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.
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 of their lives together.
Initial enquiry to the parish
For very good pastoral reasons, the diocese prefers at least 1 year’s preparation before marriage takes place. At a very minimum, six-months’ notice must be given. This time starts from the date of the initial interview with the Parish Priest. The first step is therefore to meet the priest 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.
The priest and couple will complete the Diocesan Pre-Nuptial enquiry form. Both partners will be asked for various details and to give answers to questions concerning their freedom to marry, including whether either partner has ever been married before. We advise against couples making any wedding arrangements (eg. booking a Reception venue) until they have met the Parish Priest and he has positively agreed wedding plans. Both partners will need to provide copies of their Baptism Certificates (if Christian), which must be dated within six months of the wedding date and evidence that no previous marriage has taken place.
Normal practice is for marriage instruction to be given at special days organised in the Deanery. It is expected that couples attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation just before the wedding day.
On the day
For further information about what happens on the day and various practicalities, please download the attached guidance notes on Marriage Practical Arrangements.
What if I’ve been married before?
Individuals considering marriage 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.
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.
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.”