Finding a partner to share the rest of your life with is a blessing. If you’ve recently gotten engaged and are planning to take your marriage vows in the Catholic Church, there are a few steps to doing so. Catholics recognize marriage as a Sacrament, so taking these important steps will prepare you for the lifetime of love and commitment that you are now embarking on.
1. Fulfill Important Requirements
In order to be married within the Catholic Church, there are a number of important requirements that must be fulfilled before you are even able to be considered.
- Baptized Christian
One of the partners need to be Catholic and if the other is not Catholic, he or she need to be a baptized Christian. If you were not baptized as a child, you may go through the process of becoming a Catholic as an adult.
- Not closely related
Both partners cannot be closely related and this includes being cousins.
- Free to marry
In order to be married in the Catholic Church, both spouses may not be currently married. If they were previously married, the previous spouse must either be deceased, or there must have been a declaration of nullity from the Church. In order to get this declaration, there needs to have been contractual defects in the marriage.
- Be of the opposite sex
The Catholic Church only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman, so partners need to be of the opposite sex in order to be married in the Church.
- In good standing of the Church
The definition of “in good standing” will differ from Church to Church. Basically, you do need to have regular attendance at your Church and have no scandals or immoral behavior. If you are currently living unwed with your partner, you will need to discuss this with the priest.
- Free consent
Both parties must freely consent to the marriage and have already worked out any issues that might cause one party not to freely consent.
2. Contact your Parish
Once you believe that you meet the requirements as stated above (or if you need to discuss them), you should contact your Parish to discuss your wedding. You will need to obtain permission to be married in the Church, whether it is at your current Parish or elsewhere. While it is not required that you be a registered member, it is definitely helpful in the process. You will meet with the clergy and get to know them and they’ll get to know you and you can discuss any issues you may have with getting married in the Catholic Church. If they have any requisite fees, you will pay them at this point or give a monetary gift.
3. Take a marriage preparation program
In order to recognize if you are ready for marriage and to prepare you for issues that you’ll inevitably face in your marriage, taking a marriage preparation course is mandatory for most marriages that occur within the Catholic Church. During the course, you’ll learn about balancing values, money, the role of family, healthy sexuality and intimacy, planning a family and parenting, communication skills and the theology of marriage. Fortunately, there are online courses that you can take that will suit your busy schedule and allow you learn about marriage, fulfilling the Catholic Church’s requirements.
4. Provide your certificates to the Church
There are a number of documents that the Church will want to see before granting you permission to marry. These include:
- Baptismal certificates
- Certification of Holy Communion and Confirmation
- Affidavit of Freedom to Marry
- Civil marriage license
- Marriage Preparation Course Completion Certificate
5. Get married!
Once you’ve fulfilled all of the important steps to getting married in the Catholic Church, you can now choose your date and get married.