Wedding Guidelines

The faith community of the Basilica of St Michael is delighted that you are considering our historic basilica for your celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Our every aim is to assist you in preparing a prayerful and joyful celebration. On this page you will find important guidelines and policies governing this blessed occasion. Please read them carefully and address all questions or requests for clarification to our Wedding Coordinator at


PreparationLiturgyDecorationsWedding Times & PartiesMusicPhotography/VideographyDecorumRehearsalsMaintenance DisclaimerOfferingRefunds

You are responsible for completing marriage preparation with the priest or deacon of your home parish in accordance with the requirements of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The pastor and deacon of the Basilica Parish are normally available to facilitate preparation and officiate at weddings held in the Basilica only for couples living in the local Pensacola area, though there are exceptions to this. All other couples are to make arrangements with the priest or deacon of the home parish of either the bride or the groom in order to complete their requirements for marriage preparation.

Regardless of where the preparation takes place, the requirements of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee for marriage preparation must be observed. All paperwork should be submitted on the forms of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Full information can be found at the Marriage Preparation page of the diocesan website (

The couple will also need to secure the services of a priest or deacon to officiate at the wedding if the clergy of the Basilica are not involved.

All paperwork with supporting documentation must be submitted to the Basilica Rector no later than one month prior to your celebration. Failure to comply with this may result in delay or even the cancellation of your reserved wedding time. If you are being prepared outside the territory of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, the proper protocol is to submit the complete file to the local Tribunal or Chancery in time for that office to review and send the file to the Tribunal of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. For more complete directions, please see Appendix A.

The Basilica is not a ‘venue’ as are reception halls or restaurants, it is not rented: it is a house of worship and a community of faith. As a result, there are specific policies and requirements that ensure the appropriate conduct of weddings within our parish. Fees are assessed to offset the cost to our parishioners and the associated risks of using our facilities.

The Rite of Marriage celebrated within the Mass or within a Liturgy of the Word is a sacred celebration. The Catholic Church celebrates weddings in accord with either the Rite of Marriage within Mass (for weddings in which both bride and groom are Catholic) or the Rite of Marriage within the Liturgy of the Word.

The person preparing you for marriage will provide you with materials to facilitate your selection of options for the celebration of your wedding. Please be aware that if you are being prepared by someone other than Basilica staff, the materials used must be approved beforehand.

All liturgical requirements pertinent to weddings will be observed in full at the Basilica for every wedding.

Personal vows are not permitted to take the place of the Church’s vow formula nor can they be added to the vow formula.

Both rites listed above include the proclaiming of Sacred Scripture. Readers chosen by the couple from among family or friends ought to be selected for the clarity of their speech and their ability to project their voice clearly and confidently. Oftentimes, there are family members or friends who are liturgical readers at their parish. The proclamation of Sacred Scripture is an important dimension of the Liturgy and the best possible proclaimers are to be chosen for this role.

The Basilica is an active parish church, and the sanctuary is decorated according to liturgical seasons and feasts. These decorations are part of any liturgical celebration and will remain in place for your wedding.

During certain times of the year, you may have the option of selecting the arrangements to be provided by the Basilica’s florist. Additional flowers may be permitted if approved by the Rector in writing.

For complete guidelines concerning floral and other decorations, please see Appendix B.

Your reservation for the Basilica begins 90 minutes before the start of your ceremony. Access to the Basilica prior to the start of your reservation is not permitted. It is imperative that you begin and conclude within the times communicated to you in your reservation confirmation. There are often events scheduled before and after your reservation. Weddings with a Nuptial Mass beginning more than 20 minutes late will be restricted to a Liturgy of the Word and Exchange of Vows.

The parish reserves the right to terminate the rehearsal or wedding ceremony (including pictures) at the end of the allotted time (whether finished or not).

Space limitations as well as liturgical decorum limit your wedding party to no more than 16 persons total, including bride and groom. Any children participating in your wedding party should be at least 4 years of age. Wedding parties larger than this can be accommodated by using the pews. All attire for bride and bridesmaids must be modest; bare shoulders and backs and low cut fronts are not appropriate for the sacredness of a Church wedding liturgy. The Basilica has no place for the bride or any of the wedding party to get dressed or change clothes before or after the wedding.

The sacred nature of your wedding liturgy requires the use of approved ministers of music and the careful selection of appropriate music. Our Director of Sacred Music will assist you with music selection. We urge you to be in contact with him before planning any aspect of your liturgy. Please see Appendix C

The sacred nature of the wedding liturgy also demands discreet and professional behavior on the part of photographers/videographers including during the taking of group photos . Please see Appendix D for details.

Proper respect and decorum are required at all times on parish premises. At no time is eating, drinking, or smoking allowed in or around the Basilica or rectory (parish office). Alcohol and individuals under the influence are not allowed on our property. Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in the immediate dismissal of offending wedding party members. Failure to leave upon request will delay or cancel the wedding. Basilica staff will not hesitate to involve the intervention of law enforcement as needed.

Out of respect for parish staff and for other scheduled events, wedding parties must be prompt for both the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony.

The wedding rehearsal will be held on Thursday or Friday afternoon/evening for Saturday weddings, and it is an important part of the preparation for the ceremony. The parish wedding coordinator will conduct the wedding rehearsal and will give a brief overview of the liturgy to help all concerned understand the prayerful nature of the celebration. Only those directly involved in the ceremony should be invited to the actual rehearsal in the Basilica – others should be directed to meet you at the rehearsal dinner site.

Those who should be present at your rehearsal in the Basilica include the bride and the groom, both sets of parents, step parents, etc., grandparents (optional), bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, readers, and gift bearers (if being used). At the rehearsal a responsible adult must accompany any children who are in the wedding party. We ask that you require all these members of your wedding party to be present for the rehearsal, and kindly remind them they must arrive on time.

We suggest that you ask everyone to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Also remind them of the inevitable parking challenges in downtown Pensacola during the afternoon. Rehearsals are allotted a total of 1 hour and we strictly adhere to the schedule. Rehearsals that begin late risk losing adequate rehearsal time. The rehearsal itself is not the time for discussion and decision-making. All decisions on the form of the procession, the choice of readers/gift bearers, etc. are to be made beforehand and submitted to the wedding coordinator.

Remember that the rehearsal does not begin until the wedding coordinator has received the wedding license.

Our Basilica is an historic building. There may be times when unforeseen circumstances force us to attend to maintenance and other repairs, which in extreme cases may involve the possibility of scaffolding or other materials which cannot be removed.

In order to cover the costs associated with the use of our Basilica church, we request an offering based on your relationship with the Basilica. The specific amounts will be discussed with the engaged couple in anticipation of signing the contract for use of the Basilica’s facilities. This offering covers utilities and other building costs, as well as the services of two individuals: the Wedding Coordinator and the Music Director. Please note that an honorarium for the Priest or Deacon who officiates your wedding is not included in this offering. This honorarium is the couple’s responsibility.

For all couples, a non-refundable deposit is required in order to secure your wedding date. The balance is due no less than 45 days prior to the celebration.

If it is deemed necessary for the Basilica of St Michael to cancel a wedding due to circumstances beyond its control (e.g., hurricane, unforeseeable major church repair) we will refund all payments made to the church. No other expenses incurred will be reimbursed.

Appendix A: The Marriage Preparation ProcessAppendix B: Floral and Decoration GuidelinesAppendix C: Wedding Music GuidelinesAppendix D: Photographic / Videographic Guidelines

The priest or deacon you choose to prepare you for marriage is responsible for guiding you through the process. Below we summarize for you what this will involve for the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and the State of Florida.

A meeting on-site for all couples with the Basilica Rector and Wedding Coordinator is required at least than nine months prior to your potential date, whether you live in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee or not. During this initial meeting the marriage process will be thoroughly reviewed. Please bring your signed contract agreement and deposit to this meeting. No date is confirmed prior to this meeting. Diocesan policy states that you must begin preparing for your marriage with a priest or deacon no less than six months prior to your wedding, preferably with the clergyman who will officiate at your wedding, if he resides in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. A donation to your presider is not included in the offering that you make to the church.

With your clergyman you will need to complete a Pre-Nuptial Questionnaire. This will require you to obtain recently issued baptismal certificates within six months for both bride and groom, if they are Catholic, and perhaps the acquisition of certain permissions from the Diocese. Your preparation will also include the FOCCUS inventory or another similar pre-marriage instrument. The purpose of these instruments is to help couples identify aspects of their relationship where greater communication is needed.

You will also be asked to participate in an approved Marriage Preparation Seminar. For serious reasons, an alternative marriage preparation seminar can be considered. If you reside in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, see the Marriage and Family Life page on the Diocesan website. If you reside outside the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, the clergyman preparing you can direct you to your Diocese’s schedule for these seminars. Among the options are a day-long seminar and a weekend retreat. We suggest that you reserve a spot on your preferred date as soon as possible since these seminars tend to fill up. A certificate of participation must be included among your marriage preparation documents.

If neither the bride nor groom is a registered, active parishioner of the Basilica parish, the parish pastor of the party who is a Catholic (or parties if both are Catholic) must complete the Pastor Permission Form granting his permission for the Catholic party to be married at the Basilica. This letter must be brought to your initial Wedding Committee meeting.

If the clergyman who will preside at your wedding is not on staff at the Basilica parish, he must:

1) send confirmation (fax, letter or e-mail) that he commits to officiate at the wedding and/or is assuming responsibility for the couple’s preparation.

2) submit a Letter of Good Standing issued by his diocese or religious superior.

If you are being prepared by someone other than the clergy on the Basilica staff, your completed paperwork must arrive at the Basilica Office no less than 30 days prior to your wedding. If you are being prepared outside the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, your paperwork will have to clear not only your home chancery (diocesan office), but also the Pensacola-Tallahassee Matrimonial Tribunal before it will be forwarded to us. We urge you to allow sufficient time for this processing to occur.

It is the responsibility of the couple to obtain from the State of Florida a valid marriage license, issued no more than 30 days before the ceremony and no fewer than 72 hours before the ceremony. The license is to be hand delivered to the Marriage Coordinator at the rehearsal. Failure to do so will postpone the rehearsal until the license is presented. No wedding can take place without a license. No wedding will take place if a marriage license from another state is presented.

Because of the historic and religious significance of the Basilica of St. Michael and the wedding liturgy, it is important that all church furnishings be respected. These guidelines will assist you in knowing what is permitted in our church. Our Wedding Coordinator will put the engaged couple in contact with the Basilica florist. We highly recommend the use of the Basilica florist for the best results.

All decorations placed by the Basilica of St Michael must be left in place. No arrangements or floral decorations may be brought to the church earlier than one hour prior to the ceremony.

Floral arrangements can be placed on the high altar only by the Basilica florist. The Basilica florist will make these arrangements as they remain for the weekend and cannot be taken away after the wedding ceremony. Floral arrangements may be placed on the Blessed Mother and/or St. Joseph altars. These may be taken with the couple, if so desired. Flowers may also be placed on the two glass counter pillar tops in the foyer of the church. All flower arrangements touching marble, glass or linen are to be placed in plastic saucers. We are most appreciative when flower arrangements are left after the wedding as a gift for our weekend Masses.

Floral arrangements are to be brought to the church already assembled. The florist is not to use the altar, sanctuary or vestibule to make arrangements.

Floral arrangements may be attached to the end of pews, but no staples, wire, clamps or tape may be used to do so. Pews and aisles are not to be blocked or cordoned off in any way.

The Unity Candle is not permitted. Other candles or candelabra (with drip-proof globes) are permitted only if pre-approved in writing by the Rector. Florists must agree to remain on the premises for the duration of the wedding so that candelabra can be removed immediately after the wedding. Furthermore, costs incurred by the church either for professional clean-up of wax spills or for overnight storage of materials not removed within 15 minutes after the wedding will be deducted from the otherwise refundable security deposit made by the engaged couple.

Rice, confetti, bubbles, seeds, etc. are not allowed inside or outside the church. Flower petals are permitted, but only actual flower petals, not paper or other imitations.

Aisle runners are not allowed under any circumstances at any time.

It is the responsibility of the florist and/or wedding party to remove any decorations attached to the pews immediately after the ceremony along with flower boxes and other refuse.

Professionals ignoring these guidelines risk losing permission to service future weddings at the Basilica of St. Michael and the engaged couple risks forfeiting their security deposit should the Basilica incur any cost or inconvenience as a result.

Every aspect of your wedding celebration has as its primary purpose the engagement of those assembled in active prayer and worship. For this reason, only sacred music is appropriate to the occasion. Furthermore, all sacred music used within a wedding celebration must also be liturgical, that is, it must contribute to the active participation and prayer of the assembly. As a result, not all sacred music is appropriate to the celebration and not every song is appropriate to every moment. To ensure the best possible liturgical experience, therefore, all selection and placement of music must be approved by our Director of Sacred Music.

The Basilica requires the participation of the Basilica organist at all weddings, including those at which a Nuptial Mass is not celebrated. The Basilica organist is the only person to play the organ and keyboard. His services are included in the offering requested for the church. Minimally, the cantor will sing the responsorial psalm and the Gospel Alleluia. Of course, if you wish, the cantor will also lead the assembly in other singing, as well as offer meditative song. During the ceremony, cantors are located in the choir loft, next to the organist.

Subject to the review and approval of the Director of Sacred Music, you are free to engage outside soloists for non-congregational singing, as well as additional musicians, to supplement the services of the Basilica organist. However, please do not contract any outside soloists or musicians without first consulting with the Basilica. Outside cantors and musicians are guests of the Basilica and as such are to follow the directions of the Basilica Director of Sacred Music. If a couple desires the singing of the “Ave Maria”, by someone other than our Director, that person will have to audition before permission is given for the hymn to be included.  The soloist must be able to pronounce the Latin correctly, and sing the hymn as it is written. Added musicians are responsible for providing, as necessary, appropriate music to the Basilica organist. Also, if the added musicians have not worked before with the Basilica organist, it may be necessary for there to be a music rehearsal, the cost of which is the responsibility of the wedding couple.

All musicians and cantors, other than the Basilica organist provided by the church, are to be considered independent contractors. Their fees are NOT included in the offering you make to the parish. Although the Basilica Music Director may be able to assist you with referrals, all arrangements and payments concerning outside musicians will be your responsibility.

In order to encourage participation at their ceremony, couples will often choose to create a worship aid (program) for their celebration. The couple will submit their selection for the Scripture readings and music to be included in the worship aid.  The Basilica Parish Office will produce the worship aid as part of the wedding fee.

Given the sacred nature of the marriage celebration, photographers and videographers must be careful not to disrupt or distract those in attendance. Couples are responsible for communicating these guidelines to their photographer and/or videographer. Failure to abide by these guidelines will lead to restrictions on the photographer for future weddings.

Professionals are to follow the directives of the Wedding Coordinator at all times concerning where they may stand or move.

Professionals must not be conspicuous nor obstruct any of the proceedings. At no time should they stand in the aisle or enter the sanctuary. No equipment is allowed in the sanctuary or in the aisles.

Video cameras may be stationed to the side of the sanctuary and/or the choir loft provided they remain immobile.

Photographers are not permitted in the sanctuary space (where the altar is located) at any time. Once the prelude music has begun all members of the bridal party must be in their respective places in order for the liturgy to begin.

Time permitting, the Wedding Coordinator may allow pictures to be taken immediately after the conclusion of the liturgy. Out of respect for church staff, photographers must complete their work within 30 minutes of the end of the liturgy.

Photographers and videographers need to be considerate of each other when positioning themselves for picture taking. They are not to obstruct each other’s views.