Dear Engaged Couple,

Our parish family of Good Shepherd Catholic Community is happy that you have decided to celebrate your love for each other in a marriage relationship. Marriage is a sacred commitment, a true vocation in Christ. On your wedding day, you publicly invite God to be an integral part of your life as a couple. As husband and wife, in the Sacrament of Marriage, you will share each other’s joys and sorrows in the company of God’s love.
These guidelines should answer most of your questions; however, we will be happy to help you resolve any issues not covered here. Our goal is the same as yours: to affirm you in your intentions to marry and to help you make your wedding day and married lives a reflection of God’s presence alive in our faith community. 
Stages of Marriage Preparation
Stage 1 - Meeting with the Marriage Preparation Coordinator
Please call the parish office at  817-421-1387 to set an appointment to meet with Tammy Sandoval, Director of Faith Formation. The first meeting normally involves about two hours of your time.  It should be done at least nine to twelve months before the ceremony and before you set a wedding date and determine where the wedding will take place.
During this initial meeting, the Director of Faith Formation will get to know you and discuss your relationship, family backgrounds, religious beliefs and career plans. She will outline and explain their importance in the marriage preparation process. She will also interview you separately, relative to your freedom and readiness to marry. 

 Have either of you been married before? 

If either one of the parties has been married previously, he or she must obtain a “Decree of Invalidity” from a marriage tribunal of the Catholic Church or a certified death certificate of the previous spouse. This must be completed before the Catholic Church, through its minister, may witness your marriage vows. If the process of invalidation has begun, the scheduling of a date for your new marriage must await the decision of the marriage tribunal. If there is good reason to expect that a decision will be rendered soon, you can be encouraged to remain in the marriage preparation process. It is also necessary for a person to take sufficient time for the healing process following separation or divorce before entering into a new marriage.
As a part of this interview the Director of Family Ministries will ask the Catholic parties for the names and addresses of the church in which each one was baptized. To expedite this matter please bring a copy of your baptismal certificate as well as First Communion and Confirmation certificates, if you have them. If one of you is from a church tradition other than Catholic and that church does not keep such records, a record in a family Bible or a letter of testimony written by a witness would be helpful. 
Before this initial meeting is concluded, the Director of Faith Formation will administer the Pre-marital Inventory “Fully Engaged”. This is an instrument to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a couple, and to indicate those areas the two of you may need more conversation. Most couples find this experience very revealing and helpful in developing their relationship and their ability to communicate with each other.
Following the completion of the Pre-marital Inventory “Fully Engaged” at this initial meeting, the process of your primary marriage preparation begins. At this point the engaged couple may set a tentative wedding date which is confirmed once a deposit and completed contract is received for use of the Church. Michael Anne Vinez, the Business Manager, can discuss the fees with you.
The Director of Faith Formation will assign a Sponsor Couple who will review the results of the “Fully Engaged” inventory with you. You will be asked to register for an Engaged Encounter weekend. You will also be asked to choose the readings for your Wedding Liturgy from the booklet “Together For Life” and to contact the Director of Music Ministries, to guide you in your selection of music.  
An actively tithing  member of Good Shepherd Catholic Community is defined as someone who has been registered and has a record of tithing a minimum of $800 (envelope system, checks, electronic fund transfers) for at least one year before contacting the parish about setting a wedding date. The marriage preparation fee for actively tithing parishioners covers only a portion of the basic costs to the parish in recognition of the ongoing support already provided.
This fee includes the cost of staff time dedicated to your wedding and books/materials. The non-parishioner fee includes the above and the cost of building use. Two volunteer wedding ministers offer their time leading the rehearsal and providing assistance at the wedding. Fees for musicians are to be arranged with the Director of Music Ministries.
When can a wedding be scheduled?
A Wedding can be celebrated on Saturday with the exception of Christmas Eve and Day, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) and New Years’ Day due to the already full schedule of liturgical services on those days. Also, no Weddings are scheduled on Sundays throughout the year for the same reason. Weddings during Advent and Lenten seasons are discouraged due to the penitential nature of these seasons. Marriages may not conflict with the times of other scheduled church services such as the Rite of Reconciliation or the Saturday Evening Vigil Mass in anticipation of Sunday. Therefore, weddings at Good Shepherd Catholic Community are scheduled at least three hours apart and may not begin later than 2:00 PM on Saturday afternoon or earlier than 7:30 PM on Saturday evening.
Stage 2 - Primary Marriage Preparation
The Marriage Sponsor Couple Program is specifically designed for all couples preparing for marriage. The Marriage Sponsor Couples at Good Shepherd Catholic Community are volunteers who have received special training to assist engaged couples in their primary preparation for marriage. These Sponsor Couples will share with you their own journey of marriage, its trials and triumphs, its stresses and successes. They will also receive a summary of your Pre-marital Inventory, “Fully Engaged”, which was administered at the time of your initial meeting with the marriage preparation coordinator. And, they will facilitate your conversation concerning those areas where you are in agreement, any areas of disagreement, and areas that require further discussion. The Sponsor Couple assigned to you will contact you and arrange for a mutually agreeable time when the both of you can meet in the Sponsor Couple’s home. Normally there are 4 to 5 meetings of two hours each with your Sponsor Couple. At the conclusion they will give the marriage preparation coordinator a brief description of their meeting with you.
Pre-Cana is a one day or two evening experience for engaged couples to begin their formal marriage preparation process.  The class includes a series of talks and activities on topics such as: Marriage as a Sacrament, the Vows, Sexuality in the marriage as God planned it to be, Natural Family Planning and more. 
All programs: the Sponsor Couple Program and the Engaged Encounter Program are required for the preliminary marriage preparation. Be sure that the Affidavit of Free Status has been completed by your witnesses in the presence of a priest, deacon or lay pastoral assistant and submitted to the Director of Faith Formation. No wedding will take place until certificates confirming your attendance at these programs and other documents are received.
Stage 3 - Meeting 

Please contact and schedule a meeting with our Interim Funeral and Wedding Planner,  Tammy Sandoval at 817-421-1387 x4034 or .  At this point in the preparation process, you are ready to plan the wedding ceremony. You will need to select readings, prayers, vows, music, and all the other details that will accompany the liturgical celebration at Good Shepherd Catholic Community. It is important to have this scheduled no later than three months prior to your wedding date.

Stage 4 - Follow-up Meeting with the Priest or Deacon
Upon conclusion of the above programs and meetings, contact the priest or deacon for a meeting. He will bring together all of these earlier preparations and review with the both of you what has taken place. He will also review your plans for the Wedding Liturgy.
Those Catholics in the Wedding party: the Couple and their families and friends who have not yet made a confession of sin to a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation should be encouraged to do so as their spiritual preparation for the Wedding celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.
Stage 5 - Wedding Rehearsal

One hour is allotted for the wedding rehearsal usually on the evening before the wedding. The rehearsal time and date are scheduled when the wedding date is reserved. 

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Ecumenical or Interfaith Marriages

When one of the parties is not Catholic, both need to understand and respect the role the church plays in married life. And, we assure you at the same time of our respect for other religious traditions. In conversations with the marriage preparation coordinator, priest or deacon, Catholic belief and practice will be discussed, especially in relation to marriage. The Catholic partner will be asked to make a commitment to live out his/her Catholic faith personally and with the children born of that marriage. It is important, we believe, that everyone have an opportunity to be a member of God’s people through the Sacrament of Baptism. Therefore, the Catholic spouse is asked to promise not only to continue living out his/her commitment to the faith, but also to pass it on to their children by having the children baptized in the Catholic faith and by having them receive instruction in the Catholic religion. The non-Catholic partner will be asked to be trusting, open and understanding about Catholic faith and traditions. We welcome a minister of another faith tradition to participate in the wedding ceremony at Good Shepherd Catholic Community. A Protestant minister is invited to perform certain functions at a Catholic wedding. Your witnesses, Best Man and Maid of Honor, may also be persons of another faith tradition.

Marriage before a Priest or Deacon in a Catholic Church

Catholic couples may wish to choose either a Nuptial Mass or a Wedding Liturgy of the Word for their marriage. Most often Catholic couples celebrate their marriage at a Nuptial Mass with the priest presiding. This is very appropriate. A deacon may officiate or assist. In the case of an ecumenical or interfaith marriage, we recommend that the couple celebrate their marriage before a priest or a deacon at a Wedding Liturgy of the Word (without communion) rather than a Mass, so that both parties and their families feel fully included in the celebration. If the Nuptial Mass is chosen without any serious division for the couple and their families, the priest can invite ways for all present to participate with the exception of communion. However, this may not be a satisfactory option for all ecumenical or interfaith marriages. 

Marriage before a Protestant Minister in a Protestant Church

In the case of an ecumenical marriage, the couple may celebrate their marriage before a Protestant Minister in a Protestant Church with or without the presence of a Catholic priest or deacon. If this would be important for you, be sure to talk about it early with the Director of Marriage Ministries. For a good reason, canonical permission can be requested/obtained and the Bishop of the Catholic diocese will provide you with the dispensation to allow for this. The Marriage will be recorded at Good Shepherd Catholic Community.

Visiting Clergy at Good Shepherd Catholic Community

If, for a good reason, a couple wishes to invite visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding at Good Shepherd Catholic Community, they should ask the Director of Marriage Ministries here before making such arrangements. If the invitation of visiting clergy is acceptable to our diocese, the pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Community will delegate him with the canonical permission to officiate here. And, if the visiting clergyman is also doing the pre-marital preparation with the couple, he will need to follow the marriage preparation guidelines of Good Shepherd Catholic Community. Visiting clergy are expected to follow the liturgical guidelines as set forth by Good Shepherd Catholic Community for any Nuptial Mass or Wedding Liturgy of the Word taking place here. The couple who invites visiting clergy to officiate at their Wedding is responsible for paying their expenses. You may also wish to give them a free-will offering.

Marriage in another Catholic Parish

If there is serious reason for a couple to be married in a parish other than their home parish of Good Shepherd Catholic Community, the pastor here must first give permission for the couple to be married at another parish and for the priest or deacon of the other parish to officiate at the wedding. The pre-marital preparation may be done here or at the other parish. Planning for the Wedding Liturgy with the pastor of the other parish is the responsibility of the couple.

Preparation at another Catholic Parish

When a couple lives at a distance away from their home parish of Good Shepherd Catholic Community, pre-marital preparation may be done at a Catholic Church near their residence. In such a case the Director of Marriage Ministries of Good Shepherd Catholic Community needs to be informed immediately so that she may forward to the couple a copy of our Wedding Preparation Manual. The necessary documents from the pastor of the other Catholic parish need to be sent in a timely fashion to the marriage coordinator of Good Shepherd Catholic Community before the wedding can take place here, at their home parish. Signing a contract, scheduling the wedding date and the rehearsal date as well as planning for the Wedding Liturgy is the responsibility of the couple.

Non-Practicing Catholics

Our diocesan guidelines call for non-practicing Catholics to receive special instruction in the Catholic faith and to be given the opportunity to return to the practice of the faith. Such a period of instruction in the faith may increase the time of preliminary marriage preparation.

Required Documents

In addition to a recent issue of a Baptismal Certificate (within the last 6 months), for the Catholic parties, the couple will need to obtain a Marriage License from any county courthouse in the State of Texas no more than 90 days prior and no less than 60 days before the Wedding date, to ensure timely processing.


Music in the Wedding Liturgy
Music for Weddings in the Catholic Church
  • Wedding Music must conform to guidelines for liturgical sacramental celebrations. It is an integral part of the Liturgy and should promote an atmosphere of prayer. Sacred music is always the proper setting for the Wedding Liturgy. Arrangements for your music must be made with the Director of Music, to ensure proper selections. 
  • Each couple is required to attend planning sessions with the Director of Music.
  • The Director of Music Ministries will complete with the couple a Wedding Liturgy Planning Sheet. 
  • It is the church’s policy that a parish musician must be present at all wedding liturgies. There is a fee charged for that service. The check should be made out to the musician, who will be assigned by the Director of Music. Outside musicians may perform only with the Director’s knowledge and approval, and must contact him at least one month in advance of the Wedding date. 
  • It is helpful if the cantor (vocalist) and/or accompanist is of the Catholic faith and is experienced at leading a Catholic liturgy.
Selecting Music for your Wedding Liturgy
  • The music must be sacred and have lyrics which express a Christian view of love and life, i.e., not only the human love of one person for another but also God’s love for all people.
  • The music should fit the part of the ceremony in which it is used and should not cause delays in the ceremony.
  • Secular music (non-sacred or popular) should be kept for use at the reception only. 
Guidelines for Music for the Wedding Liturgy
  • Congregational singing is strongly encouraged.
  • Specific parts of the Mass should be sung by the cantor and congregation:  Psalm Response, Gospel Acclamation (“Alleluia”); Holy, Holy, Holy, Memorial Acclamation; Great Amen and Lamb of God.
  • The Lord’s Prayer can only be sung as a solo if the Eucharist is not included in the ceremony.
  • Recorded music of any kind is not allowed in the church.
Placement of Music at your Wedding Liturgy
  • Preludes are appropriate as the guests are gathering and being seated to help them prepare for the communal celebration of the Wedding Liturgy. Instrumental music is encouraged (solo or ensemble) or suitable songs can be sung by a solo vocalist or a choir.  
  • If your Marriage is celebrated as a Wedding Liturgy of the Word (without communion), then after the Exchange of Vows and Rings, the Liturgy is concluded with the General Intercessions, Nuptial Blessing, Lord’s Prayer, Final Blessing and Recessional. If your Marriage is celebrated within the context of Mass, then your Wedding Liturgy continues with the Preparation of the Gifts and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  • Postludes are appropriate directly following the Recessional for a short period of time only to accompany guests leaving the church with a spirit of rejoicing in praise of God’s Blessing. Instrumental music is encouraged (solo or ensemble) or suitable songs can be sung by a solo vocalist or a choir. 
Music during a Special Liturgical Season

The seasons of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas) and Lent (the 40 days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week) are penitential seasons in the worship calendar of the Catholic Church. Weddings are permitted, but discouraged during Advent and Lent due to the penitential nature of musical texts. The Alleluia is not sung during Lent.

Audio/Visual Technician

Church policy requires that a parish Audio/Visual Technician be present at all events in the church. $75.00 is the fee charged for this service.