‘Marriage is a precious sign, for “when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is, as it were, ‘mirrored’ in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. ‘ Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitae, 121
Congratulations! you are just engaged and starting to think about getting married, and getting married, possibly, here at St John’s. This a most beautiful place to consider getting married in and the priest here will only try to help you with your preparations. Marriage is a wonderful reflection of the love of God. Everything we seek to do at St John’s unfolds the story and narrative of God’s love for us. We would be only too happy to help you celebrate your wedding here.
At least six months between the planning and the wedding. The Church demands an information gathering exercise and this will demand searching for new baptismal certificates, letters of freedom, confirmation details as well as a civil declaration of the intention to marry. All this has to be gathered together.
The priest where you live will need to do the paperwork and only he can complete this. There is also a need for a series of preparation sessions. The Church takes marriage seriously and wants those who are seeking to enter into marriage to do the same. You can speak with the priest who is preparing your paperwork about marriage preparation or you can speak with the priest at St John’s.
He will want to meet up with you anyway so that he can begin to help you shape the Wedding you want to celebrate in St John’s. There are so many options when it comes to marriage preparation and ether the priest at home or the priest here at St John’s will help you find the best solution to your needs.
One of the most important things you will need to do is fix a date into the diary. Please come to the Church first before you start booking reception venues and photographers and the like. Whilst St John’s tries to be flexible there is nothing more challenging that trying to fit everything around pre-arranged plans. It may be that there are other things happening in the Church that day. There are day-today things that take place in the Church. Please just speak with the priest and ask what might be available. That conversation does enable him to match up your diary wit his and with the parish’s, too.
What if I don’t live in the Bath area?
Don’t worry. There should be a reason why you want to marry at St John’s. ‘It’s a pretty church and will look good on the photos’ is not really a good enough reason. There should be some connection. If you don’t live in the parish, then the priest where you live should help you with the paperwork side of things. He may well also support you in the preparation that is required. There are one or two ways of looking after the preparation and you can always talk through the possibilities either with the priest at St John’s or with your own priest. You will, of course, need to register your intention to marry civilly and this is done through the Registry Office. This has to be done no more than twelve months before the wedding takes place. If you are a Bath resident then you do that through the Guildhall; if you don’t live in Bath, then you have to register your intention at your local Registry Office. It is so important that this is done, and done in good time. You can contact your local Registry Office and they will tell you exactly what you have to do as part of this process.
Does it matter if my Fiance(e) is not Catholic?
Not at all! The priest who is taking care of your paperwork will just work through with you the dispensations and permissions that are required for the marriage. It is a straightforward process and the priest is there to help you. As a start to the process, it’s always worth finding out where you were baptised just so that your baptismal records can be located when needed. You may well have original certificates from the day you were baptised, but the priest preparing your paperwork will need you to get hold of new certificates.
It is also important that you find time early on to come and meet the priest at St John’s. He can then give you details of who to contact with one or two things for your wedding as well as some things you might have to consider in marrying here. Make an appointment and come and spend a little time with him.
Canon Christopher Whitehead VF
St John’s Presbytery