Requirements for Marriage

Requirements for Marriage in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

The following notes outline the main requirements for getting married in the Catholic Church and should be read through by both parties. In the case of mixed marriages (between a Catholic and a non-Catholic) the non-Catholic partner must be in no doubt concerning the obligations and the undertakings of a Catholic in a marriage. The Catholic understanding of marriage is that the matrimonial covenant, between a man and a woman brings them into partnership for the whole of life and is ordered for the good of each other and for the procreation and education of children and that marriage between the baptised is a sacrament. (CIC 1055)

Paragraphs 1-10 are general Catholic requirements, paras 11 onwards are Parish requirements.

  1. VALID MARRIAGE. The Church normally requires for validity that every marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, to be celebrated before a bishop, priest or deacon duly authorised, and two witnesses, otherwise parties will not, in the sight of God, be really husband and wife.

  2. FREEDOM. A Catholic should choose a partner who is free to marry and not bound by a previous marriage (or under the Civil Law, a Civil Partnership.)

  3. CATHOLIC. In this context, a Catholic means anyone baptised in the Catholic Church; and it also means a baptised person who has been received into the Catholic Church.

  4. NOTICE. The parties should give twelve months notice to their parish priest before the date proposed for the marriage, not only so that the necessary documents, dispensation etc., can be dealt with, but also to ensure attendance at an engaged couples course. This is Diocesan Law and not up to the Parish Priest!

  5. MIXED MARRIAGE. A mixed marriage is one where one of the parties is not catholic.  The Church permits mixed marriages to take place with certain safeguards. One of the conditions for the granting of a dispensation is that the Catholic party is asked to give the following undertaking:

    “I declare that I am ready to uphold my Catholic Faith and to avoid all dangers of falling away from it. Moreover, I sincerely undertake that I will do all that I can within the unity of our partnership to have all the children of our marriage baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church.”

  6. RELIGIOUS UPBRINGING OF CHILDREN. It will be virtually impossible to bring up their children in the practice of the faith unless the parents are doing so themselves.

  7. LOCATION OF CEREMONY. The marriage ceremony shall take place within their own Catholic parish Churches. For serious reasons, however, the Catholic Church is willing to grant a dispensation enabling the parties of a mixed marriage to have the ceremony in a non-Catholic Church.  Civil restrictions may also apply.It is not possible under Canon Law for Catholics to marry in any church other than a catholic one unless one of the parties is not catholic.

  8. PERMISSION. Church law states that marriages are to be celebrated in the parish in which either of the Catholic parties lives unless the local parish priest gives his permission. In any case the priest of the parish in which you are resident will have to complete the documents of his parishioner (this may be subject to a fee) and send them on to the parish in which the marriage is due to take place.  (CIC 1115, 1118)

  9. CONFIRMATION. Catholics should be Confirmed if possible. (CIC 1065)

  10. SPIRITUAL PREPARATION. Catholics are earnestly recommended to approach the sacraments of penance and the blessed Eucharist before marriage. (CIC 1065)

  11. CHURCH FORMALITIES.  Once outline agreement is given by the priest/deacon for the marriage to take place at Cranleigh or Bramley, and a date and time for ceremony agreed, the following are required sometime prior to the marriage ceremony:

    PLEASE NOTE. All documents referred to below must be sent to Fr David at Cranleigh unless you live in another Catholic parish. In which case, you must send them to your own parish priest who will also need to give his permission.

    !.Both parties will need to produce recent evidence of their Baptism.
    ii.Both parties will need to attend, and produce proof of, a Marriage Preparation Course.
    iii.Testimony needs to be given of the Freedom of both parties to marry.

  12. Marriage Ceremony – Donations/Fees payable at the Church.
    i.It is usual to offer a donation for the use of the church, which can be ‘Gift Aided’. This can be waived in case of serious hardship.
    ii.The Church does not charge for Sacraments but it is, however, customary to make a personal donation to the celebrant who marries you. The amount is entirely up to you, but perhaps we can suggest that it might be in line with other gifts you make to other parties who have some part in your wedding service and day.
    iii.A Registrar Fee (Currently £80) is required for the legal witnessing and recording of the marriage and issuing of the Marriage Certificate.

  13. CIVIL DOCUMENTS/FEES
    i.Notification will need to be given to your local Registrar by both parties; this visit must not be more than one year before nor less than fifteen days before the proposed date of marriage.
    The Registrar will need evidence of identity, and will issue you each with a BLUE Certificate. The Registrar will charge for this at the time. (Currently £33.50 each)

    ii.
    There is no necessity for a Registrar from Guildford to attend in our parish as our Clergy here are empowered to conduct the civil part of marriages.

    iii.The Registrar’s office for those who live in this area (West Surrey) is Artington House, Portsmouth Road, Guildford Telephone 01483 562841.

  14. THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY.  Nearer the time of the marriage, and after your formal and legal preparations are underway, you will need to make contact to arrange a meeting and discuss details of the ceremony. ie:
    i.Preparing an Order of Service.
    ii.Readings/special prayers chosen and their Readers. (relations/friends)
    iii.Music: Organ/Choir/Hymns.
    iv.Flowers.
    v.Rehearsal time.

  15. Finally.  Getting married is a hugely important event. The ceremony is rich in symbolism and solemnity reflecting the seriousness of what the couple are doing and the life changing importance for their future happiness. We aim to have all documentation completed well before the wedding, (documentation six weeks before, fees 14 days before) to enable you to concentrate on, and enjoy everything on your important and happy day.

  16. Should you have any queries or problems please telephone 01483 272075 or email