THE GOAL OF MARRIAGE PREPARATION
The goal of marriage preparation is to help you better understand what it means to be married in the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage in the Catholic church is not viewed as simply a legal act; rather, it is a sacred event whereby groom and bride call upon God, in the presence of the Catholic community, to witness and consecrate their love for each other. The ceremony you are planning should influence the rest of your lives. Marriage preparation is the formation of self to assume and fulfill the rights and obligations of husband and wife.
CATHOLIC CHURCH REQUIREMENTS
• Bride and Groom’s questionnaire to establish their freedom to marry.
• Two witnesses for each party attest to the parties' freedom to marry (Affidavit of Free Status for Marriage).
• Newly issued copies of baptismal certificates with all the notations if one or both are baptized.
• A certificate of participation in a marriage preparation program.
• Civil Marriage License.
Others (if required):
• A dispensation from Mixed Religion or Disparity of Worship, if required for a particular marriage.
• In a situation of a second marriage or a convalidation, the following documents are also required:
•• If the previous spouse is deceased must insert a copy of the death certificate in the pre-nuptial papers.
•• If a prior marriage received a dissolution of nullity, the proper information is inserted in the pre-nuptial file.
•• If the parties were civilly married, a copy of the civil record of marriage is included for convalidation.
•• Delegation for visiting priest or deacon to witness a marriage in the church of celebration.
PLACE AND TIMES OF MARRIAGE
The ordinary place of marriage for Catholics is their parish church where they live. To celebrate your wedding in a Catholic Church other than your own parish, you must secure the permission of the Catholic bride and/or groom’s pastor and permission of the pastor where you want the ceremony to take place.
• Nuptial masses are not to be celebrated on Sundays or Holy Days.
• A wedding may not be scheduled within two hours of the start of a regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon or evening
parish mass, and the wedding must be scheduled so as not to interfere with the scheduled time for the sacrament of
When choosing a date for your wedding, be aware of the Church’s liturgical calendar. For example, because Lent is a penitential season, Catholics are asked to avoid this season, which sometimes begins in February and ends in Easter. Because of the austereness of the Lenten season, parishes purposely attempt to create a desert atmosphere of preparation for the joyous feast and season of Easter. The festive climate of a wedding can be a disruption to this atmosphere.
Before deciding on a wedding date, call the parish office to determine the availability of the church and ministers. Remember, although your Parish Office may have scheduled your wedding, this date only becomes official when your marriage preparation file is ended.
In the Catholic Church, a wedding can take place by itself or can be celebrated in the context of a Mass. If both of you are Catholic, it’s natural to celebrate your wedding during a Mass.
Witnesses for marriage
Within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, there are no restrictions on adults serving as witnesses at Catholic weddings. Non-Catholics may serve as witnesses and attendants at Catholic ceremonies.
With the approval of their pastor, Catholics may serve as witnesses and attendants in authorized and legitimate non-Catholic wedding rituals.
It is highly recommended that witnesses be men and women who will take a personal interest in the spouses and advise them to live the marriage vows. It is further strongly recommended that witnesses be practicing Christians whose own lifestyle can be an example to the new spouses.
When reserving the church, think ahead of time in terms of a rehearsal date and time. Take into consideration the people who will need to be at the rehearsal (readers, rings bearer, witnesses, people taking part in the procession) and the distances they must travel.
Wedding pictures & Music
Photographers limit themselves to taking pictures in the church before/after the wedding ceremony. Only one photographer is allowed to take pictures during the wedding ceremony.
A singer or a choir can play during the wedding ceremony. Musicians have to know the parts of the Mass and have been trained to play music in a Catholic Church.
Holy Family Parish asks for $100 for registered parishioners and $200 for non-registered parishioners. This $100 or $200 is not to “pay the Mass” but to help the parish sustain their priests. If a parishioner cannot make this offering of $100 or $200, share your concern with your priest during the preparation for the sacrament.
On the other hand, you must calculate your wedding expenses. Some couples spend thousands of dollars for the occasion, sometimes not too according to Christian marriage. They forget that sacrament is a moment when the promises of our baptism are renewed. For that reason, your wedding is also a moment to be in solidarity with those who are not such as fortunate and share the love of God and happiness you now experience.