cathedral guidelines for weddings

Congratulations! The Cathedral of Saint Joseph Parish and Staff send you our very best wishes as you prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage. Our prayer for you is that the Cathedral will provide the simple elegance and sacred atmosphere to make the beginning of your married life a profound memory and the start of a long, spirit-filled journey for a lifetime together.

The information provided in the Cathedral Guidelines for Weddings is intended to answer some of the questions which are most likely on your mind at this time. Please read over these guidelines carefully so that there is no confusion about your use of the Cathedral Church. It may also help you to raise some questions for the Cathedral staff which have not yet occurred to you, but will be important for you to consider as you make plans for your wedding. It will assist you in making your wedding day a happy and holy event for you and for the Cathedral community. Please contact the Cathedral office if you would like a printed copy of the Cathedral Guidelines for Weddings booklet.

Please be assured of our continued prayers and support as you journey toward this special day in your lives.

Who can be married at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph?
Normally, those who are registered and active parishioners of the Cathedral Parish. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of celebrating the sacraments within one’s own community of faith. There can be exceptions to this. For example, couples belonging to other parishes within the Archdiocese might wish to celebrate their wedding in the Mother Church with a priest from their home parish officiating. If you are not familiar with the Cathedral, please come to one of our weekend liturgies. This will help you to become familiar with the space. You will be sure to agree that the Cathedral is a special and holy place.

Who is able to officiate at weddings in the Cathedral?
One of the priests assigned to the Cathedral will officiate at the weddings of Cathedral parishioners. In addition, permission can be given for another priest or deacon in good standing to officiate. And, as indicated above, if you belong to another parish within the Archdiocese, your parish priest will be the appropriate person to witness your marriage. A letter of delegation will be sent to the priest or deacon approximately two months prior to the wedding.

Are people who are not of the Catholic faith able to be married at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph?
They are, if they are marrying a Catholic.

Are people who have been married before able to be married in the Catholic Church?
It is advisable to speak with a priest or deacon since there can be extenuating circumstances in this area.

Is some sort of preparation needed for couples wishing to be married at the Cathedral?
Yes. Since marriage in the Catholic Church is both a sacrament and a lifetime commitment, one of the ways we value the integrity of this commitment is by requiring proper preparation. Couples who are parishioners of the Cathedral will meet with one of the Cathedral priests. Couples who are not parishioners of the Cathedral generally deal directly with the priest or deacon who will officiate at their wedding.

When may weddings take place at the Cathedral?
Saturday weddings are celebrated at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Friday weddings are also permitted. They are never celebrated on Sunday. Also, the Church discourages the Sacrament of Marriage to be celebrated during Lent.

How does one arrange to schedule a wedding on the Cathedral Calendar?
You must schedule an appointment with one of the Cathedral priests in order to arrange for a date. At this initial meeting with the priest, you will be required (if Catholic) to provide recent copies of baptismal certificates (dated no less than six months prior), establish your freedom to marry within the Church, verify who will officiate at your ceremony and place your security deposit. Once these requirements are fulfilled, the date can be secured. The steps listed above should be followed before you finalize any arrangements regarding the place of your reception.

What if my wedding is cancelled?
It is necessary for you to contact us immediately if your plans change and you decide not to use the Cathedral. We receive many requests for dates and need to keep our calendar current. Your deposit is refundable, in most circumstances, up to six months before the wedding.

Is there a fee involved for a Cathedral Wedding?
Yes, the fee helps defray the cost of the services of marriage preparation, the clergy, the organist, the cantor, the sacristan, the custodians, as well as the cost of utilities such as heat, air-conditioning and electricity. There are two fee schedules at the Cathedral, one for parishioners and another for non-parishioners. The parishioner rate for a wedding is set in order to honor the commitment of participating, contributing members to the parish community. Normally speaking, the parishioner rate applies to those who have been registered and participating members for at least six months prior to scheduling. The fee is due no later than the day of the rehearsal.

Donation for Parishioners
For weddings in the Cathedral, the fee is $700 plus deposit. No parishioner of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph is ever turned away because of the inability to pay.

Donation for Non-Parishioners
For weddings in the Cathedral, the fee is $1000 plus deposit.

Please note that a security deposit of $200 is required for all weddings and must be given to the priest at the initial interview in order to secure the date. This deposit will be returned to you if the rehearsal and/or wedding ceremony begins no more than fifteen minutes past the scheduled time. It is very unfair to the priest, the musicians and your guests to be late at your own wedding or rehearsal! The refund will be mailed within one month after your wedding ceremony if you have met the Cathedral requirements.

What about the marriage license?
Every marriage solemnized in the State of Connecticut requires a marriage license. The marriage license may be obtained either from the City of Hartford or the Connecticut town in which you live. The marriage license is valid sixty-five (65) days after the date it is issued. The State of Connecticut no longer requires a blood test before applying for the marriage license. This license is to be brought to the rehearsal and given to the priest or deacon officiating.

What if I have a private wedding consultant taking care of my wedding plans?
It is recommended that you duplicate this brochure for the wedding consultant’s information. It is good to keep in mind that a person from the Cathedral Staff will be conducting the rehearsal and officiating at the ceremony under the advisement of the bride and groom ONLY.

Where can we park?
The front entrance to the Cathedral is located at 140 Farmington Avenue. There is limited street parking available. Your guests should be directed to park in the Cathedral parking lot located behind the Cathedral off of Asylum Avenue. Directions can be found here.

What about the rehearsal?
Please be sure that all members of the wedding party have been properly notified of the time, place, which entrance is to be used for the rehearsal, and have been given directions to the Cathedral. The East Entrance to the Cathedral will be the only entrance unlocked for the rehearsal. Parking is available in the Chancery parking lot located off Farmington Avenue.

Can I have a unity candle at the ceremony?
Although the use of the Unity Candle is discouraged since it is not an integral part of the Catholic marriage ceremony, they are permitted. It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to supply the unity candle and accessories for their ceremony. The Cathedral is able only  to supply an appropriate stand.

Can I rearrange the furniture in the Cathedral?
Any furniture or liturgical decorations (plants, banners, altar cloths) already present in the sanctuary may not be disturbed in any way. Certainly nothing should be moved or rearranged without consultation with the Cathedral Staff.

What about flowers?
The Cathedral is much larger than most people think. Too few, too low, or too small of an arrangement will look out of place. Please encourage your florist to examine the space in person since a normal size arrangement will generally not be adequate for the desired effect.

  • Flowers are not to be placed on the altar.

  • Florists may deliver arrangements to the Cathedral one-half hour before the ceremony begins. They must call the rectory if they plan on delivering flowers at an earlier time to ascertain if there is another function prior to the wedding ceremony.

  • Floral arrangements must never obstruct the view of the assembly. The assembly must always be able to see the altar, the lector, the cantor and the presider.

  • Only bows or flowers are allowed on the pews. They must be attached with ribbons, rubber bands, or felt-covered wire only. No tacks, nails or duct tape may be used anywhere in the building.

  • If not indicated, the pew decorations will be removed and discarded by the Cathedral sacristan.

  • All floral arrangements are to be left in the Cathedral to enhance the beauty of our weekend liturgies.

  • The season of Lent is a penitential season of the Church year and flowers should be limited and reflect the spirit of the season.

What about Photography and/or Videography?

  • Photographers are asked not to interfere with the movement of the procession or recessional by having couples stop in the aisle.

  • Photographs taken during the ceremony must not interfere with the reverence, dignity, sacredness of the Sacrament of Marriage.

  • Photography/Videography is allowed to be taken from the choir loft.

  • Photographers/Videographers are not to enter the sanctuary (anywhere above the main floor level) at any time. They are allowed to take photos/video from behind the metal grill surrounding the sanctuary.
    It is advisable for the Photographer/Videographer to speak with the priest or deacon officiating at the wedding before the ceremony.

Can I have a runner?
Runners are permitted at the Cathedral. It is good to keep in mind that the runner may make the marble floor slippery and hazardous. Runner should be 150 feet in length to accommodate the Cathedral aisle.

Can my flower girl throw petals as she processes down the aisle?
No. The scattering of fresh flower petals is damaging to the Cathedral floor. Flower girls are welcome to carry a basket of arranged flowers to enhance the beauty of your ceremony. As a matter of course, nothing should be scattered in the Cathedral.

How can I help respect the sanctity of the Cathedral building?
Out of respect for the Church building, which is sacred, and out of respect for others who will be using this space after the wedding, we ask that no rice, birdseed, confetti, or balloons be used inside the Cathedral or on the Cathedral Plaza. No beverages are to be brought into the Cathedral. Chewing gum is not permitted during the rehearsal or ceremony. Dress and behavior should likewise be respectful.

How do I prepare a program for the wedding guests?
The Cathedral does not prepare wedding programs. If you choose to prepare a program booklet to be distributed to your guests, please consult the Cathedral Staff. The music department may also assist you with the program.

What about Cathedral safety?
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph does employ a security guard who will be on duty during your rehearsal and ceremony. However, we would advise that you attend to any personal belongings while on the Cathedral grounds. Vehicles are to be locked at all times. The Cathedral does not take responsibility for lost or stolen articles.

There are many regulations regarding the use of the Cathedral.  What if they are not followed?
These regulations are in place to protect the sanctity of the building and to maintain a level of organization with the many people who visit the Cathedral each year. The Cathedral Staff has a collective experience of what will work within our worship space and what will not. Although the guidelines may seem overwhelming and restricting, in the long run, they will assure you a wedding ceremony that will be breathtaking and unforgettable. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the loss of the deposit. It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to communicate all policies to those who will be involved in the wedding ceremony.


The Cathedral Music Department will help make the liturgical celebration of your marriage a beautiful, prayerful, and joyful event. We guide you in planning and we provide the musicians who will lead the singing and play instruments at your wedding. We look forward to meeting with you to assist in the selection of music appropriate to the sacramental nature of the liturgical celebration of marriage.

We ask that all couples being married in the Cathedral call the Music Office (860-578-1433) to schedule a wedding music consultation appointment. Note the selections you would like and bring the list to the planning meeting. It is also helpful if you have reviewed and chosen your scripture readings, especially the responsorial psalm.

The Cathedral Organist or Assistant Organist must play for all weddings. As your advisor, they will guide you through the music selection process. Any questions regarding the suitability of wedding music selections will be decided by the Music Director.

It is our policy that a Cathedral Cantor be engaged for each wedding. The cantor is the vocal soloist and leads the congregational singing. The Music Director will secure the services of a Cathedral Cantor for your wedding. It is important that a Cathedral Cantor participate in your wedding because of their high level of skill, familiarity with Cathedral liturgy, experience in the vast Cathedral space, and ongoing working relationship with Cathedral staff.

Additional instrumentalists (trumpet, violin, etc.) are often desired as part of the wedding music. After your wedding music planning meeting, the Music Director can engage the services of professional instrumentalists who are superbly skilled and experienced in working in the Cathedral. It is Cathedral policy that instrumentalists must be arranged through the Music Director.

A quartet, octet, large choir or any other combination of Cathedral singers may be contracted for your wedding. The Music Director can help you with this at the wedding music planning meeting. 

Non-Cathedral Musicians
For the reasons given above, the use of non-Cathedral musicians for weddings is strongly discouraged. In the event, however, that you wish to employ a non-Cathedral musician at your wedding, the following information applies:
An audio recording of the musician must be submitted to the Music Director at least one week before your wedding music planning meeting.  The Music Director will use the tape to determine the musician’s ability to competently fulfill their musical role in the liturgy. This is done to ensure the quality of musical and liturgical prayer at your wedding.  Most qualified musicians will have a suitable tape/CD available.

In the case of qualified non-Cathedral singers, they will be permitted to sing one or two solos as decided by the Music Director. Please note that even in cases where a non-Cathedral singer is permitted, a Cathedral Cantor must be present to lead the liturgical music.

Rehearsal time with the non-Cathedral musician and the Music Director must be arranged.  Please note that this rehearsal will require an extra fee. The Music Director will inform you of the exact amount of music fees at your meeting.  These fees may be given to the priest or deacon of the Cathedral at the time of the wedding rehearsal.

Pre-Recorded Music
The use of pre-recorded music is never permitted in Cathedral liturgy.

Suggested Wedding Music:
This list is only a sampling of music commonly used for weddings; we encourage you to bring you own ideas.

Processionals and Recessionals
Air (fr. Suite No. 3) - J. S. Bach
Canon in D - Pachelbel
The Rejoicing - Handel
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring - J. S. Bach
Ode to Joy - Beethoven
Psalm 19 - Marcello
Rondeau - Mouret
Toccata in F - Widor
Trumpet Tune - Purcell
Trumpet Voluntary - Clarke
Hornpipe (fr. Water Music) - Handel
Air (fr. Water Music) - Handel
Wedding March - Mozart

Vocal Solos
Alleluia - Mozart
Gift of Love - Hopson
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring - J. S. Bach
Laudate Dominum - Mozart
Let the Bright Seraphim - Handel
Love is Patient - Powell
Love is the Sunlight - Traditional Gaelic
Panis Angelicus - Franck
The Call - Vaughan Williams
Thy Perfect Love - Rutter
Wedding Song - Peeters

Music for the Unity Candle Ceremony
A Unity Candle Song (Vocal solo) - Haan
La Grace (Instrumental) - Telemann

Music for Marian Devotion
Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod
Ave Maria - Dupré
Ave Maria - Saint-Saens
Ave Maria - Schubert

Music Planning Sheet for a Wedding Mass

Music Planning Sheet for a Wedding Ceremony


Cathedral of St. Joseph  140 Farmington Avenue  Hartford, Connecticut 06105  860-249-8431