We want to get married in the Catholic Church. What is the first step?
Contact your local parish. If you do not currently belong to a parish, please reach out to the Office of Marriage and Family Life and we will happily help you find a parish or view our listing of parishes. Your local parish will help prepare you and your future spouse for your marriage and handle any paperwork that must be submitted to the Archdiocese. You will have meetings with the pastor or other parish staff as well as attend an Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference. You will also attend a workshop on Natural Family Planning and be assigned an established married couple to guide you through your premarital inventory.
See our diagram above for a general outline of the steps, but always follow what your parish suggests.
What are the requirements to get married in the Catholic Church?
One party must be a baptized Catholic. The wedding would ordinarily be presided over by a Catholic priest or deacon. The spouses must not have any prior marriages that have not been reviewed by Church officials. Your parish will assist you with that referral if needed. Both parties must be mature and capable of consenting to the marriage and understand what the Catholic Church teaches on marriage (this will be covered during your marriage preparation).
What documents will we need to give our parish?
The Catholic party or parties will need to provide a baptismal certificate (this can be obtained by calling the parish where you were baptized). Baptismal certificates must be obtained and dated within six months of your wedding date, so you do not need to request them before that point.
If your spouse is a non-Catholic Christian he or she will need to provide evidence of baptism via a certificate or affidavit signed by an adult who was present at the time of baptism. Your local parish will help you determine what may be necessary.
How long before our desired wedding date do we need to begin marriage preparation?
It is recommended that you contact your parish as soon as possible to begin the process with at least six months notice. This includes reserving a date that the Church will be available and scheduling marriage preparation sessions.
Can we choose a priest from another parish or diocese to marry us?
Yes. Contact the parish where you are getting married, and they can assist you in the process. Be sure to be in conversation both with the priest celebrating the wedding as well as the parish.
I am marrying a non-Catholic Christian. Can his/her minister be a part of our Catholic wedding ceremony or can we have another ceremony in that church?
A non-Catholic Christian minister may be involved in the wedding in a very limited capacity. In no way may it appear that this minister is the main celebrant, nor may both ministers receive your marriage vows. The minister may be invited to offer a blessing or reading. Be sure to discuss any involvement with your priest before inviting another minister to participate.
There cannot be any type of second ceremony at a different church. A couple with one Catholic party may be granted permission to be married in another setting instead of the Catholic church. This can be discussed with your Catholic parish and will still require marriage preparation through the Catholic Church.
I am marrying a non-Christian. Can we have a second ceremony in his or her religious tradition?
No, Canon Law does not permit this. There may only be one wedding ceremony. If a Catholic wishes to get married in the religious tradition of the other party, permission may be granted. This can be discussed with the Catholic parish and will still require marriage preparation through the Catholic Church.
Can we do our marriage preparation in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee but get married at a church outside of the Archdiocese?
Yes, simply inform your parish here in the Archdiocese and they will assist in preparing the paperwork to send to the diocese in which you will be married.
Do Catholic parties need to be Confirmed in order to get married?
While Confirmation is encouraged, it is not a requirement. To learn more about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation as an adult, visit our RCIA information page.
What is required for planning my wedding Mass?
Visit our wedding liturgy resource page to learn more about planning.
Do I have to be a member of the parish where I am getting married?
As long as a Catholic party has received permission from his or her proper pastor / parish to be married in a parish church other than the one to which he or she belongs, there is nothing that would impede a parish from allowing a non-parishioner to be married in that parish. Please contact both the priest marrying you, and the parish where you are hoping to be married.
Can I get married in the Catholic Church if I am not attending Sunday Mass regularly?
Attending Sunday Mass is the obligation of all Catholics, whether pursuing the Sacrament of Marriage or not. While marriage will not be withheld from someone who sincerely desires a marriage recognized by the Church, the Church realizes that the grace of Holy Matrimony will be most fruitful when someone is living in a state of grace and regularly receiving the Eucharist at Sunday Mass.
Can I get married in the Catholic Church if I am currently living with my fiancé?
(Taken from www.foryourmarriage.com) If you are a cohabiting couple who has chosen to marry, the Catholic Church welcomes your decision to marry. Because cohabitation can have an effect on the marriage, couples are encouraged to explore certain questions with the pastoral minister who is preparing them for marriage. These include:
- Why did you choose to live together?
- What did you learn from the experience of living together?
- Why did you decide to marry?
- Why do you wish to marry in the Catholic Church?
- What does marriage as a life-long, faithful commitment mean to you?
Pastoral ministers may encourage cohabiting couples without children to separate for a period before marriage as a sign of their free, loving decision to follow the Church’s vision of marriage and sexuality. Couples are also encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. People have a right to marry; therefore, cohabiting couples cannot be denied marriage in the Catholic Church solely because they are cohabiting. However, cohabitation may raise questions, for example, about the couple’s freedom to marry, that need to be explored.
Can I have multiple priests participate in my wedding?
Yes, you can. One priest would be the main celebrant, and the other priests would concelebrate. Only one priest may perform the Rite of Marriage, but you may choose to have a concelebrating priest preach the homily if you prefer.
I am in a civil marriage and want to make things right in the eyes of the Church. What do I need to do?
Congratulations on your willingness to take this step! The process of bringing a civil marriage into the Church is called a validation. Your parish will be your main point of contact in preparing you for a valid marriage. While every parish is different, you will meet with a priest or a parish staff member to discuss marriage preparation and the details for planning your wedding. If you are not currently a member of a parish, please contact the Office for Marriage and Family Life and we will help you find a parish nearby.
Do I have to participate in marriage preparation if we are seeking a convalidation?
While we recommend couples participate in the diocesan marriage preparation, we also recognize that everyone seeking a validation of a civil marriage is coming from a different background, and we leave the specifics of the preparation to the priest or deacon who will validate the marriage. The priest or deacon may determine the appropriate preparation in addition to the prenuptial questionnaire.
Do I have to participate in marriage preparation if I have been married in the Catholic Church previously?
Your new marriage deserves all the proper preparation so that it can be beautiful and successful. We ask that you fully enter into marriage preparation as you enter into your new marriage in the Catholic Church.
We are beyond childbearing years. Do we have to participate in a Natural Family Planning Workshop?
While we encourage all married couples to learn more about the beauty of fertility in God’s plan through learning NFP, we understand that the actual process of monitoring fertility signs does not apply directly to some engaged couples who are no longer within childbearing years. Please speak with your pastor if you feel that participating in an NFP Workshop does not apply to you as a couple.
We are unable to participate in FOCCUS couple meetings or a Marriage Prep Conference before our wedding because of our work schedules/deployment/etc. Can we do those things online?
With the permission of whoever is preparing you at the parish, you may participate in the Archdiocesan Marriage Preparation Conference online. FOCCUS meetings can take place virtually with a facilitating couple and should be set up directly with them.
We are struggling financially. Is there any assistance available for us so we can participate in a Marriage Preparation Conference?
Yes. Please contact Emily Burds (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life, to discuss options.
Can we get married on a Sunday or a weekday?
Marriages may be celebrated on any day during the week. However, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee celebration of weddings on Sundays is discouraged. Special permission is to be sought from the Chancery Office for celebration of marriage on a Sunday. The restriction on Sunday weddings does not apply to simple validations.