What Is a Catholic Marriage Certificate?

March 14, 2022

Finding a companion with whom you can spend the rest of your life is a gift. And if your dream is to marry in a Catholic Church, there are a few additional steps you need to know about. 

Because Catholics regard marriage as a sacrament, taking these crucial steps will help you prepare for the lifetime of love and commitment you are about to embark on. 

Choosing to tie the knot in a Catholic ceremony comes with specific expectations, restrictions, and additional requirements. 

You may be required to submit certain documents such as a Catholic marriage certificate,  participate more in church events, and go through an intensive marriage preparation procedure with a priest before being allowed for a Catholic wedding.

Frequently there are marriages between two baptized non-catholic members. Or even between Catholic Christians and a non-baptized Catholic member. 

The reality is that in cases of the latter, the consent of the diocesan bishop is required. When granted, the consent will permit a mixed marriage.

With that said, Catholic weddings are like any other kind of wedding in many ways. For instance, the church insured a credible catholic marriage certificate. 

And that will be our focus in this read. So what are catholic marriage requirements

Here, we will walk through everything you need to know about a marriage certificate. But before we get right at it, what is a catholic marriage certificate?

gold wedding rings on catholic marriage certificate
Photographer: Sandy Millar

 

What Is a Catholic Marriage Certificate?

A Catholic marriage certificate is presented to the newlywed couple as evidence that the marriage was “solemnized” (a ceremony took place). 

It is just one document that is necessary to complete the requirements for a legal Catholic marriage. 

However, simply having a Catholic marriage certificate is not enough. Before the ceremony, you are still required to obtain an official marriage license from the local government or registrar's office in most places. 

The Process of Getting Married in A Catholic Church

If you are planning to have your wedding in a catholic church, below are the following processes you will have to follow. 

The Interview 

The first process of getting married in a catholic church is an interview which the priest will grant. Couples will be subjected to this interview before the wedding. So here's the vital question: What are the things to expect? 

To start with, you must know that different aspects of your wedding may be affected if you intend to have one in a catholic church. Aspects like wedding dresses, bridal parties, catholic wedding venues, and more will be scrutinized by the priest. And these interviews come in different forms. 

The first is known as the initial investigation. The first interview entails required documentation, schedules with the priest, and all kinds of logistics. And the interesting part is that chances are the priest conducting the interview might not be the one officiating your wedding.

The second one is known as the prenuptial interview. A priest conducts this interview under oath. The purpose is to establish the understanding of the four basic principles of marriage, and that includes:

  • Marriage is exclusive 
  • Couples enter marriage freely 
  • It is open to procreation 
  • It is permanent

Requirements for a Catholic Marriage Certificate 

Before a marriage is considered valid before the eyes of the church, certain elements must be in place. 

Months before the wedding, the couples must attend several classes to duly inform the intending couples of their consent. These four requirements are:

  • The couple’s willingness to be married.
  • Both parties freely exchange their consent.
  • While consenting, the couples must have the intention of marrying for life. Staying faithful to one another and being open to procreation.
  • And lastly, consent must be in canonical form. That is in the presence of witnesses and an authorized catholic minister. 

Also, the Code of Canon Law demands that the wedding ceremony be held at the parish of the groom or bride. 


Suggested reading for you: Authentic Italian Catholic Wedding Traditions: all you need to know


Required Documents for a Catholic Marriage

You need to know that the required documents for a catholic marriage come in different forms. 

There are different sets of required documents set of couples like:

  • Between 2 Catholics
  • Between a Catholic and a Christain
  • For non-Catholics
  • Between a Catholic and non-baptized Christian

But below are the commonly required documents for a catholic marriage.

  • Baptism certificate issued within six months of the wedding day
  • Letter of freedom to get married. Also known as an affidavit.
  • Confirmation and first communion certificate.
  • Civil marriage license
  • A completed dispensation form 
  • Information of marriage
  • No form of an impediment to the marriage.

Pre-Cana

Now that the necessary documentation process is out of the way, the next on the list is Pre-Cana. 

Earlier, we mentioned that the couples will be required to attend a marriage class. The class is known as Pre-Cana. 

The church organizes the marriage-preparatory class. It comes with multiple sessions with a priest and other church-related activities. 

But the majority of the marriage-preparatory class has to do with your sessions with a priest. These sessions will cover the following:

  • Enlightening the couples on the teachings of the church on marriage. 
  • Couples will be asked about the present and likely issues that may cut across social behavior, handling finances, and many more. The focused matters here are the ones that are likely to be an impediment to faithfulness and fulfilling marital obligations. 

Determining Wedding Date 

Determining the date is unarguably one of the most aspects of planning a Catholic marriage. It's no secret that Catholic churches often have an event-filled calendar. That is why it is advisable to have a calendar of events and holidays of your parish. Couples can get married any other day except on Holy Thursdays, Holy Friday, and Holy Saturday. 

Proper Dress Code

Appropriate clothing and dress code are non-negotiable for catholic and non-catholic churches. 

Marriage is synonymous with purity and holiness. And the Roman Catholic churches would like to keep it that way.

Therefore, if you are considering having a Catholic marriage, your dresses and garments must be modest. 

Not just that, your dresses must have modest cuts. It’s best if you can avoid deep-back gowns, high slits, sheer panels, and plunging necklines.

Some Catholic churches make it mandatory that the shoulders should not be exposed. 

Ask your parish about the dress code to save you from all kinds of embarrassment and inconveniences.  If you must, keep the stylish dresses for the reception.

The Importance of Catholic Marriage Certificate

The importance of a Catholic marriage certificate is that it serves as proof that a wedding takes place. 

Although, the marriage certificate issued by churches might not hold much water for legal dealings. But to a large extent, a marriage licence is legally binding as well as Catholic marriage.

Also, since a Catholic marriage certificate is legally binding, you can use it for purposes such as:

  • Change of name
  • Proving identity 
  • Filing taxes
  • Applying for loan/mortgage 
  • And sharing health benefits  

The Dos and Don’t of Catholic Marriage Conclusion 

There are many dos and don’ts when it comes to catholic marriage. Here are some you should watch out for.

  • You will agree that taking photographs at a wedding is as important as the wedding itself. However, it’s advisable to avoid taking pictures during a sacred event in a wedding. The flash of the camera will more likely distract the officiating priest.
  • When it comes to bridal parties, most Catholic parishes like it if the maid or matron of honor is a Catholic. 
  • Modest dresses only are allowed for a catholic marriage.
  • Must abide by the 4 tenets of marriages.
  • Must provide all the required documents.
  • And lastly, all the dos and don’t provide by your parish must be followed to the letter.

The entire Catholic wedding ceremony takes up to 90 minutes. 

spouses hands in hands reading the catholic marriage certificate
Photographer: Bastianoni Studio 

It includes a full mass and a holy communion which takes up to 60 minutes. The whole rite of marriage ceremony takes up to 45 minutes. 

The processional order for a Catholic wedding starts off with the groom and the best man entering first. Then the groomsmen and bridesmaids walk up to the aisle. 

This is followed by the entrance of the maid of honor. And lastly, the bride and her father walk up to the aisle.

Catholic weddings are not so different from the weddings you have attended in the past. The only differences are the little religious modifications. 

If you have been to Catholic weddings, you will know that they are always beautiful. Also, attending marriage-preparatory classes will also help your marriage in the long run.

Unlike other church wedding certificates, Catholic certificates are legally recognized. It can be used the same way court certificates are utilized. 

It can be used for change of name, proving your identity, filing taxes, applying for loan/mortgage, sharing health benefits, to mention a few.   

By now, I believe this read has done justice to understanding what is a Catholic marriage certificate, the process of getting married in a Catholic church, Catholic marriage requirements, and the perks of a catholic marriage certificate.

If you are searching for help for your Catholic Wedding, please let us know and send us a personal message, and let's begin your Journey.

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