Congratulations on your engagement and thank you for taking the first step in considering a Catholic marriage ceremony as you commit to love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives in a permanent, exclusive and mutual love relationship. In marriage couples devote themselves to God through commitment to each other and then in turn to their family life.
A Catholic marriage ceremony may either be a 'Nuptial Mass' or a 'Wedding Ceremony', and must be witnessed by a Priest or a Deacon. The sacrament of Marriage is important for the wider community because it reminds us of the faithful, never-ending love that God has for humanity and highlights the giving-unto-death love that was so much a part of Jesus' living and dying.
Marriages are conducted at almost all of the churches in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and every effort will be made to try and accommodate requests for times, locations and a particular celebrant. However it is advisable to start enquiring sooner rather than later.
The first step
The first step towards making a booking for a marriage at one of the churches in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is for one or both of the persons to be married, to contact the parish office of the church the couple would like to be married in. A Catholic wedding normally takes place in your own parish church. If for some reason you would like to celebrate the wedding in another church, it is wise to discuss it openly with your parish priest first.
When you phone the parish office, simply explain your wish to be married in a Catholic Church, your preference for a date, venue and time and whether or not you have a particular celebrant you would like to request.
Once the time and venue have been agreed, correspondence with details of requirements, costs, and more will be dispatched to you so that planning can proceed.
If you’re a bit nervous about how it all works, there’s no need to be. The priest or deacon who celebrates your wedding with you will help you prepare for your marriage, complete the necessary documentation, advise and encourage you and your partner to take part in a pre-marriage course and prepare the wedding ceremony. A day or two prior to the wedding ceremony, it is also possible to arrange with the celebrant to have a wedding practice in the church.
If you would like to request permission for a Catholic marriage outside a church
an 'Application for Permission for Marriage Outside a Sacred Place' must be completed. The priest or deacon who celebrates your wedding will have the appropriate form to complete with you. However if the priest or deacon who celebrates your wedding will be visiting from outside the diocese please ask him to contact the Marriage Tribunal office for an application.
You've booked the church - where to from here?
Your wedding celebrant has the responsibility to not only assist you in preparing for the sacrament of marriage, but also for the life-long commitment which you are entering into through marriage.
After you contact the parish office to book the church, you will then probably be asked to provide some relevant documentation to enable you to get married in the Catholic Church. These may include:
- Birth Certificate
- Baptismal Certificate (The certificate must be less than six months old and can be requested from the parish where you were baptised)
- Evidence of Death or Annulment if applicable
*Some parishes may also require additional documentation but if so, this will be discussed with you at the time of planning.
Before getting married in a Catholic church, all couples will be asked to reflect on their commitment to each other and are urged to undertake marriage education to prepare for married life.
Marriage and Relationship Education
Marriage education is a vital, yet often overlooked, part of preparing for your life partnership with your loved one. The marriage education courses offered by the diocese, are run by our welfare arm, CatholicCare, who offer a selection of courses for married and soon-to-be married couples which assist them in preparing for, and maintaining, their commitment to one another.
Couples who are getting married are advised to attend a course which falls around four months prior to their wedding ceremony but be sure to book early as some courses are very popular.
CatholicCare provide two pre-marriage programs for couples:
Before We Say I Do - a group program held over two days or four evenings
FOCCUS Program - personalised couple discussion with a Relationship Educator held across three 90-minute sessions
Before We Say I Do
This group program provides you with the opportunity to explore your relationship, build on your strengths and gain essential knowledge and skills that you will use for years to come. Courses are presented by two qualified Relationship Educators in a safe, relaxed and respectful environment, facilitating open and honest discussion.
We facilitate evidence-based relationship education sessions, including some small group discussions and exercises to introduce research as well as private couple sharing. Course topics covered in Before We Say I Do include: Expectations of Marriage; Influences of Family of Origin; Communication Styles; Managing Conflict; Commitment and Dedication; Spirituality and Values; and Sexuality and Intimacy.
The cost for this group program is $300 (including GST) per couple, which includes course materials, morning tea and afternoon tea (or supper for evening courses). Please note that a $20 administration fee will be charged if cancellation notice is made within two weeks of course date.
Download the Marriage and Relationship Education registration form.
2017 Course Dates - Before We Say I Do
||4 & 11 February Newcastle
||25 March & 1 April Morpeth
||13 & 20 May Newcastle
||22 & 29 July Newcastle
||9 & 16 September Singleton
||4 & 11 November Newcastle
FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding & Study) involves an in-depth user-friendly questionnaire designed to help you and your partner learn more about yourselves and your unique relationship. After completing the questionnaire, you then spend time with a qualified Relationship Educator to discuss your responses and find strategies based on research theories to strengthen and enhance your relationship.
FOCCUS will help you develop the skills and knowledge to prepare you for your future together. This program is a more flexible option for couples who are unable to attend a group program. FOCCUS topics include: Lifestyle Expectations, Friends & Interests; Personality Match; Communication; Problem Solving; Spirituality and Values; Parenting Issues; Sexuality Issues; Financial Issues; Family of Origin; and Commitment and Dedication.
The cost for FOCCUS is $300 (including GST) per couple, which includes three 90 minute sessions. Payment prior to commencement is required. Please note that a $50 fee will be charged if less than 24 notice is given for cancellation of session appointments.
2017 Course Dates - FOCCUS Evening & Day Sessions
Foccus Marriage Education by appointment only.
Monday evenings or week day business hours session available.
||30 January & 6 February 2017
||27 March & 3 April 2017
||17 July & 24 July 2017
||28 August & 4 September 2017
||23 October & 30 October 2017
At times we all need a bit of extra help to keep the relationship vibrant and on-track. Enhance provides you with knowledge, research and support to address specific issues or challenges in your relationship, however big or small, such as re-igniting the spark, communication breakdown, destructive patterns, strengthening the friendship and emotional connectiveness of the relationship.
The cost for Enhance is $100 (including GST) for a one-hour session. Sessions are by appointment only. Please note that a $20 fee will be charged if less than 24 notice is given for cancellation of session appointments.
Register for a course
To register for a course, download registration form, fill out and return with payment details to our Marriage Education Team.
2017 brochure and application form will be available soon, meanwhile contact us at:
Fax: (02) 4979 1379
Post: CatholicCare Marriage Education
PO Box 759
Newcastle, NSW, 2300.
P: (02) 4979 1370
What are the "costs" associated with getting married in a Catholic Church?
The Catholic custom is for couples to offer a donation at the time of their wedding; this helps to support the clergy and is greatly appreciated as parishes rely on donations.
The decision to ask for a donation is up to the individual discretion of each parish. In this diocese, people generally donate upwards from $200.00; anything above this helps cover the running costs of the parish churches. An exception may occasionally be allowed when a particular church has become a popular place for a great number of weddings and applies especially in cases where both parties come from outside the parish. Similarly, a moderate fee may be charged for weddings in sacred places which are not used as parish churches or to cover travel expenses.
True financial hardship will never prevent a Catholic wedding from taking place and anyone experiencing financial difficulties is asked to speak to the parish priest, who will treat your conversation or enquiry as confidential.
Can a Catholic marrying a person who is not a Catholic, get married in a Catholic Church?
It’s not uncommon for many Catholics who are marrying a Christian from another Church or a non-Christian, to request to have their marriage take place in a Catholic Church. When this is the case, the priest or deacon will complete an application for ‘permission for a mixed marriage’. Catholic partners are asked to reaffirm their faith in Jesus Christ and their intention to live that faith in the Catholic Church. They must promise to share their faith with their children to the best of their ability, by having them baptised and brought up in the Catholic Church. The Catholic partner must inform their partner of this promise and sign the declaration. No promise is required from the other partner.
A final thought...
If you’re planning a wedding and reception, it’s very easy to get caught up in the planning; from balancing multiple requests from family members to invite people you hadn’t planned to, to ensuring food will be arriving in time for the reception. However don’t forget to take the time to reflect on what the sacrament of marriage is all about. While your wedding day should be a very special one, it is the beginning of a lifelong commitment to share the rest of your life with the one you love and it’s important not to lose sight of that.
May you enjoy getting married in a Catholic Church and have a blessed and happy life together with the person you love.