Family Focus - Marriage

Marriage Preparation in a Catholic Church

To get married in a Catholic Church, at least one of you will be a baptised Catholic.

You should approach the priest of the parish where you intend to marry before you arrange your marriage preparation. The priest or Deacon will make the necessary arrangements for the ceremony.


For civil conditions and requirements click here.

The RC Diocese of Hallam has developed its own marriage preparation programme called "Preparing for a Lifetime Together" in co-operation with Marriage Care Hallam, Worldwide Marriage Encounter (England and Wales) and Prepare/Enrich UK, using research based information and the considerable experience of the Development Group.

The course is used throughout the Diocese, and has been bought by other Dioceses both at home and abroad.

Presented by trained married couples to small groups of engaged couples, the course covers a wide range of topics relevant to those about to marry. Part of the course is the "Prepare/Enrich" inventory, which helps couples to explore their own relationship strengths and growth areas, and offers its own workbook to reinforce and supplement our course material.

The course consists of five/six sessions of 1 1/2 – 2 hours:

1. Welcome; "Prepare/Enrich" Inventory (sometimes done online)

2. Communication

3. Transitions; Conflict Management; Family Patterns

4. Sex and Sexuality; Parenting

5. The "Prepare/ Enrich" feedback

6. Living Our Promise


Why prepare for marriage?
Because it is a "natural" way of living doesn't mean that it is always easy – but there are ways of getting over difficult times and enjoying the good times more.

We take marriage seriously and want to offer you support and encouragement before you make your public life-long commitment to each other.

What is marriage preparation?
An opportunity to explore your relationship in a confidential helpful and friendly environment.

Who will we work with?
A married couple who are trained to help you clarify for yourselves how you want to live your life together. You will work either in a small group of couples, or alone with the presenters.

What will we talk about?
Communication; Transitions; Conflict Management; Family Patterns; Sex and Sexuality; Parenting; and exploration of how we live out our wedding day promises .

There is a couple to couple session to explore together your relationship strengths and growth areas, using the results of the "Prepare/Enrich" inventory as a basis to work from.

How long does it take?
The course usually runs over six evening sessions of about 11/2 to 2 hours. Occasionally the course is run over two Saturdays.

What happens?
Ideally, a group of 2 to 4 engaged couples meets with the trained married couple, who lead the sessions. Sometimes the course is offered couple-to-couple.

The atmosphere is welcoming, relaxed and confidential (apart from the legal requirement to disclose certain issues if they become known).

Where does it happen?
Normally in the home of the presenting couple.
NB Presenters cannot take responsibility for childcare during the sessions.

What does it cost?
There is a £25 scoring fee for the "Prepare/Enrich" inventory. There may also be a small fee to cover venue/refreshment  costs.
The rest of the course is offered free of charge to those who are to marry in the Catholic Church.

How do we start?
Before you make any firm arrangements contact your Parish Priest who will help you with the next steps and clarify anything you may be unsure of. You should do this if possible at least 12 months before your wedding date. Your marriage preparation should be started at least 6 months prior to your wedding.

For up to date information about courses please contact us on 0114 2566407 , email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Latest News page.


An alternative form of Marriage Preparation is to take part in an Engaged Encounter Weekend

Two weekends are planned in Hallam for 2015.  Both are non residential and will take place at Hallam Pastoral Centre.

March 7th and 8th

November 21st and 22nd

Places are limited and you will  need to book online (booking fee £50).

Please visit



Church Requirements

To keep this section simple only the priest is referred to, although parts of it may apply to lay people, parish sisters or deacons who have responsibilities in some parishes.


For more information about civil requirements click here.


Can we marry in a Catholic church?
Where can we marry?
What documents will we need?

How much notice should we give?
How much will it cost?
What about our wedding service?


Can we marry in a Catholic church?

You can marry in a Catholic church if either:

* You are both baptised Roman Catholics


* One of you is a baptised Roman Catholic and the other is a baptised Christian.
The Catholic partner will be asked to promise to uphold and preserve their Catholic faith, and to do all they can to bring up any children of the marriage in the Catholic faith.
The parish priest will ask the Catholic to sign a form to confirm this.


* One of you is a baptised Roman Catholic and the other is not a baptised Christian.
Special permission is required from the Bishop; your priest will advise you about this.


* Both of you are free to marry. That is:

One or both are widowed.

Neither of you has been married before.

If either of you has been married before, and your previous partner is still alive, contact your parish priest to discuss whether you are free to marry in a Catholic church.


Where can we marry? | Back to top

* You should normally marry in the church of the parish where you live or where you regularly worship.
If you have special reasons, you may be given permission (a letter of freedom) by your parish priest to get married in a Catholic church outside your parish.

You should meet with him before you make any arrangements in any other parish.

* If you wish to be married in the eyes of the Church, your wedding should take place in a Catholic church.
In special circumstances where the partner who is not a Catholic is a practising member of another Church, or has some definite attachment to it, the Bishop may grant permission for the wedding to take place in that partner's church.

Your priest will advise you about this.

Weddings in hotels etc and wedding packages abroad are generally not valid as Catholic marriages.

If you have any questions about the validity of your chosen venue, please contact the Chancellor of the Diocese on 0114 2566450 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


What documents will we need? | Back to top

* Any relevant letters and permissions mentioned in the last two sections.

* Baptismal Certificates.
If you are baptised (Christened) you will need a Baptismal Certificate.

The Catholic partner:
Needs to provide one issued in the previous six months.
You can obtain this by writing to the church where you were baptised, stating that you are getting married. Give your full name and date of birth and approximately when you were baptised.

Your Baptismal Certificate should refer to your Confirmation. If you were confirmed in a different parish, you may need to get a separate Confirmation Certificate.

If you have not been Confirmed you should talk to your priest about this at your first meeting.

The partner who is not a Catholic:
Needs to produce or obtain a Baptismal Certificate from the church where you were baptised (Christened).

* A Certificate or Licence from the Civil Registrar.
You must give notice of your marriage at the Register Office where you live. If one of you lives in another registration district, you must inform that Register Office also.

You can give notice and apply for a "Certificate" up to twelve months in advance of your wedding but you must give at least 16 days notice.

You should take your Certificate(s) to your priest as soon as you obtain it.

Full details of civil requirements are on:

* A Death Certificate or Decree of Nullity , should either be necessary.

* A Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form.
This brings all the "paperwork" together.
Your priest will supply this and you will complete it with him.


How much notice should we give? | Back to top

* Ideally you should approach your parish priest twelve months before your proposed wedding date.
Confirming a date well in advance will give a greater chance of your choice being available.

It will also make co-ordinating all aspects of your wedding easier.

It will give adequate time to complete your marriage preparation before the business of arranging your wedding happens. Ideally you should start your marriage preparation at least six months before your wedding.

If, for any reason you cannot give the required notice, contact your parish priest as soon as possible.


How much will it cost? | Back to top

* Your priest will advise you about about the cost of fees for the church.
He will also suggest what might be appropriate payment for the services of flower arrangers, musicians and altar servers, if you use them.

These fees will generally be only a small part of the average cost of a wedding.


What about our wedding service? | Back to top

* Your priest will help you with the planning of your wedding service.
Talk to him about whether to have your wedding service with or without a Nuptial Mass.

Part of your Marriage Preparation is designed to give you a greater understanding of the wedding service.

Together with your priest you will make your final decisions about readings, the form of your service and who will do what.

He will also advise you about the practical arrangements such as flowers, musicians, whether you can video or photograph your service, where might be best to take photgraphs, whether confetti is allowed, and any other details which apply in that church.