"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one body."
- Genesis 2:24
What is Marriage?
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.
Why should we get married in a Catholic ceremony?
As a sacrament, marriage gives those who receive it special graces to help them in their lives. "The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life" (CCC, 1661).
Why do we have to attend marriage preparation classes?
Since Marriage is a sacrament, a period of preparation before reception of that sacrament should be expected. These classes will help the couple understand the duties and purpose of Marriage, the graces they will receive and allow them to examine their own relationship. As Marriage is a lifetime commitment, it is important for anyone entering into that commitment to understand what each partner feels about issues such as children, family, etc. Just as one would study before an exam in order to be successful, marriage preparation will help the couple lay the foundation for a successful, sacramental marriage.
Can we get married somewhere other than a church?
While there may be some situations where the local bishop permits the sacrament of Marriage to be performed outside of a church building, this is not normally the case. As with other sacraments, the sacrament of Marriage should occur in a place which reminds us of God and His love for us. The church building also serves to represent the wider faith community which will support and nurture the love and marriage of the couple.
Can we still have a Catholic ceremony if one person is not Catholic?
There is no rule preventing a Catholic from marrying a non-Catholic in a Catholic ceremony. However, these mixed marriages do require the couple to examine both their beliefs and discuss how they will handle different situations which will arise (e.g., the role of faith in each others' lives, what tradition children will be raised in, etc.). These questions will most likely be addressed during the marriage preparation classes the couple takes. While differences in belief never pose a barrier to a successful marriage, it is important for the couple to enter this covenant with both eyes open and fully aware of how they will address potential obstacles.
Can we still have a Catholic ceremony if I am divorced?
Yes, but you will probably first need to seek an annulment. To this, talk to your local priest and they can get the process started. Once the annulment is obtained, you are free to once again get married.