The Sacrament of Marriage
In the Roman Catholic Church, we believe that marriage is a state of life ordained by Almighty God, which was blessed by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church. This means that marriage has blessings and gifts, as well as duties and obligations. The most important aspects of the Roman Catholic understanding of marriage are that it is:
- FOR LIFE: it is our faith that a valid marriage cannot be ended. We do not believe in divorce.
- EXCLUSIVE: a couple give themselves to each other and no one else.
- OPEN TO THE GIFT OF CHILDREN: marriage should not be "closed" in on a couple, but should be the place where the family is born.
If you wish to be married in the Roman Catholic Church, there are many things to be done. The first and most basic, however, is to ensure that both members of the relationship agree with all three of these statements (this includes a non-Catholic partner). If you have any doubts about these things, you should reflect on whether it is a Catholic marriage that you are looking for. You can always talk to a priest about this.
Who can be married in the Catholic Church?
Not everyone can be married in the Church: these are the basic conditions:
- at least one person must be a full member of the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. baptised, confirmed and able to receive Holy Communion);
- at least one party must live within the boundaries of the Parish where they seek to be married;
- neither party has been validly married before (unless the previous marriage was ended by the death of a partner). If you have questions about the validity of a previous marriage, please talk to your priest.
What do we do now?
If you are happy with all these details, the next step is to arrange an interview with the Parish Priest, by returning an information form (available from the Church). In the Diocese of Salford we require six month's notice before a wedding - so you would not be able to be married until at least six months after this first appointment. (Please note that exceptions cannot be made to this rule) At the first meeting, the priest will explain all the procedure for marriage in the Church. He will also need to establish that you are free to marry in the Church (it would be useful for you to bring birth and baptism certificates if possible). Please do not make any other bookings until you have confirmed a date for your wedding with the Church.
After a date has been booked, you will need to complete a Marriage Preparation Course. Our Parish cluster runs a joint Preparation Course each year: details of this will be sent to you in good time. The course, which is obligatory, looks at the Catholic teaching about marriage, relationships, communications, the wedding ceremony and other topics. You will also meet with the priest who will conduct the ceremony at least two or three times to prepare the details.
At some point you will be invited to a Sunday Mass at Saint Mary's to receive the Blessing of an Engaged Couple before Marriage. It would be good to make coming to Sunday Mass together a part of the preparation for marriage at Saint Mary's: getting to know God and the Church better together will deepen and enrich your wedding here!
Does my non-Catholic partner have to change religion?
Not at all: the only request made of a non-Catholic is that they are in agreement with the Church's understanding of marriage, and that they will not interfere with the Catholic party's practice of their faith.
How much does it cost?
This is completely up to you: the Church makes no charge (though we do welcome donations to cover our expenses). We are happy to provide Wedding Booklets, Flowers and other services for you, only passing on necessary costs. You will have to pay Civil Fees to register your forthcoming marriage, but everything else is your choice.
How much say do we have in the Service?
We follow the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, so much of the ceremony is fixed, but the choice of Bible Readings, Hymns and some other details will be discussed with the couple.
What sort of music can we have?
Since your wedding in the Catholic Church will be a religious ceremony, only religious music of a Christian character will be allowed in Church - this is not to stop you having your favourite songs played at the Reception!
Can we Video/Photograph the ceremony?
Yes, though there are some restrictions at Saint Mary's. You should consult with the priest before making any bookings with Videographers or Photographers.