top of page

The Sacrament of Matrimony - Why?

What this short video and find out

Getting Married Here at St. Joseph Church/Bread of Life Community

Getting Started:

The first thing you'll want to do before planning your ceremony is to schedule the date and time of your wedding with our parish secretary, Cheryl Konzel, at 814-452-2982 if you have not already done so. Since our wedding calendar fills up quickly at Saint Joseph, we suggest scheduling your wedding at least six months in advance.  One year ahead is ideal. After that, you will have to call the priest or deacon you want to perform the ceremony to make sure the date you picked is available on his calendar.


You will need to meet with the priest or deacon you choose at least three times.  The purpose of these meetings is to prepare your minds and hearts for your marriage. The priest or deacon will assist you with your evaluations and counseling and with the required documents for Church and civil validity.


Before you meet with the priest or deacon, you will need to call Cheryl so she can set you up to take your FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study). FOCCUS is a self-diagnostic instrument designed to help couples learn more about themselves and their unique relationship. This is done on-line and the results are given to the priest or deacon for you to go over at one of your meetings.


After your initial meeting, the priest or deacon will be eager to help you with the appropriate one of these marriage preparation experiences: Pre-Cana, Engagement Encounter, or Nova. You must attend one of these experiences.  The final meeting with the priest will focus on planning the wedding ceremony. 


Diocesan policy forbids the wedding to be scheduled until after the couple has met with the priest and it is clear that the couple is free to marry in the Catholic Church and have the necessary intentions.


The Wedding Ceremony: 

If both the bride and groom are baptized Catholics, the wedding rite is placed in the setting of the Mass, the Holy Eucharist.  It completes the promises of your Baptism as you marry and share the Eucharist with each other and with your loved ones.  If one of you is not Catholic or perhaps not baptized, then the wedding rite is usually celebrated within the Liturgy of the Word itself.  A wedding is a celebration of unity; excluding a major part of the congregation from sharing Holy Communion unduly accents the unfortunate incomplete unity of the Christian denominations.


Brides or grooms who are members of St. Joseph’s are welcome to be married here.  Those who do not belong to the parish must obtain written permission from their pastors to celebrate their wedding here.  When Communion will be given under both forms, it will be done so only if the presiding priest will be assisted by either another priest, deacon, commissioned acolyte, or by a special minister of the Eucharist. The Diocesan regulation permits special ministers of the Eucharist to serve only in their own parish. If you are choosing a special minister of the Eucharist from another parish, please have that person obtain a note from their pastor, and send it to St. Joseph Church no later than one month prior to the wedding.


Times for Weddings:

Weddings can be scheduled on Friday evenings or Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.. On Saturdays all photography must be concluded by 3:00 PM because of confessions that begin at 3:00 p.m., followed by 4:15 p.m. Mass. Choice of rehearsal time will be on a “first come, first served” basis.  Rehearsals are usually held the night before the wedding. Weddings are usually not scheduled during the six (6) weeks of Lent.  The festivity of a wedding and the season of Lent do not blend well.


What Documents will you need?


·  A newly issued baptismal certificate, dated within the past six months.  You may obtain it directly from the church of your baptism. Both the Catholic and non-Catholic parties need this documentation whenever there has been baptism celebrated. The Catholic party will also need the dates and place of their first communion and confirmation, if they have received these sacraments. Please have these documents sent to our parish before your initial meeting with the priest or deacon, or bring them with you to the first meeting.


·  In the case of a second marriage, please advise the priest or deacon of this reality. Proof of the previous marriage and legal divorce are needed. If the previous spouse(s) has died proof of their death are required. This applies to Catholic or non-Catholic equally.


·  In many cases an Annulment will be required when a previous marriage has been celebrated.  A Formal Decree of Nullity is needed to set a wedding date. We will assist you if such a decree is needed.


·  If you are living outside the Diocese of Erie, then it will be your responsibility to have the needed Church paperwork (Usually a MA Form, and Two MB Forms) from the parish that you belong to. If you do not belong to any parish you will need to join one since you will also need permission from them to be married in our parish. All of the paperwork MUST be sent to our parish at least one month before the date of the wedding, or the wedding will not proceed at our parish! 


·  Finally, a Civil License (Marriage License) must be obtained. You must both be present to apply for the license. No blood test is required in PA. The license is valid for 60 days. You may drop your license off to the Parish Office anytime prior to the wedding, but no later than the time of the rehearsal.


Obtaining a Marriage License in Erie County


Erie County Courthouse, Room 123
140 W 6th Street
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-451-6264
Office Hours: 8:00AM-4:00PM 


Both applicants must appear in person with the following:

·  Driver's license or photo I.D. which shows your date of birth

·  Your social security number (your social security card is preferred, but if unavailable, please provide in written form)

·  You will need to know your mothers' maiden name, your parents' current addresses, the state where your parents were born, and your parents' occupations

·  $45 filing fee - Cash only


If either applicant is divorced, or divorced more than once, you must bring in your latest divorce decree. If the female has resumed her maiden name after the divorce, she must submit proof of resuming her maiden name. 

If your prior marriage was terminated by death, you must provide the death certificate, or at least a copy of the death certificate, as to your former spouse. 

There is a three-day waiting period between the application and the issuance of license and either applicant can pick up the license after the three-day waiting period. 

Your license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and it can only be used in Pennsylvania. 

Non-Pennsylvania residents may also secure a license in our office, but the license can only be used in Pennsylvania. 

You may also get a license from any other county in Pennsylvania, but NOT from another state!



Placing flowers in the sanctuary is more than a mere decoration—it is part of the worship that is your wedding liturgy. For that reason, it seems inappropriate to “take them back.” Being designed for church use, they often look out of place at a reception and are unfortunately often discarded afterwards.  When you leave your flowers here, they are reminders to the weekend worshippers to keep you in their prayers.


Decorations for the Church Elaborate decorations are not necessary due to the beautiful architecture and appointments of our church. Our worship space reflects our observances of various liturgical seasons and days, such as special colors, banners, candles and flowers for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Thanksgiving, etc. These seasonal decorations are not to be removed or altered for weddings. Any additions should be planned with simplicity and good taste and should reflect the religious nature of your wedding celebration.


We suggest you visit St. Joseph Church and plan flower arrangement and placement to enhance the ceremony.   The recommended placement areas are:

·  the front points of the sanctuary; side altars

·  along side the altar of sacrifice, being sensitive to traffic flow

·  on the reredos or back altar


Nothing is to be placed on the Altar of Sacrifice (i.e. flowers, unity candles, peace flowers, etc.)  All will be placed on side stands.  The florist will be responsible for placing the flowers in the sanctuary, marking them with your name.  The St. Joseph Office can put you in touch with any others to be married the same day as you, should you want to share expenses.


Bows or flowers may be attached to pews with rubber bands or pipe cleaners only – no tape please!  You may also just loop the ribbon around the end of the pew and attach flowers. We also have 18 Pew Candles that you can rent for $10 each, you can rent as many of those as you wish. 


There are 25 rows of pews.  The center aisle is 80 feet long to center inside double doors. Any church decorations in place before the ceremony should be put back if moved.


Unity Candle:

This popular option is not in the Church’s official Rite of Marriage. If you choose to light a unity candle during the wedding rite, you provide the candle. This can be either a single candle, which is lit from the altar candles, or a set of one unity candle with two smaller candles. Some couples invite their parents (mothers and/or fathers) to light the altar candles before the service.


Wedding Coordinators:

Our parish has several people who will aid with the wedding ceremony. They will be present at the rehearsal and possibly lead it. She/he will be present at the wedding ceremony to assure things run smoothly.



Photographers should wear proper attire and place camera and equipment inconspicuously in the Sanctuary before the ceremony.  Photographers are not permitted in the Tabernacle area.  Photographers should not be visible in the sanctuary and should not take photos from the side areas, particularly during the exchange of vows, the heart of the marriage rite.


Please be mindful of Church events that follow your wedding and have photos taken promptly.  Photo sessions should not go on longer than 30 minutes.  Since the church is a sacred place, this part should be done with respect and quiet. 



Bride’s Area:

The north end of the vestibule at the rear of the church is the only area available for the bridal party before the ceremony.  For security reasons, do not leave personal belongings there unattended. The groom and groomsmen may gather in the sacristy.




Parking is available on the South side of the church and in the parking lot adjoining, as well as on the north side of West 24th Street, across from the church.






For any registered and contributing member of Saint Joseph Parish, there are no fees for the use of the church for your wedding. A contributing member is defined as one who donates a minimum of $5.00 weekly in the Sunday offertory envelope for at least 26 weeks prior to the wedding.  Please do not join the parish to get married here and then leave.  That is dishonest, and it is just using the Church for your personal gain.  You would not let anyone do that to your family; please do not do it to our Church family.  You will, of course, be paying fees for the other professional persons you engage (musicians, photographers, florists, etc.).


Anyone who is not a contributing member of St. Joseph Parish is required to make a $500.00 contribution, due at the time you confirm your wedding date, for the use of parish facilities. This will help with the expenses of maintaining our beautiful church. (In view of what you will spend for wardrobe, entertainment and other things, this contribution is not too much to expect.)


A $100.00 clean up fee for all weddings (parishioners and non-parishioners) at the time you confirm your wedding, and will be refunded on the Wednesday following the wedding if the church is left as clean as it was when you arrived. NO WEDDING DATES ARE CONFIRMED UNTIL THE FEES ARE PAID!



Our music minister, Brianna Erdman, will meet with you and help you select the appropriate music that is right for you and the Church.  She can be reached 814-452-2982. She has a set fee for her services if she plays for your wedding. You will probably also want to have an organist, and Brianna can put you in touch with one. Outside musicians are also welcome; however, they must be liturgically competent:  i.e., completely familiar with the Roman Catholic liturgy and liturgical practices.  Guest musicians are free to use our organ and/or piano, however, they, too, must meet with our music minister at least one month prior to the wedding. Pre-recorded music cannot be played during the wedding ceremony, but only as a prelude to it. IMPORTANT NOTE: Failure to contact Brianna may result in denial of the use of our equipment and our facilities!



Altar servers are not required, but if you wish to have altar servers, please let us know so that we can arrange to have them scheduled to serve. You can choose altar servers from your relatives or friends.  If you want us to provide altar servers, the appropriate gift to them is $10 each.



There are no fees required for the administration of any Sacraments of the Church in the Diocese of Erie. However, you may choose to make an offering to the priest.  Taking into consideration the hours of discussion in preparation and rehearsal time and wedding ceremony time your priest spent with you, a standard for your gift could well be at least what you spend for music or other professional service involved in your wedding.



Please, NO GLITTER should be used in the Church! It is almost impossible to get off the carpet!

We do not permit the throwing of rice, bird seed, confetti or flowers after the ceremony.  Given our schedule, there simply is not time enough to clean it up.  It is also a nuisance for the wedding party’s hair and clothing.  We try to have the church and surrounding area clean and neat when you arrive and hope you will leave it the same way.  Smoking and the use of alcohol is absolutely prohibited inside and outside on parish property.  If you are caught with alcohol before or during the ceremony you will be asked to leave the church and your wedding will not be performed here!





  • In the Sacrament of Marriage, God calls couples to lives of holiness.

  • The Church strongly encourages all Catholics to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance or Confession) prior to marriage.

  • The Church absolutely requires all Catholics who are conscious of mortal sin to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to marriage.




The St. Joseph Church/Bread of Life Community staff will gladly answer any questions you may have. We hope your wedding in this beautiful church will be Christ-centered and we wish you many happy years together.  


Please download and sign the "Wedding Reservation Agreement Form"  and send it to the parish office with the necessary fees to confirm your date.  NOTE: THIS FORM MUST BE FILLED-OUT AND RETURNED, WITH YOUR DEPOSIT, TO THE CHURCH BEFORE YOUR WEDDING DATE CAN BE BOOKED!

bottom of page