Wedding Guidelines

Please read these guidelines before contacting Parish for marriage preparation.  If you essentially understand these requirements and wish to schedule marriage preparations classes and your wedding, please Click Here To Register. (When registering, just put "1" in the quantity box on the lower right-hand side of the registration form.)

Date and time of the wedding. 3

Who can be married at Saint Catherine Church?. 3

Whose marriage?. 3

What must be the intentions upon entering marriage?. 3

What about mixed marriages (where a future spouse is not Catholic)?. 3

Cohabitation (“Living together before marriage”) 4

Who will be the celebrant?. 4

Witnesses (“Best Man” and “Maid of honor”) 4

Mass or Ceremony?. 4

Working out the details. 4

Preparation. 4

What Church documents are needed?. 5

What civil documents are needed?. 5

Planning the Nuptial Mass or Marriage Ceremony Outside of Mass. 6

Unity Candle. 6

Vestments and Sacred Vessels 6

Ring-bearers 6

Who can receive Holy Communion?. 6

Wedding rehearsal (See also Appendix) 7

Dressing facilities. 7

Flowers and church decorations 7

Music. 7

Wedding Coordinator 8

Altar servers 8

Sacred demeanor 8

Dress should be modest and in accord with Christian sensibilities. 8

Photography and video equipment 8

Housekeeping. 9

Schedule of costs. 9

Address and Phone Number 10


Acknowledgment of Intention to Adhere to Wedding Guidelines. 12

Photographer Agreement 13

Appendix: Wedding Rehearsal Guidelines. 14

Why we require your attentiveness to modesty in wedding attire. 19


Date and time of the wedding

The usual wedding time slots are 11 am or 1 pm on Saturday. Under unusual circumstances, it may be possible to schedule a wedding on a weekday. Only the priest can approve dates. Do not incur significant expenses until the priest has approved the date. IMPORTANT NOTE *** IF YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES TO YOUR WEDDING PLANS AFFECTING THE CHURCH (CANCELLATIONS, DATE CHANGES, REHEARSAL TIMES, MUSIC, ETC.), PLEASE CONTACT THE PRIEST.


Who can be married at Saint Catherine Church?

If the bride or the groom lives within the established Parish boundaries, the couple can be married at Saint Catherine Church. In addition, children of established members of the Parish can also consider a wedding in the Parish.


Whose marriage?

You marry each other. You promise each other lasting love and fidelity. But you do this before God, the priest of the Church, and the Church Herself. You, the bride and groom, are the ministers of marriage.


What must be the intentions upon entering marriage?

Permanence: Each partner must intend to enter a permanent marriage. You must envision no divorce and remarriage during the lifetime of either party. No prenuptial agreements are permitted.

Faithfulness: Each partner must intend to be faithful to one another.

Children: The mutual love of the couple must be open to the birth and education of children according to the law of Christ and His Church. Contraception and sterilization are contrary to the law of God and His Church. In addition, statistics show that marriages where contraception is a significant factor end in divorce. Natural family planning, correctly understood, is permissible.


What about mixed marriages (where a future spouse is not Catholic)?

The priest arranges permission or dispensation for a mixed marriage. The Catholic spouse has the responsibility to arrange for the baptism of the children in the Catholic faith. They must educate and form the children in the practice of the Catholic faith. Candidly discuss any concerns you may have with the priest.


Cohabitation (“Living together before marriage”)

Cohabitation is unlawful and is not compatible with Catholic teaching and human freedom. Cohabitation calls into question the understanding of the true nature of Christian marriage. It is seriously sinful and, as an irregular situation, it may also (incorrectly) suggest to family and friends that such an arrangement is acceptable as a Christian practice.


Who will be the celebrant?

Depending upon scheduling constraints, the Pastor will witness your vows within a Mass or a Ceremony Outside of Mass. You may select a priest from outside the Parish with the permission of the Pastor. An out-of-state priest must be qualified in the Commonwealth of Virginia and comply with the paperwork requirements of the Diocese of Arlington (the parish priest must contact the priest preparing you for marriage). It is your responsibility to ensure this civil process takes place.

Witnesses (“Best Man” and “Maid of honor”)

A Catholic must be married in the presence of the priest/deacon and two other witnesses. The best man and the maid of honor may be non-Catholics.


Mass or Ceremony?

If both parties are practicing Catholics, a nuptial Mass is appropriate (although, strictly speaking, not necessary). When one of the parties is not Catholic, a simple ceremony is suitable. During a nuptial Mass, the Rite of Marriage takes place after the homily. See the priest for details.


Working out the details


The working relationship between the bride and groom and the priest must be honest and, as appropriate, confidential. You alone will be working out all of the details of the wedding ceremony with the priest.  Please advise parents and friends (and your wedding consultant, if you hired one).  The priest and the Parish wedding coordinator will deal directly with the bride, groom, and wedding party.



Six-month notice: Following Diocesan guidelines, arrange to meet with a priest of your choice (as available) at least six months before the anticipated date of the wedding.

Residency: If you reside outside the Northern Virginia area, you must make arrangements for a priest in your area to prepare you according to Church policies and the directives of the priest who will witness your marriage.

Meetings: The couple will meet with the priest for four to six sessions during the period of preparation.

Pre-nuptial investigation: The priest administers the pre-nuptial investigation. It is a short questionnaire that both parties fill out. It gives the Church reasonable confidence that there are no obstacles (impediments) to your marriage.

Conferences: You must choose between the Conferences for the Engaged and the Engaged Encounter Weekend. See the brochures for details.

Natural Family Planning (NFP): We strongly urge you to enroll in the Diocesan-sponsored Natural Family Planning Workshop. The priest may require attendance.

Sacraments: We urge Catholics to go to Confession before receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony.


What Church documents are needed?

A Baptismal document of recent issue: For Catholics, the baptismal certificate must be dated no more than six months before the date of marriage. Obtain baptismal certificates from the church of your baptism. Please ask the church secretary to indicate all “notations.” A certificate without “notations” is incomplete. A copy of the certificate held by parents will not do.

First Holy Communion and Confirmation dates are required.

The priest will obtain permission from the Bishop for inter-faith marriages before the celebration. The priest will discuss this with you.

Certificate of attendance at the Conferences for the Engaged or Engaged Encounter Weekend. The priest will give you the forms to register.

Two witnesses for the bride and two witnesses for the groom (usually parents) are required to complete affidavits of freedom to marry. The priest who is preparing you for marriage will provide the forms.


What civil documents are needed?

Marriage license. Obtain information concerning civil requirements from the Fairfax County Courthouse at (703-246-2993).

Under no circumstances can the wedding take place without a civil marriage license. Deliver the marriage license to the priest at or before the rehearsal.


Planning the Nuptial Mass or Marriage Ceremony Outside of Mass

Consult the priest with for planning the Mass or Ceremony outside of Mass. Within the limits of the ritual, you can choose selected Scriptural passages and prayers.

Please do not print ceremony programs before clearing the music selections and other liturgical details with the Music Director (see "Music," page 7). The Parish Office Secretary will assist you in drafting the ceremony program.


Unity Candle

The practice of lighting a unity candle is not permitted because it has no basis in liturgical law. During Nuptial Masses, the Eucharist is the center of unity. However, as you wish, consider lighting a unity candle during the reception for the opening prayer.


Vestments and Sacred Vessels

 The priest will select the appropriate vestments and the sacred vessels from those on hand in the Parish.



 Ring-bearers and flower girls should not be very young children (less than seven years old). The priest usually requires that an adult escort the children down the aisle.


Who can receive Holy Communion?

Practicing Catholics will be invited to receive Holy Communion. We invite non-Catholics -- or Catholics unable to receive Communion -- to join us in prayer. The priest will handle this delicately and with charity. Non-Catholics are most welcome to attend the Mass but should not receive Holy Communion.


Wedding rehearsal (See also Appendix)

We typically schedule wedding rehearsals on the evening (usually Friday) before the wedding Mass or Ceremony. Allow thirty (30) to forty-five (45) minutes. Rehearsal times are 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00 p.m. (due to rush hour traffic, early is better). Because of schedule constraints, please advise your guests to be prompt for the rehearsal and the marriage ceremony.


Dressing facilities

There is no room available for dressing before the wedding. SAINT CATHERINE CHURCH IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY LOST ITEMS.


Flowers and church decorations

Speak with the Wedding Coordinator for the details of flower arrangements and delivery. Be careful not to disrupt the church during the 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning Mass.

Flowers will remain in place for the ensuing Sunday Masses, but you must remove decorations after the Mass or Ceremony.

If there is more than one marriage on a given day, couples are encouraged to share the costs of flowers or decorations in a mutually agreeable fashion. Contact the Parish office for more information. Any seasonal artwork found in the church must remain in place. If you plan to use ribbons or bows on the pews, be sure they are fastened with soft clamps or ribbons to avoid scratching the wood. Inform your florist. Candelabras or other additional candles are not permitted.



The sacred music accompanying the ceremony should reflect the solemn character of the Sacrament as an act of Divine worship. All music should be of the sacred vocal repertoire (hymns, Ave Maria, motets by Palestrina, etc.) or of the instrumental/classical variety. Secular music, popular music, and operatic music are not allowed.  Recorded music is strictly prohibited.

The Music Director reviews ALL music arrangements for Saint Catherine of Siena Church (call the Parish Secretary for details). Even if you bring in outside musicians (with approval of the Music Director), all musical selections must still be approved. Contact the Music Director through the Parish Office to obtain assistance in planning the music.
Wedding Coordinator

The Parish Wedding Coordinator represents the Pastor and assists with the wedding and liturgical administration. The wedding rehearsal is the primary responsibility.

The fee for the Coordinator’s services is $200. Payment is expected, at the latest, on the day of the rehearsal.

Call the Parish Secretary for contact information.


Altar servers

Please discuss your request for altar boys with the priest.  It is appropriate to give a small monetary gift for their services before the wedding ceremony.


Sacred demeanor

Since Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament, please demonstrate your respect for Catholic sensibilities with subdued talk and actions while inside the church building. In keeping with appropriate standards of decorum, there is to be absolutely no drinking on the Church property or in the building itself.


Dress should be modest and in accord with Christian sensibilities

The secular culture often promotes values and practices contrary to the Catholic faith, tradition, and practice. While we welcome all people to our parish, we will not permit any outward display on our parish property that is offensive to Catholic tradition or sensibilities, especially by anyone having an active public role in the wedding. For example, participants should dress in the manner customarily associated with their biological sex; only biological males should serve as groomsmen, and only biological females should serve as bridesmaids. We will strictly observe this requirement. Abuses may result in the cancellation of the ceremony, even on the wedding day.


Photography and video equipment

A good professional photographer will understand our insistence on proper reverence during the wedding. We strictly prohibit the use of flash or strobe/movie lights during the wedding ceremony.

A professional photographer may take photos of the wedding while standing outside of the sanctuary (that is, from the pews and aisles) using available light. (Easy rule: “Do not stand on the marble around the altar.”)

We do not permit photographers and equipment in the sanctuary (the area around the altar). The altar marks the center of worship and includes the raised floor around the altar. “Do not stand on the marble around the altar.”)

It is inappropriate and distracting for guests to be taking photographs during the wedding ceremony. Please advise your guests accordingly.

The church is not a studio. Loud talking and boisterous laughter are inappropriate in the church at all times. Hence, you are permitted only 30 minutes in the baptistery (not the sanctuary) after the wedding ceremony for pictures. Please take advantage of the natural settings on the church grounds for picture taking.

We allow professional video equipment from a fixed location off to the side (and outside) the sanctuary.



Please properly dispose of all packaging materials and other throwaways after the ceremony. We have no janitorial or refuse services, so we need your help to keep the church clean. Be sure to clear church grounds of all signs, balloons, etc.

We do not permit the tossing of rice, birdseed, confetti, and flowers, either inside or outside the church. There will be a $150 clean-up fee to any group that ignores these guidelines.

We do not permit balloons.


Schedule of costs

Donations to the church and offerings to the priest are on a free-will basis.

The cost of the limousine or the rehearsal dinner may provide you with an idea as to a reasonable donation to the church.

You must consult the Music Director, who charges a standard consultation fee of $125.

The cost for the services (mostly the rehearsal) of the Parish Wedding Coordinator is $200.

Make a small donation to the altar boys if servers are requested.

The brochures indicate the costs for the Conference for the Engaged, the Natural Family Planning Workshop, or the Engaged Encounter Weekend. Fees are paid directly to the Diocese of Arlington or as indicated.


Address and Phone Number

Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Road

Great Falls, VA 22066


Parish Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.




Acknowledgment of Intention to Adhere to Wedding Guidelines

We have read the wedding guidelines for Saint Catherine Catholic Church and will comply with all policies and directives listed therein.

___________________________       ___________________________      _______

Bride                                       Groom                                             Date


Photographer Agreement


I/We have read the guidelines for photography and video equipment as stated in the wedding guidelines of Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Great Falls, VA, and I/we will comply with the policies listed.

We allow professional video equipment from a fixed location off to the side (and outside) the sanctuary. Consult the Wedding Coordinator during the rehearsal for details.

_____________________________________       ___________________

Lead Photographer                                      Date


Appendix: Wedding Rehearsal Guidelines

General Guidelines

The sanctuary of a Catholic church is most holy. Please advise your friends and relatives to honor Catholic sensibilities with minimal and subdued speech and controlled behavior in church.

Friends and family may take flashless pictures from the fixed location of their pews during the entrance and exit, but not during the ceremony. Flash pictures disturb the solemnity of the ceremony.

A professional photographer can take pictures during the ceremony in an unobtrusive way. Some movement is understandable, but there should be a conscious effort to minimize movement and avoid distracting the ceremony. No flashes or strobes are permitted, and we do not allow photographers within the sanctuary.

After the wedding ceremony, you may pose for pictures for no more than 30 minutes. Photographs taken against the beautiful backdrop outside the church are also encouraged.

We permit a video recording device from a fixed location well off to the side of the sanctuary. Phone video recordings during the Mass/Ceremony are strictly prohibited.

Tossing of rice, confetti, and flowers are strictly prohibited.

Do not use scotch tape (or other adhesives damaging to the finish of the pews).

The consumption of alcoholic beverages before the ceremony is strictly prohibited. The Pastor will dismiss any member of the wedding party showing signs of intoxication.

Please assign someone to clean up after the ceremony; perhaps one of the groomsmen could be identified to take care of the cleanup.


The family of the bride on the left; family of the Groom on the right (generally speaking)

The groomsmen will sit in the first pew on the right.

The bridesmaids will sit in the first pew on the left.

The maid of honor will sit on the aisle seat.

The best man will sit on the aisle seat.

The parents and immediate family will sit in the second pew and following.

Procession (generally takes place as follows)

The ushers seat guests individually unless time is short.

(Often, the ushers are groomsmen)

The ushers seat the parents of the groom.

The mother of the bride is seated – the groomsmen join the groom and priest in the sacristy (room back of the altar)

The seating of the bride's mother is typically the cue for the organist to transition to the bridal entrance music.

The priest rings the bell (the cue for the musicians) and leads the groom, the best man, and the groomsmen -- in that order -- to the front of the altar; they face the back of the church waiting for the bride, left hand on the front pew rail (for order and decorum purposes)

The bridesmaids enter individually; allow for half the length of the aisle before another bridesmaid enters.

The maid of honor is the last of the bridesmaids to enter.

The bridesmaids line up in front of the pews. They parallel the groomsmen. For purposes of symmetry, they look in the same direction as the groomsmen.

The flower children enter and side with the bridesmaids (or at least under the attentive eye of bridesmaids or others to make sure they get down the aisle promptly).

The ring-bearer, if there is one, stands next to the best man.

The bride is led down the aisle by her father; father on the right, bride on the left.

Upon reaching the front of the church, the father gives her hand to the groom.

The bride and groom take their position in front of the kneeler for the ceremony or Mass to begin.

Chairs for the bride and groom are optional. (A chair may obstruct the bridal gown, so opting against the placement of chairs in the sanctuary is permitted.)



(Pictures now can only be taken by the photographer at a fixed location; excessive movement is now discouraged)

The priest greets people; recites opening prayer; directs the people to stand or sit as necessary.

Liturgy of the Word. The priest will invite the readers up to the lectern. The readers are to use the approved texts provided by the priest (no loose pieces of paper in hand as they approach the lectern). The approved texts will be open.

The Gospel is proclaimed by the priest and followed by a brief homily.

Wedding ceremony

Consent and reception of consent

Blessing and exchange of rings

(Prayers of the faithful -- optional)

[Continue with Mass, unless ceremony only]

Lord's Prayer

Nuptial blessing

[Distribution of Communion, unless ceremony only]

Final Blessing


The bride and groom turn to the congregation and pause (for pictures if they wish) and walk (at a slower pace) down the aisle.

The bridesmaids and groomsmen pair up as they leave the church, following Bride and groom in intervals.

The Parents and family follow the wedding party.

(Those in attendance may take pictures upon departure if permitted by the bride and groom.)

If you plan to take photographs in the church after the wedding, we discourage receiving lines that may result in significant delays.  You are permitted only 30 minutes in the baptistery (not the sanctuary) after the wedding ceremony for pictures. Please take advantage of the natural settings on the church grounds for picture taking.


Before proceeding, wait for instructions from the priest:

Prenuptial Investigation




Sacramental Schedule

The Church typically opens by 7:30 a.m. and closes around 7 p.m.  But times may vary because of variations in the Pastor's schedule and the occasional inability to obtain help in locking the church at night.

The Confession Schedule continues

Sacrament of Penance:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 7:45 am – 8:15 am (No Confessions on Holy Days and civil holidays)
Saturday afternoon: 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Expanded schedule for Advent and Lent
All Day Eucharistic Adoration
Every Wednesday: 1 pm through Thursday morning, 8:30 am
Every First Friday: 9 am through Saturday morning, 8:30 am

Mass Schedule:
8 am 10 am 12 Noon*
*Novus Ordo Latin Mass

Saturday: 8:30 am & 5:30 pm Vigil Mass

Weekdays: 8:30 am, (Wednesdays: 12:15 pm)

Holydays (except Christmas):
8:30 am & 7 pm

Although the regular weekday Mass schedule is solidly in place, since this is a one-priest parish, there may be times when Mass cancellations are necessary.  Please register here if you attend weekday Masses and want to receive cancellation notifications and other updates as opportune.  We will not abuse your contact information.  Click here

 (Note: After clicking the weekday Mass registration link above, please scroll to the bottom right of the page and replace the "0" with a "1" to proceed.)

Contact Us

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky
Direct Line to Pastor 703.759.3520
No text messages please; contact the office for administrative questions.

Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm 
Closed on Federal Holidays

Saint Catherine of Siena Church
1020 Springvale Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
Have a question? Have a comment? Please contact us!
Phone: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753


For Parish Registration, click the following link:

Interested in Catholic Inquiry Classes (for non-Catholics or Catholics interested in deepening their understanding of the Faith)?  Click here.



St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Rd., Great Falls, VA 22066

Parish Office: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753
Religious Education: 703.759.3530
Siena Academy: 703.759.4129