Guidelines for Couples Wishing to be Married in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
The universal Church has established a number of requirements for the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has established certain additional policies to assure the sacredness of the Sacrament and to facilitate marriage preparation. In summary:
1. INITIAL CONTACT
Engaged couples wishing to be married in the Catholic Church must contact their parish priest or deacon at least six months prior to the anticipated wedding date. It is recommended that you make contact at the very beginning of your engagement.
2. ASSESSMENT PROCESS:
Every couple participates in an assessment process with the priest/deacon. This process is designed to help you and the Church assess your readiness for marriage. Discussion points include: your faith experience, your relationship as a couple and your views on Christian marriage. A decision to proceed with, or delay, the wedding is made by the priest and the couple following the assessment process. The wedding date is finalized only at this time, after the decision to proceed has been made.
3. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
Please share with the priest/deacon any of the following special circumstances:
- if either of you are teenagers.
- if one of you is of another faith or no particular faith.
- if there is a pregnancy involved
- if you are presently cohabiting (living together)
- if either of you have been married before in any type of ceremony or common law union
- or if you are now civilly married and wish to have your marriage convalidated in the Catholic Church.
Some circumstances require special steps to assist a couple in preparing for marriage in the Church. If any of these special circumstances exist, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot be married in the Church. It does mean that an honest discussion of these circumstances is called for.
4. PLACE OF THE WEDDING:
- The wedding of two Catholics takes place in the parish church of either the bride or groom.
- To be married in another parish, it is proper that permission be received from the parish in which you wish to be married, as well as either of the parishes where you reside.
- The wedding in which only one of you is Catholic, an interreligious marriage, takes place in the parish of the Catholic party. The Archbishop may permit you to celebrate your wedding in the place of worship of the non-Catholic party when a pastoral reason exists.
- Weddings in hotels, private homes, out-doors, or in wedding chapels are not permitted in this Archdiocese.
5. REQUIRED DOCUMENTS:
The priest/deacon who is preparing you for marriage will assist you in obtaining these documents. The documents are as follows:
- Baptismal Certificate (The Catholic Certificate is to be acquired within the last six months).
- Two Letters of Freedom for each of you (Forms which are available through your priest).
- The Pre-Nuptial Inquiry questions regarding your freedom to marry and your views on Christian marriage.
- State of California Marriage License (Unless this license is present, no wedding can occur).
- Confirmation Certificate(s)
- Record of Permission for Mixed-Marriage (For a Catholic to marry a person baptized in another Christian Faith).
- Petition for Dispensation for Disparity of Worship (For a Catholic to marry a non-baptized person).
6. REQUIRED MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAMS:
You will be required to attend one of the Archdiocesan approved marriage preparation programs. Participation is to be completed no later than three months before the wedding date. The priest/deacon who is preparing you for marriage will provide you with information regarding the program he wishes you to attend.
7. CELEBRANT OF CEREMONY BY VISITING PRIEST/DEACON:
If a priest or deacon other than one assigned to the parish where the wedding is held is to witness the exchange of vows, he must receive specific delegation from a priest of that parish in order to officiate at the ceremony. To make these arrangements you must let the parish know immediately. If the priest is from out of town, or is not able to handle your preparation, it remains the responsibility of the local parish priest.
8. CELEBRATING OF THE SACRAMENTS:
Catholic engaged persons are encouraged to celebrate the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist as part of their preparation process. This sacramental celebration will prepare you for a more meaningful experience of your wedding liturgy and deepen your relationship with Jesus, the foundation of your married life together.
9. PLANNING THE WEDDING LITURGY:
It is your responsibility to take seriously the planning of the wedding liturgy. The care and effort you put into this, especially in choosing readings and music and the ways you involve your family and friends, will speak volumes about who you are as a couple and how much your faith means to you.
10. ADDITIONAL PARISH REQUIREMENTS:
In addition to the above requirements, the priest/deacon and/or wedding coordinator will inform you of any additional requirements that are particular to your parish.