Arranging Your Marriage in the Catholic Church
The first stepYou've already taken the first step! You and your future spouse have fallen in love, and together you have discerned that God is calling you to commit yourselves to each other for the rest of your life.Now you desire to celebrate your marriage in the Catholic Church!
The next step is to call your parish church (of either bride or groom) and set up a time to meet with the priest, deacon or pastoral minister.
The best time to do this is as soon as you are engaged!
You may be able to set your wedding date after your first interview. (Remember that your parish church is the place where many of your friends and other parishioners wish to celebrate their weddings, and the date you have in mind may not be available.
At the first interview you will be asked for some basic information (including your name and address, place of your baptism and confirmation) and to talk about why you wish to be married in the Catholic Church.
Many parishes in our Diocese arrange for a very helpful interview called "Foccus" which will help you and your future spouse to learn more about one another.
You will also speak about Marriage Preparation (Pre-Cana) . Most of our parishes have their own parish-based program which is scheduled at various times throughout the year.
Remember, the priests, deacons and pastoral ministers are ready to help you, and will answer your questions about your marriage!
Place of Marriage
(taken from the Pastoral Manual, 1997 edition, Diocese of Rockville Centre)
Catholics celebrate marriage in the parish church of the bride or of the groom.When the sacrament of marriage is celebrated between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic, the marriage takes place in the parish church or in a church edifice. When marrying an unbaptized person, the Catholic marries in the parish church, in the worship place of the unbaptized party, in the home, or in a catering hall chapel.
Below is a further explanation of the places where marriage is celebrated in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
- Catholics are to celebrate marriage in a parish church.
- They may celebrate the wedding in the parish church of the bride or the parish church of the groom.
- If neither party belongs to the parish, permission must be sought from the proper pastor (e.g., in the form of a letter).
- In the Diocese of Rockville Centre, weddings usually do not take place in chapels (e.g., convent, high school, college, hospital). For exceptions please consult the Chancellors Office.
Non-Catholic church edifice
Permission may be granted for the wedding to take place in a non-Catholic church edifice. When the Catholic is dispensed from canonical form, the non-Catholic clergyperson takes the consent and signs the license. When the Catholic priest or deacon is delegated to perform the wedding, the Catholic clergyperson takes the consent and signs the license.In either case, the paperwork is submitted by the priest, deacon or pastoral minister to obtain the proper permissions, dispensations, or delegation.
- Marrying a Baptized Non-Catholic. The marriage of a Catholic and baptized non-Catholic is a sacrament. When the consent is exchanged it takes place in the parish church of the Catholic or in a non-Catholic church edifice.
- The marriage usually takes place in a Catholic parish church. In this case, submit the mixed religion form for the proper permission.
- Permission may be given to celebrate such a marriage in church edifice of another Christian denomination. Submit the green form (Mixed religion and marriage outside a church edifice). The dispensation from canonical form will be granted so that the non-Catholic minister can perform the wedding. Usually the non-Catholic minister takes the consent. Should the priest or deacon wish to take the consent, consult the Chancellors Office.
- When the dispensation from canonical form is granted, it is not necessary that a Catholic priest or deacon be present. However, the presence of an ordained Church minister is usually very important to Catholics. Parishes are encouraged to be as accommodating as possible.
- The marriage of a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic does not take place in the home, in a catering hall chapel or out-of-doors.
Marrying an Unbaptized person
- The marriage should take place in a Catholic parish church.
- The marriage can take place, with proper permission and dispensation, in the place of worship of the unbaptized person.
- Because there are non-Catholics who may be offended by Christian symbols and would refuse to enter a Catholic church, permission may be given to celebrate marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person (e.g., synagogue, mosque, or Hindu place of worship)
Permission may also be granted to celebrate such a marriage in the home or even an interfaith chapel or a catering hall chapel. In these cases the green form is submitted for the necessary permissions, dispensations or delegation. Examples of appropriate places for weddings of Catholics to unbaptized persons in the Diocese of Rockville Centre:
- Indoors in the home
- Interfaith chapel
- Catering hall chapel
Outdoor weddings are not permitted.
Catholics are not permitted to be married out-of-doors. However, outdoor weddings are popular for many peoplepriests, deacons and church ministers admit that it is challenging, in the face of popular wedding culture, to explain the reasons for this practice of the Church in most parts of the United States, including the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
It is the decision of the diocesan bishop and the bishops in our region that the sanctity of the marriage ceremony is best preserved by celebrating the marriage indoors. Even when permission is granted for a Catholic to be married outside a church edifice, the marriage takes place indoors. The place of the marriage must be a place of dignity, appropriate for the exchange of the wedding promises, e.g., a wedding chapel, a room set apart, etc. Tents, gazebos, bubbles, etc. are not permissible places for Catholics to be married in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Some non-Catholic clergypersons celebrate wedding out-of-doors. The assisting priest or deacon is to remind couples when they arrange for the marriage that outdoor weddings are not possible, even when a willing non-Catholic clergyperson takes the consent and signs the license.
Permission will be granted to celebrate a marriage in a hospital or in the sick room at home because of serious illness or danger of death.
Sometimes the couple wishes to have an infirm relative present at their marriage. In such cases, permission may be sought to celebrate the marriage in a hospital room or the sick room at home. This celebration takes the place of the church celebration.
In these cases, permission is to be sought from the Chancellors Office.
Wedding Liturgy Guidelines
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