You’re Getting Married! Congratulations!
Marriage is a beautiful vocation, a reflection of God’s love for us and of Christ’s love for the Church. As you are planning on getting married in the Church, your first point of contact should be your Parish Priest. You will need to complete a marriage preparation course before getting married in the Church as it is crucial that you understand what you are consenting to when you make your wedding vows. The importance of good Catholic marriage preparation cannot be overemphasised as it aims to help couples thoughtfully and prayerfully prepare for their upcoming marriage and lives together.
What do I do first?
Arrange to see your Parish Priest and book for your Saturday Day, as detailed below.
The Diocese of East Anglia requires 6 months notice of intention of marriage.
Please do not arrange venues, flowers etc without first talking with the Parish Priest and fixing a date in the Church. If one of you has been married before you MUST disclose this to the Priest before making any arrangements.
Frequently Asked Questions…
1 What does marriage preparation in our Diocese consists of?
Marriage preparation consists of both:
a. A course in your local parish (contact your local Parish Priest)
2 What is the cost of marriage preparation?
The cost is £95 per couple.
Please pay either by: cheque: made out to East Anglia Roman Catholic Trustee and write “MFL marriage prep” on the back, and post it to: Paul Wilson, 21 Upgate, Poringland, Norwich NR12 7SH.
or by bank transfer: East Anglia Roman Catholic Trustee, Natwest, City Branch, Norwich
Sort Code: 60-15-31
Account No: 08741697
Please make sure you include the reference ‘MFL Marriage PREP’ and your name.
If you have financial difficulties please speak with Antonia
3 Can I attend either the course or the Saturday Day?
The full course consists of both the course and also the Saturday Day as they cover different topics. If you definitely can’t attend one or the other please contact Antonia.
4 Do I have to attend the course before the Saturday Day?
No, they cover different topics so it doesn’t matter which one you do first.
5 How do I book for the So Great A Mystery parish course?
These classes are done at a local parish level, so please contact your local Catholic parish church.
6 What if only one of us can attend the Saturday Day?
The Saturday Day consists of couple work which you both do together on the day, so it is vital that you both attend the Saturday Day together.
7 How soon before my wedding do I need to do the marriage preparation course?
You can attend a marriage preparation course any time about two years before your wedding.
But please note that the official paperwork can only be dated a maximum of six months before your wedding date.
8 How soon before my wedding do I need to meet with the Priest to do my paperwork?
You can only meet with the Priest a maximum of six months before your wedding. The paperwork cannot be dated more than six months before your wedding.
9 What happens once we have finished the marriage preparation course?
Once you have completed the marriage preparation course, you will receive a certificate, and you can then arrange to meet with your Parish Priest here to do the official paperwork.
Couples need to meet with their local Parish Priest in East Anglia to do their paperwork even if they are getting married elsewhere, as it is the responsibility of the Diocese in which you live to do your documentation, not the Diocese in which you are getting married. The completed paperwork will then be sent to the Diocese where couples are planning on getting married.
10 What paperwork do I need to have ready for the appointment with the Priest?
At the appointment with the Priest please ensure you each have the following documents with you: (NB: not all of these may be relevant to you).
Please note: originals copies only, no photocopies or scans. They do not need to be translated into English; the original language is acceptable.
□ Marriage Preparation Certificate of Completion
□ A cheque for £20 made payable to ‘RC Diocese of East Anglia’ (if needed. see questions below)
□ Baptism certificate*
*This must be an original. It does not need to be translated into English. You will need to contact the Church where you were baptised and explain that you are getting married and ask them to issue you with a baptism certificate for marriage. This certificate should be dated a maximum of 6 months before your wedding date and it needs to indicate the date and place of baptism, whether or not you have been confirmed as well as any details regarding previous marriages or ordination or religious vows.
□ Confirmation certificate
**Do Not Sign anything on this form. Just fill in all your personal details. You will sign it in front of your Parish Priest.
***Print off one copy each. This form needs to be completed before a Solicitor/Public Notary/Commissioner of Oaths. You need to Google a convenient one and make an appointment with any one of them. Then take the forms with you and your fiancé and you need to sign it in front of them.
NB: If you are already civilly married you do not need to complete this form. Also, if you are getting married abroad and are required to prove your legal freedom to marry in that country/ consulate/ embassy then that paperwork is sufficient.
□ Annulment paperwork (if relevant)
□ Legal marriage certificate (if you are already civilly married)
11 My fiancé was baptised in non-Catholic Church, do they need to obtain a baptism certificate dated six months before our wedding?
No. If they are able to get a certificate dated six months before the wedding confirming their baptism that would be ideal. If they are unable to, then their original certificate from the day they were baptised will suffice even if it is many years old.
12 I am getting married outside this Diocese, can the Priest in that Church do my paperwork?
The Church norms are that the Diocese where you live is responsible for doing your paperwork. This will then to sent to the Diocese where you are getting married. So you should contact your local Parish Priest here in East Anglia to do your paperwork.
13 What happens at the appointment with my Parish Priest?
Once you have completed the marriage preparation course you will need to make an appointment with your Parish Priest or his Assistant Priest and take with you all the relevant paperwork listed in Question 10 above (this is vital!).
In front of the priest you then sign the Declaration at the bottom of Page 2 of the Pre-Nuptial Information Form, and if only one of you is a Catholic, then the Catholic must make the promise before the priest on the bottom of Page 3.
14 I am getting married in my local Catholic Parish here in East Anglia, or at another Catholic Church in East Anglia.
If you are getting married in your own Catholic Parish here in East Anglia then the signed paperwork stays with the Priest.
If you are getting married in a different Catholic Parish in the Diocese of East Anglia where you are not parishioners then your Parish Priest will grant permission for you to do so (page 4 on the Pre-Nuptial Form) and then send it to the Parish Priest in East Anglia where you intend to marry.
If you require a Dispensation because you are marrying a non-baptised Person or for any other situation requiring a Dispensation or a Permission, your Parish Priest will send the paperwork to the Chancellor with a request for the Dispensation/Permission. Once granted it will be returned to your Parish Priest in East Anglia if you are marrying there. Or If you are marrying in another Parish which is not your own within the Diocese of East Anglia or within the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales, the Chancellor will send the paperwork direct to the parish where the marriage will take place provided your Parish Priest has completed all his requisite parts of the documentation and he has included a cheque made payable to RC Diocese of East Anglia in the amount of £20 (Twenty Pounds Sterling) which you should provide.
15 I am getting married somewhere else in the world and not in England and Wales.Once you have signed all the documents in front of your Parish Priest he must send all the documents to the Chancellor including a cheque made payable to RC Diocese of East Anglia in the amount of £20 (Twenty Pounds Sterling) which you should provide.
The Chancellor will check all your documentation to see it is correct and deal with any Dispensations or Permissions that you require. He will then prepare a letter to his opposite number in the Diocese where you are intending to marry (e.g. Milan, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, Washington, etc.)
All this paperwork will then be sent back to your Parish Priest in East Anglia with an accompanying letter and a special envelope to be used by a courier service. Your Parish Priest will then give the documents to you and you are to arrange for the courier to collect them.
The courier will provide you with a Tracking Number and then the Chancellor of the Diocese in which you will be married or a member of the Diocesan Curia will sign for it. It works beautifully so do not panic. Most couriers are able to deliver anywhere in the world within five working days. Once the paperwork has arrived at the Diocese where you will be married the Chancellor will send it to the Parish in which you will be married. We aim for the paperwork to arrive about 4 weeks before the wedding date.
PLEASE DO NOT: Send the documents using the Postal Service. Once post leaves this country there is no way of assuring it will reach its destination on time (we have much experience of this happening!). It needs to be sent as a tracked delivery using a courier service (e.g. DHL).
PLEASE DO NOT: give the documents to relatives to deliver or try to take them personally yourself to the Diocese where you are getting marriage. We have had this happen and the documents will be rejected and refused by the receiving Diocese because they could have been interfered with. The documents are considered the personal correspondence of the Chancellor of East Anglia to his opposite number in the receiving Diocese, so they must be couriered directly and not hand delivered.
16 What is the timescale for the paperwork?
The Priests will start your paperwork a few months before your wedding date, once you have completed your marriage preparation course.
If you are getting married abroad, we aim for it to arrive in the Diocese where you are getting married about one month before your wedding date.
17 I would like to be Confirmed, how can I go about organising that?
It is a good thing to be Confirmed and you are encouraged to be confirmed before your wedding if possible. Contact your Parish Priest as soon as possible to speak to him about that.
18 We are already civilly married, do we need to complete the Statutory Declaration of Freedom to Marry form?
No. Please bring your civil marriage certificate to the appointment with the Priest.
19 We have already completed a Statutory Declaration of Freedom to Marry form in a different country/embassy/consulate, do we need to do another one here?
No, that will be acceptable. Please bring it to the appointment with the Priest.
20 What is the earliest I can see the Priest?
Maximum of six months before the wedding, once you have completed the course and have your certificates and paperwork ready.
21 We are from the Syro-Malabar Rite, do we need to do any extra paperwork?
22 I have been previously married, but have now divorced and received an annulment. Do I still fill in the Declaration of Freedom to Marry form?
Yes, but write on the form that you have received an annulment.
Make sure you bring your annulment paperwork with you to the appointment with the Priest.
23 I was previously married but now my spouse is deceased.
If there has been a previous spouse, who is now deceased, the priest will need a copy of their death certificate.
24 I am marrying a non-Christian, do I need to an extra paperwork?
Your Parish Priest will need to seek a Dispensation from Disparity of Worship for you from the Chancellor of the Diocese, but he will arrange that at your appointment with him. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance.
25 I am marrying a non-Catholic baptized Christian, do I need to do extra paperwork?
The priest will need to seek Permission for you from the Chancellor of the Diocese, but he will arrange that at your appointment with him. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance.
Any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr Antonia Braithwaite email@example.com