At the current time there are strict HM Government COVID-19 restrictions still in place, with guidance issued by the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales for the Celebration of Marriages
“Marriage is a daily job. We could even say it’s like craftmanship. In a way it’s like being a goldsmith, because a husband makes his wife more of a woman, and she in turn should make her husband a better man. Growing together in their humanity, as man and woman”
Whether you are hoping to marry here in the Catholic Parish of Bishop’s Stortford or in another church, we would like to offer you our best wishes for this time of preparation and much happiness in the years ahead.
No doubt you are already finding that there are a number of detailed arrangements to be made for your wedding day. We hope that the information given here will indicate clearly all the essential preparations for your marriage and the wedding service itself.There will be a great deal of paperwork that has to be completed before permission is granted for you to marry ( some of which is time critical) so please contact us as soon as possible so that we may advise and assist you with planning your happy day.
If anything seems confusing or there are any other matters not mentioned here that you would like to discuss, then we will be happy to help you!
Who can marry in the Catholic Church?
- Catholics who have not been married before or in a civil partnership and who are free to marry.
- Catholics marrying Christians of another denomination or someone who belongs to a non-Christian faith or religion.
- Catholics whose partner does not belong to any particular faith or group
The Marriage Preparation Course
- You have chosen to marry in the Catholic Church, in a Catholic ceremony. There are also any number of other arrangements that you will be making, whether for your wedding reception or in buying and preparing your home.
- The time of your engagement is also the time of preparation for the married life which will follow your wedding day, and it is very important that we also invite you to consider your own expectations and values. Your marriage will be uniquely your own, and no-one can teach you about how to be married. It is important, however, that the right sort of questions are being considered now, which will help you to meet the demands and the challenge of a life-long relationship.
- We are not currently running a Marriage Preparation course in the Parish.
- Various courses are however available around the Diocese. To gain the maximum benefit from this course you should register for one as soon as possible after arranging the date of your marriage. The Archbishop requires that all couples attend a course, and such a course is a requirement for all couples wishing to marry in the Catholic Church.
- Marriage Preparation Courses are advertised regularly by the Diocese. Please see www.rcdow.org.uk /Marriage and Family life/ Marriage Prep courses for all details.
- Should you still have questions about your marriage and would value some assistance in answering them but would prefer not to talk to a priest, you can contact Marriage Care, the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council 0845 660 6000.
- When you have completed a course, please make sure you give us the Certificate that you will receive as it will form part of your ‘ Church’ paperwork.
Marriage and the Civil Law
(This may appear complicated. Please ask if in doubt.)
The marriage ceremony of the Church must include the civil marriage declarations for this country. The Civil and Church authorities have carefully agreed the words of the Marriage Rite and they may not be varied. Any differences in the Civil and Church laws are the result of the Church placing great emphasis on the sacrament of the marriage.
Freedom to Marry
The CIVIL LAW lays down a minimum age of 16 years in order to marry. Parental consent (or, if the parents are divorced, the consent of the parent who has custody) is needed between the ages of 16 and 18 years.
No marriage can take place without two Certificate For Marriage forms, one for each person. These must be applied for in person, collected by you after 15 days and given to your priest before the wedding can take place ( More commonly known as ‘ Blue forms’)
- Seven days residence within the registration district is necessary prior to giving notice of marriage to the Registrar.
- If the couple live in two different registration districts, notice must be given to the Registrar of each district.
- The Registrar will issue the certificate after 28 clear days, cost about £30.
N.B. You are advised to take copies of your birth certificates when giving notice of your intention to marry. If you are under 23, your birth certificate must be produced. Most offices operate an
appointment system so you are advised to telephone beforehand.
If you live in BISHOP’S STORTFORD:
Bishop’s Stortford Registration, Riverside House, 2 Hockerill Street, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 2DL (telephone: 0300 123 4045).
(email: email@example.com ).
If you live in Essex, whether you have a CM23 postcode or not, you need to go to the appropriate Registrar’s Office – check on line.
OBTAINING THESE CERTIFICATES IS ENTIRELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY – without the Certificates you can not legally marry !!
Marriage and the Church Law
CIVIL LAW directs that marriage must take place before an authorised person, in the presence of two witnesses, and in a registered building. CHURCH LAW follows this legislation. The Church at which you are marrying may employ or supply an authorised person (often the priest himself) and most Catholic churches are registered for weddings. Please check with the priest or deacon who is marrying you.
In addition, Church Law requires that a Catholic marry before a Catholic priest or deacon. This usually means that the marriage takes place in the parish of the bride or, if she is not a Catholic, in the parish of the bridegroom.
Marriage in a Catholic Church that is neither the parish of the bride nor the groom requires the permission of the Parish Priests involved.
If you wish to marry at St Josephs, Holy Cross or Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, you must have a current family link with the respective Church.At the current time regrettably if you do not live in the Parish , permission will not be considered.
No Marriages are celebrated on a Sunday, during Lent or Advent anywhere in the Parish
Your wedding will be recorded in the marriage register of the parish in which you are married and also in the register of the parish in which you were baptised.
In very particular circumstances and where there might otherwise be great difficulties, the Bishops in England and Wales are willing to dispense a Catholic from the obligation of marrying before a Catholic priest or deacon and will consider giving permission for a marriage in another Christian Church.
Impediments and Dispensations
- There must be no impediment to the marriage: for example, no previous marriage (civil or religious), or close family or blood relationship. If in doubt, please discuss this with us at an early stage.
If one of the partners is baptised, but not a Catholic, you need to acquire Permission for a Mixed Marriage before the wedding can take place. If one of the partners is not a Christian (e.g. Muslim, Sikh, Hindu), you will need a Dispensation for Disparity of Cult. We will help you with these documents.
- Catholics who marry someone who is not a Catholic are asked to sign a promise to continue living their own faith and to do all in their power to have children of the marriage baptised and brought up in the Catholic Faith.
If you wish to marry a non-British subject and want advice about this, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or write to UK Immigrants’ Advisory Service, Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, Strand, LONDON WC2E 7LR.
If you wish to marry someone belonging to a non-Christian religion from another country, and you have any difficulties, please write (enclosing S.A.E.) to: Foreign Marriage Service, International Social Service of Great Britain, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, LONDON SW9 6DD or 020.7735 8941.
Marriage documents required by the Church for a Catholic wedding
A: When both parties are Catholics
- A new copy of the Baptismal Certificate for each person, issued within six months of the date of the wedding, not before.
- A Confirmation Certificate for the Catholic parties – this is an absolute requirement for marriages in some countries such as Poland, Malta, Ireland or Italy.
- A Statutory Declaration of Freedom, for each party, to be sworn before a solicitor, and stamped and witnessed by that solicitor, (Commissioner for Oaths), testifying to your freedom to marry. This declaration must be dated within 6 months of the date of the wedding, not before.
B: When one party is not Catholic
When the non-Catholic has been baptised, a copy of the baptismal certificate, or a letter from the parent stating that you have been baptised. There is no six-month rule here.
Statutory Declaration of Freedom (see 3 above).
Whatever your religion, if one or both of you is/are under eighteen you MUST obtain a letter from your parents giving you permission to marry. The person you are to marry MUST be mentioned by name.
The papers for marriages have to be sent to the Diocesan Chancery for processing and granting of permissions. The Chancery asks for a £100.00 donation for this. Cheques should be made payable to “W.R.C.D.T. Bishop’s Stortford”
If you are marrying abroad, you will still need to supply us with the following information:
- Full name and postal address of the Church where you are to be married.
- Full name and postal address of the Parish Priest of that church.
- Full name and postal address of the Priest who is marrying you if it is not a priest of that parish.
- Name of the Roman Catholic Diocese where the church is.
Some French parishes will only provide up to date baptismal evidence at the request of a parish priest and then only on the French form. Please advise us if this is so in your case.
To be married in France you also have to produce a copy of your Birth Certificate.
It is also a requirement in France for couples to produce a Declaration of Intention, in French. The couple should speak to their French priest to confirm the wording of the Declaration of
Intention, which should then be sent to us, or we can obtain a sample of it for you from our Diocesan Chancery
A copy of your birth certificate and your passport is also required if you are to be married in Spain.
Copies of birth certificates
Frequently Asked Questions
Who do I need to speak to in order to book the Church and start my Church paperwork?
Please contact Debbie the Parish Administrator on 01279 654063 to arrange an appointment or discuss over the phone ( Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm) alternatively drop her an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not live in the Parish but want to get married at your Church
Marriage in a Catholic Church that is neither the parish of the bride nor the groom requires the permission of both of the Parish Priests involved.
If you wish to marry at St Josephs, Holy Cross or Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, you must have a current family link with the respective Church or actually live in the Parish. Regrettably if you do not live in the Parish permission will not be considered. The decision of the Parish Priest is final on this matter.
I am not getting married at one of the Parish Churches but I do live in the Parish, do I still need to see you to arrange my paperwork?
Yes, if you live in the Parish we still need to see you. The Priest will have to give you written consent to marry outside of your Parish and we will also still be responsible for preparing any Church paperwork for you. We will then send this to the Chancery Office in Westminster on your behalf with your admin fee.If permission is granted this will be sent on to the Priest who is marrying you.
How long does it take to arrange the paperwork?
The earliest you can complete the Church paperwork is 6 months before the date of your wedding ( as baptism certificates and Statutory declaration of freedom certificates can not be dated any earlier). It is less stressful for all concerned to have all of the paperwork completed and sent to the Chancery as soon as possible after this date as permission has to be granted and sent onwards to the Priest marrying you. Without the permission from the Chancery the Priest is not permitted to marry you. At peak times the Chancery Office is very busy. They also sometimes close for a holiday so please do not delay!
How much does it cost to get married at the Catholic Parish of Bishop’s Stortford?
Please contact the Parish Administrator for confirmation of prices for 2020/21
What about my Order of service?
Please do not go to the expense of having these printed without having consulted the Priest first to ensure that He is happy with your Order of service. Please send through a draft copy for approval.
What about Music?
Contact details for organists and the Choir can be provided upon request. Any fees will be a private arrangement between yourselves and the musician. Any Music/ hymns chosen should be discussed with the Priest to ensure that it appropriate.
Car Parking at the Churches?
There is no private car parking facility available for each Church. Public car parks where possible should be used. Please park considerately in order to avoid any inconvenience to any residents or other road users.
Please advise us as to who your florist will be so that we arrange access to the Church for you.It is customary for the Bride to leave a floral tribute in the Church behind the Altar. If you are not intending to do this please let the office know so that the Church is not left bare.
Holy Cross is the only Church that has bells and any request to ring will be subject of a private arrangement with the bell ringers directly. For St Joseph’s Church, there is the option of having the bells from St Michaels rung but this would need to be arranged with the St Michaels Church directly on 01279 654416
Can I use the Old Monastery Gardens to have my photographs taken?
At the back of St Joseph’s Church are the Old Monastery gardens which belong to Bishop’s Stortford Town Council. If you require the use of these for photographs etc. please contact Bishop’s Stortford Town Council directly on 01279 652274 to book
This usually takes place with the Priest at a pre arranged time/ date during the week in the lead up to your wedding
We have a family friend who is a Priest and would like to ‘ marry us’ – is this possible?
Yes, but only with the permission of the Diocese of Westminster and also the Parish Priest. The Bishop or Religious Superior of the ‘ Visiting’ Priest will have to complete a ‘ Testimonial of Suitability’ which is to be sent directly to Archbishop’s House in the Diocese of Westminster.
Do I need to organise the Registrar on the wedding day?
No, this is something that we will organise for you. Your details will be checked against those that you initially gave to the Registrar at the Register Office when applying for your’ blue forms’ as sometimes you may be a year older, have moved address, changed your occupation etc. You will need to ensure that the Church Appointed Registrar is paid on the day of the wedding – a job for your Best man!
Traditional for the Bride to be late?
No … ! Please make sure that you are on time for your marriage service as there will be several other people involved who may have time restrictions and often another wedding to attend afterwards especially the Registrar, Organist, Choir or Musicians. If you are late , they may not stay!!
Roles of Ushers and Best Man ?
Please ask your Ushers and Best Man to be responsible for removing any orders of service, pew ends, used tissues (!), cardboard boxes, drinks cartons (!!) which are brought into the Church and then just left on the benches and tidy any other items from the Church after your marriage service. Often this is over looked when everyone leaves the Church and the Priest is left with a mess to tidy up afterwards. It is suggested that the Best man is also responsible for paying the Registrar on the day and looking after your marriage certificate which will be given to you after you have signed the register.
The following checklist might be helpful to you in arranging the ceremony.The date and time of the wedding:
- booked, (remember is there is a previous marriage to be investigated, then
- the date can only be provisional ‘till the Diocesan Chancery has cleared
- priest invited to conduct service:
The documents required:
- – Baptismal certificates
– Statutory declarations
– Confirmation certificates
– Documents complete ? (If abroad have you got the extra docs required?)
- – Registrar(s) notified (up to 12 months ahead)
– Civil certificate arranged
– Delivered to priest
- – Readings chosen
– Readers invited
– Bidding prayers selected
– Priest informed of texts
- – Music selected
– Selection confirmed
– Hymn books required?
- – Order of Service complete and proof-read by priest
– Order of Service printed
– Witnesses for signing of Register chosen (2)
- – Flowers chosen (optional) – make an appointment for the Church to be free with the Parish office allowing entry to florists
– Video recording booked and organist informed (optional)
- – Wedding practice arranged.
– Church Fees paid 2 weeks in advance
– Registrar fee on the day of the wedding