We are delighted that you have chosen St. Bonaventure University for the celebration of your wedding. When a couple decides to marry it is a joyful and exciting time for them and their families.
Marriage is also a special time within the faith community. Christians believe that the love of a husband and wife mirrors the love of Christ for his people (Ephesians 5:32). For the Christian couple, entering into marriage is more than a social event or just a part of the natural order. It is an expression of faith in God, as well as an expression and response in thanksgiving for the great gift and power of love.
Thus, the personal and conjugal response to this gift is a life of complete dedication and faithfulness between the husband and wife. The Church raises this relationship and calls it a "Sacrament."
Roman Catholic Weddings
According to a long tradition within the Roman Catholic Church, the parish "is a definite community of the Christian faithful" (Canon 515) providing the pastoral care of its members through "teaching, sanctifying, and governing in such a manner that parishioners will see that they are members of both the diocese and the universal church." (Christus Dominus 30, 1.) As such, the parish church is the principle place for the celebration of the sacraments.
Since St. Bonaventure University is not a parish or its chapel a church building, the celebration of weddings (or any sacrament) here is by special indult by the local bishop, and is restricted to presently enrolled students, employees of the University, and to alumni. According to the Rescript established in the Diocese of Buffalo in 1974 concerning campus ministry, and where existent a campus-based parish or association in the Diocesan Campus Ministry Parish: "membership is voluntary and ends with disassociation from the institution of higher learning."
Because St. Bonaventure University is not a parish, and because of the norms of membership with the Rescript, all weddings of alumni who have graduated from St. Bonaventure more than a year prior to the wedding will need a letter of delegation from the Catholic pastor of either of the intended spouses (Canon 1110 & 1111). This also is in effect for faculty and staff who do not regularly worship with the academic community.
The expectation exists that all members of the Catholic Church hold membership in either an elected or territorial parish and are active members in community worship and general parish life. A letter of delegation from the pastor asserts both membership status and permission for the wedding to take place here at St. Bonaventure.
Christian Denominations and other Faith Traditions
University alumni, students, faculty, and staff may have their weddings celebrated here if they are:
- members of an established Christian religious community, synagogue or mosque;
- have the presence or permission of their pastor (or equivalent church leader) or rabbi;
- and have an officiant at their wedding who is an ordained cleric within their religious denomination or community.
Setting the Date
Before a date for the wedding is definitely set, the following must be obtained:
- delegation (if necessary) from the pastor/religious leader of either the bride or groom;
- written confirmation from the officiant asked to witness the marriage;
- completion of the Pre-Marital Investigation and other pre-nuptial requirements (Pre-Cana, etc) established by the Diocese of Buffalo.
The desired wedding date, if available, will be tentatively reserved for three weeks. During that time the Letter of Delegation from a pastor and the confirmation of an officiant must be satisfied. Only at that time will the date and time be exclusively reserved.
Wedding dates can be made no earlier than one year and no later than six months before the intended date. This is compliance with the diocesan guidelines of 1992, which state: "contact should be made at least six months prior to the anticipated time and date of the wedding."
Also, since the University Chapel's principle usage is for functions that concern the religious needs of the University community, as well as is affected by the activities that take place on campus, consultation with the University schedule and calendar is necessary, with first priority always going to the University.
All couples who are to be married at St. Bonaventure University Chapel are required to participate in a Marriage Preparation program provided through the Diocese or local parish.
Officiant for the Wedding
Neither the office of University Ministries, nor the administration of the University assigns friars who are deacons or priests to officiate at weddings. It is the responsibility of the couple to ask a specific friar who is ordained to officiate. The officiant, be that one of the University friars or another clergyperson, must sign an agreement that he/she will definitely officiate at the wedding. (A clergyperson not assigned to St. Bonaventure University must receive permission from University Ministries to officiate.)
What follows are further policies or details to take into consideration as you plan your wedding utilizing the St. Bonaventure University Chapel:
Time & Dates
Weddings may be scheduled for Friday evenings or Saturday mornings or afternoons. Only one wedding will be scheduled in the University Chapel on a Friday evening, Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon. Rehearsal times are usually the evening before the wedding.
There are times during the church year when weddings are discouraged or prohibited. The Lenten season, because of its penitential nature, is seen as such a time. Weddings may not be celebrated on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. Weddings in the Diocese of Buffalo are not celebrated on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation.
There is a $250 non-refundable deposit for use of the University Chapel. This is to be paid upon receipt of the definitive letter of confirmation concerning the wedding. Checks are payable to: St. Bonaventure University Ministries. Fees for flowers, singer, instrumentalist, etc. are the couple's responsibility to work out with those with whom they have contracted. If you wish, you may give a gift to the priest, deacon or minister who witnessed your marriage.
A recently issued copy (within one year of the wedding date) of both the bride and groom's baptismal certificate is needed. To obtain a recently issued copy, contact the parish where you were baptized and request they send you a copy or have it directly sent to University Ministries, P.O. Box AR, St. Bonaventure, NY 14778.
Planning the Wedding Ceremony
This you would do in collaboration with the Director of Liturgy and Music at the University. You have options in preparing your ceremony. It is best to schedule this meeting early on in your preparations.
The focus of worship, or a religious ceremony, is on God. In this case you are giving thanks to God who has gifted the two of you with each other. Subsequently, much popular music or love ballads are not appropriate for worship. Music suggestions appropriate for worship can be provided for you in consultation with the Director of Liturgy and Music. Please make an appointment with the Director of Liturgy and Music at the University after you have confirmed the wedding date. The Director can be reached at (716) 375-2600. Visiting musicians are welcomed to minister at your wedding upon approval of the Director of Liturgy and Music.
Readers & Scripture Readings
Choice and number can be worked out with your officiating minister. The Gospel is read by the priest/deacon or minister. Other readings may be read by family or friends who are ministers of the Word (lectors).
Wanting to capture special moments on film, video, or CD is important. Photographers and other media-recording individuals are asked not to intrude upon the sacredness of the ceremony. Best to have them see the officiant before the ceremony. If the chapel is not being used after the ceremony for other groups you are welcome to use it to take wedding group pictures or to restage a part of the ceremony to gain special visuals. Please inform your photographer that the altar and lectern are not to be moved for photo opportunities.
Flowers and Floor Runners
Flowers may be placed anywhere in the chapel except on top of the altar table in the center of the chapel. It is discouraged to attach flowers to the chairs down the middle aisle. Also, floor runners are discouraged because of safety.
There is NO throwing of anything: rice, confetti, flower pedals, birdseed, etc. Release of balloons is prohibited because of environmental reasons. Blowing bubbles, applause, ringing of bells, vocal expressions of joy and good wishes, or anything that does not create a cleaning issue or safety hazard is appropriate.
The University Chapel is the primary setting on campus for all religious events. The chapel is arranged with a central altar and chairs on three sides facing the altar. This arrangement works very well for the celebration of all our sacraments including weddings. The chapel seating is not rearranged for weddings. The altar table in the middle of the chapel is not to be moved.
Clean-Up of the Chapel
We ask that all programs, flower boxes and other trash be picked up after the wedding. There are to be no sparkles or glitter on any flower arrangements or seat bows. You are responsible for leaving the chapel in the condition you found it. Any necessary repair or cleanup to the chapel area will result in an additional fee.
Revised March 2008