The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions in the western world and dates back some 2000 years. With over a billion Catholics worldwide (around 1 million in the UK), it is one of the most prevalent religions across the globe.
The faith itself revolves around The Seven Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders and Marriage. As one of the Seven Sacraments, marriage is very important to Catholics and the Church teaches that marriage is ‘God’s doing’. These days, around 10,000 marriages take place each year in Catholic Churches across the United Kingdom.
Whilst undoubtedly the rules for a Catholic wedding are stricter than in many other Church weddings, the strictness is often greatly exaggerated. Catholics are encouraged to marry other Catholics in order to attain what is often referred to as a ‘perfect union’, but mixed marriages are much more common occurrences these days.
It is not a pre-requisite for either partner to be a practising Catholic, although some priests views may differ on this. On the whole, as long as neither partner has been married before, at least one partner has been baptised as a Catholic, and the couple are willing to sign up to the four basic principles of marriage, the priest should be happy to conduct the ceremony.
The four basic principles of a Catholic wedding are:
You are choosing to marry freely, without external pressure.
You intend to remain together for the rest of your life.
You intend to remain faithful to one another.
Unless the Bride is past childbearing age, you intend to have at least one child during the course of your marriage.
In terms of where the marriage can happen, it is usual for a Catholic wedding to take place in the local Church (or either local Church if both partners are practicing Catholics, although preference should be given to the Bride’s Church). That said, a Catholic wedding outside of the locality is perfectly possible, but special permission will need to be obtained from the Roman Catholic authorities if this is the route the couple wishes to head down. In all circumstances, the first port of call should be to the local priest who will advise of the possible and most appropriate course of action.
For more help and advice for those couples planning a Catholic wedding, be sure to check out our Arranging the Service, Catholic Wedding Order of Service and Catholic Wedding Vows articles.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.