These are a few of the things I have learned in planning for a traditional Catholic ceremony.
First you need to make an appointment with your parish to speak with the priest about your intent of getting married at least six months ahead of our ideal wedding date.
(It took me a month to get a priest in my area to meet with us. I had to go to the parish were I was registered at instead of my local parish because the priest would not return my calls. This is why I say at least six months in advance.)
When you finally have an appointment and meet with the priest be prepared to talk about everything. I really mean everything including if you live together, how you meet, what your goals are, and overall what kind of relationship both of you guys have. Once he gets that out of the way then you can talk about the date and the details like what time of day you would like to have it at. In my parish they offer the option of some Friday night masses but weddings are mainly held on Saturdays between 9:00am and 2:00pm. This is where you might have to be flexible especially if the time you are looking for is already booked.
Before departing your meeting with the priest he will hand you a substantial amount of paperwork you have to fill out and return before anything is processed.
Another thing you have to do is go to a Catholic Engagement Encounter (CEE). They gave us three choices of ways we could fulfill the engagement encounter hours but we opted to go for a weekend away to Santa Barbara. Once again here be prepared to discuss everything but this time with your fiance. Topics range from finances, children, retirement, religious beliefs, ideals, values, sex, and morals. This weekend is just about you and your fiance and making sure you are ready for the commitment of marriage.
These are a few pictures of our CEE in Santa Barbra:
FYI: If you go for the retreat option you should know that you will be separated from your FI and the rooms are usually dorm style. Oh and if you cannot afford the $250 that they charge per couple you can ask your priest to give you a fee waiver.
Now that we have completed the Encounter we can move on to turning in all the paperwork that has to be in place before being able to walk down the alter.
We need to turn in:
Recent copy of baptismal certificate
Copy of first communion certificate
Engagement Encounter certificate
2 for each pre-nuptial forms which are filed out usually by your parents
Booklet of reading that will be read in the ceremony
Note: According to our parish priest you do not need to have done your confirmation in order to get married.
Oh and we have not even discussed the fees that you have to pay in order to get married in the church.
We need to pay:
Parish wedding planner $$$
Use of Parish $$$
Alter servers (2) $$
Music directer $$$
This all together totals a little less than 1k. This does not include the priest donation or what you have to pay for the engagement encounter.