GETTING MARRIED IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Both partners do not have to be a Catholic in order to be sacramentally married in the Catholic Church, but both must be baptized Christians (and at least one must be a Catholic). Non-Christians cannot receive the sacraments. For a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic Christian, express permission is required from his or her bishop. A Catholic can marry an unbaptized person, but such marriages are natural marriages only; they are not sacramental marriages. The Church, therefore, discourages them and requires a Catholic who wishes to marry an unbaptized person to receive a special dispensation from his or her bishop. Still, if the dispensation is granted, a non-sacramental marriage is valid and can take place inside of a Catholic church.
If one of the partners, Catholic or non-Catholic Christian, has been married before, he or she is free to marry only if his or her spouse has died or he or she has obtained a declaration of nullity from the Church. The mere fact of a divorce is not sufficient to prove the nullity of a marriage. During marriage preparation, you must inform the priest if you have been married before, even in a civil ceremony.
Marriage is a sacrament, and, for the sacrament to be properly received, the Catholic partner(s) in a marriage must be in good standing with the Church. This not only means normal Church attendance but also avoidance of scandal. So, for instance, a couple who are living together may not be allowed to get married in the Church until they have spent sufficient time living apart. (There are exceptions—for instance, if the priest is convinced that the couple is not engaged in immoral behavior but is living together out of economic necessity.)
If you’re not sure whether you are free to contract a valid marriage, or whether your potential marriage would be sacramental or non-sacramental, the first place to check is, as always, with your parish priest. In fact, if your potential spouse is not Catholic, or if either of you has been married before, you should discuss your situation with your priest even before you get engaged (if possible). And even if both of you are Catholic and free to marry, you should make an appointment with your priest as soon as possible after your engagement. Any marriage that is contracted in opposition to the regulations of the Catholic Church is not only non-sacramental but invalid.
Because of the sacramental nature of Christian marriage, and the serious nature of even non-sacramental (natural) marriage, it is not something to be entered into lightly. Your parish priest will help you ensure that your marriage will be valid–and, if contracted between two baptized Christians, sacramental.
Congratulations on your marriage announcement! The following is a list of things that need to be done in preparation for your wedding celebration:
DOCUMENTS A RECENT COPY of your BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE for both BRIDE and GROOM.
Certificate MUST BE ISSUED WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF THE WEDDING DATE.
For Catholic Parties, a copy of your First Communion and Confirmation Certificates are
For Non- Catholic Parties, a BIRTH CERTIFICATE and THE WRITTEN
TESTIMONY OF TWO WITNESSES that the Non-Catholic is FREE TO MARRY.
MARRIAGE (PRE-CANA): +++ ST. STANISLAUS BASILICA, 570 FRONT ST., CHICOPEE
PREPARATION Tel. (413) 594-6669. Each couple planning to marry here at St. Elizabeth Parish is required by the Diocese
PROGRAM of Springfield to participate in some type of MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAM (Pre-Cana,
Engagement Encounter Weekend etc.) offered by the Diocese of Springfield.
When this PROGRAM is completed the couple MUST RETURN THE CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE to the priest
preparing them for the reception of the sacrament of marriage.
SESSIONS AT You will be expected to meet with the priest for several sessions to discuss your own particular
THE RECTORY views of marriage and family life. You will also be required to take a PRE–MARITAL TEST and then spend one session
with the priest to discuss the results of this TEST. During this time you will also be meeting with the priest to discuss the
planning of your wedding liturgy.
WEDDING The booklet, “TOGETHER FOR LIFE”, is given to each couple to assist you in planning your
LITURGY wedding liturgical celebration. We remind you that “A WEDDING IS A DAY, BUT MARRIAGE IS A LIFETIME.”
MODESTY Because your wedding will take place in church, in the presence of Almighty God, BRIDES are reminded
that their attire and that of the female attendants MUST BE MODEST. The low cut gowns of some are most inappropriate.
BEHAVIOR A marriage is a serious celebration, so it is expected that ALL THOSE IN THE BRIDAL PARTY ACT AND
BEHAVE PROPERLY IN CHURCH DURING THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION. From time to time, some adults are
disrespectful in their behavior, so please speak to your attendants beforehand about their behavior.
ATTENDANTS If you insist on having very young children in your bridal party, PLEASE DO NOT FORCE THEM TO GO DOWN THE
AISLE IF THEY DECIDE NOT TO. This can be very disruptive to the solemnity of the ceremony.
FLOWERS No flowers are needed for the celebration of your wedding. However, should you choose to provide flowers for the church, you
are reminded that NO FLOWERS SHOULD BE PLACED ON THE ALTAR.
RUG The white rug is a tripping hazard and is dangerous and is no longer permitted.
MUSIC The music program for your wedding is VERY IMPORTANT. (All music must be LITURGICAL MUSIC; popular music
is not allowed in Church.)