6 Essential Details About Getting Married in a Catholic Church

Brides, you might have to nix that strapless wedding dress...

Updated 02/15/17

Emilia Schobeiri

One of the most beautiful aspects of a wedding ceremony is how the sacred traditions vary across cultures and religions. For couples looking to wed in a Roman Catholic Church, here are six things you'll need to ask about when planning your ceremony.

The Interview

Typically the couple desiring to be wed will schedule an interview with the priest or pastor prior to Pre-Cana as the first step toward walking down the aisle. This is also a good time to get to know the officiant for your big day. The more you get to know one another, the more personal your ceremony will be. Be sure to ask as many questions at this interview as you can!

Holidays

You'll want to ensure you have a calendar of holidays and events from your church prior to determining a wedding date. There are many holy days and other observed holidays that you may not know about, which can affect availability.

Requirements

Matrimony requirements can vary from church to church. Many will require proof of baptism, communion, and/or confirmation. Parishes are also strict about remarriage. If you or your partner was married before and the marriage did not end in an annulment, and if the ex-spouse is not deceased, some churches won't perform the ceremony. Intermarriage requirements may also affect your eligibility, and your partner may need to convert if he is not of the same faith.

Pre-Cana is the required marriage-preparatory program provided by the church. Depending on the program, some couples may choose to complete it in an extended weekend, while others can attend weekly classes. Also, the Code of Canon Law explains that marriages should be held at the parish of either the bride or groom, which is why many couples opt for a church in their hometown. Other couples might opt to become members and parishioners of their local church prior to beginning the planning process.

Make sure you have a firm understanding of all the requirements so there aren't any surprises later on.

Dress Code

More conservative churches require shoulders to be covered. Ask about this prior to dress shopping—but don't stress too much. If you've had your heart set on a strapless or thin-strap gown, you can select a complementary shawl, wrap, or cover to wear while in the church. Be sure to find out!

Ceremony Structure

Determine if you would like a full mass or a shortened ceremony. Depending on your preferences, you might have more or less flexibility in structuring your ceremony, the readings, speakers, etc. Get a clear explanation of this prior to planning your ceremony.

Bridal Party

Many times the Catholic Church will request that the maid or matron of honor and best man be of the Catholic faith. Be certain to inquire about this and how it may or may not affect your bridal party.

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