Marriage

Picture of candles on the altar

WELCOME
If you are intending to marry in our church then you will receive a warm welcome and we will be glad to give you every assistance. However, marriage is a serious matter and the following notes are designed to help you understand what ‘marrying in Church’ is about and answer some of your initial questions.

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DEFINITION
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Article 1601) states:
1601: THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY 1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
1603: “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.” The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”

UNDERSTANDING THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE

Marriage, a lifelong union between a man and a woman for procreation and mutual support, is a natural institution, but it is also one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It reflects the union of Jesus Christ and His Church. Providing proper preparation for marriage is seen as the community’s way of helping couples to make the very best start for their lives together.

INITIAL ENQUIRY TO THE PARISH

For very good pastoral reasons the diocese asks that preferably 1 year’s preparation before marriage but failing that at least a six-month notice given by couples intending to marry. This time commences from the date of the initial interview with the parish priest. Couples therefore will need to start things off by arranging to see him, normally at the parish office. The Parish Secretary will NOT agree a date for the wedding or make a booking for the church until this initial interview has taken place. At this first meeting the priest will complete with the couple the Diocesan Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form. Both partners will be asked for full names, contact details and to give answers to a number of questions concerning their freedom to marry including whether either partner has ever been married before. It is extremely unwise for couples to make arrangements around their wedding such as booking hotels and halls for the Reception until they have had this meeting with the parish priest and he has positively agreed wedding plans. In due course both partners will be asked to provide fresh copies of their Baptism Certificates (if Christian). They will also be offered a course of instruction.

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Individuals considering marriage and who have been married before are strongly advised not to give up on having a Church wedding because of their understanding of what ‘no divorce’ in the Catholic Church means. Having a chat with the Parish Priest will provide couples with the facts and assist them in their plans. While there is an expectation that couples approaching the Church for marriage have a degree of faith and practice (at least one partner), a warm welcome without a judgemental attitude can be expected.

Recent Legislation
Marriage is a devolved issue in the United Kingdom and the status of same-sex marriage is different in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in July 2013 and took effect in March 2014. The View of the Church: The Catholic Church considers the word ‘marriage’ to refer only to a man and a woman.

Gay & Lesbian
The Church values gay and lesbian members of the parish and warmly encourages them to play a full part in the community of faith. Individuals wishing to enter into Civil Partnerships or ‘marriage’ are at liberty to do so under the Civil Law. However, under Church Law neither a blessing or a ‘marriage’ is possible. Nor indeed may rings or other symbols be blessed. Nevertheless it should be emphasised that the parish priest is always available to answer questions, provide advice and give pastoral care as required.

INSTRUCTION
Normal practice is for marriage instruction to be given both by the parish priest and at special days organized in the Deanery of Epsom. Couples should expect to meet Fr. Richard on a number of occasions and attend a course given by Deanery lay experts.

PRACTICAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE DAY
SOME LOGISTICAL GUIDANCE NOTES

MARRIAGE LITURGY
In all cases a planning meeting will need to be held with the parish priest at least 2 months in advance of the wedding to prepare the Liturgy for the Wedding. The printing Orders of Service will be the responsibility of the couple. A discussion regarding the choice of having a regular Service of Marriage or full Nuptial Mass will take place at this meeting. The choice of readings, music and so on will also be made at this meeting. Following the meeting a draft template of the Order of Service will be sent by e-mail to the couple who will then be responsible for printing Order of Service booklets if they wish to have them.

GUIDANCE ON CHURCH FEES

PRIEST OR DEACON’S STIPEND
Celebrations of the Sacraments do not involve payment as such hence there is no so set fee for the priest or deacon who conducts the service. However, given that stipends represent the only source of income for Catholic clergy, it is recommended that a voluntary STIPEND be paid to the priest or deacon who performs the marriage ceremony. If couples so wish they may offer the stipend by placing a cheque or cash in a separate envelope and marking it clearly: “STIPEND”. Cheques should be made out to the “St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish, Tadworth”.

MARRIAGE REGISTRATION – THE AUTHORISED PERSON (AP) – STIPEND
The blue Certificate of Marriage forms provided by the Registry Office prior to the wedding should be delivered by hand to the parish office at least 4 weeks before the marriage is to take place. The mandatory sum of £47.00 plus £3.50 for the Marriage Certificate copy should be paid IN CASH OR BY CHEQUE directly to the AP on the day of the wedding. The fee should first be placed in an envelope.

CHURCH ADMINISTRATION FEE
Couples will appreciate that a church like any other building has to be maintained. Heating, lighting, candles and so on all have to be paid for. An Administration Fee will thus be requested for all weddings. The Parish Finance Committee routinely reviews the level at which Administration Fees are set. The question of fees will be discussed during the initial interview. Couples with no connection with the parish whatsoever will be welcome however they should generally expect to pay an Administration Fee roughly comparable to fees set by Church of England and other ecclesial bodies in area.

ORGANIST
If an organist is contracted to play at the wedding then arrangements should be made in good time regarding hymns and other music. The fee will be set by the organist concerned.

PHOTOGRAPHY
A video recording of the service is permitted. For this couples are asked to employ or retain only a single operator. It is preferable that this operator be a professional photographer. Equipment may be set up only after consultation with the priest or sacristan. Additional lighting is not normally permitted.Couples are asked to request that the official photographer be sensitive to the dignity of the occasion. Official documents such as the Marriage Register may not be photographed. The dignity of the service, which is an official act of worship, should always be maintained. To this end members of the congregation and guests should not take photographs or record the service in other ways particularly if flash cameras are used. Photographs are permitted outside the church before and after the service. During the service individuals should not leave their seats to take photographs nor in any way interrupt the proceedings for ‘a better shot’. Other such similar inappropriate behaviour is also discouraged.

FLOWERS
Our team of parish flower arrangers will not normally buy or arrange flowers for weddings held in our churches. Usual custom is for couples to arrange with a commercial outlet for the provision of flowers and floral arrangements. It is important that parish flower arrangers are informed of arrangements made in good time. These should be contacted through the parish office.

CONFETTI
Confetti is not encouraged but is permitted with discretion. Couples are to ensure that a bio-degradable product is used.

WITNESSES
Two witnesses are required by law. These will sign the registers after the bride and groom have done so. No others may sign.

THE ROLE OF THE USHER
At least two Ushers should be appointed. The Ushers will:

· Hand out Orders of Service
· Direct people to their seats
· Close and open the main church doors
· Direct people to the toilets as required
· Be responsible for managing emergencies and incidents during the ceremony
· Be responsible for confetti and other items
· Advise individuals on the above rules governing photography.
· Provide assistance to the official photographer/s, musicians, singers etc.
· Ensure the car park is clear for the arrival and departure of the main cars.

PUNCTUALITY
Couples are asked to abide by times agreed and to be on time for the service. They are strongly advised to note various events being held in the area (e.g.Derby Week) and to advise guests accordingly. They should also note the long delays often experienced on the M25.

REHEASAL
The rehearsal is an important part of the preparation for the service. This is normally held in the late afternoon of the day preceding the wedding. As well as the couple the following should also attend if at all possible:

· The person who gives the bride away
· Bridesmaids/pages
· Best Man (who should bring the rings)
· Ushers
· Readers