A man and a woman make a very serious and sacred commitment when they decide to marry one another in the Catholic Church. Marriage is a permanent commitment to a way of life; it requires careful thought, prayer and preparation. Through the Covenant of Matrimony, couples are called closer to each other, to their God and to the community.
May God Bless You as You Prepare for Marriage!
Congratulations on your decision to marry in the Catholic Church. This is a very special time and we want it to go smoothly for you. This information will help you understand the requirements of the Catholic Church, as well as the guidelines for marriage in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
You should contact your parish priest at least six months prior to your anticipated wedding date. It is recommended that you make contact at the beginning of your engagement. This can be an opportunity to get to know each other, ask relevant questions and identify most potential issues to reduce the stress of the "last minute" complications.
You will normally be required to attend an approved marriage preparation program. This should be completed well in advance of your wedding date. The priest assisting your preparation maydirect or help choose either, Engaged Encounter or the Archdiocesan program. He may, in his pastoral discretion, also suggest other resources or considerations.
The priest will provide the registration form for the Archdiocesan program. For further information see the Marriage Preparation Program brochure and check www.rcav.org/m-prep. The fee is payable when you begin the course.
The Catholic Engaged Encounter ("CEE") program is typically over a weekend. It is a time to learn and to build a closer relationship. It is designed to give couples a guided and supported opportunity to dialogue honestly and intensively about their beliefs attitudes and goals. Engaged Encounter is organized and run independently of the Archdiocese. For information on CEE call: (604) 451-3300 or see www.ceewest.com.
Your marriage is an important part of your life and growth as a follower of Jesus. Your priest will help you reflect on your understanding of Christian marriage, so that you can enter into this commitment to God and to each other well prepared. The process begins with the initial interview with your priest, and addresses your faith experience, your relationship as a couple, and your understanding of marriage in the Church.
Some couples have special circumstances and will need further assistance in preparing to be married in the Church.
Please discuss with your priest if:
• either or both of you have been married before
• either of you are or ever have been in a "common-law" union
• are now civilly married (to each other) and wish to have your marriage blessed (Convalidated) in the Catholic Church
• you are presently living together
• either you or your fiancé/e is a teenager
• a pregnancy is involved
• one of you practices another faith tradition or does not follow any particular religious faith.
PLACE OF THE WEDDING
The wedding of two Catholics is a sacramental liturgy and takes place in the parish church of either the bride or groom.
To be married in another parish, it is required that permission be received from the parish in which you wish to be married, as well as either of the parishes where you reside.
To be married outside of the Archdiocese, it is required that the Archbishop provide permission. It will be requested by your priest and will be sent to the Bishop of the location where the wedding is to be. If that Bishop approves, he will pass the documentation done here on to the pastor of the parish in readiness for the wedding. N.B. You must comply with the civil law, e.g. wedding license, of that other jurisdiction as well.
A wedding in which only one of you is Catholic takes place in the parish of the Catholic party. The Episcopal Vicar for Marriage may permit you to celebrate your wedding in the place of worship of the non-Catholic party only when a special pastoral reason might suggest it. Your priest can explain the criteria and ask for this on your behalf.
The celebration of marriage is an act of worship and a Sacrament for two baptized Christians. Hence, the church building, the house of God and home of His people, is the proper place for weddings. Gardens, secular “wedding chapels”, or other settings apart from a church are not appropriate.
WHEN THE CELEBRANT IS A VISITING PRIEST
If a priest, other than one of those assigned to the parish where your wedding will take place is to witness the exchange of vows, he must receive permission from the pastor of the parish in order to officiate at the ceremony. He may also require authorization from the Archdiocesan Chancery office. In addition, a visiting priest from outside of BC needs a temporary license from the provincial government. You should discuss this with your parish priest at the beginning of your preparation.
Your priest will complete forms with you to make a permanent parish record of the significant step you are about to take. In addition, if one of you is not a Catholic, the documentation is part of the priest’s request to the Episcopal Vicar for Marriage on your behalf for permission for a “mixed marriage”.
Baptismal Certificate(s): If you are a Catholic, you must have a baptismal certificate issued within six months prior to your wedding. If you have been baptized in another Christian denomination, you must supply either your original certificate or a copy.
British Columbia Marriage License: A B.C. marriage license is mandatory for a wedding to take place anywhere in the Province. The license is valid for 90 days. It is not required for a Convalidation ceremoney. See www.vs.gov.bc.ca/marriage/howto.html for information.
CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS
The Sacraments of Penance (Reconciliation) and Holy Eucharist should be a vital part of every Catholic’s growth as a disciple of Christ in His Church. These Sacraments will prepare you for a more meaningful experience of your wedding liturgy and deepen your relationship with Jesus, the foundation of your married life together.
Every Catholic should complete his or her initiation into the Faith by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. If you have not been confirmed, the time of your preparation for marriage can be an opportunity to prepare for Confirmation, as well. Your priest can give you the information you need.
PLANNING OF THE WEDDING LITURGY
Your parish priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy. The thought and care you put into the choice of readings and music will help make your liturgy a meaningful expression of you as a couple. Your marriage preparation class will provide you with suggested readings, music guidelines and a wedding planning sheet.
In addition to the above requirements, your parish priest will inform you of any additional requirements that are particular to your parish.
Marriage Guidelines brochure