SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
A Catholic marriage is a sacramental bond contracted between a baptized man and a baptized woman, one or both of whom is Catholic. More importantly, it is a covenant, implying that a relationship to God, through Jesus Christ, exists with and between both husband and wife.
The few months of planning before a wedding can be far from peaceful. Planning a wedding can be particularly difficult because it involves not only your future spouse, but your family, your spouse’s family, your friends, and your parish Priest. Most couples start out trying to not hurt anyone’s feelings and to accommodate everyone’s idea of what your wedding day should be. Negotiating these potential mine fields can turn a wedding into one of the most anxiety-ridden events of your life.
One of the issues is that people view a wedding as a cultural event, not a religious one. And usually it is the cultural aspects of the wedding which rule the day and the religious aspects get lost in the shuffle.
What will you be doing?
Your marriage is first and foremost a sacrament. Through your wedding vows, you will make known the loving presence of God as revealed through Christ and His Church. You should be concentrating on the unity you will be bringing into your lives, your commitment, and the blending of two people into one.
The Priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy. He will help you to see the sacramental nature of this day.
What do you believe?
Your wedding liturgy communicates what you believe. What you do in the liturgy demonstrates this. So, speak your vows loudly and clearly, respond to the prayers and the songs. Your attention to each other and the sacrament is more precious than posing for photos.
The Essential Symbol
You are the essential symbol of the sacrament, not the arches made of flowers, not the dress nor the rings. You, your love, and your commitment to each other are the essential symbols and the liturgy is designed around this fact. You are the minister of the sacrament, not the Priest. You are the one who speaks the words that bring about the reality of the sacrament. Your consent made before God and before your guests make this a marriage.
"This union, then, is most serious because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life and are to be expected in your own. And so, not knowing that is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death."
~ excerpt from The Exhortation Before Marriage
Required Documents for Marriage
Proof of Baptism, First Communion & Confirmation
Every Catholic being married must produce a current Record of Baptism, that is, one that has been issued within six months prior to the wedding date. The Church of Baptism should be contacted in due time so that you will have the certificate by the second interview (about 2 months before the wedding day).
If one of the parties wishing to be married is a baptized Christian, they must submit their baptismal certificate as well, although theirs can be an original copy.
Consent of Parents
If one of the parties wishing to be married is under the age of eighteen, written consent is required of the parents (or guardians).
If a previous marriage existed, the following documents are required:
If the former spouse is deceased, an authentic certificate or satisfactory proof of death of the spouse.
If divorced, a copy of the previous marriage certificate, a copy of the divorce decree, and official confirmation from the proper ecclesiastical court with regard to the dissolution or nullity of the marriage.
Note: No wedding date will be booked until it is established that one or both parties is free to re-marry.
Organizing Your Wedding
At the first interview, the Priest will begin to fill out the Pre-nuptial Inquiry (Form 1) by taking down your basic information and recording your wedding date on the form and in the parish book. If you do not set a date at this meeting, the responsibility will be yours to follow up and ensure a wedding date has been set.
Archdiocesan guidelines require that the couple contact the parish at least one year in advance of the proposed date of the wedding. However, scheduling a date is still subject to the Rector’s discretion, and the availability of dates. Adequate time must be allowed to meet the requirements for marriage outlined in this booklet. Official forms for the wedding may be completed once a date for the wedding has been finalized.
No marriage may be celebrated in any parish until the couple has received proper instruction on marriage. Our couples will be expected to take a Marriage Preparation course and submit the Certificate of Completion upon the course’s end.
We recommend the Ascension Press marriage preparation program called "Joy-filled Marriage", which can be done at the comfort of your own home.
Choosing Your Wedding Readings
Your Wedding mass can be composed of readings that speak most to you as a couple. For this reason the Catholic Church gives us the ability to choose from a number of readings. Consider saving them or making them part of your wedding album as a reminder of your covenant, specially in times when your love and commitment to one another may require a gentle refreshment.
Below are citations to the options that are provided for you. You can find them in your personal Bible, click on each citation to open the reading on Bible Gateway or you can also download our entire Guide to Your Wedding Liturgical Readings as a PDF.
1st Reading Options
2nd Reading Options