Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church
We welcome those who would like to be married in our church. The first thing to do is to contact the Parish Priest, a good 6 months before the hoped for date. This is because the necessary paperwork can sometimes take a long time to sort out and we would hate you to be disappointed in your plans. For instance, if only one of you is a baptised Catholic, we would need to obtain a dispensation from the bishop to allow the marriage in the church. (It is very rare for this to be refused!)
You will also need to be able to answer publicly and sincerely ‘I will’ to each of the following three questions:
N.and N. Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?
Will you love and honour each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?
Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
The parish will prepare all the necessary church marriage forms (even if you are being married abroad). But you will each need to provide a baptism certificate issued within 6 months of the wedding celebration unless, of course, you are not a baptised Christian. Catholics should also provide a confirmation certificate.
We will also need a testimony of freedom to marry. This is a letter from both sets of parents or another individual who has known the intended bride or groom since childhood stating that the party has never been married before.
The priest will help you fill out a Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form and an application for a dispensation where this is required. If you are under 18 years old, you will need a letter of permission to marry from one of your parents.
In this parish, we recommend that couples attend a pre-marriage course. This is provided by Marriage Care: www.marriagecare.org.uk; telephone: 08003893801 or Engaged Encounter: www.wwme.org.uk; telephone: 01538 385801. On completion of the course, you will be given a certificate to be given to the Parish Priest.
Before you can be married in a church, you need to obtain a Registrar’s Certificate from the local Registrar of Marriages. Our Registrar is at the Old Council House, Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1JG: Telephone 0117 9222800; go to him/her to give notice of your forthcoming marriage. For this you should if possible each take your birth certificate, evidence of your identity and nationality, and proof of your current address.
A word of advice: it is as well to have all the required documents in order before booking dates for any hotel reception, airline tickets, etc just in case there is a problem. If you want to discuss any of these matters informally, do contact us. We are here to help.