Marriage is one of the seven sacraments recognized by the Church and marks a fundamental step in the life of Christians. The Catholic Church considers this sacrament a human choice made by two people who wish to strengthen their union through the sacred bond of marriage. Indeed, two Christians who have presented themselves before God to celebrate the sacrament of a Catholic Wedding will no longer be able to do so if they ever decide to dissolve the covenant.
Referring to Catholic marriage, Pope Francis says: “It is not simply a ceremony that takes place “in” the Church, with flowers, clothes, photos. Christian marriage is a sacrament which takes place “in” the Church and which also “makes” the Church. Giving rise to a new family community. “
Getting married in the Roman Catholic Church
Getting married in the Catholic Church requires work to be carried out at the parish of the future spouses. It is also necessary to follow a prenuptial course led by the priest who will bless the couple’s union on the wedding day. Church weddings then require the mandatory posting of religious publications and documents necessary for civil marriage. Therefore, you must prepare everything well to ensure the absolute perfection of one of the happiest days in a couple’s life. In particular, there are two aspects to pay special attention to the marriage documents and the requirements to celebrate it.
Documents for celebrating a Catholic wedding
The first step is to go to the parish to which you belong and organize an interview with the priest. He will be the one to recommend the activities necessary to prepare for the Catholic Wedding in the right way. Usually, three months are enough to organize everything. But starting as soon as possible would be best to avoid unpleasant surprises. Remember that the documents are valid for six months, so you have plenty of time to request them.
The documents necessary for Catholic marriage, also indispensable for the civil ceremony, are:
- Birth certificates
- Residence certificates
- Certificates of citizenship
In addition, the Church also requires certificates attesting to the reception of the sacraments, some credentials, and the Nulla Osta. You will also need the confirmation certificate if the confirmation date is not present on the baptismal certificate. Next, the certificate of free ecclesiastical status proves that neither has previously contracted a marriage. Finally, it is necessary to show the certificate of participation in the premarital course and the ecclesiastical Nulla Osta if the Church chosen for the Wedding differs from one’s own.
In particular situations, for example, in the case of marriages between people of different religions, the priest may request additional documents. In addition to these documents, it will be necessary to have the certificate of publication published by the parish priest himself after evaluating all the documents.
At this point, the priest will provide the indispensable model for taking the oath and requesting publications in common. The practice dictates that the spouses appear in common on the appointed day, with two witnesses, to celebrate the first rite and see the publications displayed.
What are the requirements?
As we have anticipated, before going in search of documentation and organizing the Catholic Wedding, it is vital to ensure that you have all the requirements and are eligible for the sacrament. The only way for a Catholic to marry a second time is to ask for the annulment of the Sacra Rota. A final indispensable requirement concerns the premarital course. The preparation lasts about two months and provides valuable teachings to the spouses to face life together—from a material, spiritual and moral point of view. Thanks to the course, it will be possible to reflect profoundly on the meaning of the sacrament one is about to receive.
What kind of ceremony to choose for your Catholic Wedding?
Religious? Secular? Civil? Symbolic? Let’s be clear. First, you may need clarification about what type of ceremony to choose. You may like celebrating your Catholic Wedding, but you don’t know which way is best for you. Someone has recommended the religious rite, someone else the civil ceremony. Or maybe someone has told you that the best solution is the secular rite. And you are there with the doubt, and you ask yourself: “But what are the differences?” In reality, in the collective habit, we almost always speak of two ceremonies: either you do the civil ceremony or the religious rite. But this is still a false distinction because, in reality, this is not the case, and now we’ll explain why.
When we talk about religious rites, we are already examining two different case studies and a multitude of other faiths and confessions. For example, let’s say you want to get married in Church, with the traditional Catholic rite. Even then, you have two options:
- You can do the conventional only religious, which means that your ceremony has value only from a spiritual point of view.
- Or you can do the concordat rite. On your wedding day, you perform two ceremonies: first mass (the sacrament and then the religious tradition). And at the end of this, the civil ceremony.
Representation of Catholic Wedding Ceremony
Many people are unaware that two ceremonies are taking place.
There are always two, even in the case of the traditional Catholic rite (concordat). Still, spouses and guests are often unaware of this because the person who celebrates the civil ceremony is the priest himself. In addition, he received a delegation from the State because of this agreement.
It is about 2-3 minutes in which you read the articles of the civil code, read the marriage certificate, and sign. It is critical information because it makes you understand that the right to which all the people in your family are accustomed also corresponds to two different ceremonies. We gave you the example of the Catholic ceremony, but in reality, it works like this for many other religions. To be clear, if you are a Protestant, you will follow a slightly different process, leading to the same conclusion. The same happens if you are a Hindu, a Muslim, and so on.
Then some religions are not recognized by the State, so the religious rite is not automatically combined with the civil one. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that two separate ceremonies occur. Usually, one day there is a religious rite, and another day there is a civil ceremony.
What if you don’t want to get married in Church but in a secular ceremony?
We come now to us and the secular ceremony, which is why you are on this blog. We made the premise relating to religious traditions to introduce an essential concept. A ritual does not fall within any spiritual current but corresponds to the personality. And also, the spirituality of the spouses is considered by the State practically an unrecognized religion.
From a certain point of view, it is terrible, but if you think about it for a moment, it is perfectly normal. Each couple is unique and has its inner world.
How to organize the Catholic Wedding
When planning a wedding, the attention is often focused on the more practical aspects. However, not losing sight of the spirituality and preparation needed to take this critical step is essential. Planning a wedding is very complex if you consider all aspects, religious and otherwise. Here is a short lineup to help you plan your Catholic Wedding flawlessly, considering spiritual and practical activities.
A year before the Catholic Wedding, there were two aspects to take care of:
- Arrange an interview with the parish priest of the Church where you want to celebrate the Catholic Wedding;
- Start thinking about the reception location; some places have a long waiting list, but you should not encounter too many problems a year in advance.
Nine months before the Wedding, you can think about the following:
- Book the Church and the place for the reception.
Six months before the Wedding there are many aspects to consider after all the date is getting closer and closer.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Collect all documents paying attention to their validity. Some expire after 3, others after six months;
Two months before the Wedding:
- Remember to have the publications exhibited in common and, after two weeks, in the Church. This aspect is essential to be able to celebrate the rite ;
- Choose the readings for the mass. Generally, the parish priest provides a list with the most suitable content for the couple.
Three weeks before:
- Collect the wedding rings and order the bouquet. Traditionally it is the groom who takes care of these things.
Confession is a must for performing the Catholic Wedding
Well, if you’ve followed our schedule, the only thing left to do twenty-four hours before the Wedding is to go to Church for confession. Finally, the day long-awaited and dreamed of for a lifetime has arrived.
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So marriage works like the rites of unrecognized religions. On the one hand, you have a secular ceremony (which is often called a symbolic ceremony. Because it is a rite built on the symbols of a union). And on the other hand, the civil ceremony guarantees a marriage’s legal validity. If you are good at organizing your Catholic wedding, you can ensure that these two ceremonies occur on the same day. Perhaps in the same place and one after the other, just as it would happen in the concordat rite.
In other words, you can have a spectacular and exciting Catholic wedding on the beach, in a forest. Or in a garden, with the traditional American ceremony representing your personality and spirituality. It will also have legal value thanks to the combination with a civil ceremony. Whether this bureaucratic moment will occur in the same place and day depends on your choices during your wedding organization.