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Congratulations on your engagement!

The following are the guidelines for celebrating the sacrament of marriage at St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

The couple and/or their parents must be registered and active in the parish. According to diocesan regulations a six-month period of preparation is necessary before the marriage can take place.

Major Elements to the Marriage Preparation Program

I. FOCCUS Questionnaire
II. Marriage Preparation Programs
This requirement can be met by attending an Engaged Encounter Weekend, a one-day Pre-Marriage Seminar offered by St. Francis, or by attending a Pre-Marriage program at another parish.
III. Private Sessions
These are meetings with the priest/deacon who will witness your marriage.
IV. Rehearsal
Date and time should be set when you reserve the church for your wedding.
V. Documents and Fees
VI. Important Information

I. Foccus Questionnaire

The FOCCUS Questionnaire we ask each couple to complete. It is a tool we use to help a couple see if they are communicating well in the different areas of their relationship. The results of the FOCCUS Questionnaire will be reviewed with you by the priest/deacon who is helping you prepare for your wedding.

II. Pre-Marriage Program

All couples being married at St. Francis are required to attend and participate in a Marriage Preparation Program. St. Francis offers its own Pre-Marriage Program twice a year – in the spring and in the fall.

Our Pre-Marriage Program is designed to offer you a special opportunity to learn from the experience of others and also to let you talk together about your future life – your strengths and weaknesses; your expectations and goals; your attitudes toward money, careers, sex, children, family and your faith and the role the Church plays in your life. It is a great day and one that everyone enjoys. We hold our Pre-Marriage Program here at the parish. The cost of the day which includes a continental breakfast and lunch is included in your registration fee for your wedding. If your wedding is not taking place here at St. Francis the cost for the day is $50.00. Call the parish at 703-221-4044 to register for the next Pre-Marriage Program.

An Engaged Encounter or some form of Marriage Preparation Program offered by another parish is also a means of fulfilling this requirement.

A copy of your Marriage Preparation/Pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter Certificate must be presented to the priest or deacon who is celebrating your wedding.

III. Private Sessions

Who will celebrate your wedding at St. Francis? That is up to you. You should decide which of the parish priests you would like to be a part of the preparations for and the celebration of your marriage. If you have no preference, a priest will be assigned.

If you would like a priest from another parish or diocese to witness your marriage, that is fine, but please let us know. Someone from St. Francis will be assigned to you to take care of the paperwork and help you prepare for your wedding, so the visiting priest will not have to worry about this. Your guest priest should introduce himself to our Pastor and request permission to perform your marriage ceremony. A simple phone call is sufficient. A visiting priest or deacon from out of state who is going to celebrate your wedding must make arrangements to be licensed by the state of Virginia to officiate at your wedding.

There are usually at least two to three meetings with the priest who will be the celebrant at your marriage. During these meetings a relationship is established which helps to ensure that your wedding is very personal and special. All the details for your wedding will be worked out during these meetings. You will be guided every step of the way and everything you will need will be provided.

Ecumenical weddings are common at St. Francis. Non-Catholic ministers are welcome to participate in the celebration. Generally, the details of such celebrations are worked out with the couple by the priest and the minister/rabbi during the preparation meetings. It is permissible for a Catholic to be married in the church of his or her non-Catholic partner. If this is the case and your desire, please let the priest/deacon know that right away so he can do all the necessary paperwork for you to get the necessary dispensation from canonical form.

IV. Rehearsals

Rehearsals are scheduled at the time you reserve the church for your wedding. They usually take place the evening before your wedding. If you would like your rehearsal on a different night, that is fine with us – just let us know. Rehearsals usually last about 45 minutes.


During the rehearsal we will walk through the ceremony so everyone will be comfortable. Only the wedding party, parents and visiting clergy need come to the rehearsal. The wedding license should be brought to the rehearsal to be signed by the celebrant.

V. Documents and Fees

1. A recent copy of your Baptismal Certificate.
You can get this by contacting the Church where you were baptized and they will send it to you. If you were baptized here at St. Francis, we will provide the Baptismal Certificate for you.

2. A copy of your Pre-Cana Certificate which indicates you attended and completed the sessions.

3. Civil License
Just one month before the wedding date, the two of you, along with one witness who knows you, need to go to the Marriage License Bureau of the Municipality of the Bride.
If the bride is a nonresident and the groom is a resident of Virginia, the license is obtained from the Registrar in his municipality.

There you will make your application for a Civil Marriage License, and then you will have to wait 72 hours, as required by law, before the license will be issued to you. Once the license is issued, it is valid for one month.
Please do not wait till the last minute to do this because they will not bend the rules.

Please note: A license issued under either of the preceding circumstances is good for use anywhere in the State of Virginia.

If both bride and groom are nonresidents of the state, the license is obtained from the Registrar of the Municipality where the wedding is to take place and may be used only in that municipality.

4. Fees
The fee for a wedding at St. Francis is $400.

    This fee provides the following:

    1. Reservation and use of the church for your rehearsal and wedding. Also, the
      use of the St. Catherine room for the bride and her attendants.
    2. Marriage Preparation Program.
    3. A FOCCUS Test will be given, scored and explained with the couple.
    4. Meetings with the priest who will celebrate your wedding to complete the
      necessary paperwork and plan your wedding.
    5. Setting up the church and then cleaning up after the wedding.

The $400 fee is required within 30 days after you reserve the church. Your payment will be acknowledged, and this will confirm that your date and time have been set in the church calendar.

It is also customary to offer a gift to the presiding priest or deacon on the day of your wedding. If the gift is monetary, the range is usually $150 to $250. This check would be made payable to your priest.

VI. Important Information

1. Witnesses
The official witnesses (Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor) may be Catholic or non-Catholic and must be at least 14 years of age.

2. Times for Weddings
Friday: 3:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM

3. Flowers and Decorations
You may have as little or as much floral decorations as you choose. You may wish to collaborate with other couples who are being married on the same day as you are about sharing the expense of flowers. Flowers may not be placed on the altar.

The florist may come in one hour before your wedding.

Pew decorations/flowers are NOT permitted because the new pews by their design do not offer a way to attach anything to them.

Please note: that any decorations, banners or flowers in place for the liturgical seasons may NOT be moved or adjusted in any way. For example, we will not take down our Christmas trees for a wedding on December 27th.

4. Photographs and Video
Please inform your photographer/videographer to speak with the priest who is celebrating your wedding so that boundaries and restrictions can be discussed. They are not permitted in the sanctuary during the ceremony and we trust they will be respectful as they perform their service.

5. Runner
To ensure your safety and that of your guests the use of a runner is NOT permitted.

6. Rice, Confetti, Bird Seed, Balloons
Rice, confetti, and bird seed may not be thrown due to insurance concerns and no exceptions will be made. Also, balloons may not be released into the air.
Many couples are having their guests use bubbles or ring small silver bells outside the church after the wedding ceremony.

Flower girls are NOT permitted to throw any type of petals real or artificial down the aisle.

7. Candles
Candelabras are permitted if you wish for your florist to provide them. If you want to have a Unity Candle you will need to purchase one and please bring it to the rehearsal.

8. Alcohol and Drug Policy
The consumption of alcohol and illegal substances is absolutely forbidden in the church or on any church property before, during or after the wedding rehearsal or wedding ceremony. The wedding party and wedding guests are asked not to come to the rehearsal or wedding in any form of intoxication. The pastor or presiding priest has the right to refuse entry to the church to any person he deems intoxicated—even if that person is a member the wedding party.

9. Musicians
The church wedding is a sacred rite invoking the blessing of God on the union of bride and groom. Music used in connection with the ceremony must mirror the dignity of the sanctuary and the sanctity of the sacrament being celebrated. Recorded music is not permitted. Secular music is permitted on a limited basis and with permission of the Director of Music and the Pastor. Our church Music Director, Nikole Giraldi, will meet with you and help you choose the right music for your wedding to make it special. You will need to contact Nikole at 540-371-2876. In addition to helping you plan the music for the liturgy Nikole will arrange for a leader of song and an organist/pianist to provide the music for your wedding. Additional instrumentalists are available upon request. St. Francis musicians are well trained professionals who work well together and are familiar with the music and procedures of Catholic Liturgy. It is only with permission from the Pastor that anyone outside of the parish’s music ministry can be asked to perform. There is a $100 fee for the service that Nikole will provide for you and she will discuss the fees and payment for the musicians who will perform at your wedding.

10. To have a Mass or Ceremony?
This is a decision that a couple has to decide on and it should be discussed with the priest who is celebrating your wedding who can advise you.

Acknowledgement Form (please print, sign, and turn in this document along with payment)

For more information on marriage and weddings, please contact Chanel Marquis:

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