Planning your wedding
Planning your wedding in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The celebration of your wedding is a very important occasion for you and we are glad you have chosen to be married here. This information will help the process of making your arrangements at the Basilica proceed as smoothly as possible. We ask that you read the entire document prior to beginning your wedding planning as it includes important information and tips as well as guidelines and regulations for planning and preparing for your wedding liturgy.
What follows provides a chronology of the procedures to follow and the personnel to contact as you plan your wedding. Please read it carefully, observe the deadlines listed, and share this information as needed with your family and wedding party.
As you continue your planning, be assured that the Basilica will:
- Confirm the reservation of your wedding date upon receipt of payment.
- Collect and process all of your paperwork through the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
- Clearly communicate policies regarding the use of the church and how it may be decorated for weddings.
- Provide a wedding coordinator who will attend your rehearsal and wedding and assist in all the details of the wedding liturgy.
You are responsible for:
- Timely completion of all Church documents, under the guidance of your presider or another priest.
- Asking a priest or deacon to preside at your wedding, and contacting Campus Ministry staff members who will assist you with various related matters.
Preparing for your wedding liturgy: a timeline
Following confirmation of your wedding date, please consider the following milestones to be deadlines. You are welcome to complete any of these tasks ahead of the time frame below.
|By this month before
|Please ensure you have completed this task|
At least nine months before your wedding
Ask a priest or deacon to preside.
You are required to select the priest or deacon who will preside at your wedding. Extend an invitation to a priest or a deacon you know and trust, someone with whom you are comfortable in his role as a representative of the Church. Customarily, the Rector of the Basilica must approve any Roman Catholic priest or deacon to preside at your wedding. The couple offers a stipend to the presider for his services. $200 is suggested.
Find and register for a marriage preparation program.
Marriage preparation provides an opportunity for reflection and discernment on the sacramental and vocational nature of the life-long commitment to marriage.
As with other sacraments, the Church requires special preparation, in this case by the couple, to receive the sacrament of marriage. Marriage preparation provides the opportunity to spend some significant time reflecting on your relationship, your commitments to one another, and God’s presence in your lives.
Marriage preparation (sometimes also called Pre-Cana) can take place in any parish or diocese with an established program that fulfills the Church’s requirement. The University of Notre Dame offers a marriage preparation program to current students and to Sacred Heart parishioners. Though Notre Dame alumni, current full-time faculty members and full-time staff who have been employed at the University for a minimum of five years, are eligible to get married at the Basilica, Lady Chapel or Log Chapel, they must fulfill their marriage preparation requirements through their local parish.
If you plan to participate in a parish preparation program, most parishes require that you contact them at least six months before the wedding date to enroll in marriage preparation. If you are eligible to do your preparation at the University of Notre Dame, the same principle applies. The earlier you make this contact the better. Once you complete a program, you will receive a certificate of confirmation which must be turned in to Campus Ministry no later than three months before your wedding.
For more information on the Campus Ministry marriage preparation program, call (574) 631-4288.
Begin all necessary paperwork.
The Church requires a number of documents and, in some situations, obtaining and completing them may require considerable time. The Liturgy Office will provide you with all of these following confirmation of your reservation via the online PDFs below. Note that a priest must assist you with the Marriage Registration Form. If it would be difficult due to location to have the priest who will preside at your wedding help you with this document, you may ask a different priest to assist you. They may use the forms available here, or from their own diocese.
Together with a priest, gather and complete the following forms. All of these must be turned into the Liturgy Office no later than three months before the wedding.
Affidavits: These acknowledge that both parties are free to marry. Both the bride and groom must each turn in two affidavits, representing two people who know you well, who can attest that no impediments exist to your marrying in the Church. Parents or close relatives are best to fill out these forms, which must be completed in the presence of a priest, deacon or pastoral associate. You do not need to be present, and the priest or deacon who will marry you does not have to be the one to witness the affidavits.
Baptismal Certificates: This verifies that you have been baptized and received First Communion and Confirmation. They will also show any previous marriages, and hence must be dated within six months before the wedding. Please reach out to the parish in which you were baptized, as the baptismal certificate must be issued from there. Because it must be so recently issued, you may not use your original baptismal certificate, or a copy of the original, for this purpose.
Marriage Registration Form: This form collects all the basic information necessary for processing your wedding paperwork. It also includes a brief questionnaire that will help us determine whether other elements will be necessary for the preparation process (such as a dispensation). This form must be completed by a priest or deacon, and answered by both the bride and groom before that priest or deacon. The priest/deacon who fills out the form with you does not have to be the person presiding at your wedding, especially if distance precludes it.
Permission Letter: Canon Law requires the permission of the pastor of either Catholic party for the wedding to occur at the Basilica. If only one of the parties is Catholic, permission must come from that person’s pastor.
Marriage Preparation Certificate: The marriage preparation process (also called Pre-Cana) should begin at least six months before your wedding day. You will receive a certificate upon completion of your marriage preparation program. The certificate will be part of the paperwork submitted.
At least six months before your wedding
Contact your wedding coordinator
The Basilica will provide a wedding coordinator who will be present at both your wedding rehearsal and the actual liturgy. If you have contracted someone else to help with your wedding, please understand that this person may not interfere in any way with the responsibilities of the Basilica’s wedding coordinator.
At least six months before your celebration you should be in touch with the Basilica wedding coordinator to schedule a meeting. At this meeting you will discuss all the details of your ceremony from seatings to closing procession.
The Wedding Information Sheet (click here for a copy) should be completed and submitted to the wedding coordinator at the wedding rehearsal. Additionally, the coordinator will see that the marriage license is in order and will return it to the Liturgy Office who in turn sends it to the St. Joseph County Courthouse.
Select your readings and invite those who will serve at your wedding
Roles at the liturgy
|Role*||Responsibility||Who should we invite?||How many?|
|Reader||Proclaim the scripture readings chose for your Liturgy.||People of faith who have read in a church setting before.||3-4 Lectors|
|Gift Bearers||Process gifts of bread and wine forward for Eucharistic Prayer.||Someone who has had an influential role in your life (good role for families).||2-4 Gift Bearers|
Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC)
|Distribute Communion||Practicing Catholics who have been trained as EMHC’s. (See note below)||
|Greeter||Welcome people and hand out worship aid (program)||Hospitable friends and family.||2-4 Greeters|
|Ushers||Direct or Escort people to their seats||Hospitable friends and family.||2-4 Ushers (depending on if you also have greeters)|
|Altar Server (Optional)||Assist presider during liturgy||Trained server who is comfortable with the role.||1 Altar Server (more are allowed)|
*All Readers, EMHC’s, Gift Bearers, Greeters/Ushers and Servers are expected to attend the wedding rehearsal to receive specific instructions regarding their role in the liturgy.
You have the ability to make several important choices when it comes to your wedding liturgy. The booklet Together for Life offers readings, reflections, options for prayers and vows, and helpful information regarding the wedding liturgy. Please spend time reflecting on these options as a couple. All the selections you make in these areas will help articulate your belief in the sacrament of marriage, as well as in the love and commitment you share with your future spouse. Spend some time in prayer and consideration of this question: What readings and music convey our understanding of sacramental love?
Couples should schedule a time to meet/talk with their presider about all of these questions. Bringing your questions and ideas to your presider and Wedding Music Coordinator will help prepare the wedding liturgy.
- Scripture readings: The Bible speaks many times about love -- married love, the love of family and friends, and God’s love for us. You will choose three readings, and details for how to do this as well as suggestions are in Together for Life, a copy of which you have already received.
- Intercessions (also called the Universal Prayer, or Prayers of the Faithful): Couples are expected to prepare these intercessions together. The Together for Life booklet offers assistance with planning these, which help the entire assembly gathered for your wedding to pray together. We have also provided template intercessions that you can use as you craft your own.
Roles for family and friends: You’ve already likely chosen your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Other special people can help as well. It’s important to ask people who are well-suited for, and comfortable in, the roles you ask them to assume.
- Readers: You will need one reader each for the first and second readings (the priest or deacon reads the Gospel), and one or two readers for the Intercessions. Consider asking people of faith who have read in a church before, even if they’ve never read in the Basilica.
- Gift-bearers: Two to four people can bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar if you’re having a Mass. This is a non-speaking role but a very lovely and important one!
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion: Trained lay ministers may help your priest distribute holy communion if you plan to have a Mass. Talk about this with your wedding coordinator and the priest who will preside at your Mass. EMHC’s do not need to be trained at the Basilica, but they should be trained in their home parishes. Couples may choose to have both species (bread and wine). If using both we recommend using the following numbers of ministers (including your presider):
- Up to 100 people in the Assembly - 2 Bread and 2 Cup
- Over 100 people in the Assembly - 2 Bread and 4 Cup
- Greeters: Usually these people stand at the doors of the church, welcome your guests and offer them a worship aid (program). This is a great role for friendly older children and tweens.
- Ushers: Escort or direct guests to their seats. Ushers will help to ensure your wedding guests fill front pews first and congregate towards the front of the church instead of dispersing throughout.
- Music: Please see the next section, below.
Contact your vendors and inform them of Basilica policies
Couples are responsible for reading and sharing the Basilica vendor guidelines with their photographer and videographer, florist, and any outside wedding/event coordinators. These policies protect the dignity and sanctity of the liturgy. If vendors have questions or concerns regarding these policies they should contact the Basilica directly. If a vendor does not abide by these policies they may be asked to leave the Basilica. We appreciate your help in ensuring all your vendors are aware and comfortable with what is allowed and expected of them in this space.
At least three months before your wedding
Start your music planning
Your assigned organist should contact you about three months before your wedding. Your organist will help guide you through all musical preparation and worship aid (program) creation for the wedding liturgy.
Complete information on music choices, approved musicians (including cantors and instrumentalists) for Basilica weddings, and program information can be found in this link: Music Planning Worksheet.
Please note that all musicians must be selected from the list found in the music planning worksheet. Payment for musicians is separate from the Basilica fees and must be received by Campus Ministry 30 days prior to the wedding day. Those fees are $250.00 per musician, and will include your organist, cantor, and any other musicians you choose to hire. Please note that an organist and cantor are required for Basilica weddings, while other musicians are optional. These fees are due one month before your wedding. Please mail payments to Jonathan Hehn, 310b Coleman-Morse Center, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556 no later than 30 days before your wedding. Checks should be made payable to each individual musician.
All music must be appropriate for sacred liturgical celebration. No secular texts or music will be allowed. Pre-recorded music or electronic keyboards are not allowed at the Basilica or Log Chapel. The Wedding March by Wagner (“Here Comes the Bride”) and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March are not allowed.
We strongly encourage you to create a worship aid (program) for you and your guests to use during your wedding liturgy. A program is not just a meaningful memento for your guests, but helps encourage the assembly to participate “with full heart and voice” in the central event of your wedding: the liturgy. The music planning document contains some helpful tips for creating programs that are both useful and beautiful; the email you will receive after booking your wedding date will include links to program templates as well as music images for inclusion in your program.
If you have general questions about wedding music which aren't answered here or by your organist, please reach out to the wedding music coordinator, Jonathan Hehn, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Turn in completed paperwork and completed marriage preparation certificate
This is a very important step. All of your diocesan paperwork must be on file at the Liturgy Office by this time.
The priest or deacon will help you with the documentation as well as assist you with the preparation of the liturgy. Completed documentation (please refer to the list above in the “at least nine months” section) should be returned to the Liturgy Office no later than three months before the wedding.
For any questions regarding paperwork, call the Liturgy Office at (574) 631-4288.
At least two months before your wedding
Return completed planning sheets to music coordinator
By now you will have met with your organist and your wedding coordinator. You should have also already hired your cantor by this time. Your organist can assist you in selecting instrumentalists, if you also choose to hire them. Completing the details by this time will allow you to create and copy the worship aid, or program, that will guide your guests through your wedding liturgy. Please plan to send your worship aid to your organist in plenty of time for them to proofread it and return comments to you before you send them to print.
60 days to one week before your wedding
Obtain your marriage license
An application for an Indiana marriage license is obtained at the St. Joseph County Clerk’s office. Their website has updated information on location, hours, and requirements for obtaining your marriage license.
Both applicants must be present to apply for a marriage license and you may not take the application out of the office. Proof of age and residence is required. You must furnish a valid driver’s license or other state issued identification that contains your date of birth and current address.
The marriage license must be brought to the wedding rehearsal and signed by the officiant and the bride and groom in the presence of the wedding coordinator. The Liturgy Office will return the marriage license to the County Clerk’s office.
Rules and Guidelines
The following rules and guidelines are intended to ensure that all our wedding liturgies are beautiful and meaningful. Some rules are necessary in order to conform to fire and safety regulations; others come from a desire to protect and care for the Basilica; still others to avoid misuse or abuse by those attending a particular celebration. We thank you in advance for your understanding as we work together to plan liturgies that are sacred and joyful.
- The Basilica is a sacred space and all couples are asked to respect the sacredness of the space and the dignity of the wedding liturgy. We invite and encourage couples to incorporate those cultural customs that are deemed acceptable parts of the Catholic Rite of Marriage. This includes exchange of arras, use of the lazo or veil and cord over the couple, or presentation of flowers to Mary. This does not include some newer customs such as the use of a unity candle, reading of poetry, sand or salt ceremony, warming of the rings or improvised vows. There is helpful information regarding these ethnic and cultural traditions in the Together for Life booklet.
- All couples are asked to select appropriate readings for their wedding liturgy. All readings are selected from Scripture. Helpful guidelines, tips and example readings are provided in the Together for Life booklet.
- Vestments for all ministers are provided by the Basilica.
- The Basilica provides altar bread and wine for your wedding. Homemade bread or wine may not be used.
- The Basilica is unable to accommodate any animals other than service dogs.
- Children are invited to participate as ring bearers and/or flower girls. However, we ask children to process directly to their family or friends in the pews and remain seated during the exchange of vows.
- There may be no receiving lines or guest book signing prior to or after the wedding in the Basilica.
- The Basilica reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone who is intoxicated, including the bride, groom, and members of the bridal party.
- In order to accommodate the liturgical needs of our campus community, and ensure all couples who desire to be married in the Basilica are able to do so, we ask each couple to remain conscious of the time they are given. Each couple is allotted 2 hours in the Basilica for the celebration of their wedding liturgy. Couples arrive 30 minutes prior to the wedding liturgy and have 90 minutes for the wedding liturgy and pictures. (i.e. couples who are scheduled for the 3:00 p.m. wedding arrive at 2:30 p.m. and leave no later than 4:30 p.m.).
- Vendors are not permitted to enter Basilica earlier than 30 minutes prior to the liturgy.
- Couples are responsible for reading and sharing the photographer/videographer guidelines with their vendor(s). Any vendors who disregard guidelines may be asked to leave by Basilica personnel.
- If you are taking photographs prior to the liturgy in the home, hotel, Grotto or anywhere outside of the Basilica, please allow enough time for the wedding party to arrive at the Basilica one-half hour before the liturgy.
- Flash photography is not permitted during the ceremony but is allowed during the opening and closing processions.
- Photographers/Video Personnel are not permitted in the sanctuary, choir loft, or sacristy.
- The University prohibits the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, anywhere on campus. This includes the Basilica.
- Couples are responsible for reading and sharing the florist guidelines with their vendor(s).
- Flowers are not required for weddings, but if used, must be arranged by a professional florist. Floral arrangements are not permitted on top of the altar, but can be placed on the floor in front of the altar. Please see the florist guidelines for more details.
- Due to time constraints, it is required that all men who are wearing boutonnieres are pinned prior to their arrival at the Basilica.
- Nothing may be moved or removed from the sanctuary. This includes the ambo (pulpit), lectern, candle sticks, banners, altar cloths, advent wreath and paschal candle.
- Bows, ribbons and foliage are not to be taped, glued or wired to the end of the pews. They may be fastened with ribbon, elastic or rubber bands. It is not the responsibility of the Basilica wedding coordinator to remove them. You must arrange removal with your florist. There are 24 rows of pews.
- Aisle runners are not permitted in the Basilica.
- Glitter on programs or flower arrangements; flower petals, rice, confetti, birdseed or bubbles may not be used inside or outside the Basilica. In addition, balloons may not be released inside or outside the Basilica. Since the Basilica is in constant use on the weekends, there is no time to clean up between events. If this rule is violated, there will be a custodial fee charge.
- The only candles permitted are those in the sanctuary which are supplied by the Basilica. Candles in the aisles or on the pews, including a unity candle, are not permitted.
- Construction of additional structures (i.e. arches) or use of signs and props (additional artwork, photographs, wagons, etc) is not permitted.
Outside Wedding Coordinators
- Couples are responsible for reading and sharing the wedding coordinator guidelines with their vendor(s).
- Any outside vendor hired as an event/wedding coordinator may not impact the responsibilities of the Basilica wedding coordinator.
- Couples (not outside event coordinators) communicate directly with the Basilica wedding coordinator to plan all elements of the wedding liturgy. It is essential that all communication occur directly between the couple and the Basilica wedding coordinator to ensure there is no miscommunication or confusion.
- Outside wedding coordinators will not be involved in seating of family members, processions, or any aspect of the liturgy.
- Outside wedding coordinators are asked not to meet with couples or family during the scheduled wedding rehearsal. Basilica wedding coordinators (and presiders) are responsible for the entire 45 minute rehearsal.
- Couples must inform their Basilica wedding coordinator of all buses, limo or other transportation 2 weeks prior to the wedding. Wedding coordinators will contact parking personnel and gate monitors.
- The bride and bridal party may be dropped off in front of the Basilica. Due to space limitations only limousines and smaller vehicles are permitted to drop off the bridal party in front of the Basilica. Any larger vehicles (i.e. buses) must use Sorin Circle (located behind the main building). Vehicles dropping off the bridal party must be moved from the front of the Basilica immediately.
- Groom and groomsmen may be dropped off at Sorin Circle (located behind the main building) and should enter the Basilica via the “God, Country, Notre Dame” door.
- The entire wedding party is to be picked up at Sorin Circle following the ceremony. No members of the party are to be picked up in front of the Basilica.
- Buses or limousines dropping off guests must do so at Sorin Circle. Buses and limousines are not permitted in the Grotto or St. Liam’s lot for parking or drop offs.
- Guests driving themselves will be allowed to park in the Grotto or St. Liam’s lots as long as space is available. Alternative parking is located along St. Mary’s Road.
- Handicapped parking is available for cars with ADA placards in the Grotto Lot, St. Liam’s lot and off Sorin Circle. Please use appropriately marked spots.
- Anyone dropping off a guest with a disability is invited to drive the guest to one of our two ADA entrances. Guests can be dropped at Sorin Circle and use the ADA entrance on the east side of the Basilica or may be dropped at the front of the Basilica and use the ADA entrance on the south side of the Basilica.
- A campus map can be viewed and shared with guests at map.nd.edu.