What It Takes to Have a Catholic Wedding

Updated on July 12, 2019
Jackie Zelko profile image

My husband and I planned and had a Catholic wedding. We started the planning process a year and a half in advance.

My wedding at St. John's Catholic Church in Charleston, SC.
My wedding at St. John's Catholic Church in Charleston, SC. | Source


There is a lot that goes into planning a Catholic wedding. If you are planning a Catholic wedding, that means you, your fiancé, or both are Catholic. If both of you are Catholic, the process can be much faster; it may only take six months for the two of you to plan and execute a Catholic wedding. If one of you is Catholic, there are two options you can take:

  1. You can choose to not convert to Catholicism and still hold a Catholic wedding. You will not be able to have the full mass nor participate in communion, but you will be able to engage in all of the other aspects of a Catholic wedding.
  2. You can choose to covert to Catholicism, so you and your fiancé can have a complete Catholic mass that does include communion.

The Catholic Wedding Process

There are seven tasks that must be completed before your Catholic wedding can be held.

  1. Registration
  2. Conversion (If Applicable)
  3. Baptism/Confirmation (If Applicable)
  4. Meetings With Your Priest
  5. Letter of Recommendation
  6. Couple Assessment
  7. Marriage Class

1. Registration

Registering at a Catholic church means that you will be attending that church and that you will receive letters from them in the mail. You will need to registrate with the church you plan on doing all of your paperwork with for your wedding. If your fiancé is already registered with his own church, it will be an easier and smoother process for you. Luckily for me, my fiancé was already registered with a Catholic church he had been going to for many years.

The Catholic church you do paperwork with does not have to be the church you get married in. They would prefer you to do the ceremony with them, but you can talk with the priest about details of a destination wedding.

2. Converting Before Your Wedding Date

Every Catholic church is different when it comes to the converting process. With that being said, you should anticipate the converting process to take 1 year at the least or 1.5 years at the most. For me, it was an 8 month long process.

I started my mandatory Catholic classes the first week of September and had them once a week on Tuesdays until the end of April. These classes were one hour long, and the students were taught lessons on the Bible and about Catholicism. I had an additional class added to the week every Sunday starting in January and ending on Easter in March. These additional classes on Sundays were attended in the middle of mass, and the class ended around the same time that the mass ended.

3. Baptism and Confirmation

If you have already been baptized, you do not need to go through this process again; you will just need to go through confirmation. Every year on the day before Easter, my Catholic church holds a 4 hour long service at night in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This service also includes the baptism and/or the confirmation of individuals who took classes for the past 7 months that wish to convert. Other Catholic churches may be different in their procedures for these two sacraments.

4. Meetings With Your Priest

You and your fiancé will need to set up an initial meeting with your priest, so he can get to know you. You will have at least one other meeting that follows, possibly more depending on what needs to be discussed. Our priest was very accommodating in our initial meeting. He gave us a folder that included everything we needed to know about the process for the both of us. The folder even included a checklist. If your priest does not give you a checklist, I recommend that you ask him to have someone email you the list of things you need to get done. It is a lot, and you do not want to overlook any important paperwork as your big day approaches.

5. Letter of Recommendation

You and your fiancé will be required to have a close family member or friend, that goes to church, vouch for you that your marriage is going to be valid. In other words, someone that is going to confirm that your marriage is not a sham and that you love each other. This form must be filled out in front of their priest or pastor and signed by the both of them.

6. Couple Assessment

You will be required to pay to take an assessment about your future spouse, and your future spouse will be required to do the same. The priest will say initially that it is not a test on each other, but it kind of is. There will be some easy topics to respond to how you feel, and there will be some hard topics. You will be meeting with your priest at a later date to discuss your results and your compatibility with your partner. This is the time for you to get everything out in the open. It is almost like couples' therapy.

7. Marriage Class

I initially made fun of the idea of going to the class, but I am actually really happy that it was required for us to go. You have two options when it comes time for you to pay for your class: take a one day 8 hour class or take the class in 3 sessions for a shorter period of time. My fiancé and I chose to do the 8 hour class as we did not have the time to take off of work for 3 days to attend the other session. This class covers everything about what makes up a strong marriage, and how to strengthen each other's faith as Catholics.

Marriage is Serious!

This process is long because marriage is very serious to the Catholic church. Once you are married, it is extremely frowned upon to get a divorce; in fact, it is considered a sin. Everything that the church asks of you and your fiancé is to ensure that both of you live a long happy life together and know how to resolve your issues.

The process is also a chance for the priest to expose any red flags that may potentially destroy your marriage. Marriage is hard, and it is essential that both you and your fiancé talk about how you plan on living your life together before the official commitment.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      This gives an interesting incite into marriage preparation for Catholics.


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