The mutual love of man and woman becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves humanity.
God who created us out of love also calls us to love – this is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.
For we are created in the image and likeness of God who is love. The mutual love of man and woman becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves humanity.
Marriage is an “intimate community of life and love … established by the Creator… God himself is the author of marriage.” Gaudium et Spes 48. This communion of spouses is ordered to the good of the spouses and the good of children.
Marriage between baptised persons is a sacrament.
A Catholic Wedding
Cultural ideas of marriage are shaped by popular movies and televised royal weddings. Couples want their marriage ceremony to be unique and personal. The bride and groom often expect to be able to prepare their own marriage ceremony, including writing their own vows and using songs that are personal favourites.
However marriage in the Church is not the private celebration of the couple or their families and friends. The Rite of Marriage is the official ritual of the Church, so the Church regulates its celebration.
The priest or deacon who celebrates the wedding will help prepare the couple for the marriage, complete the necessary documentation and prepare the wedding ceremony.
Why Marry in a Catholic Church?
The question of where to hold the wedding is an important one which couples need to talk about together.
Sometimes couples want to be married in a church because of social pressure or family tradition. These are not sufficient reasons in themselves for choosing a church wedding.
A church is the appropriate venue for the marriage of those who believe in Christ and who wish to celebrate publicly God’s blessing of their union.
The Catholic rite of marriage is structured as follows:
- Introductory Rites
After the entrance procession, the minister greets and welcomes the people and prays the opening prayer.
- Liturgy of the Word
A reading from scripture is followed by the singing of a psalm and the reading of the gospel. Then in the homily the priest or deacon speaks of marriage.
- Liturgy of Marriage
After an introduction and some questions addressed to the couple, they declare their consent to marry. This is followed by the blessing and exchange of rings, and prayers of intercession. The Nuptial Blessing and Lord’s Prayer follow.
- Liturgy of Eucharist
If the marriage is celebrated during Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist follows. It incorporates the Lord’s Prayer and Nuptial Blessing.
- Concluding Rites
The priest blesses the couple and the people. The marriage register is signed.Within the structure of the ceremony, you are able to choose readings, prayers and music to make your marriage a special celebration.
There are also decisions to be made about how you enter the church in the entrance procession, where you stand, how your family and friends will be involved in the celebration, and so on.
Entering into marriage is one of the biggest decisions anybody makes in his or her lifetime. The Church strongly recommends that couples undertake some kind of formal preparation for marriage to help them understand the nature of marriage and the many human complexities of married life.
Once a couple is married they are not “on their own”. As well as the support of prayer and the sacraments couples can find support in various ways in their local parish community.
Voluntary groups offer a range of marriage enrichment experiences and/or ongoing meetings in groups aimed at developing the spirituality of marriage.
If you decide to marry in a Catholic church, the first step is to contact the parish priest in the area where you live.
Contacts should take place at least six months before the wedding date. Make an appointment to see the celebrant and book the church for the wedding.
Contact your parish:
You will need to provide:
Birth Certificate (obtainable from the Registrar General – Births, Deaths and Marriages)
Baptismal Certificate (You need a copy less than six months old, obtainable from the parish where you were baptised. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your full name, date of birth and parents’ names.)
Evidence of Death or Annulment if you have been married before.
It is the responsibility of the celebrant to ascertain that a couple is free to marry. This may involve considerations of church law as well as secular law. In some situations, evidence of death or annulment or other documentation may be required.
The priest or deacon does not charge to officiate at a wedding, but it is usual to offer him suitable remuneration. The celebrant will also provide you with information on charges for the use of the church and on local arrangements for music, flowers and photos at the wedding ceremony.
What if a Catholic is marrying a Person Who is Not a Catholic?
When a Catholic marries a Christian from another Church or a non-Christian in a Catholic church, the celebrant is required to complete an application for the necessary permission or dispensation.
Catholic partners are asked to promise to do all in their power to share their faith with their children by having them baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church. The Catholic party must inform the other partner of this promise and sign the declaration. No promise is required of the other partner.
The minister of the non-Catholic partner may be invited to participate in the celebration of the marriage in a Catholic church, for example, by reading from the Scriptures, leading a prayer, or blessing the couple.
Sometimes a Catholic will want to get married in another Christian church or outside a church. When there is sufficient reason, such a marriage for a Catholic may be recognised by the Catholic Church. This is a possibility you should discuss with your parish priest.