Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! Marriage is a special Sacrament in which God's grace is bestowed upon husband and wife to assume the essential duties of marriage and to live in word and deed the command of the gospel - "the two shall become one flesh."
Marriage is more than a way of life - it is a vocation by which the lives of husband and wife are united to Christ Himself. It is a serious commitment and takes ample preparation to fully understand the life a husband and wife will embrace as they proclaim God's love through the Sacramental love they share with each other.
Are Catholics required to marry in the Catholic Church?
Yes. All Catholics are bound to observe canonical form when they are married. Canonical form requires that a couple be married in a church, before a priest with two witnesses who meet the requirements of Canon Law and Wisconsin Statues.
A Catholic may marry outside the Church (in a Lutheran church, for example) with the proper permission. Permission can be sought through the pastor. If permission is not received, the marriage would be considered invalid in the eyes of the Church because the proper permission was not sought.
Am I allowed to marry at St. Bernard?
The parish receives many requests for weddings here. In order to remain faithful to the members of our parish and their immediate family members, we have set forth the following policies for those eligible to marry:
1. The couple intending to marry must be registered, participating and contributing members of the parish for at least three months.
2. The couple must have members of their immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) who are registered, participating and contributing members of the parish.
Our primary concern is for the members of our parish, and we adhere to this policy strictly.
When should I talk to the pastor about getting married?
Couples who are planning to marry, and it is the first bond of marriage (neither the bride or the groom have been married before: in a church, civilly or by common law) should approach the pastor at least six months before the wedding is to take place.
Couples intending to marry who have been previously married must see the pastor in order to determine the circumstances regarding the previous bond or bonds of marriage. In order to marry in the Catholic Church, couples must be free to enter into marriage. In most cases, previous bonds of marriage will need to be investigated by our diocesan marriage tribunal. The time needed to review these bonds of marriage can take upwards of one year. It is extremely important that couples seek counsel from the pastor before making any plans for marriage.
Is it ok to book my reception venues and make other arrangements before meeting with the pastor?
This practice is highly discouraged. The pastor will not place the wedding on the parish's calendar until there is established certainty that the couple are free to enter into marriage. In all cases, couples should speak with the pastor before making any other plans.
Are there requirements to marry in the Catholic Church?
Yes. There are requirements at both the diocesan level and at the parish level. Please see the link at the top of this page to review our marriage policies.
Once a couple has been cleared to marry here at the parish, it is important to sign up for the marriage courses required by the Diocese of Madison. Spots in these classes fill up quickly, so the earlier a couple registers, the easier it will be to find a date that accommodates your schedule.
The two courses look at marriage from a theological perspective and a more practical perspective. Couples who have taken the courses have had very positive comments about their content.