Jo Ann O’Brien, Wedding Coordinator, Old St. Patrick’s Church
At Old St. Pat’s, each wedding is a very personal event. A wedding is one of those rare moments in life when you gather with all the people you cherish and, in so doing, express what it means to be in love. Consequently, your wedding ceremony is much more than the exchange of vows and the giving of rings. It is a ritual filled with music, symbols, family, friends, and the rich tradition of our faith.
This religious ceremony, celebrating the beginning of your marriage, is also a revelatory moment in your life and in the lives of all those present. It reveals to you, your guests and all the world where God has chosen to dwell. Our Scripture says “God is Love”. By your being in love, God dwells with you. That is why we speak of marriage as a sacrament; we believe that the love you share in marriage becomes a sign to all whom you will meet of the closeness, the love and the wonder of the presence of God.
We at Old St. Patrick’s look forward to the opportunity to work with you during this special time. We want to assist as you prepare for one of the most wonderful experiences of human life—celebrating your love in marriage and God’s presence in your lives.
We want you to know that your wedding will be the most recent in a long line of weddings celebrated in this historic church. Old St. Patrick’s was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856. Having survived the Chicago Fire, it is the oldest church and public building in Chicago and has the longest tradition of the celebration of marriage.
The minimum suggested donation is $1,000, which is given at the time of the reservation to secure the date.
The priest stipend is usually between $150-200, which is usually given directly to the priest at the last meeting, at the rehearsal, on the day of the wedding or via a note shortly before or after the ceremony.
If you are planning an out of town or destination wedding and want to work with Old St. Patrick’s for marriage preparation, we request a stipend of $250. It is also customary to give the priest doing the marriage preparation, if he is not officiating, a stipend (at your discretion).
FRIDAYS are the designated rehearsal days when the church and the rehearsal volunteers are available. Please do not request other dates and times. The rehearsal lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Rehearsal times are scheduled on the Friday evening before your ceremony as follows: 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. We ask that you make your rehearsal arrangements at the time the ceremony is confirmed. Rehearsals are scheduled with Jo Ann O’Brien JoAnnO@oldstpats.org, 312.831.9383. If you are having a visiting priest officiate at your ceremony, please encourage him to attend the rehearsal since every priest celebrates in a personal style. *Please remember to give us his address and phone.
The rehearsal should take no more than 30 minutes. We cannot encourage you enough to please do all you can to see that your family, attendants and guests are respectful of everyone’s time. We suggest you ask those who will attend your rehearsal to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Remind them of the inevitable Chicago area traffic congestion when traveling to Old St. Patrick’s on a Friday evening. Please be considerate of the rehearsal following yours by exiting the church immediately following your rehearsal and allowing the next bridal party the use of the entire church for their rehearsal.
Ceremony Worksheets Submitting the ceremony worksheet one month prior to the ceremony will facilitate the rehearsal process. Back to top
You may arrange your procession in any way you wish. Some options include:
All Liturgy preparation for wedding ceremonies should be discussed with the officiating priest. Suggested Readings can be found by clicking here.
Some couples provide guests with ceremony programs to encourage and enhance everyone’s participation in the wedding ceremony. There are generally two types of ceremony programs. One is a simple outline of the order of the ceremony along with the names of those involved, such as parents of the bride and groom, the wedding party, scripture readers, offertory gift bearers, priest, etc. The other is more extensive as it includes all of the above as well as the readings, prayers that can be said by all, the exchange of vows and rings, and some of the wedding music. Examples of both programs, which you may keep, are available at Old St. Patrick’s Church offices at 711 W. Monroe, 3rd floor, Chicago. You can discuss the contents of such a program when you plan your wedding Liturgy with your priest. Local instant printers are the usual resource for printing wedding programs, as well as the vendor resource section in the Old St. Patrick’s Wedding Planning DVD.
Please bring the programs to the rehearsal; they will be stored in the sacristy and retrieved by the wedding assistant at the time of your wedding. We need a copy of the program for the priest, and two copies for the wedding assistants. After your ceremony, the wedding assistant will collect the extras and give them to a family member or wedding attendant. Please mark all bags/boxes clearly with your name, date, and time of Wedding Ceremony.
Old St. Patrick’s is blessed with volunteer wedding assistants, one of whom will assist you with your rehearsal. Two other volunteers will assist you on the day of your wedding. Many of these volunteers are members of Old St. Patrick’s; some have been married at Old St. Patrick’s. They have chosen to volunteer their time to assist at weddings to make you and your guests comfortable on this important day. Their primary role is to help make sure that everything runs smoothly from rehearsal through the conclusion of the ceremony. During the course of your wedding preparation if you have any questions or concerns, you may contact JoAnnO@oldstpats.org, or 312.831.9383. Please call JoAnn O’Brien the week preceding your wedding to review the details of your ceremony worksheet. This worksheet should be emailed to JoAnn NO later than one month prior to the ceremony.
A volunteer rehearsal facilitator will walk you through the procession and general points of the ceremony. Other volunteer assistants will be present on the day of your ceremony, and will stay with you through to the conclusion of your wedding ceremony.
If you would like to become part of the wedding volunteer ministry, please contact Mary Jo Graf at Maryjog1221@sbcglobal.net, or 312.360.1622.
You are welcome to bring in your own bridal consultant. Since the consultant is your representative, the wedding assistant will defer to the consultant except in reference to the wedding ceremony which has been arranged by you and your priest.
Approximately one half year to one year prior to wedding (NOT LESS THAN 6 MONTHS)
Call Old St. Patrick’s to request a SATURDAY ONLY wedding date and time to be reserved. The office telephone number is 312.831.9383. The Wedding Scheduler is Jo Ann O’Brien. These wedding dates fill up quickly, so call as early as possible. Request, complete, and return the wedding information form via email; this is not available online. Once a date and time for your wedding and rehearsal have been established a “confirmation of date” packet will be emailed to you.
Complete and return your “confirmation of Date” for along with your church donation.
A detailed wedding planning DVD will be sent to you. Request and, if possible, confirm your celebrant and schedule your first meeting with him or his assistant. Please include your names and wedding date and time in ALL correspondence: emails, phone calls, etc. Once a date and time for your wedding and rehearsal have been established a “confirmation of date” packet will be emailed to you.
Complete and return your “confirmation of Date” for along with your church donation. After Confirming Your Date
Make reservations for and attend an authorized Pre Cana program. Note: we strongly suggest that you make reservations for one of these programs as early as possible. They are often filled early. You may wish to discuss, with your priest, which program is most appropriate for you.
Documents: Baptismal and confirmation certificates:
Obtain recent copies (dated no more than 6 months prior to your wedding date) from the church (s) where you were baptized and confirmed. Make copies as the documents you submit to Old St. Patrick’s will not be returned to you. Click here to download the Sacramental Release From.
You will each be asked to furnish two witness affidavits attesting to your freedom to marry. (That is a total of four witnesses.) They must be witnessed and signed by the witnesses own priest or deacon/ or clergy and stamped with the church seal. Old St. Patrick’s can provide these affidavits, or your witnesses may obtain them from their own parish.
2–3 Months Before
Schedule and attend second meetings with your priest at Old St. Patrick’s or complete meetings with your visiting priest. During these meetings, discuss your marriage preparation and plan your wedding liturgy. You will also need to complete the required paperwork for record purposes.This is explained under “Procedures for the State of Illinois.” and in the wedding planning DVD under requirements for marriagepreparation. If you reside out of town or your marriage preparation/paperwork was completed by a local priest or a visiting priest, please make sure that the entire marriage file arrives at Old St. Patrick’s no later than one month prior to the ceremony. All “out of town” marriage files are to be submitted through your local Archdiocese, The files go from Diocese to Diocese…not from Church to Church.
You must obtain your marriage license no sooner than 60 days before your wedding date and no later than 1 day prior to that date. Apply for the license (fee – $60 cash ) at the Office of the Clerk of Cook County:
Both parties must appear in person and have proper identification to serve as proof of identity and age (driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate). For additional information, call the office in Chicago. After you are married, the Priest will sign your marriage license, and we will send it to the County Clerk’s Office. You can obtain a copy of your marriage license by contacting the County Clerk’s Office 15 business days after your wedding.
Marriage Preparation is required in order to receive the Sacrament of Marriage. In addition to meeting with a priest to complete the necessary paperwork, attendance at Pre-Cana Program is required. The programs range anywhere from one day to one weekend during which you both agree to look beyond your wedding day to your future relationship as a married couple. Attending one of the programs offered by the Catholic Church gives you the opportunity to listen to what you each have to say about sustaining the “happily ever after” – especially amid the inevitable challenges of married life. By taking time to listen to yourselves and others, you may hear an old question phrased in a new way, leading you to discover something new about your relationship. Or you may pick up yet another hint about how to celebrate the best of times or support each other through the difficult. Whichever program you choose, you will certainly benefit from taking time out to focus on how your love translates into everyday living. For this reason, we ask you to commit to spending this quality time with the person to whom you are committing to spend your lifetime. Your Priest may suggest a specific program. There are marriage preparation programs offered by Old St. Patrick’s Church and the Archdiocese of Chicago, including:
Old St. Patrick’s Church is inviting all couples who will be married in our Church and Old St. Patrick’s parishioners who will be married elsewhere to a new PreCana program. This program will fulfill the requirement of the Archdiocese of Chicago which asks engaged couples to participate in a pre-marriage education seminar. The good news about our approach is that it is administered by staff and married couples from Old St. Pat’s who really have a stake in your marriage. We believe that you will be pleased by the program and enjoy meeting other engaged couples, who also will be married in our Church.
Another part of the program is experiencing the FOCCUS pre-marriage inventory, a wonderful tool designed to promote your conversation about many aspects of the delightful journey of marriage.
The program is designed to happen on three consecutive Sunday afternoons from 2 p.m. until 4:45 p.m., followed by an invitation to attend 5 p.m. mass with the team. The fee is $200.
Arrange by calling 312.534.8201 or visit the website at www.familyministries.org. Day-Long Program
Pre-Cana is a program for engaged couples; it can be completed in 6-1/2 hours over one or two days. Through discussions, exercises and presentations, engaged couples are encouraged to concentrate more intensely on the many facets of married life. Some of the topics presented are the changing nature of marriage, personal growth, mutual decision-making, effective communication, conflict management, intimacy and sexual expression, financial planning, sacramentality, goal setting, the extended family and interfaith marriage. Participants are asked to contribute . The fee for PreCana is $190 per couple. (312.751.8201)
There are also special Pre-Cana programs for couples over thirty; marrying with stepchildren; and couples whose native language is Spanish or Polish.
Discovery Weekend is a 1 or 2 night weekend program designed specifically for engaged couples. It is neither a retreat nor a withdrawal from life, but an opportunity for couples to set aside time to discuss their life together. Through a series of ideas presented by a team, engaged couples are encouraged to discuss privately with each other the many aspects of married life. The goal of the weekend is to encourage personal reflection and honest and open communication. Meals, Mass and liturgies offer group participation.
The cost for this weekend is $295 per couple and includes meals, lodging, facility rental and materials. A $100 deposit is requested with the registration at least 3 months in advance. (312.534.8351)
Please consult the Cana Conference brochure for a complete listing of all program dates and locations. For further information on all marriage preparation programs, please call the Cana Conference at 312.534.8201.
Engaged Encounter Similar
In format to Marriage Encounter, Engaged Encounter is a working weekend for couples planning a lifetime together. This program is offered six times a year at various retreat centers. The cost, $199 per couple, includes lodging, meals and all supplies. Your priest can provide additional information or a current brochure, or you can call 708.877.7099.
FOCCUS premarital inventory
Special Arrangements must be made. The cost is $110 for the entire process. Please contact the Family Ministries Office at www.familyministries.org for more information.
Online registration and more information on each of these programs are available at www.familyministries.org/. Just follow the link to “Marriage Preparation.”
Old St. Patrick’s has twelve 6 1/2′ aisle candles which can be placed down the side aisles alongside the pews. Once the candles have been placed by staff, they cannot be moved for safety reasons. If you will be lighting a Wedding Unity candle during your liturgy, please bring it to the rehearsal or the wedding, and give it to the volunteer wedding assistant. We suggest a pillar candle between 12″ and 18″ high. Two small tapers will be provided by Old St. Patrick’s, they will be placed on a small glass dish beside your candle. Unity candles, with the church image in gold, may be purchased for $20- at the Church offices, Jack Wall Mission Center, 711 W. Monroe, 3rd floor during regular business hours. purchase from any religious goods, candle or greeting card store. We provide the stand for the Unity candle. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for Unity candles left at the Church after a wedding; it is yours to keep as a remembrance of this special day, so please remember to designate someone to be responsible for taking the candle with you.
Music Fair Join us on the First Monday in February, May and October at 7 p.m. in the Church for the Old St. Pat’s quarterly Wedding Music Fair. You’ll hear a variety of music appropriate for your wedding performed by piano, strings, trumpet, choir, soloists, and Irish traditional musicians. All music questions should be directed to Bill Fraher, Music director, at 312.831.9353 or email@example.com There is a $5.00 donation requested at the door. The fair will end at 8:45 p.m. and musicians will be available for bookings at this time. All are welcome to attend. People say that it’s “the best concert on a Monday night in Chicago.” If you have any questions, please contact Bill Fraher at 312.831.9353 or by email at BillF@oldstpats.org.
Photographers must be chosen from the Old St. Patrick’s approved list, no exceptions will be made. At your wedding still photographers work at your and the officiating priest’s discretion. Your photographer will be asked to stay out of the sanctuary (any part of the altar area) but can use the side aisles as long as they do not advance any farther forward on the side aisles than the end of the marble wall of the wells next to the pews. Camera(s) may be positioned on the south side aisle at the end of the ramp, the back of the center aisle and/or in the balcony.
Please ask your photographer to introduce himself/herself the sacristan and wedding assistant. Guidelines for photographing weddings at Old St. Patrick’s are provided. Approved vendors are to provide a copy of the contract or the signed agreement form in order to ensure that your wedding date is secure. If you have given any specific instructions to your photographer about your preferences, please let the wedding assistant at the rehearsal know; she will help make sure that you wishes are carried out. We have found that most couples have photographs taken immediately after the ceremony and have the receiving line at the reception. If you wish, the wedding assistant will work with you and the photographer to help you and your attendants to return to the altar without getting delayed with an impromptu receiving line.
Videographers are not allowed in the sanctuary area during the ceremony. Old St. Pat’s asks the videographer to not be a distraction to the wedding ceremony.
Do I have to be a member of Old St. Patrick’s to be married at Old St. Patrick’s?
This is not a requirement.
How do I reserve a wedding date at Old St. Patrick’s?
Contact Jo Ann O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 312.831.9383
What do you mean by Marriage preparation?
Consultation with a priest: Completion of the Prenuptial Questionnaire, collection of documents, and planning of the Liturgy and all aspects of the Ceremony. This is usually accomplished with two-three meetings. This is in addition to the required Pre-Cana course.
Baptismal and Confirmation certificates newly issued originals, dated within six months of the actual date of the Ceremony. If baptism took place outside the continental USA, we also need an addressed/stamped envelope to the church of baptism for post-sacramental Documentation, as well as a certified letter of translation if the certificate is not in English.
Can I work with a visiting priest of my choice?
Yes. We need his contact information as soon as possible. We encourage you to work with him for marriage preparation; meeting with him and providing all the required documents to him. It would be your joint responsibility to see that the completed file, including the marriage license, is sent to Old St. Patrick’s no later than one month prior to the ceremony.
I live out of town, where do I go for my marriage preparation?
Please work with your local parish for marriage preparation & Pre Cana. They will forward to the local Diocese, in turn, it will be sent to the Arch. of Chicago and then on to Old St. Patrick’s
Are there any Church fees or required donation?
The $1000 Church donation made at the time of confirmation of the date reserves your date and time. The reservation is secure when we receive the signed confirmation of date & vendor agreement forms.
Please make checks payable to Old St. Patrick’s Church.
If you are planning an out of town or destination wedding and want to work with Old St. Patrick’s for marriage preparation, we request a stipend of $250.
Please make checks payable to Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Priest Stipend: A stipend is given to the priest. Most couples give the priest $200.00. This stipend is given closer to the date of the Ceremony, at the last meeting with the officiating priest, or on the day of the Ceremony, and is made payable to the specific priest.
It is also customary to give the priest/deacon who is doing the marriage preparation a stipend. (if different then the officiating priest). The amount is at your discretion.
Who do I contact regarding music?
Please direct all music questions to the Bill Fraher, Director of Music at 312.831.9353 or at email@example.com. He assists you all the arrangements for your Liturgy Music. The average fee for the musicians is $200… however, this may vary with the particular musician/singer.
Is there a Bride’s (changing) Room?
Yes, on the lower level directly underneath the church. The bridal party has access to the Bride’s room at 40 minutes preceding the wedding ceremony.
Where does the Groom & Groomsmen go before the ceremony?
The Groom and the Groomsmen (unless they are also ushers) are to wait in the dining room of the Rectory. Access to the Rectory is through the main doors of the Church (no earlier than 40 minutes before the ceremony).….proceed up the center aisle to the Altar….then enter the Rectory through the door directly behind the altar screen.
The officiating priest will meet with groom and groomsmen before the ceremony and will determine the proper time to go into the church to start the ceremony.
Is a strapless dress allowed?
Yes, if it is tasteful
How many ushers do we need?
We suggest one usher for every 50 Guests.
How long does each couple have use of the Church?
Two hours in total – forty minutes the preceding the ceremony until twenty minutes after the hour following the ceremony (ex. 12:20 to 2:20 for the 1 PM Ceremony) We always have a full schedule, therefore, we must start on time. Late starts may result in shorter time allotment for photos after the ceremony.
Are Flowers allowed and where?
Personal fresh flowers are welcome for the bride, attendants, groomsmen, family, the sign of peace and the Blessed Virgin. No fresh floral pieces are allowed on the altar. Fresh pieces are allowed at the base of the center or side stairs or in the back of church as you enter if flower stands or pedestals are provided by the florist. Flower girls may not drop or give away flowers. They may carry fresh flowers in baskets.
Do we have Altar Servers?
We do not, however, you may invite servers with permission of your priest, but we do not have vestments for them.
Are bows on the Pews allowed?
Bows may be placed on the aisle candles only. There are 12 – 6 ft tall aisle candles that may be requested from Old St Patrick’s. The top is ivory and bottom is brass. They are placed down the side aisles ….every third pew.
The use of paper or cloth aisle runners are not allowed for safety reasons.
We have a white marble “aisle runner” integrated into the center aisle of the church.
Can we throw rice, have balloons, bubbles, doves, etc.?
None of those are allowed.
What can we do?
Small bells are sometimes given out to guests as they exit. Some couples hire bagpipers or a “trumpeteer” for an exit.
Who is usually invited to the Rehearsal?
Only those directly involved in the ceremony should be invited to the actual rehearsal in church; others can be directed to meet you at the Rehearsal dinner/party site:
Bride and Groom, Both sets of parents, step parents, etc. Grandparents (optional) Bridal Party: Attendants Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Ushers, Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Gift Bearers: Children who are in the wedding party should be accompanied by a responsible adult
Photographer & Videographer: These vendors must be chosen from the Old St. Patrick’s approved list which will be furnished when the date is confirmed. No Exceptions will be made. We ask that the photographer use the natural light, be unobtrusive, respect the sacredness of the Mass and the Church and refrain from entering the Sanctuary during the Mass/Ceremony.
The use of cell phone cameras are prohibited during the ceremony.
These topics and many more are detailed in the Old St. Patrick’s wedding planning DVD. If you are working with a visiting priest we will mail a packet of information directly to him.