What is Marriage?
Marriage – or “Holy Matrimony” – is a union between a man and a woman in which they give themselves to each other for the whole of their lives, each promising to support and build up the other. This loving partnership, blessed by Christ, is marked by lifelong unity and fidelity.
Marriage is particularly blessed when, through God’s grace, love produces the fruit of new life through the gift of children. The marriage covenant is ordered towards bringing children into the world and forming them as members of the human and Christian family.
Who can get married?
A man and a woman who are free from any impediments and able to consent to all that the marriage covenant entails may contract marriage.
Catholics are required to get married in the Catholic Church, although in certain cases the Bishop can dispense from that requirement. Catholics also require permission from the Parish Priest to marry a non-Catholic Christian; or a dispensation from the Bishop to marry an unbaptised person.
Christ teaches that marriage is life-long and indissoluble: therefore it is not usually possible for those who are divorced to marry again while their spouse is alive. However, if there was something wrong with the first marriage from the beginning, it might be possible for a Church tribunal to declare that marriage to be null. If you think that might apply to you, do ask the Parish Priest.
Can I get married at St Cuthbert’s?
If at least one of you is Catholic, and at least one of you is resident in St Cuthbert’s Parish (i.e. in the Bailey, Claypath or Elvet areas of Durham City, or in Shincliffe), then this is a normal place to celebrate your marriage.
If neither of you is resident in the parish, but one of you has some other connection with St Cuthbert’s (e.g. as a regular worshipper or former parishioner) or with Durham University then it is usually possible to marry here, with the permission of your own Parish Priest.
Unfortunately, if you do not have a personal connection with St Cuthbert’s then it is not possible to marry here: usually the appropriate place would be the parish church of either the bride or the groom.
If you’re not sure where is the right place to celebrate your marriage, do get in touch with us to discuss it.
What is the process?
There’s quite a lot of preparation which has to go into the celebration of a marriage, and so we ask you to let us know at least six months before you hope to get married.
After making contact we’d make arrangements for you to meet the Parish Priest and discuss your marriage. He’ll need to take some details down and this is an opportunity for the two of you and the Priest to get to know each other better. It’s usually possible to set a provisional date for the marriage at this stage. When you meet him, the Priest will also explain the paperwork that will need to be in place before the marriage can go ahead.
It will be necessary to attend a marriage preparation course; these are arranged at St Cuthbert’s from time to time, usually on a Saturday. These courses are led by married couples and are great opportunities to meet other couples preparing for marriage and to think about the responsibilities you’re taking on. If it’s not possible for you to attend a course here, we can help you find an alternative course at another Catholic church.
Nearer the time of the marriage, we’ll discuss some more of the details of the liturgy (hymns, readings, etc.) and arrange a rehearsal in the days leading up to the celebration.
How much does it cost?
There is no fixed charge for marriage, and lack of funds is never a barrier to celebrating your marriage in the Catholic Church.
Nevertheless, there are considerable expenses involved with running the church building and the time of clergy and staff making the preparations for the marriage celebration. We therefore encourage those marrying here to make an appropriate contribution in accordance with their means.
Costs for organist, florist, etc. need to be discussed with those providing these services.
What about the wedding itself?
Marriage between two Catholics normally happens during a Mass, known as a “Nuptial Mass”. Marriages between a Catholic and a non-Catholic normally happen without the celebration of Mass. Whichever form is used, the chief elements of the marriage rite are the same:
- The Priest welcomes the couple who have come together to pledge themselves to each other.
- We listen to the word of God in the scriptures and the Priest explains the responsibilities of Christian marriage.
- The bride and groom declare their freedom for marriage and their intentions.
- Joining hands, the bride and groom take each other as husband and wife.
- The Priest receives the consent of the couple in the name of the Church – they are now married!
- Rings are blessed and exchanged.
- Prayers are said for the newly-married couple and the needs of the Church and the world.
- Towards the end of the celebration, the Priest imparts the Nuptial Blessing on the bride and groom.
Fill in the “Marriage Enquiry Form” below; we’ll then get back to you about starting to make arrangements.
If you have any queries about the form, or anything you’ve read on this page, or anything else about Marriage at St Cuthbert’s, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.