Getting Married at St. Charles
Congratulations on your engagement!
Should you wish to explore the possibility of getting married at St. Charles, Fr James is our Parish Priest. Please have a word with him in person at the end of Mass or make an appointment to see him via the Parish Office. It is important to remember that initial bookings cannot be taken over the ‘phone or by email.
In order to celebrate the sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church, at least one of you must be a Roman Catholic; you must both be free to marry. At the initial meeting with the Parish Priest, and if it is possible for you to marry in the Catholic Church, then a date for your marriage will be confirmed. Please note, we do not have weddings at St. Charles on Sundays.
Normally, you should start making enquiries no less than six months before the proposed wedding date. Please remember that is very important to approach the church first before arranging your wedding reception venue.
Things to bring along to your first meeting with our Parish Priest:
A marriage can only be registered if the couple have both given notice of intent to marry, and have done so at a register office and the Superintendent Registrar has issued two certificates. These certificates are blue in colour.
Both parties to the marriage need to give notice at either the same or different register offices, depending upon where they live. Both parties to the marriage must give notice on the same day. They must complete seven full days’ residence in that district before they can give notice and they may only give notice up to 12 months ahead of the marriage. After 28 clear days from when the notice has been entered, the Superintendent Registrar may produce the certificates.
Both of these blue certificates must be forwarded to Fr James as soon as possible after they have been produced.
Your wedding day should be the result of much prayer and reflection. To assist you in this, the Parish organises Marriage Preparation, which is mandatory to attend. There is a modest fee for this, which you are expected to cover.
The Parish organist is happy to meet with you to discuss the music for your wedding. Contact can be made with him via the Parish Office. This must be done at the earliest possible opportunity.
During certain times of the year the church is decorated with flowers to enhance the Liturgy and highlight the liturgical season. However, during Lent and Advent there are no flowers in church.
Should you wish to have flowers for your wedding, whatever the time of year, you are welcome to engage your own florist or bring your own flowers into church. Arrangements for the placing of these flowers should be made via the Parish Office. It is traditional that at least some of the flowers are left in church after the wedding, with the exception of during the seasons of Lent or Advent.
Order of Service
You may choose to have a wedding service, or (if both spouses are Roman Catholic) a Nuptial Mass. There is a choice of readings, prayers and music; our Parish Priest will help you to put this together.
All orders of service must be pre-approved prior to printing.
Readings at your Wedding
The readings at a Catholic wedding liturgy are a proclamation of God’s Word and of the Church’s faith about marriage. For this reason, they are limited to readings from the scriptures (the Bible). There are nine options for the first reading from the Old Testament, thirteen options for the second reading from the New Testament and ten choices for the Gospel. You choose one from each of these categories.
The options for these readings in their entirety, as well as commentary to provide some context and highlight key themes in each reading, may be downloaded here.
A rehearsal is organised for an evening during the week preceding the wedding itself.
Other points to note:
Convalidation of marriage
The Catholic Church believes that marriages entered into by non-Catholics in their particular church, or wherever they may take place, are valid. In the eyes of the Church, even two atheists or agnostics who are married civilly before a judge or magistrate enter into a valid marriage.
Convalidation Requirements: Catholics, however, are bound to observe a certain form of marriage ritual in order that their marriage be valid. Canon law—the law of the Church—requires that Catholics enter into marriage by free mutual consent that is witnessed in a church by an authorized bishop, priest, or deacon and at least two other witnesses. Marriages in which one or both parties are Catholic and which are not witnessed by an authorized bishop, priest, or deacon, or which do not receive proper permission to take place in another forum, are considered invalid in the eyes of the Church.
It may be that the Catholic who entered into marriage outside the Church did not realize that these requirements existed, but more often, it is because one or both of the spouses was not free to marry in the Catholic Church because of a previous marriage or because they were awaiting an annulment. Also, the Catholic partner(s) may not have been active in the Church and did not consider having a Catholic wedding.
The Church very much wants to assist these couples who later want to enter into valid Catholic marriage, and it offers them pastoral and spiritual support as they need it. When these couples are ready and free to do so, they celebrate what is called a convalidation, from the Latin word meaning “to firm up” or “to strengthen.” This is sometimes referred to as the blessing of a marriage.
It is important to realize that a convalidation is not merely a renewal of vows made previously but is a new act of consent by each spouse. This new act of consent is essential to marriage, and the words that the couple expresses are the outward sign of the gift of self that they exchange. This convalidation of marriage may be celebrated within Mass or outside of Mass, again depending on the particular situation of the couple. If both are Catholic, it is fitting that the convalidation be celebrated within Mass. If one spouse is not, it is preferable that it be celebrated outside of Mass.
Customarily, since the couple’s married life is a known and public fact and may have been so for many years, a simple celebration with an invitation to close family and friends may seem more appropriate than a large celebration. Where appropriate, the priest or deacon who will witness the vows can help you use the Together for Life booklet to prepare the celebration.
If you are interested in having a marriage convalidation please speak to Fr. James at the end of Mass.