So You want to Get Married?

Catholic Marriage

If you are looking at this site because you want to get married, then we will do everything we can to help you on that journey. To begin with we’ll outline a few starting points which may answer some of your questions.

What is Catholic Marriage?

The Church defines Christian Marriage in this way: Marriage is a covenant (holy agreement), “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life”. Marriage the church goes on to say, “is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses (the couple) and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” A sacrament is an act in which God promises to involve himself, in this sacrament God promises to be involved in the loving bond established by the couple. As God’s promises are sure so the bond in such a marriage is secure – “What God has joined together let no one pull apart”. Thus ‘the whole of life’ is taken seriously but not just in terms of length of days but as a whole life shared with the other, marriage is a whole hearted affair.

The Catholic Church takes marriage seriously.  We believe it is fundamental to the happiness of the persons involved, an essential ingredient for maintaining a loving stable relationship from within which to bring up children and as such a basic building block on which human society is built.

Couples often focus only on the wedding day itself. We try to help them focus on what happens afterwards.

Those who wish to be married in the Catholic Church need to meet a number of criteria which include:

 That at least one person is a baptised and confirmed Catholic.

 That both partners are free to marry. (For Discussion)

 That both partners are marrying freely after due thought and consideration.

 That they intend, as far as they are able, to enter into marriage as a life-long vocation.

 That both partners wish for their marriage to be open to the possibility of children.


To establish these criteria and to offer proper preparation the Church requires a minimum of 6 months notice.


Booking in Advance

Recognising that couples often need to book their reception venues well in advance provisional booking of your Church Wedding should be made at the same time.  We advise that this is done simultaneously because the day for the hotel may not suit the church or vice versa.


A booking for marriage only becomes formal after the paperwork and marriage preparation has been completed.


Civil Requirements

At present a Catholic priest acts as a state witness for marriage and so civil documentation needs also to be completed in preparation for a Catholic marriage.  These documents will be signed during the ceremony.  Catholic marriages may take place after a civil ceremony has been completed elsewhere such a ceremony is often referred to as a Church Blessing but is better referred to as Convalidation – where the Church validates the marriage as Christian Matrimony. Please note that it is illegal to be married in a religious ceremony without the civil requirements being complete.


If you live outside of Musselburgh

Couples who live outside of the parish in which they wish to marry need to undertake all marriage preparation in the parish where they reside.  Formal permission for the wedding will be granted only after this has taken place.  Please note a priest may not conduct a wedding without formal permission being granted.


It has to be in Church

Also please note that the Catholic Church in Scotland does not allow the Sacrament of Marriage to take place outside of a building currently set aside and presently in use for Catholic worship.


A Catholic, with permission of the bishop, may marry in a non-Catholic church by the ministers of that church and using the marriage rites common to that denomination.  However, they must undertake Catholic marriage preparation and meet the criteria for Catholic marriage before that permission will be granted.


Your Wedding Service

While a Catholic marriage service can only take place within a church never-the-less it can range from the simplicity and intimacy of the couple and just two witnesses to the full panoply normally associated with Church weddings. So please do not be put off because you want something simple, church weddings need not be costly, complex events.


Nuptial Mass or a Wedding Service.

If you are marrying another Catholic or another baptised Christian, it’s really up to you. All we would ask is that you think about things.

  • Do you normally come to mass?
  • If your partner is not a Catholic how do they feel? In other words, if marriage is about unity and if your partner can’t fully participate is it the right sign to give?
  • What about your guests, how many of them will feel comfortable?

Anyway you know what we’re trying to say, we want to emphasise inclusivity rather than underline difference.


So perhaps if your marrying a non-Catholic Christian you should choose a marriage service rather than mass.


Marrying someone who is of another religious faith or no faith at all.

Contrary to popular belief it is perfectly possible to marry a non-Christian in the Catholic Church. There is even a specific service for this, so should your partner be of any other faith or none at all get in touch and let’s talk things through.


If you would like to discuss your plans to marry, please contact Fr Basil Clark.


Marriage preparation seminar

All couples resident in the Parish of Our Lady of Loretto Musselburgh and wishing to be married as Catholics either in the parish or elsewhere must complete a marriage preparation course


For weddings in 2016.

Saturday 13th February 2016. 11.00am to 4.00pm


Tea and Coffee will be provided but please bring a packed lunch. Registration for this will take place in December 2015.