Nearly every girl dreams about a big, white wedding filled with yards and yards of tulle, beautiful flowers, a handsome groom (of course!), and a tearjerking SDE. What many couples fail to think about and plan for are the many documents and requirements that need to be taken care of. We’ve already given you an overview of your wedding checklist as well as the complete requirements needed for a civil wedding. Now we’re listing down all the requirements you will need to submit for your Catholic church wedding.
New Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates
You and your partner both need to have your baptismal and confirmation certificates from the respective churches you were baptized and confirmed in. Take note that these should have a special “FOR MARRIAGE PURPOSES” annonation stamped across it to be valid. These will have a validity period of six months and will need to be submitted two to three months prior to your wedding day*. Depending on your church, prepare to pay a small fee for these.
(*Some churches may require you to submit these upon your application for marriage.)
Marriage License Application Form
This is arguably the most important thing you will need to get married. This will vary per town so make sure you get your marriage license from the Local Civil Registrar of your city, town, or municipality.
You will need to accomplish four (4) copies of the application form. The copies will be distributed to different parties namely the registrant, the Office of the Civil Registrar-General, the solemnizing office, and the last copy will be kept for your file.
Either you or your partner can apply for and claim the marriage license. If you need someone else to claim it on your behalf, you will need to write an authorization letter for them. Check and ensure that all details in your marriage license are correct. It is not uncommon for couples to find spelling errors in their names or mistakes in the dates. Makes sure you countersign the errors they committed as they correct it.
You and your partner need to attend a canonical interview at least a month prior to your wedding. This is typically conducted by either the parish priest or an assistant. Once you have submitted your application and pay the reservation fee, you will be scheduled for an interview. Make sure you go to your scheduled interview on time or the church might cancel your interview and forfeit your reservation fee.
During your canonical interview, you will be asked to fill out a pre-marital questionnaire which will help the priest or assistant determine your readiness and freedom to marry. The priest will also take this time to discuss the marriage process as well as the responsibilities that come along with being married. If you have any qualms or questions about marriage in general and want to seek guidance, now would be the perfect time to do so! The priest will also ask about your individual strengths and weaknesses to determine how well you work out as a couple and will ask you to share about your relationship to help you identify any weak spots or potential issues that may arise in the future.
Once you finish your interview and the priest finds you fit to marry and there are no other impediments to such, the wedding date and wedding banns may be finalized with the parish.
Certificate of Attendance to a Pre-Marriage seminar
Typically, once you’ve successfully finished your canonical interview, you will be given schedules of a Pre-Marriage or Pre-Cana Seminar that both you and your partner will have to attend. You’re free to do your Pre-Marriage Seminar at any parish or institution, and it may or may not be free depending on where you go to. The seminar is usually a half-day affair and the certificate is awarded immediately after.
Some churches allow the couple to attend other seminars like the Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) or Discovery Weekend (DW) instead of the Pre-Marriage/Pre-Cana Seminar. Just the same, you will need to obtain a certificate of attendance for the seminar to be recognized by the church.
This is also known as the Certificate of Freedom to Marry. You can obtain this from both of your parishes, and submit it to the parish where you will get married.
Church Wedding/Marriage Banns
A church wedding bann is placed to announce that your planned marriage has no impediments. Once you have successfully completed your canonical interview, the church will give you forms for the wedding bans. Once completed, you must file these with both you and your partner’s respective parishes and return after three consecutive Sundays. You will then submit the wedding bann to the church where you intend to get married.
(*Some parishes may have other requirements for their application such as valid IDs and a fee.)
New Birth Certificate and Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)
You can get these from either the National Statistics Office or apply for these online. The CENOMAR is valid for 6 months upon the issuance of the NSO and costs P465.
If either you or your partner is a foreigner, you need to get a Certificate of Freedom to Marry from the embassy and a parish priest.
List of Names and Addresses of Principal Sponsors
Principal sponsors refer to your ninongs and ninangs. You will only need two (2) principal sponsors but you can add more if you want to. Keep in mind, however, that some churches may have a maximum number of sponsors allowed. You might get charged a fee if you exceed this number. Some churches will also require you to pay a fee per sponsor you have.
Make sure to include your sponsors’ full name (not just their nickname) as well as their addresses when you submit it to your chosen church.
While going to confession is not a requirement for ALL Catholic church weddings, most priests will still insist for you and your partner to go before your wedding. This is so that both of you are in a state of grace come your wedding day.
Additional Requirements for Specific Cases
Aside from these common requirements, the church may also ask for additional documents depending on your situation:
You and/or your partner are/is widowed:
You must present a new copy of your former spouse’s death certificate to the parish office of your chosen church. You can get this from any Serbilis Service Center. To make it easier for yourself, you can apply for this as you apply for your birth certificate and CENOMAR.
You and/or your partner is divorced:
You will need clearance from the Chancery Office at the Arzobispado de Manila, 121 Arzobispo St., Intramuros, Manila (near Manila Cathedral). You will also need to present a certified true copy of legal papers proving the absolute decree of divorce.
You and/or your partner was in a previous marriage that was declared null and void:
You have to present a Certified true copy of the Final Declaration of Nullity from a Matrimonial Tribunal and request for approval from the Chancery Office. (Get a Certificate of Registration from the Local Civil Registrar to register for your Annulment Papers. You will be issued a Certificate of Finality of Annulment by the Court. The certificate should have the name of the judge or the court that issued the decree. It also needs to include the case number and the date of it was issued.)
You and your partner are from different religions or Disparitas Cultus:
You will need to get a special dispensation from the Archdiocesan Chancery Office. You may also need to present a certificate of Active Membership from his/her religious affiliation
You and your partner are simply renewing your vows:
You must present a copy of your Catholic Marriage Contract.
Church Wedding Requirements for OFW
For couples where at least one partner is an OFW or immigrant with limited vacation leaves, securing the necessary documents and paperwork can be a little trickier because you will both need to be present when applying for the marriage license, which takes 10 days to process, and is only valid for 120 days. Many couples fail to account for this when scheduling their arrival home and the subsequent honeymoon and realize too late that they do not have time to process the marriage license.
Some couples who can come home months in advance, on the other hand, find that it is much too early to file for the marriage license, making it, again, useless to file for one.
If you and your partner find yourselves in a similar predicament, there are two things you can do:
- Go to the nearest Philippine Embassy in your country and have a civil wedding there. Doing so means you are legally married (consuls are allowed to officiate civil weddings abroad) without having to fly to the Philippines to apply for a license. After the civil ceremony, you will be able to get married in a church anytime using your marriage certificate without a problem.
- You can also have a civil wedding at any courthouse and file a Report of Marriage at the Philippine Embassy to have your union recognized by the Philippine government. You can then use the PSA-authenticated Report of Marriage in your applications for a church wedding in the Philippines.
Do churches have a dress code?
Some churches are more conservative than others and may require you to have your shoulders or back covered, so make sure to ask about this prior to booking your chosen church. If you already have your heart set on a chosen design, don’t worry! You can always throw on a beautiful shawl or cover-up for the ceremony and take it off during the reception.
Can you get married on a Sunday?
While uncommon, it is not impossible to get married on a Sunday. However, don’t expect the parish to allow you to close off the entire church for you and your guests! As you’re most likely aware of, Sundays are the church’s busiest days so it will be difficult for them to close off the church for a few hours for you. What they can do is have a wedding ceremony for you in the middle of a regular Mass instead.
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, you’re ready to walk down the aisle and start the next chapter of your life with your better half. We wish you a lifetime of wedded bliss.
Author: Nikki Uson
Nikki is a petite, part-time marketing copywriter, and full-time unicorn-chaser with a thirst for exploring the big world. She’s on a quest to find the best food, people, and experiences that life has to offer. When she’s not busy discovering new cities, she tries to make the world a better place one cookie at a time.