Marriage / Wedding Preparation


Marriage Preparation

  • The Diocese of Harrisburg Marriage Preparation Process takes 6-9 months and includes a few meetings with a priest, a mentoring process with a married couple, and a conference. This process will be further explained in your initial meeting with Fr. Olkowski.
  • Schedule your first meeting with the pastor. Please bring with you to this first meeting:
    1. The name and address of the church in which you were baptized or received into the Catholic Church (if Catholic) or a copy of a baptismal certificate if possible (if baptized non-Catholic);
    2. The names and email addresses of 4 witnesses (2 witnesses each) who know you well and can offer testimony of your freedom and readiness to marry (can be parents, siblings, friends).
  • Complete the parish-based mentoring process. The cost of materials for the mentoring is $50.
  • Sign up for and attend one of the diocesan conferences. Information will be provided at your first meeting with the pastor. The cost of the conferences ranges from $125-$400 depending on their length and location.
  • Schedule a final meeting with the pastor after completing the mentors and conference to begin planning for the Liturgy itself.

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  • For parishioners who have been registered for at least one year prior to reserving a wedding date and who regularly worship at St. Mary’s Church: $200 refundable deposit*
  • For non-parishioners: $700. This fee includes a substantial gift to support the poor of our local community and various works of mercy the parish provides, funds to preserve our historic church for future generations, as well as stipends for the parish celebrant, and a $100 refundable deposit.*

*This deposit will be refunded if the library and any other facilities used by the wedding party are left in a clean,tidy manner and if the wedding begins on time. If not, then the deposit will be used to pay someone to clean the church/room(s) and/or divided among the musicians and liturgical ministers for their extra time waiting for the wedding to begin.

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  • Sanctuary: Depending upon the liturgical season, there may or may not be flowers already in the sanctuary. If you decide to purchase flowers for your wedding, all flowers must be fresh (no artificial) and must remain in the church after the wedding. The church opens on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and will remain open all day for flower deliveries.
  • Pews: Bows or flowers may be hung on the pews as long as no adhesive or damaging wires are used. There are 21 rows of pews.
  • Rose petals: Not permitted.

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  • The parking garage across the street from St. Mary’s is privately owned by Lancaster Newspapers and managed by Colonial Parking. The cost is $2 for the first two hours and $1 for subsequent hours. For information about buying tickets in advance, please call 717.451.6268 or email
  • Depending upon other church events that may be occurring at the same time as your wedding, there may be some limited parking available in the schoolyard behind the school/convent.

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All music must be approved by Mike Bitts, or 717.333.3173. You are responsible for hiring a cantor and/or musicians. Please see our website for more detailed information about music.

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A personalized video of your wedding can be produced. The cost is $225. Please make prior arrangements with Don Peris, or 717.333.1947.

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Unity Candle

The use of the unity candle within wedding Liturgies is not permitted in the Diocese of Harrisburg. If desired, couples may use the candle at the reception in conjunction with a meal blessing or toast. An outline for such can be found here:

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  • Tossing items such as confetti, bird seed or rice, or the releasing of balloons or doves is not permitted. Bubbles are allowed outside of the church building.
  • Weddings during the season of Lent (typically February through early April): Due to the penitential nature of this season of preparation before Easter, weddings are discouraged. If one chooses to get married in Lent, decorations are permitted only by special approval, and if given they must be very simple. For example, very few candles are lit; only a small bouquet of flowers by the altar; nothing permitted on the pews; etc.

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Aisle Runner

Due to the many risks associated with aisle runners, they are no longer permitted at Historic St. Mary’s.