Marriage is a covenant or partnership of life between a man and a woman, which is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and the procreation  and upbringing of children (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1601)

Marriage is a beautiful gift! It is a vocation. God calls many men and women to this path of discipleship, love, and holiness. From marriage is born the family, which is the basic cell and foundation of human society. As such, marriage carries enormous value, and the Brainerd Lakes Catholic Churches seek to help couples prepare for lifelong, joy-filled marriage. 

The Sacrament of Matrimony is not something that should be rushed or entered without proper preparation. If you are intending to celebrate your wedding in one of our parishes, please contact one of the parish Priests to begin preparations. We require couples to begin preparation with a Priest at least six months prior to the proposed wedding date.  Any less time would be insufficient for adequate preparation. If six months seems like a long time, consider that those discerning other vocations have much longer periods of formal discernment - candidates for religious orders take three or more years and candidates for priesthood take six to eight years!

Each couple meets with a member of the clergy to prepare for marriage and also participates in a pre-marriage retreat weekend offered by the Diocese of Duluth. The intent of everything is to prepare the couple for a life-long loving commitment to each other. The wedding will be not the end of this process, but a beginning in which the husband and wife cling to each other as one flesh, preparing each other and their whole family to enter the heavenly kingdom. To begin the process, Contact a priest!

 Additional resources can be found at the U.S. Bishops' website


I am a Catholic. Am I permitted to marry a non-Catholic?  A non-Christian? 

A Catholic can marry a non-Catholic (or even a non-Christian) within the Catholic Church. In cases in which a Catholic seeks to marry a non-Catholic Christian, holding the wedding in another church (i.e. in a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc… Church), a dispensation from the Catholic form of marriage must be obtained from the Bishop or his delegate. The Church, through the parishes in Brainerd, would like to assist you in planning your wedding and life together.  Please contact us with questions about particular situations.

Can I rent one of the Churches for a wedding?
It depends on what you mean.  The Church building is itself much more than a social hall.  It is a sacred place for sacred use.  If one of the intended spouses is Catholic and you would like to be married in the Church, we’re more than happy to work with you; we want to help you to enter into a marriage that will keep you united firmly to the Church and which will bring you the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony.


My intended spouse and I really love the scenery of the Lakes area, can we be married outside?
The proper place for the celebration of marriage is in the church. Man and woman enter a covenant with God and each other, and this is properly done in God's house. God is the one who, in His love, will unite the couple. Catholic marriage requires the man and woman to exchange their consent to each other before the Church's minister and two witnesses, and this is done in the presence of the Lord. Marriage is not a private affair, but it is a public commitment with wide consequences, involving the whole church and the whole community. So there are many reasons to hold your wedding in the church proper. In the Diocese of Duluth, as throughout the Church in general, outdoor marriages are not permitted.

I was married before and am not a Catholic, so why do I need to go through this whole annulment process before I get married to a Catholic?  The Catholic Church sees marriage as sacred and God-given.  Because it is the two Christian spouses who actually bring about a sacramental marriage when they exchange their consent, the Catholic Church recognizes marriages of non-Catholic Christians to each other as valid marriages.  Thus, when a non-Catholic seeks to marry a Catholic in the Catholic Church, we presume that the person's first marriage is valid until proven otherwise.

If the woman is pregnant, can the couple be married in the Church? 
Yes. The couple can be married, but even with the pregnancy, it is not wise to rush into anything.  Each couple in this situation has a unique set of concerns which can be discussed with one of the Priests.

Wedding Guidelines

Since Marriage is a Sacrament of the Catholic Church, it is normally celebrated in the parish where the couple worships. This means that in general, to get married in one of our parishes, at least one party is a registered parishioner, has been a parishioner but has moved from the area, or lives in the area and will now become a parishioner. For other practicing Catholics, wedding requests are considered on a case by case basis since our churches are not simply “rented” for weddings. For those who currently reside outside the Brainerd area, marriage preparation normally takes place at the parish where they currently live. The couple must provide confirmation of plans for marriage preparation to the Brainerd Lakes Catholic Churches before a wedding date can be reserved.

The wedding liturgy, with or without Mass, is normally scheduled either for the morning or early afternoon, depending on the church.  The latest a wedding can be scheduled at any of our Churches is 2:00 p.m. Evening weddings are normally only allowed on Friday evenings. It is preferable not to schedule weddings during Lent because of its penitential nature. Weddings are not celebrated during Holy Week, Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation. (St. Thomas of the Pines is available only during summer season.)

Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage begins at least 6 months prior to the planned date of the wedding. The marriage itself cannot be scheduled until an initial meeting with the Priest (or Deacon). Subsequent meetings with the clergy will follow.
Preparation also includes completion of the FOCCUS survey. This is followed by feedback sessions with a married couple in the parish. The cost for this service is $35.00, to be paid by the couple, to FOCCUS.
Each engaged couple will participate in a pre-marriage course or retreat. You will receive information from the Priest or Deacon about possible retreat dates.
Please be aware that a pre-nuptial agreement renders marriage invalid.

Baptismal Certificate
For Catholics: a baptismal certificate issued in the last 6 months. Those baptized at the Brainerd Churches can simply ask the parish secretary to verify their baptism.
Non-Catholics: a baptismal certificate. It need not be recent.

Marriage License …from the State of Minnesota. 
This is to be left at the parish office one week (7 working days) before the wedding. You will get $50 off the fee.  You can obtain a notarized form from us to receive this discount once you have submitted to the Church a certificate of completion for pre-marital education class attendance.

The environment in the church reflects the liturgical season of the year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time. Occasional liturgies such as weddings can influence the environment, but they should not dominate nor replace the seasonal décor. The environment/rehearsal coordinator will answer any questions you have regarding the liturgical environment. Contact the coordinator, Cindy Bock (218-851-7107) for St. Andrews and Krissy Nelson (218-838-0152) for St. Mathias, no later than 8 weeks prior to your wedding.  

  • The churches have candles and candelabra if you choose to use them. (Rented candles or candelabra are not normally allowed). We also have a podium for the guestbook and a stand for a unity candle.
  • Please attach pew bows with ribbon, elastic, string or pew clips. No tape, tacks or glue may be used.
  • Due to safety issues, no aisle runners are to be used.
  • As stated above, the liturgical décor is not removed or changed for a wedding. So, for example, Easter and Christmas church decorations may not be changed for a wedding.
  • Flowers and plants are not permitted on the altar or ambo (pulpit). Plants may be removed or left as a floral gift to the parish. No balloons are allowed inside the church.
  • Flower petals may not be scattered, nor may an aisle runner be used, for safety reasons.
  • Rice, bird seed, and confetti are not permitted on church grounds.
  • Not all of the above items are available at all the churches. Please ask the coordinator, or clergy, about availability of these items.

Wedding pictures are to be taken prior to the ceremony.  No church furnishings are to be moved.  All photography equipment is to be removed from the worship space at least ½ hour before the ceremony. Time for pictures in Church may be limited by the BLCC due to other scheduled weddings/events.

Movement by the photographer during the liturgy is to be kept to an absolute minimum.  No flash is to be used during the ceremony.

“Church weddings are prayerful religious acts…” thus the music must also be prayerful and religious.

  •  During wedding celebrations either within or outside the Mass only liturgical music is allowed.
  • If any other kind of music is selected it must be checked with the parish music director and, if approved, may be performed either before or after the liturgy, but still should retain a sacred character.
  • All music must be verified with, and approved by, the church music director. Please contact the music director at the beginning of your wedding preparations so that there will be enough time to select, plan and rehearse (if needed) the music. The Music Director approves all music no later than 8 weeks prior to your wedding.
  • The Music Director will guide you in selecting musicians and vocalists for your wedding. Usually, the Music Director will provide music for your wedding and may use other parish musicians and vocalists as needed.
  • Couples are strongly encouraged to use parish musicians and vocalists. If musicians from outside the parish are hired, they are required to contact the church music director as early as possible (but no later than 8 weeks before the wedding) to present the music selection for approval.
  • Outside musicians are only approved if they regularly provide music for Catholic Masses or liturgies. However, please be advised that a Church Music Director may still be required to be present during the wedding itself.
  • All musician fees are to be paid prior to the wedding.

 Music Directors
    St. Andrews: …...................  Anne Pritschet, 218.828.0809 / Email:
    St. Mathias:  ………………  Mary Sather, 218.828.1989 /   Email:

The environment/rehearsal coordinator will conduct the rehearsal.  Please call Cindy Bock at 218-851-7107.  Rehearsals are normally scheduled the day before the wedding at 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.  Arrange the time with the environment/rehearsal coordinator.  All members of the wedding are to be present.  If someone must be absent, another person stands in his or her place and instructs the absentee prior to the wedding.  The readers will practice the Scripture readings.  Musicians are usually not present at the rehearsal but may practice before the rehearsal begins.  Wedding rehearsals usually take about one hour. The bride and groom must be present at the rehearsal no later than 15 minutes prior to the rehearsal to answer final questions regarding the ceremony, and the rest of the wedding party must be on time! 

Following the celebration the wedding party is responsible for removing all items brought into the church facilities (decorations, boxes, etc.) and placing all litter in waste baskets.

If any kind of food or beverage is provided before the wedding, it can be placed and consumed only in the parish social hall. You should appoint someone who will be in charge of assuring the Bride’s room and social hall are left clean prior to the wedding ceremony. No alcoholic beverages allowed. No food or drink in Church proper.

Must be cleared before the wedding. If another wedding is taking place the same day as yours, the amount of time you will have for dressing and pictures will be discussed and limited by the Pastor of the parish.

A donation is normally given to the Church where the Marriage is celebrated. The suggested donation is $150-$250. This donation should be made prior to the wedding, preferably when the Marriage License is dropped off at the parish office. Additionally, you may choose to make an offering to the celebrating clergy member.