MARRIAGE IN THE CHURCH

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses 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.

This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1601) sums up what the Church believes about marriage. This faith concerning matrimony becomes the guiding principle for how the wedding liturgy is celebrated. Consequently, the wedding liturgy emphasizes the significance of the consent, by which the spouses express their will to be married, and the essential characteristics of marriage, namely unity (one man–one woman), fidelity, indissolubility, openness to having children and educating them in the faith, and the sacramental nature of marriage between baptized Christians.

To quote the Catechism once more (no. 1660–1663):

The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.

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.

Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love.
Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful.

In the wedding liturgy, the spouses make this vision their own, expressing their Christian faith, hope and love, in the midst of the Church, and making the relative promises to each other, exchanging the marriage vows:

I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

Preparing and Organizing Your Wedding at St George’s

(A) It is recommended that your first concrete step is to contact the parish office. You can also review the parish online calendar, where you can see whether the dates you are looking at are available for weddings at St George’s Church. You may also want to check if the parish hall can be rented for hosting your wedding reception. This can be arranged by contacting the parish manager. The parish office will ask you to:

(i) complete the wedding information form and return it to the office;

(ii) obtain a recent copy (not older than six months) of a baptism certificate for those intended spouses who are Catholic. The up-to-date certificate can be obtained from the parish in which you were baptized (or received) in the Catholic Church. Make sure to tell your ‘home’ parish that you need the certificate because you intend to get married, so they know exactly what kind of certificate to issue. For spouses who are not Catholic, this will be discussed during the interview;

(iii) provide other supporting documentation that may be required.

(B) Once you have collected this documentation, contact the parish office to coordinate a meeting between the intended spouses and the pastor or his delegate. Please note that a definitive marriage date can only be confirmed during or after this meeting, depending on the circumstances; i.e. once the pastor or his delegate have reviewed the documentation and verified the freedom to marry.

(C) Prior to getting married at St George’s, we expect the spouses to make the appropriate human and spiritual preparation for their wedding. The minimum requirement is that the couple complete one of the marriage preparation courses offered throughout the Archdiocese of Ottawa. A list of courses available at various parishes can be found at the Archdiocese of Ottawa website. The certificate from the course needs to be provided to the parish office no later than two months before the wedding date. St George’s also offers the administration of the FOCCUS premarital inventory. The FOCCUS premarital inventory is an instrument to help you as a couple identify issues you want or need to discuss before attending the marriage preparation course. This free service can be arranged through the parish office.

(D) During the first or at a later meeting with the pastor (or the officiating clergy), the wedding liturgy will be discussed. Here you can find more information on the preparing the marriage liturgy. You can find a very good presentation of the liturgy on the webpage of the US Bishops’ Conference. There, you will find especially the many readings you can choose from the Old and the New Testament, the Responsorial Psalms and the Gospels.

(E) You should consider what kind of liturgical music might be appropriate for your wedding, who would be willing and able to offer a reading during the celebration, who could read the Prayer of the Faithful, and who could function as an altar server.

(F) All the members of the wedding party that have an active role in the wedding (e.g., readers, musicians, altar servers, etc.) should be in attendance for the wedding rehearsal.

The policy of the Archdiocese of Ottawa concerning fees for (Weddings and) Funerals can been consulted here.