Getting Married

bride and groom joining hands in front of priest in white robes

If you are visiting this page because you are newly engaged, congratulations! We wish you a long and happy married life together.

The first pages of the Bible tell of the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God. The first followers of Jesus spoke of heaven as the “wedding-feast of the Lamb” and of marriage as a “mystery” reflecting God’s love for human beings. When a man and a woman commit themselves to each other before God, Jesus said this forges an unbreakable union of their two lives, recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

The steps to getting married in the Catholic Church are quite detailed and can vary due to individual circumstances. Church rules (canon law) require that the paperwork be started and authorised by the Parish Priest who covers the place where the couple (or one Catholic partner in a couple) actually lives.

If you live in southern Rhondda Cynon Taf (as far as the north end of the Rhondda Valleys, or as far north as Cilfynydd or Ynysybwl), then it is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Valleys who must start your wedding application, even if you wish to get married elsewhere.

If you live outside southern Rhondda Cynon Taf but you wish to get married in one of our churches, you must visit your local Catholic priest to begin the wedding application. By all means contact us to check whether there is a church and a minister available on the date you want, but the initial preparation will be done with your local priest. Once the wedding is authorised, the minister actually celebrating the wedding will work with you to prepare the Order of Service.

If you’re a Catholic but you wish to get married other than in a Catholic ceremony, be aware that the Catholic Church will not recognise you as married unless special permission is given for this. The permission (technically called ‘dispensation from canonical form’) may be given if your partner is an active member of another worshipping tradition and the ceremony will take place according to their rites.

The Archdiocese of Cardiff’s Marriage and Family Life Office will lead you online to a variety of resources for supporting marriage.

Most of the weddings we perform are between a Catholic and someone who isn’t. There is a little more church paperwork involved in authorising a wedding to someone who’s not Catholic, but there’s no bar to them marrying a Catholic in a Catholic Church as long as they are comfortable with that. As with all Catholic weddings, both spouses must establish that they are free to marry according to the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage; your parish priest will guide you through this.

Before such a marriage, the Catholic partner is asked to promise, insofar as they can do so ‘in the unity of their partnership’ to raise any children born to them as Catholics. The non-Catholic partner is not asked to make any special promise in this regard.

When two Catholics marry, they are encouraged to have a Nuptial Mass, so they can immediately receive Holy Communion as a couple. Since non-Catholics cannot usually receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, the wedding of a Catholic and a non-Catholic is usually celebrated as a ceremony of readings and prayers without Mass. There are exceptional circumstances whereby a devout Christian communicant might be able to apply for permission to receive communion at a Catholic wedding, but the Parish Priest will need permission from the Bishop.

In Catholic Canon Law, you are free to marry if there are no legal obstacles. What are the possible obstacles? The common ones are below.

Age – the Catholic Church respects civil law, so in Wales you must be at least 18 years old to be legally marry.

Sex at birth – the Catholic Church can only marry a biological man to a biological woman.

Existing relationship – you cannot marry your own parent or child, sibling, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew. Marrying a first cousin requires special permission.

Prior bond – you are not free to marry if you are already married to a person who is still living. The Catholic Church does not recognise civil divorce.

There are some circumstances where the Catholic Church can set aside a prior bond. These include:

  • A baptised Catholic who got civilly married without the Church’s blessing;
  • A previous marriage to someone who was themself already married;
  • A previous marriage to an unbaptised person where you now want to be married to a baptised person (permitted by St Paul, known as the Pauline Privilege);
  • A full investigation which shows something was lacking (e.g. sanity, honesty, intent to keep marriage vows) at the time the prior marriage was celebrated.

None of these situations is straightforward; you should always expect to have a conversation with the Parish Priest about whether a Catholic marriage is possible as the first step.

In general, yes. As long as you and the person you civilly married were free to marry (see answer above) according to Catholic understanding at the time you got married, you can have this recognised and blessed by the Catholic Church.

The usual procedure is to apply ‘to get married’ as detailed above – the only difference is that there is no need for a Registrar to attend. The ceremony will be just like a regular wedding but without a few declarations which would have been made for legal reasons. Some couples make this a big white wedding; others make it an intimate family affair with a handful of witnesses.

In some cases it happens that a Catholic returns to faith and wants their marriage to ‘count’ but their spouse is unwilling to go through with a church ceremony of making vows again. In this scenario there is an alternative process called radical sanation; if this applies in your case please speak to the Parish Priest.

The Catholic Church does not charge for its sacraments, but it is customary to make an offering to the minister conducting the wedding, and a donation towards maintenance costs of the church.

There will be a charge associated with the required Marriage Preparation course, and also a legal fee for the civil registration of any wedding.

If an organist or other musician attends, they will also charge a fee. Separate fees and booking arrangements apply if you wish to hire a Parish Hall for a reception afterwards.

Most of the weddings we perform are between a Catholic and someone who isn’t. There is a little more church paperwork involved in authorising a wedding to someone who’s not Catholic, but there’s no bar to them marrying a Catholic in a Catholic Church as long as they are comfortable with that. As with all Catholic weddings, both spouses must establish that they are free to marry according to the Catholic Church’s understanding of marriage; your parish priest will guide you through this.

Before such a marriage, the Catholic partner is asked to promise, insofar as they can do so ‘in the unity of their partnership’ to raise any children born to them as Catholics. The non-Catholic partner is not asked to make any special promise in this regard.

When two Catholics marry, they are encouraged to have a Nuptial Mass, so they can immediately receive Holy Communion as a couple. Since non-Catholics cannot usually receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, the wedding of a Catholic and a non-Catholic is usually celebrated as a ceremony of readings and prayers without Mass. There are exceptional circumstances whereby a devout Christian communicant might be able to apply for permission to receive communion at a Catholic wedding, but the Parish Priest will need permission from the Bishop.

In Catholic Canon Law, you are free to marry if there are no legal obstacles. What are the possible obstacles? The common ones are below.

Age – the Catholic Church respects civil law, so in Wales you must be at least 18 years old to be legally marry.

Sex at birth – the Catholic Church can only marry a biological man to a biological woman.

Existing relationship – you cannot marry your own parent or child, sibling, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew. Marrying a first cousin requires special permission.

Prior bond – you are not free to marry if you are already married to a person who is still living. The Catholic Church does not recognise civil divorce.

There are some circumstances where the Catholic Church can set aside a prior bond. These include:

  • A baptised Catholic who got civilly married without the Church’s blessing;
  • A previous marriage to someone who was themself already married;
  • A previous marriage to an unbaptised person where you now want to be married to a baptised person (permitted by St Paul, known as the Pauline Privilege);
  • A full investigation which shows something was lacking (e.g. sanity, honesty, intent to keep marriage vows) at the time the prior marriage was celebrated.

None of these situations is straightforward; you should always expect to have a conversation with the Parish Priest about whether a Catholic marriage is possible as the first step.

In general, yes. As long as you and the person you civilly married were free to marry (see answer above) according to Catholic understanding at the time you got married, you can have this recognised and blessed by the Catholic Church.

The usual procedure is to apply ‘to get married’ as detailed above – the only difference is that there is no need for a Registrar to attend. The ceremony will be just like a regular wedding but without a few declarations which would have been made for legal reasons. Some couples make this a big white wedding; others make it an intimate family affair with a handful of witnesses.

In some cases it happens that a Catholic returns to faith and wants their marriage to ‘count’ but their spouse is unwilling to go through with a church ceremony of making vows again. In this scenario there is an alternative process called radical sanation; if this applies in your case please speak to the Parish Priest.

The Catholic Church does not charge for its sacraments, but it is customary to make an offering to the minister conducting the wedding, and a donation towards maintenance costs of the church.

There will be a charge associated with the required Marriage Preparation course, and also a legal fee for the civil registration of any wedding.

If an organist or other musician attends, they will also charge a fee. Separate fees and booking arrangements apply if you wish to hire a Parish Hall for a reception afterwards.