It’s probably no surprise that planning a wedding looks different for couples getting married in the Church than it does for the couples who aren’t.
The Church requires several documents that you will need to have before your big day that might not be required by couples only getting civilly married.
The following are documents Catholics need; if you or your spouse is a non-Catholic or non-baptized person, you may need to provide additional documents, so make sure to check with the parish and diocese you in which you will marry.
Both the bride and groom must have a valid baptismal certificate. You might also be asked for communion and confirmation certificates as well.
It must be the original copy, complete with church seal from your baptismal church that has been issued within 6 months of the date of the wedding.
Can’t find yours? Don’t panic. Just contact the Church where you were baptized and ask for a new copy.
Affidavit of Freedom to Marry
Before getting married in the Church, witnesses must establish the couple’s freedom to marry.
This document is signed by two people (preferably parents or relatives) who can testify to this on behalf of the couple.
The witnesses confirm that the bride and the groom are not related, have never been previously married (or have had their previous marriage annulled), and are entering into this marriage freely and completely.
Even though your wedding is primarily a sacramental wedding, it is still necessary to have a civil marriage license.
You can obtain your marriage license by going to the County’s Clerk office and presenting proof of your identity, social security number, and the application fee.
Many states may have a waiting period so you might not get it the same day you apply. Make sure you check your state requirements during the wedding planning process to avoid additional stress during wedding week.
Marriage prep certification
Often, the parish will ask you to complete (and provide certification of completing) a marriage prep course such as Pre-Cana, a Natural Family Planning class, and Pre-marriage inventories such as FOCCUS or PREPARE.
The marriage preparation requirements vary slightly from diocese to diocese, so talk to your celebrant or parish office to learn about what the requirements are for you and your soon-to-be spouse.