The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the joining of two baptized Catholics who are free to marry, without any impediments, before a priest and two witnesses in a Catholic Church.
While this is the form for a valid Catholic marriage, an individual’s circumstances do not always meet all the criteria. Before a couple can exchange marriage vows in the Church, they must speak with a priest at least six (6) months prior to the proposed wedding date.
- You’ll need this time to ensure that all of the proper documentation is obtained, including baptismal certificates that are newly dated. “Letters of freedom” to marry need to be attested by two witnesses, and couples are also required to attend the Pre-Cana classes. These are just a few of the many details requiring the six-month lead time.
- Many times we receive requests to witness weddings from prospective couples who live outside the canonical territory of the parish. We are unable to honor these requests. At the initial interview with the priest, couples will have to validate that they live within the canonical territory of the parish. Under the Law of the Church (Canon Law), our parish priests can only perform marriages within the confines of the territorial parish and are responsible for the preparation of only those couples who legitimately reside within the parish.
- During the initial interview, the priest will ask if either of the parties were previously married. If there is a previous civil or ecclesiastical bond, the Church cannot schedule a wedding date until this circumstance is addressed. In this event, expect the wedding preparation timetable to be longer than the minimum six months.
- Destination weddings for couples in our parish require the same preparation as if the wedding were to be held here in our Church. However, we request at least nine (9) months advance notice to allow for the collection and certification of the authenticity of the church documents (“VISUM”) and for the documents to reach the diocese where the wedding is going to take place.
It is difficult to explain all of the details for wedding preparation in this short instruction. The first step is to speak with one of the parish priests, if you reside in the parish, and allow plenty of time for the paperwork and preparation to be completed. Planning your wedding may be one of the most exciting times of your life, but please remember: “The Wedding is a day, the Marriage is a lifetime.”
What You’ll Need:
6-9 months before your planned wedding
- Schedule a mandatory interview and meeting with the parish priest you would like to officiate at your wedding. Contact the rectory by phone (718-268-6251) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make an appointment.
- Request the detailed booklet with wedding guidelines and further information on the marriage preparation process.
- Complete paperwork and turn in copies of your baptismal records.
- Attend Pre-Cana sessions.