Sacrament of Marriage

Question: Can I Get Married in the Catholic Church?
Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. As such, it is a supernatural institution, as well as a natural one. The Church, therefore, restricts sacramental marriage to men and women who meet certain requirements.

Answer: In order to get married in the Catholic Church, you must be:

Both partners do not have to be a Catholic in order to be sacramentally married in the Catholic Church, but both must be baptized Christians (and at least one must be a Catholic). Non-Christians cannot receive the sacraments. For a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic Christian, express permission is required from his or her bishop. A Catholic can marry an unbaptized person, but such marriages are natural marriages only; they are not sacramental marriages. The Church, therefore, discourages them and requires a Catholic who wishes to marry an unbaptized person to receive a special dispensation from his or her bishop. Still, if the dispensation is granted, a non-sacramental marriage is valid and can take place inside of a Catholic church.

Legal prohibitions on marriage between cousins (and other close blood relationships, such as uncle and niece) stem from the Church's ban on such marriages. Before 1983, marriages between second cousins were prohibited—indeed, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani received an annulment of his first marriage after determining that his wife was his second cousin. Today, second-cousin marriages are allowed, and, under some circumstances, a dispensation can be obtained to allow a first-cousin marriage. The Church still discourages such marriages, however.

If one of the partners, Catholic or non-Catholic Christian, has been married before, he or she is free to marry only if his or her spouse has died or he or she has obtained a declaration of nullity from the Church. The mere fact of a divorce is not sufficient to prove the nullity of a marriage. During marriage preparation, you must inform the priest if you have been married before, even in a civil ceremony.

Marriage, by definition, is a lifelong union between one man and one woman.

The Catholic Church does not recognize, even as a civil marriage, a contracted relationship between two men or two women.

It's an old joke that some Catholics only see the inside of a church when they are "carried [at Baptism], married, and buried." But marriage is a sacrament, and, for the sacrament to be properly received, the Catholic partner(s) in a marriage must be in good standing with the Church.

If you're not sure whether you are free to contract a valid marriage, or whether your potential marriage would be sacramental or non-sacramental, the first place to check is, as always, with your parish priest. In fact, if your potential spouse is not Catholic, or if either of you has been married before, you should discuss your situation with your priest even before you get engaged (if possible). And even if both of you are Catholic and free to marry, you should make an appointment with your priest as soon as possible after your engagement. Any marriage that is contracted in opposition to the regulations of the Catholic Church is not only non-sacramental but invalid.

Because of the sacramental nature of Christian marriage, and the serious nature of even non-sacramental (natural) marriage, it is not something to be entered into lightly. Your parish priest will help you ensure that your marriage will be valid--and, if contracted between two baptized Christians, sacramental.

If you wish to celebrate your Marriage at Holy Family and to ensure your validity to marry in the Catholic Church, you will need to make an appointment to speak to Fr Eugene ( or Deacon Donald Cramer-Barnicoat. Please ensure you book the date of your wedding with the celebrant BEFORE confirming your reception, to ensure the Church and celebrant are available.

Both parties (Groom & Bride) will be required to complete information for a Pre-nuptial Enquiry Form and sign and date it. You will need to bring the celebrant proof of identity Passport / Pictoral Driving License / etc. also proof of Baptism / Christening.

The couple will be required to attend a Marriage Preparation Course prior to the wedding.

For the Civil Validity of the Marriage, the couple will need to attend and register their intention to marry at the Regristry Office of the area in which they live. The Registrar will issue two certificates which must be given to the celebrant - his authority to conduct the marriage.



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Suggestion for the Gospel Reading
Wedding Readings

Suggestion for the Second Reading
Wedding Readings

Suggestion for the First Reading & Psalm
Wedding Readings