Weddings
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” -John 2:5

Congratulations!

We're thrilled that you are considering the Basilica for your wedding. America's First Cathedral is one of the most sought-after venues for weddings in the United States. The beauty of our Basilica serves as a mere shadow of the riches and graces that God showers on men and women through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

If you’d like to celebrate your wedding at the Basilica, please click each tab below:

  1. Wedding FAQ,
  2. Wedding Guidelines,
  3. Marriage Preparation, and
  4. Complete and submit the Wedding Request Form.
Wedding FAQ
Wedding Guidelines
Marriage Preparation
Wedding Request Form

Q: Do we need to be Basilica parishioners or Catholic to be married at the Basilica?

A: You do not need to be a parishioner of the Basilica to be married here. However, either the bride or groom must be Catholic in order to be married at the Basilica or any Catholic Church. And if either the bride or the groom is not Catholic, they must agree to raise any future children in the Catholic faith.

Q: Who may celebrate my wedding Mass?

A: If you are a Basilica parishioner, a priest or deacon of the Basilica will be happy to prepare you for and officiate at your wedding. If you are not a parishioner of the Basilica, your local pastor should prepare you for this holy sacrament and officiate at your wedding. If the priest/deacon you choose to officiate at your wedding is from outside of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, he must submit a letter of suitability from his diocese to:

The Office of Clergy Personnel

320 Cathedral Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

Q: Is there any difference between a marriage celebrated by a priest or a deacon?

A: Yes. Only an ordained priest may perform a nuptial Mass or a wedding ceremony, while an ordained deacon or a priest may perform a wedding ceremony outside of Mass.

Q: Does all music really have to be sacred/liturgical music? 

A: Yes! Because your wedding is sacred, the music must be sacred as well. Only approved liturgical music is permitted in the Basilica. But don’t worry—our music director will make sure you have amazingly beautiful music!

Q: When does the Basilica allow weddings and rehearsals?

A: Weddings are scheduled on Saturdays at 12:00pm and 2:00pm. Rehearsals are scheduled on Fridays, at 4:00pm and 5:00pm.

Q: Do we need to take marriage prep classes?

A: Yes! Marriage is holy and requires thorough preparation. Typically, marriage preparation includes 3 components: 1. Several meetings with a priest/deacon; 2. an Archdiocesan Pre-Cana Retreat/Class; 3) an introduction to Natural Family Planning. The priest/deacon you meet with will give you more specific information. For more information on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Pre-Cana Program, click here: https://www.archbalt.org/marriage-family-life/marriage-preparation/

Q: Where do we get a civil marriage license?

A: A civil marriage license must be obtained for Baltimore City. Please call the City Marriage License Bureau at 410-333-3780 for more information.

Q: What decorations are we allowed to have?

A: When you receive your Basilica Wedding Brochure, you will also receive information regarding decorations. Aisle runners, rice, seeds, bubbles, flower petals, and balloons are not permitted inside the Basilica.

Q: What are the costs associated with having a wedding at the Basilica?

A: If you are an active parishioner at the Basilica, the fee for weddings at the Basilica is $2,000 minus your annual donations to the offertory. (For instance, if you contributed $1,500 in the last year to the offertory your wedding fee is only $500).

If you are not a parishioner at the Basilica, the fee for weddings at the Basilica is $2,000.

For both parishioners and non-parishioners, a non-refundable deposit of $250 is required to reserve the church. The balance should be paid at least one month prior to the wedding date. The $2,000 fee does not include fees for the organist, vocalist, other musicians, flowers, or your offering to the priest or deacon.

Scheduling Your Wedding

After we have received your request for information form, you will receive an email response including a copy of the Basilica wedding brochure and other relevant information including the availability of the date and time you are interested in reserving. To secure a date and time, the parish office will need to receive the following:

  1. The name of the priest or deacon who will prepare you for marriage and witness your wedding.
  2. A letter of permission from your pastor agreeing to allow your wedding to take place at the Basilica.
  3. Your initial $250 deposit.

Please send the above documentation and deposit to the Basilica of the Assumption, 409 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, to the attention of Maura Belton. After receiving your documentation and deposit, you will receive an email verifying receipt and confirmation of a lock on your requested date.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the first metropolitan cathedral in the United States and the Co-Cathedral of Baltimore. We are delighted that you have inquired about celebrating your marriage ceremony in this historic and important place of worship! Holy Matrimony is a sacrament of the Catholic Church. As such, there are established guidelines and policies all must follow—so please read these guidelines very carefully. (Click here to download a PDF document of the Basilica Wedding Guidelines.)

Scheduling Your Wedding

It is necessary to set a firm date at least six months in advance of your wedding.  If you are a Basilica parishioner, a priest or deacon of the Basilica will be happy to prepare you and officiate at your wedding. If you are not a parishioner of the Basilica, your local pastor should prepare you for this holy sacrament and officiate at your wedding. If the priest/deacon you choose to witness your wedding is from outside of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, he must submit a letter of suitability from his diocese to:

The Office of Clergy Personnel
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Weddings are scheduled on Saturdays at 12:00pm and 2:00pm. The rehearsal will occur the Friday before at 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM. The presider of your wedding will also lead the wedding rehearsal.

Book Your Wedding at the Basilica

To officially book your wedding at the Basilica, please send the following items to the Parish Office:

  • A signed Guidance Acceptance Contract.”
  • A non-refundable deposit check of $250.00.  Please include your name, wedding date, and time on the memo line.
  • The name and contact information of the priest or deacon who will prepare you for your wedding.
  • The name and contact information of the priest or deacon who will officiate at your wedding.

You may drop off these items at the parish office, or mail to:

Basilica Parish Office
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Please note that the Parish Office is located diagonally across the street from the Basilica in the Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Center building.

Fees

Parishioners: The fee for the use of the Basilica for all weddings is $2,000.00 minus the amount you contributed to the offertory in the last year. So if you donated $1,500 last year, the fee for use of the Basilica would be $500. This is our way of thanking active parishioners. Regardless of the fee, a $250.00 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve the church.  The balance should be paid at least one month prior to your wedding.  This fee is for the use of the Church only and does not include the fees for the organist, vocalist, or any other musicians. For a full listing of all fees, see below. If this is a financial hardship, please contact our office. We are happy to work with you.

Non-Parishioners: The fee for the use of the Church for all weddings is $2,000.00.  A $250.00 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve the church.  The balance should be paid at least one month prior to your wedding date.  This fee does not include the fees for the organist, vocalist, or any other musicians. For a full listing of all fees, see below.

Venue Fees

Church Fee (Parishioners):

$2,000 (Less Annual Offertory Donations)

Church Fee (Non-Parishioners):

$2,000

Music Fees

Organist Fee:

$300

Cantor:

$250

Director of Music:

$300

Please Note: We will need two separate checks from you—1 for the Church fee and 1 for the music fee. Please include your names and wedding date and time on your check. For the music fee check, also include “wedding music” in the memo line.

Marriage Preparation Program

All couples are required to participate in two forms of marriage preparation: 1) An Archdiocesan-sponsored Marriage Preparation Program; and, 2) One-on-one meetings with the Priest or Deacon who will witness your wedding. If you are not a parishioner of the Basilica, please ask the pastor of your local parish to prepare you for your wedding.

Information about the various Archdiocesan programs will be given to you by the priest or deacon who prepares you for marriage.

To set up the 1-on-1 meetings with the priest/deacon who will witness your wedding, please contact him directly at least 6 months before your wedding date.

Visiting Clergy: Please note that you must submit the completed paperwork/pre-nuptial file to the Rector of the Basilica at least 3 weeks prior to the wedding. Upon reception of this paperwork, a written letter of delegation will be issued to you. Thanks for your diligence in this important matter.

Planning the Wedding Liturgy

A copy of the marriage-planning workbook, Together for Life, is available to you at the Basilica Office. The priest or deacon who prepares you will also give you a copy. In this helpful book you will find all the options for the readings, prayers and rites that are allowed by the Church.

When both the bride and groom are of the Catholic faith, the celebration of the marriage should take place within a Mass.  If one of the parties is not Catholic, the celebration usually takes place at a ceremony—although a Mass is permitted.

Wedding Rehearsal

Rehearsals are scheduled on Fridays at 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Forty-five minutes is allowed for the rehearsal.  Your wedding will likely not be the only one scheduled, meaning there will be more than one rehearsal on Friday afternoon.  It is imperative that your rehearsal begins on time.  A later start will shorten your rehearsal.

Required Documentation

During your marriage preparation sessions, the priest or deacon will collect all the necessary documents you need to get married in the Catholic Church and place them in a folder called your “pre-nuptial file.” This completed pre-nuptial file must be sent to the Basilica 1 month prior to your wedding.

Marriage License

A civil marriage license must be obtained for Baltimore City from the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse, 100 North Calvert Street, Room 627.  One of the parties must appear in person to apply for the license. You may contact them by phone at (410) 333-3780.

Music

Mr. Thomas Hochla is the Basilica’s Director of Music. He will coordinate the music for your wedding. Please contact him immediately.  He can provide you with names of our cantors, organists, and any other musicians you would like as part of the service.  Mr. Hochla can be reached at Thomas.hochla@baltimorebasilica.org or via phone at 410-547-5428.

All music selected must be of a sacred nature, meaning music that exists solely for use within the Church and her liturgies. Secular music is not appropriate nor allowed. All music chosen must be arranged with Mr. Hochla within a month of the approved wedding date.

Music can be used at many times throughout the ceremony, including, but not limited to:

  • Prelude
  • Procession of the wedding party
  • Procession of the bride
  • Gathering Hymn
  • Sung Responsorial psalm
  • Preparation Hymn
  • Setting of the mass responses
  • Communion Hymn
  • Meditation song
  • A song for the presentation of flowers to Mary
  • Recessional Music or Hymn

Readers/Lectors

It is proper for a lay person to proclaim the First and Second Scripture Readings and to read the Prayer of the Faithful (if no deacon is present).  Those invited to read at a wedding Mass should be practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church.  Lectors should be given copies of the readings in advance, and should be part of the rehearsal.

Altar Servers

The Basilica does not provide altar servers.  If the couple wishes to have family members (who are altar servers), they should discuss this with the officiating Priest or Deacon.

Ring Bearers and Flower Girls

In order for the marriage ceremony to retain its dignity and sense of the sacred, children five years and older are suggested to serve as ring bearers or flower girls.

Flowers and Decorations

Aisle runners, rice, seeds, bubbles, flower petals, confetti, and balloons are not permitted.  Fixtures that would damage the pews, taping of bows to the pews and/or the marble floor are also not permitted.  Bows may be hung over the end of the pews.  Flower arrangements can only be placed on the Altar or Repose (the back Altar) of the Basilica.  No extra flower stands are permitted, nor can flower arrangements be placed anywhere other than the Altar of Repose.  Because the Tabernacle is in the center of the Altar of Repose, flowers cannot be placed in the center of the Altar.  It is customary to bring two (2) arrangements—one for the left side of the Altar and one for the right.  Pew bows, corsages, bouquets and any other decorations are your responsibility. Decorations (other than pew bows) must be approved by the Rector of the Basilica.

Because of insurance regulations, extra candles are not allowed anywhere in the Basilica (including the grounds).  The only candles allowed in the Basilica are the candles permanently stationed in the Sanctuary. Please note that the “Unity Candle” is NOT appropriate for a Catholic Marriage Ceremony. If you wish to have a unity candle, we recommend you have it at your Wedding Reception following the Mass or Ceremony!

Photography and Videography

Following the wedding, either photographs or a receiving line is allowed, but not both.

Photographs and/or video may be taken during the wedding ceremony. However photographers and videographers are not permitted in or around the sanctuary during the Mass or ceremony.  External lighting during the ceremony that is excessively bright or distracting is not allowed.

Parking

The Basilica does not have a parking lot. There is a parking garage at 15 W Franklin Street less than a block away between Charles and Cathedral Streets.  We cannot offer free parking at the garage for your wedding.

Punctuality

Out of consideration for other weddings and services scheduled after your wedding, it is very important that rehearsals and weddings begin on time.  Please know that one hour and 30 minutes has been allotted for your wedding, and a late start means forfeiture of your receiving line and/or photographs.

Please note that downtown traffic can be very heavy on Friday and Saturday afternoons.  You must allow more than the usual time of travel to come to the Basilica.  Please inform your driver(s), photographer, florist, wedding party, guests, and all others of this.

Directions

Directions should be provided with your wedding invitations.  Visit our website, https://americasfirstcathedral.org, for directions.

Food and Drink

No food or drink other than water for the wedding party is permitted in the Basilica.

For Wedding Planners

For questions and guidance please contact Maura Belton at maura.belton@baltimorebasilica.org or 410-727-3565 X220.

Other Information

Please know that the Basilica will remain open during your wedding.  However, during services and ceremonies, visitors are restricted to the rear area of the church and the undercroft.  There will be no disturbance.

Guidance Acceptance Contract

Once you have read the Wedding FAQ and Guidance tabs, please print, complete, and return the below form to the Basilica Parish Office.

Guidance Acceptance Contract

Marriage preparation helps a man and a woman to enter into the holy vocation of matrimony. This process usually takes 6-7 months and is anything but boring or tedious! This time of preparation is a wonderful chance to grow in love with God, the Church, and your future spouse. Pope Francis says this of Marriage Preparation:

“… priority should be given – along with a renewed proclamation of the kerygma – to an attractive and helpful presentation of information that can help couples to live the rest of their lives together ‘with great courage and generosity.’ Marriage preparation should be a kind of ‘initiation’ to the sacrament of matrimony, providing couples with the help they need to receive the sacrament worthily and to make a solid beginning of life as a family.” – Amoris Laetitia #207

We can’t wait to begin this process with you!

All couples are required to participate in two forms of marriage preparation: 1) An Archdiocesan-sponsored Marriage Preparation Program; and, 2) One-on-one meetings with the Priest or Deacon who will witness your wedding. If you are not a parishioner of the Basilica, please ask the pastor of your local parish to prepare you for your wedding.

Information about the various Archdiocesan programs can be found here.

To set up the 1-on-1 meetings with the priest/deacon who will witness your wedding, please contact him directly at least 6 months before your wedding date.