Congratulations on your engagement!
You've made the decision to get married, and now you're thinking of the wedding. There's no better place than church, with its sense of God's grace and solemnity to give the wonderful Sacrament of Marriage its true spiritual meaning.
You and your fiancé(e) should go and see Fr Jonathan, your parish priest, as soon as you have decided to get married. Make sure that both he and the church are available to you before confirming your venue for the wedding reception, etc. If you intend to invite someone else to officiate at the ceremony (such as a relative or family friend who is a Catholic priest or a deacon) then you must obtain permission for this also. Normally at least six months notice is required.
What documents will we need?
How will the Church help us prepare for marriage? Who can get married in the Catholic Church?
What if you are a Catholic who has stopped practising? My fiancé(e) isn’t a Catholic / Christian can we get married in the Church?
I/We have not been confirmed – can I/we still get married in the Church? Can we get married in another Catholic church?
Can we get married abroad? Can we have a valid marriage in a non-Catholic church?
What documents will we need?
Fr. Jonathan will take down your details and explain to you the documents that you need to obtain. For a Catholic these are:
How will the Church help us prepare for marriage?
Fr. Jonathan will arrange to meet with you at least four times before your wedding takes place. These meetings provide opportunities to reflect on and talk about the meaning and purpose of Christian Marriage and new life you will have together. You will also be invited to take part in a marriage preparation course. The courses are run by Marriage Care which includes the FOCCUS questionnaire which provides a unique personalised profile of what you might need for your own preparation for marriage. In addition, there are many good and useful resources for marriage preparation via the internet too such as www.catholicmarriagepreponline.com.
Who can get married in the Catholic Church?
Any Catholic, practising or not, has a right to get married in their parish Church provided they are free to marry and are not obviously too immature to marry or intending marriage in a sense contrary to Catholic teaching, such as denying its permanence or excluding the possibility of having children if they are of an age to do so.
What if you are a Catholic who has stopped practising?
A warm welcome to you! We obviously hope the experience of inspires you to want to re-engage with the faith. Whatever the reason you stopped practising your Catholic faith in the past, you can be sure of support and encouragement to help you begin practicing your faith again.
My fiancé(e) isn’t a Catholic / Christian can we get married in the Church?
You are free to marry a non-Catholic Christian but should bear in mind that you will be asked to undertake to bring your children up as Catholics. Your fiancé(e) would not be put under any obligation to assist with this, but should at least consent to your doing so.
If you are marrying a non-baptised person or someone from another religion, a dispensation is required from the bishop’s office, but this is normally granted on the parish priest’s recommendation.
I/We have not been confirmed – can I/we still get married in the Church?
If you are not confirmed, you are strongly encouraged to take this step before marrying, though it is not absolutely essential in England and Wales. As preparing for marriage in the Catholic Church is a life-changing decision, this provides you with a unique opportunity to discern how you feel about your personal relationship with God. Perhaps you would like to deepen it? What could you do to enrich it and for it to be more meaningful? Seeking the Sacrament of Confirmation [not to mention the marriage preparation] provides you with the opportunity to do this as the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in Confirmation will, please God, enrich and strengthen your forthcoming marriage as well. Please speak to Fr Jonathan about this.
Can we get married in another Catholic church?
If you wish to marry in a Church other than your parish church, this will be entirely at the discretion of the parish priest of that Church, and preparation should still normally be undertaken by your own parish.
Can we get married abroad?
If you wish to marry abroad, you should first obtain the agreement of the priest who will be marrying you and the parish where you will marry, and then proceed as above by contacting Fr Jonathan. He will forward the necessary papers to the bishop’s office for permission to be granted. In preparation for your marriage you will be expected to take part in our parish marriage preparation.
Can we have a valid marriage in a non-Catholic church?
If a Catholic who is free to marry wishes to marry in a church building which is not part of the Catholic Church, permission must be sought from the diocesan bishop and a dispensation may be granted. To make this request you will need to speak to Fr Jonathan. You will still be required to take part in marriage preparation that is organised by the parish.