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Marriage Encounter

Catholic Weddings: Another Option

You probably have a few questions regarding services offered by Contemporary Catholics as another option for your wedding.  On this page you will answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you have questions not addressed here, please feel free to contact us directly.

How do I Secure a Wedding Date?

Please complete and submit the marriage petition from this link: Marriage Petition Link. This information provides the priest with the basics about you and your wedding.  Upon receipt the priest will place your wedding in his calendar and contact you about setting a time and day on which to meet.  This is often done via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime video calls when an in-person meeting is not practical.  This does not commit you to use our services and the information you provide will not be sold.  We may share this petition with another priest who may be able to assist you if you are outside our usual area of service or we are committed to another couple on your wedding day.

Do I need to go through a formal marriage preparation program?

While we do not require participation in a marriage preparation program we do strongly encourage it.  A less formal meeting with the priest will happen with you long before your wedding day in which he will get to know you and discuss marriage. There are several other options available to you should you want a more formal program, including:

WRM Marriage Preparation Materials:  While we are not able to run formal marriage preparation programs we do have materials that can help you prepare for your marriage commitments.  These include questionnaires and discussion materials to help you create an ongoing dialogue with each other throughout your years of marriage.  See WRM Marriage Preparation Materials to access these materials.

Marriage Encounter and Pre-Cana:  This is a weekend program recommended by the Roman Catholic diocese.  See Marriage Encounter and Pre-Cana Programs - Chicago for links to programs in your area.

Wedding Checklist:

There are many things leading up to your wedding ceremony you need to consider, from marriage license and rehearsal ideas to basic outlines and programs for your ceremony or Nuptial Mass as well as music.  Your day can be special with a little bit of planning.

What is the fee for your wedding services? 

There is no per-se charge for our wedding services. A financial donation of $550 is suggested, not mandatory. A  priest is often required to travel great distances to celebrate the sacrament with you. We ask that those costs also be covered separately from any donation.  Please check with your priest regarding this matter as we do not deny the sacraments to anyone in financial distress.

Can we have a ceremony outdoors or at other sites?

Yes, the choice of location for your wedding is yours as we do not maintain any church buildings.  Depending on weather and other factors ceremonies may be held out-of-doors, banquet halls or private homes. Some couples have found non-denominational chapels that will allow a priest to officiate your wedding.

Can we personalize our wedding ceremony?

Yes, we are pleased to assist you in personalizing your wedding ceremony with options for readings, personal vows or chosen from more traditional options, and ceremonies which speak to various cultures.  See Sample Ceremonies

Can we have all or part of our ceremony in Spanish? 

Yes, we have options for both a Spanish/English ceremony and nuptial mass.  However, the priest is usually unable to preach in Spanish and will do all he can to accommodate both language and customs. It is helpful to involve family and friends to do the readings in Spanish but not required.  See Sample Ceremonies for options.

How long are your ceremonies? 


Typically, a ceremony outside of mass runs approximately 25-30 mins (including walking in and out).  We also offer a more traditional Nuptial Mass with communion which runs 45-60 mins.  Other cultural additions and/or a large wedding bridal party may add time to the timing. See Sample Ceremonies for more details.

Are you available for a rehearsal the day before the ceremony? 


Because the priest often needs to travel longer distances to ceremonies, this is not practical for him to conduct a rehearsal.  He relies on the site coordinator to walk you through the basics, the priest will walk you through the ceremony itself. See more information on running a rehearsal at Rehearsal Outline.

Can we still be married if one or both are divorced and have not sought an annulment? 


Yes, as Catholics, we believe in the sanctity of marriage; we also realize that we are only too human. While we do not have an annulment or dispensation process, remarriage is allowed to avoid further human tragedy. From this perspective we solemnize remarriages with the joy and the peace of Christ. 

Can we still have a Catholic ceremony if my fiancé is not Catholic or we don’t practice the faith?


Yes, we encourage you to consider how religious differences might impact your relationship. It is not one of those easily overlooked issues.  See WRM Marriage Preparation Materials for some guidance on this question.

Can we have a Rabbi, Minister or Imam co-officiate the ceremony?  

Yes, we are open to co-officiating with other religious leaders and have sample ceremonies for Catholic/Jewish and Orthodox/Catholic traditions as well as openness to other traditions.  See Sample Ceremonies.

What do we have to do for a legal marriage? 

A marriage license is required from the jurisdiction within which the ceremony is to be held . The priest cannot perform a ceremony with out this documents presented to him on the wedding day.  Therefore, you will need to secure a license from the county clerk or the state department of registration for the place in which the ceremony will occur and bring it to ceremony site on the wedding day. There may be a short waiting period, a definite expiration date and sometimes other requirements to obtain the license so don't wait until the last minute. After the ceremony, the priest will make sure that your license is signed and sent to the appropriate agency. He will also provide a commemorative marriage certificate for your more immediate use. You will need to secure a certified copy issued by the county clerk to change driver’s licenses, bank accounts, insurance plans and other legal documents after the wedding.

Will my marriage be recognition by the Roman Catholic church?  

Each jurisdiction has its own criteria for recognition of sacraments. The White Robed Monks of St Benedict is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Through apostolic succession in the Old (Dutch) Catholic tradition, we celebrate the same sacraments as those in the Roman and Orthodox communities. Your marriage will be legal with the state and a sacrament in the eyes of God.  If at some later point you wish official Roman Catholic recognition you should contact your local parish to have your marriage "blessed" or convalidated. 

Will we be able to have our children baptized in the Roman Catholic church?  

You should not have difficulty having children baptized in your parish regardless of the status of your marriage.  We do offer baptism for children and adults done in the home setting should you so desire.

Just a few pictures from the hundreds of weddings I officiated over the years




Country Squire Wedding_edited.jpg

Sample reviews posted on The Knot, Wedding Wire and WeddingPro

Posted 04/29/2022 by Chinwe E


Father Jim was awesome at my wedding!!! I’m sitting here 9 year later watching my wedding video and smiling all the way through the ceremony portion because he so cheerful and spoke with so much wisdom! Father Jim, if you see this I hope you remember us (the Nigerians who were a little late!😁🙈)! Thank you for doing such a great job and I’m glad to read you’re still officiating ceremonies so many years later. May God bless you and strengthen you. 🙏🏾

Posted 7/18/2022 by Yasmin


Definitely my favorite part of my wedding

We wanted a ceremony that was outside, included the Mexican traditions and bilingual. Father James made it all possible. He’s very responsive from the beginning, and had a timeline of everything weeks before the wedding. He was able to do some readings in Spanish and explained all of the traditions to my husbands family. Everyone at the wedding loved him and said the ceremony was the best part. He made my husband and I feel comfortable and made it such a special day!

posted 01/28/2020 by Brianne

You CAN get married outside and be Catholic

Without sounding like a cliché, Father Jim was a Godsend to us! My (now) husband and I, are both of Christian faith; however during the planning process it became clear that a ceremony blessed by the Catholic Church would be critical to our family. From the first time we video chatted, we knew that Father Jim would alleviate so many fears, anxieties, and unknowns, of our special day. Like so many couples, there were so many details that we just ‘didn’t know’ and were overwhelmed to make decisions about. What we DID know (and were confident in) was having an outdoor ceremony, where we could feel close to nature, God, our families/friends, and most importantly each other. Father Jim had our back through the entire process. He showed compassion and understanding that our wishes did not line up with traditional Catholic expectations. He also reminded us of why we were getting married in the first place! We had love in our hearts for each other, a deep respect and love for our Lord, and a desire to live our marriage according to his teachings. One of the kindest ways he let us show our individuality in our ceremony, was by incorporating my Celtic heritage in a hand fasting ceremony and Irish blessing. It meant the world to our mothers and grandmother to be involved. Our family and friends are still commenting on how “us” the ceremony was, and how funny our officiant was!! We cannot thank you enough for being so flexible and working with our crazy wedding schedule to not only put our parents at ease, but to make our day as stress free as possible! Thank you for your blessings and for accepting us with open arms. Brianne & Mike

posted 09/05/2018 by Ivana V (updated 07/13/2019 )

Father Jim is the best! Don't hesitate a second to contact him. We had so many guests tell us how much they enjoyed the ceremony. Father Jim is kind, professional and easy to work with. Like many others mentioned, you get a feeling like you've known him forever. His message was very powerful, yet delivered with a humorous touch to it. Everyone loved it! Father Jim truly made our wedding special. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!


posted 06/06/2015 by Jules B (updated 10/28/2018 )

“Awesome!” “Amazing!” “Fantastic!” just some of the words our guests used to describe Father Jim. When my husband and I were looking for a priest, it was important to us to find someone who would perform a Catholic ceremony outside. I found Father Jim online and his reviews were great, so we reached out to him to schedule a meeting. When we met with him, we found him incredibly engaging. He touched on everything that was important to us, made us laugh and we felt comfortable right away. By the end of our meeting, we couldn’t imagine anyone else presiding over our ceremony. During the year of planning, we communicated via email and Father Jim was always responsive and helpful. He guided us through the process with no problem. On the day of our ceremony, Father Jim set the upbeat pace for the rest of the night. His words were genuine, touching, full of love, and he had everyone laughing. He let us incorporate family and friends into the ceremony which made it extra special to us. Father Jim brought something special to our wedding day. His words have stayed with us and many of our guests. Three weeks later, we are still receiving compliments on the ceremony. We couldn’t be happier that Father Jim presided over our ceremony. He was wonderful! We would recommend without hesitation. Thank you, Father Jim!!

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