Is your search over? Have you found ‘The one’? When God leads you to the person who will share your life in marriage, you are asked to commit to them permanently, in a selfless bond that reflects God’s own love for humanity.
There are several steps that need to be taken before your marriage celebration. First, you will need to contact the parish in which you hope to be married. The Parish Priest or his secretary will be able to discuss a date, time and church for your wedding. Usually the wedding will be celebrated in the parish of the bride or groom, but in some cases it will be possible to marry in an alternative parish. If you do marry outside your parish, then you might be asked to seek permission or advise your parish of your desire to marry elsewhere. This should be a simple formality.
Most parishes will charge a fee for the church and sometimes the officiating priest. Occasionally, a discount is offered to those who have been regular members of the Parish Planned Giving Program.
If you and your future spouse have both been baptised into the Catholic faith, you will be advised to contact the parish of your baptism to obtain a copy of your baptism certificate. If the bride or groom is marrying following a divorce or an annulment, or has not been baptised into the Catholic faith, your priest or his secretary will be able to advise you of the further steps you may need to take before marriage.
Early contact also gives you adequate time to prepare for your wedding. The Church strongly encourages newly engaged couples to attend marriage preparation classes so they might develop communication skills and create a strong foundation on which to build family life. Classes are often conducted in a group setting where couples can learn from the experience of others.
Your wedding day
When your wedding day arrives, you may be married within a Nuptial Mass or exchange vows in a shorter wedding ceremony. When two Catholics marry, their marriage is considered a sacrament of the Church. Consequently, these marriages are normally celebrated within a Mass, during which the bride, groom and congregation receive Communion. If the bride and groom prefer not to receive Communion, then a simple wedding ceremony may occur. All marriages share certain features, and there will be opportunities to choose your preferred vows, readings from scripture, blessings and hymns. Use of secular music, readings that are not taken from the sacred scriptures and other personal choices needs to be discussed with the Parish Priest, to ensure that the dignity and sacredness of the wedding ceremony is maintained.
Although your wedding day is the culmination of your wedding plans and a celebration of the love you share with your spouse, it is also the start of a sacred journey within the vocation of marriage.