If you are thinking of getting married, either in Luxembourg or elsewhere, please contact me or the parish office several months in advance. This is vital for a number of reasons: there are documents to be got and a matrimonial dossier (see below) to be filled in and sent off (if you are getting married elsewhere).
Many dioceses insist that the dossier be sent to them some months before the marriage takes place.
Email or phone the parish office to make an appointment with me and I will let you know the kind of documentation you need to have and arrange for a session or two of preparation.
Getting Married — What are the steps to be taken?
There are several steps to be taken when preparing for marriage, whether your marriage will take place here in Luxembourg, or in another country.
Here in Luxembourg, the civil ceremony must take place before the religious ceremony. In other countries (for example Ireland, UK, Italy) the civil and religious ceremonies can be combined.
Here is a broad outline of the process.
Make the arrangements for the civil registration of your marriage making sure you check the current requirements of the country where you are getting married (your embassy should be able to advise).
The church wedding
It is important that you ensure that both the priest and the church are available at the time you wish to be married. This will avoid booking the reception and making other arrangements only to find out too late that the priest or church are not free at that time.
Come and see me to discuss your wedding, and I will guide you through the church procedures. Central to these is the Marriage Dossier which we will complete together. It is always completed in the diocese in which you live. It follows the same basic format in each country.
The Marriage Dossier seeks to ensure that you are both free to marry, and that you understand that Catholic marriage involves a life-long exclusive commitment to each other, promised before God and your witnesses. There are a number of documents which are required to accompany the dossier:
- Certificate of Baptism for Marriage — this is required of all Christian partners (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant) and this copy must be dated within six months of the date of your church wedding. It is obtained from the church where you were baptised If for some reason you can’t obtain this, or there is some problem, let me know. If you are not a Christian, this Certificate is obviously not required.
- Certificate of Confirmation — this is asked for in case of the Catholic partner, but not all countries require it. Again, if in doubt, consult the priest (in Luxembourg, that’s me!).
- Letter of Freedom to Marry — If you are a Catholic, this will be noted on your Baptism certificate (when you are married in church, the marriage is recorded in the Baptism Register of the church where you were baptised). If you are not a Catholic, a witness statement is required from someone who has known you 10 years or more. It can be simple “I have known xxxxx xxxxx as a friend/my son/my daughter/etc. for xxxx years. To the best of my knowledge he/she has never been married before in a civil or religious ceremony.”
- Certificate stating that you have attended a Catholic Marriage Preparation Course either in Luxembourg or somewhere else. This course is not simply to prepare you both for the wedding, but for your married and family life together.
- If either of you has been married before, speak to the priest before you make any church wedding arrangements — there are a number of issues to be addressed here, and the priest will be able to advise.
The dossier, once complete, is sent to the archdiocese here in Luxembourg, checked, then forwarded (if necessary) to the diocese where you are getting married, then finally to the parish where the ceremony is taking place. Afterwards, notification of the marriage is forwarded to the church where you were baptised.
Planning the ceremony
I, or another priest, can also help you plan the wedding ceremony, choose readings, music etc. One issue which often arises is which of the two forms of marriage ceremony is appropriate for you as a couple:
The Wedding Mass — this is the full wedding ceremony with Mass and Holy Communion. It is most suitable when both partners are Catholic, familiar with Mass, and most of the guests are Catholic. If the guests aren’t Catholic, they might be confused at what is going on, and feel excluded at Communion time.
The wedding celebration without Mass — this is a full wedding ceremony, but not within a Mass and without reception of Holy Communion. It is the full wedding ceremony, with readings, music, vows and blessings. It is more suitable when one of the couple is not Catholic, or when the congregation will be mainly non-Catholic. If you’re not sure, I can advise.
The above isn’t meant to sound daunting — it’s routine for all Catholic weddings, and again, I will guide you through it.
Any questions, please ask!