Question 1: What do I need to get married?
Answer: First, you must have a feeling of being called to the married life. Having emotions and feelings for another person is a beginning, but not enough. This is why the engagement period for couples is important. This provides the opportunity to better know each other. The Church requires Pre-Cana preparation and retreats to help provide a strong foundation for a healthy Catholic marriage. It is possible that, after this preparation, couples may decide they are not meant for each other. In other situations, the preparation of Pre-Cana helps avoid marital stress in the future. From a technical perspective, presuming both are Catholic, the Church requires that:
- The parish pastor must be approached at least 6 months to a year before the desired date for the wedding.
- The couple must participate in Pre-Cana preparations offered by the diocese.
- You need to obtain a recently issued Certificate of Baptism (issued within 6 months) that includes notation on the reception of First Communion and Confirmation. This is available from the Church where one was baptized.
- A civil marriage license must be provided to the parish pastor at least 72 hours before the wedding date.
Question 2: What preparations are needed if I want to marry a non-Catholic?
Answer: Additional preparations are needed for marrying a non-Catholic. This will take some extra time, effort, and consultation with your local parish priest. Please contact him for the requirements in your diocese.
Related information: Marrying Someone of a Different Religion
Question 3: Who should be our witnesses?
Answer: Two witnesses are required. They are to be one male and one female. Preferably the witnesses would be practicing Catholics, but this is not a requirement. The witnesses represent the assembly gathered at the ceremony for the exchange of vows and their names will be a permanent part of the marriage record. You may want to consider that a witness does not need to be a part of your wedding party and can be someone from the congregation.