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Can We Even Get Married in the Catholic Church?

If you are reading this and wondering if you can get married in the Catholic Church, then I will presume you or someone close to you has recently gotten engaged. Congratulations!

If both you and your future spouse are confirmed Catholics (i.e. you have received the Sacrament of Confirmation) and have never been married before, then the answer to the question is likely YES! However, even if only one of you is a confirmed Catholic, it is likely still possible. Read on for all the details.

The Three Basic Requirements for a Valid Catholic Marriage

There are three basic requirements for getting married in a Catholic church.

1. Freedom to Marry

You must be capable of getting married. In other words, you must be a man and a woman and there should be no impediments to the marriage. The are a variety of things that could keep you from getting married in the Catholic Church, but the main ones include:

  • Age – one or both of the parties is not old enough to get married according to civil or church law.
  • Consanguinity – if the two parties are related by blood marriage cannot be performed.
  • Intellectual Capacity – a person who is not intellectually capable of understanding his or her marriage rights and duties cannot get married.
  • Previous Marriage – A person cannot currently be married to someone else or divorced. Previous marriage is the most common impediment to marriage in the modern world. The Church does not recognize dissolution of a previous marriage through divorce because it believes that marriage is a covenant that cannot be dissolved. However, the Church can annul a previous marriage, which removes the impediment. It’s crucial for individuals who have been divorced to be honest and open about their marital history with the priest during pre-marital counseling. This allows the priest to provide appropriate guidance and support. Couples should contact their local parish priest or a diocesan marriage tribunal early in the wedding planning process to discuss their situation and receive guidance on the steps to take.

2. Freely Given Consent

Both you and your future spouse must freely choose to give your entire self to the other person for the rest of your life without reservation. If your priest feels there are serious doubts about your ability to make this lifelong promise, he may spend time addressing these issues. Two of the biggest ones include:

Cohabitation

The Catholic church advocates against couples living together and teaches the sanctity of marriage and sexual relations. The couple must understand that lifelong commitment and fidelity are necessary. The couple’s full understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage is essential to being able to freely give consent.

Although the church encourages couples to not live together, your marriage will not be denied if you are. Nevertheless, your priest will likely spend time discussing the issue with you as you prepare for marriage.

Unwillingness to Accept Children

Your willingness to accept children is another issue that your priest will discuss since procreation and the raising of children is seen as a natural part of marriage. According to the church, it is impossible for you to give yourself freely without reservation if children are excluded.

3. Canon Law (The Form of the Marriage)

The Catholic Church has rules to ensure that your marriage is valid.

Witnesses

A valid marriage must be witness by an authorized member of the Church, which can be a priest or a deacon, as well as two other witnesse, who are usually your Best Man and Maid of Honor.

Order of Celebrating Matrimony

You must follow The Order of Celebrating Matrimony, the Catholic Church’s book that provides the words and actions of the wedding liturgy.

Other Catholic Requirements

This is just a partial list of the requirements of the Catholic Church. There may be other issues based on special circumstances or the specific policies of your local parish. If this is the case, your priest will address this at your first meeting.

I hope this post has helped you to understand if you meet the requirements, and I wish you much love and happiness!

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