of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford


Marriage is very special, and a significant and wonderful celebration. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a very special event: it is not just about a wedding day, but a lifetime of love, fidelity and commitment.

Christian Marriage - the basics
In the Roman Catholic Church, we believe that marriage is a state of life ordained by Almighty God, which was blessed by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church. This means that marriage has blessings and gifts, as well as duties and obligations. The most important aspects of the Roman Catholic understanding of marriage are that it is:
  • FOR LIFE: it is our faith that a valid marriage cannot be ended. We do not believe in divorce.
  • EXCLUSIVE: a couple give themselves to each other and no one else.
  • OPEN TO THE GIFT OF CHILDREN: marriage should not be "closed" in on a couple, but should be the place where the family is born.
If you wish to be married in the Roman Catholic Church, there are many things to be done. The first and most basic, however, is to ensure that both members of the relationship agree with all three of these statements (this includes a non-Catholic partner). If you have any doubts about these things, you should reflect on whether it is a Catholic marriage that you are looking for. You can always talk to a priest about this. 

Who can be married in the Catholic Church?
Not everyone can be married in the Church: these are the basic conditions:
  • at least one person must be a full member of the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. baptised, confirmed and able to receive Holy Communion);
  • at least one party must live within the boundaries of the Parish where they seek to be married;
  • neither party has been validly married before (unless the previous marriage was ended by the death of a partner). If you have questions about the validity of a previous marriage, please talk to your priest.

What do we do now?
If you are happy with all these details, the next step is to arrange an interview with your Parish Priest. In the Diocese of Salford we require six month's notice before a wedding - so you would not be able to be married until at least six months after this first appointment. (Please note that exceptions cannot be made to this rule) At the first meeting, the priest will explain all the procedure for marriage in the Church. He will also need to establish that you are free to marry in the Church (it would be useful for you to bring birth and baptism certificates if possible). Please do not make any other bookings until you have confirmed a date for your wedding with the Church. 

What next?
After a date has been booked, you will need to complete a Marriage Preparation Course. Such courses, which are obligatory, take many forms in different parishes, but all will look at the Catholic teaching about marriage, relationships, communications, the wedding ceremony and other topics. You will also meet with the priest who will conduct the ceremony at least two or three times to prepare the details. During this time of preparation, it would be good to make coming to Sunday Mass together a part of the preparation for marriage: getting to know God and the Church better together will deepen and enrich your wedding!

Some Questions
Does my non-Catholic partner have to change religion?
Not at all: the only request made of a non-Catholic is that they are in agreement with the Church's understanding of marriage, and that they will not interfere with the Catholic party's practice of their faith or upbringing of children.

How much does it cost?
This is completely up to you: the Catholic Church makes no charge (though we do welcome donations to cover our expenses, and some parishes will have recommendations for this). You will have to pay Civil Fees to register your forthcoming marriage, but everything else is your choice. 

How much say do we have in the Service?
We follow the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, so much of the ceremony is fixed, but the choice of Bible Readings, Hymns and some other details will be discussed with the couple. 

What sort of music can we have?
Since your wedding in the Catholic Church will be a religious ceremony, only religious music of a Christian character will be allowed in Church - this is not to stop you having your favourite songs played at the Reception! 

Can we Video/Photograph the ceremony?
Normally yes, though many churches will have restrictions about what can and cannot be done. You should consult with the priest before making any bookings with Videographers or Photographers.

From the Catechism

CCC1623 According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary.

CCC1624 The various liturgies abound in prayers of blessing and epiclesis asking God's grace and blessing on the new couple, especially the bride. In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.

CCC1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; "to be free" means:
- not being under constraint;
- not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

CCC1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that "makes the marriage." If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

CCC1627 The consent consists in a "human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other": "I take you to be my wife" - "I take you to be my husband." This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfilment in the two "becoming one flesh."

CCC1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent. If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.