Paperwork is more than filling out forms for the Church; it is an opportunity for the priest to assess the couple’s readiness for and freedom to marry. This includes at least one session for the completion of required forms and dispensations. This step is very important and is time-sensitive in some cases. Paperwork must commence at least six months before a wedding, earlier if there is an annulment required. This eliminates stress on all sides.
What Paperwork is needed?
Catholics will have to submit a newly-issued (within the last 6 months) Baptismal Certificate from the parish of their Baptism. Parishes are accustomed to this request and usually send the form quickly. If one of the couple is a baptized non-Catholic, any Baptismal Record, or photocopy of one, will suffice.
Freedom to Marry Forms (aka Form A) (1 for each)
These are filled out by your parish priest for the bride and groom.
Witness Forms (Aka Form B) (2 for each)
These are filled out and signed by someone who knows you well enough to answer the questions on the form, in the presence of any parish priest. The most common witnesses are a parent or sibling.
If one partner is not Catholic, you will need to obtain permission to marry a non-Catholic. This permission is secured through your local parish priest after discussing how you will bring up the children as Catholic.
Marriage outside the Diocese
If you are marrying outside the diocese, your parish priest will need to know the name of the officiate, the parish, the place and the date of the wedding.
Marriage outside a Catholic Church
If you are marrying a non-Catholic and wish to have your marriage celebrated by a Rabbi, a non-Catholic minister or a secular official such as a Justice of the Peace, then permission must be sought from the Diocese. The document used for this request is called “A Dispensation From Form.” Your parish priest will need further information such as the name of the officiate, the place where you wish to be married, and the reasons for this request. He will discuss with you the Catholic Church in which this marriage is to be registered so that it is officially recognized as a Catholic marriage.
If either party has been previously married, Catholic or not, and the former spouse is still living, then additional steps need to be taken, and an annulment sought so that both parties are free to marry in the Catholic Church. The steps and timetable required will depend on the particular circumstances. Remember, annulments can sometimes take more than six months to process. A wedding date cannot be set until the annulment is granted. Check with the parish priest where you are to be married, as soon as possible, to discern what must be done.