that you might find within our walls the evidence of a community alive in faith and dedicated to its mission to build the Kingdom of God.

When a couple asks the Church to witness their commitment to one another and Christ’s action in their lives, there is a responsibility on the part of the Church to provide the couple with resources that enable them to grow in a deeper relationship throughout their lives. Our community earnestly wishes to share with you not only the resources of our buildings and staff; but the generous and vibrant spirit of community that thrives within our parish family. As you have spent much time preparing for your wedding, we too have spent much time working with couples who are preparing for their wedding day.

Our community has many traditions and conventions that are outlined in our Parish Wedding Planning Guide.  In this document, we offer you guidelines and policies that we have found effective in ensuring that your celebration may express fully your love for one another and the rich liturgical tradition of our parish community. There is no doubt that the community of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart is blessed with beautiful buildings. But, more than being simply a beautiful church, it is a house of prayer and our family's home. As we invite you into our home, we ask that you have respect for our traditions and policies.

Once again, Welcome! May your celebration within the walls of our parish church truly witness the love you have for one another and express your life-long commitment to growth in the Sacrament of Marriage.


Planning Timeline

Please use the following timeline for the planning and execution of your wedding. The reference numbers after each sentence refers to the section of the guideline where you will find more explicit details regarding each particular step of your wedding.

  1. Contact Laura Dugan; Coordinator
  2. Contact a Presider (Priest or Deacon) and schedule an initial meeting (2A)
  3. Reserve dates with Laura Dugan
  4. Review general policies and entire contents of this guide
  5. Return deposit to the attention of: Laura Dugan (Fees and Offerings)
  6. Arrange for Pre-Nuptial Wedding Preparation (2B)

  1. Contact Director of Music & Liturgy to plan Liturgy and Music (2C and General Policies)
  2. Contact Parish Bridal Coordinator (2D)
  3. Review florist policies and contact florist (2E)
  4. Review Photography/Video policies and contact Photographer/Videographer (2F)
  5. Schedule wedding rehearsal time with Parish Office
  6. Request and obtain all necessary sacramental records (2G)
  7. Contact Presider to schedule follow-up interview

  1. Distribute readings and guidelines to Lectors (2C)
  2. Distribute Eucharistic Minister Guidelines (2C)
  3. Obtain Marriage License (2G)

  1. Make all payments (Fees and Offerings to be paid no less than 1 Calendar Month Prior)

  1. Florist/Decorators deliver and set up flowers, etc. according to Parish Policy (2E)
  2. Ushers/Groomsmen arrive 30-45 minutes before wedding.
  3. Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers arrive 20-30 minutes before wedding.
  4. Bride and Bridal Party arrives 10-15 minutes before wedding. (1A)
  5. All photography complete no more than 40 minutes after the recessional and bridal party/guests leave.(2F)

Section 1 - General Policies


  1. Alcohol and tobacco products are not permitted anywhere on church property.
  2. Guests and members of the wedding party must conduct themselves with respect and dignity at all times while on church property.
  3. Rice, confetti, bird seed, or flower petals may not be thrown or scattered.
  4. The Church will be available for your use one hour prior and 40 minutes after the wedding liturgy. 


  1. The primary purpose of the wedding program/worship aid is to encourage and promote the active participation of the gathered assembly in the wedding liturgy.
  2. If applicable, the Director of Music & Liturgy will provide you with a form to prepare your program at your scheduled meeting. The Director of Music & Liturgy does not provide program preparation.


  1. Organist/Pianist - The organist for your wedding will be the Director of Music & Liturgy.
    1. If you choose to use another qualified organist/pianist/guitarist, the Director of Music & Liturgy must first approve this musician, and will function primarily to plan the music and liturgy for your wedding and perform all other responsibilities. In this capacity, the Director of Music & Liturgy will be paid the entire Liturgical Fee as stated in the Fees section of this book. You must first contact the Director of Music & Liturgy prior to signing any contract with, or engaging the services of another organist/pianist.
  2. Cantor/Liturgical Vocalist - One or more of the Shrine's Professional Cantor Staff will be used at your wedding. Cantors will serve as principal vocalists for your wedding. There is no exception to this policy.
    1. Guest Soloists - You may choose to have a friend or close family member sing one or two solo selections at your wedding in addition to the cantor. This person must contact the Director of Music & Liturgy or your organist to schedule a rehearsal prior to your wedding. An additional rehearsal fee payable to the Director of Music & Liturgy for accompanied soloists as stated in the Fees Section of this book will apply.
    2. No pre-recorded or accompaniment tracks are permitted before, during, or after the wedding.
  3. Instrumentalists - You may choose to enhance your wedding with solo instrumentalists, a brass, woodwind, or string group. If so, Director of Music & Liturgy contracts all additional instrumentalists for the price range listed in the fees section.
    1. If you prefer to use the services of another professional instrumentalist or ensemble, you must first contact the Director of Music & Liturgy prior to signing any contract with or using the services of another musician or group.

Section 2 - Stages of Wedding Preparation/ Additional Policies and Guidelines


  1. As soon as you have found a date that the church is available you must contact a priest or deacon who will preside at your wedding to reserve his services and make an initial appointment. Additional Roman Catholic clergy other than the presider, including priests and deacons, are welcome to be present at your wedding. The pastor of The Shrine of the Sacred Heart will grant the necessary delegation for visiting clergy and the Director of Music & Liturgy will provide all necessary parish liturgical guidelines.
  2. If one of the parties is not a Roman Catholic, we welcome ministers of that person's faith tradition or communion to participate in your wedding. You should inform your Presider and the Director of Music & Liturgy if you decide to include another minister. Participation by ministers of a different faith tradition or Christian communion will be in conformity with the liturgical norms of the Roman Catholic Church.


  1. One of the following three options is available:
    1. Engaged Encounter - Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Engaged Encounter is offered as a weekend retreat for wedding preparation. Please contact your presider regarding your program.
    2. Pre-Cana Conferences - Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Pre-Cana Conferences are a series of sessions designed for wedding preparation. Please contact your presider regarding your program.


  1. Planning your wedding liturgy is a special time of grace and prayer for you as a couple. Because the liturgy is the work of the people and the public worship of the church, you will work together with the Director of Music & Liturgy to prepare a celebration that reflects the desires of the Church, embraces your particular circumstances, and involves all the people present. You will accomplish these objectives in a meeting with the Director of Music & Liturgy. You must make an appointment for this meeting 3-5 months prior to your celebration. Generally this meeting lasts about 1 hour.
  2. Prior to the meeting you should prepare or discuss the following as a couple
    1. Readings - In the wedding preparation guide given to you at your first meeting with your presider you will find a chapter with appropriate readings for your wedding celebration. Choose at least two of the options for reading from the following sections: 1. Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament); 2. Epistle (NewTestament); 3. Gospel. Select at least two texts of responsorial psalms. The Director of Music & Liturgy will guide you in the ultimate selection of these readings, and help you to select a suitable musical setting for the responsorial psalm.
    2. Music - In the Roman Catholic Tradition, music used during the public worship of the church must meet certain basic requirements. Sung music should employ texts reflecting the ideals of Christian Marriage.  Instrumental music should be dignified. Before your meeting, take some time to consider hymns, instrumental and vocal solos, and acclamations that you might want to include in your wedding celebration. The Director of Music & Liturgy will guide you through a careful selection in accord with the specific traditions of the Shrine community and general guidelines of the Church’s public worship.
    3. Liturgical Ministers and Other Matters - The Director of Music & Liturgy will provide you with guidelines for the selection of liturgical ministers (i.e. Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, etc.) at your meeting. The Director of Music & Liturgy will also provide you with information and forms regarding worship aides for your celebration. Generally, the Director of Music & Liturgy will help you with all questions or direct you to someone who will be able to help you. At the meeting, copies of readings and policies/guidelines will be given to you for distribution to Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers.


  1. The Bridal Coordinator (call RIta Siwinski) will help you throughout your wedding preparation and, more specifically at the rehearsal and on the day of your wedding. The services of the bridal coordinator are required for all wedding celebrations. The Bridal Coordinator will ensure that the church is opened and prepared for your rehearsal, will direct the rehearsal in conjunction with your presider (if he is present for your rehearsal), and will serve to assist the bridal party on the day of the wedding.


  1. General Guidelines
    1. Generally, two arrangements are placed on the altar of repose (the altar in the far front of the church) on the glass shelf on either side of the tabernacle.
    2. Existing liturgical environment (decorations that highlight a particular season) remain in place.
    3. Any dirt created by the placement of the flowers will be cleaned by the florist.
    4. Altar flowers shall remain for the use of the congregation for Sunday masses.
  2. Delivering and Preparing Flowers
    1. For 10AM, 12NOON and 2PM weddings: Flowers should be delivered one hour prior to the wedding. All set-up must be completed 30 minutes prior to the wedding celebration.
    2. Corsages, boutonnieres, and dedication flowers are to be delivered in marked containers and left in the tower room through the doors to the right of the main church entrance. The Bridal Coordinator will ensure that these flowers are delivered to the proper people and places.


  1. Decorum
    1. Photographers should work unobtrusively, quietly, and with respect at all times in the church.
    2. The sacred furnishings should not be used as props. Under no circumstances should any object be placed on the altar table.
  2. Photography/Video prior to the ceremony
    1. There will be no photography in the sacristy (the preparation room).  The hallway off of the sacristy may be used for this purpose.
  3. Photography during the ceremony
    1. There will be no flash photography/artificial lighting permitted at any time during the ceremony. This includes the seating of the mothers and processional/recessional.
    2. During the processional/recessional, photographers may not go beyond the half-way point of the center aisle.
    3. There will be no equipment obstructing the aisles of the church.
  4. Videos during the ceremony
    1. Artificial lighting/spotlights are not permitted during the ceremony. This includes the seating of the mothers and processional/recessional.
    2. Videos may be taken from the choir loft and chapel. A second unattended camera may be set up. The bridal coordinator will denote proper locations at his or her discretion.
    3. There will be no equipment obstructing the aisles of the church.
  5. Photography/Video after the ceremony
    1. Flash photography/artificial lighting is permitted after the guests have left.
    2. Tripods may be set-up in the aisles only after the guests have left.
    3. The bridal party may be brought back into the sanctuary for photo/video.
    4. The altar steps in front of the altar may be used for group/family photographs.
  6. Time limits following the ceremony
    1. After the recessional begins, you have no more than forty minutes to take all photography/video and remove all equipment from the church building. Plan accordingly.
    2. 40 minutes following the ceremony, photographers/videographers will be asked to leave the church building. There is no grace period.


  1. Sacramental Records - All baptized Christians will need to obtain, from the church of their baptism, a sacramental record dated no more that six months before the date of the wedding. Your presider will answer any questions you have about this.
  2. Before the wedding you will need to obtain a marriage license. The Shrine of the Sacred Heart is within the city boundaries. So, you will need to obtain the license from the City of Baltimore at the Clarence J. Mitchell Courthouse in downtown Baltimore. The three copies of the license along with the envelope addressed to the Clerk of the Court must be given to your Presider 3-4 weeks before your wedding.
  3. If your Presider is not the deacon or pastor of The Shrine of the Sacred Heart, your visiting clergy must write the pastor to request delegation to be the presiding minister at your wedding. Please ask him to send such a request promptly to: Pastor, The Shrine of the Sacred Heart, 1701 Regent Rd., Baltimore, MD 21209. If he has any questions please have him contact the parish office directly.

Fees and Offerings

The following lists all fees and offerings applicable to your wedding. An invoice to the responsible person for all remaining fees may be retrieved from the parish office, faxed, or sent to that person at least 6 weeks prior to the wedding celebration. They are due no later than 1 Calendar Month prior to the wedding date. Failure to comply with this policy may result in postponement of wedding date. Checks should be made payable as indicated on the invoice.


Non-refundable Reservation Fee: $100.00
Church Offering: $300.00 (Parishioners)
$600.00 (Non-Parishioners)
Organist Fee:
Cantor Fee:
Presider's Offering: $300.00
Bridal Coordinator Fee: $200.00


Additional Cantor: $200.00
Solo Instrumentalist: $225.00 - $350.00 (Trumpet, Flute, harp, etc.)
Instrumental Ensemble: Contact Director of Music & Liturgy (Brass, Woodwind, etc.)
Additional Clergy Offerings: $150.00 (Customary miminum)

Contact Numbers

Name Phone Email
Laura Dugan
Parish Office
410-466-6884, x10
Tom Wilson
Music Director
410-466-6884, x14
Rita Siwinski
Bridal Coordinator
(410) 583-9008
Rev. William A. Au, Ph.D.
410-466-6884, x12


Mailing Address of the Church
The Shrine of the Sacred Heart
1701 Regent Road
Baltimore, MD 21209

Street Address of the Church
The Shrine of the Sacred Heart
5800 Smith Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21209