Religious ceremony. Required documents

If you’ve attended any weddings as a guest, have you happened to see an evening party that doesn’t take off, a desolately empty runway an evening party with very high expectations left unexpected?

Table of Contents

We wrote this article because although our job is to musically accompany the bride and groom during their wedding, during the specialized consultations we do with them several times we are asked if we are aware of what documents need to be submitted in order to be married in the church.
First of all, it should be known that a marriage celebrated in a Catholic religious rite also produces intact civil effects is for all intents and purposes a concordat provided for in the Lateran Pacts between the state and the Catholic Church, and has the characteristic of producing civil effects, even though it is celebrated before the Catholic minister of religion. Recognition by our system of the effects of religious marriage, however, is carried out through a proper administrative process. This consists of a series of activities put in place by heterogeneous entities (canonical bodies and state organs):

  • Publications: should be made not only at the doors of the parish church, but also at the door of the municipal house. At the appropriate time, the request for publications to the registrar, in addition to the persons indicated, must be made by the priest before whom the marriage will be celebrated. The registrar is obliged to make the publication in any case, unless he finds the existence of an impediment common to civil and canon law (not dispensed by ecclesiastical authority) or the existence of one of the impediments to the transcription of the canonical marriage provided for in Art. 12 of the marriage law.
    Possible oppositions:
    If the registrar has not been notified of any objection and it does not otherwise appear to him that an impediment exists, he shall issue a certificate stating that no cause opposing the celebration appears to exist. Otherwise, the registrar must refrain from issuing the certificate and notify the priest of the objection.
    The Civil Court will decide on this (with the limits of cognizance specified in Article 7 of the Marriage Law);
  • Celebration: takes place according to canonical discipline in the presence of the competent priest. The latter explains to the newlyweds that the marriage will also have civil effects and reads the articles of the Civil Code that establish the rights and duties arising from marriage (Articles 143, 144, and 147). Immediately after the celebration, the minister of religion shall fill out the marriage certificate in duplicate originals, transmitting one of them within five days to the registrar of the municipality where the marriage was celebrated for transcription of it in the civil status registers;
  • Transcription: must be accomplished by the registrar within twenty-four hours of receipt of the marriage certificate. Within the next twenty-four hours notice must, then, be given to the priest. Transcription is the essential act for the attribution of the civil effects of canonical marriage: without it, the marriage remains a religious act only, irrelevant in civil terms. Transcription, therefore, cannot take place:


    1. When the bride and groom do not meet the requirements of the civil law about the age required for the celebration;
    2. When there is an impediment between the spouses that the civil law considers to be unwaivable. The following are considered to be such: one of the contracting parties being disqualified by reason of insanity; the existence between the spouses of another marriage valid for civil purposes; impediments arising from crime or affinity in the direct line.

However, transcription is allowed, under the same rule, when, according to civil law, the action for annulment or annulment could no longer be brought: e.g., when, after the disqualification has been lifted, there has been cohabitation for one year. Transcription, omitted for any cause, may be requested at any time by both spouses (or by only one, if the other knows about it and does not object). In such a case, the doctrine commonly speaks of late transcription. Note, however, that it is necessary for both spouses to have maintained their freedom of status continuously up to the time of the request for transcription. A delayed or exceptional transcript is defined as a transcript that, although it was requested in a timely manner, was not made due to the presence of formal, surmountable flaws (e.g., failure to publish). Late transcription has retroactive effect, like ordinary transcription (i.e., from the time of the marriage celebration). It, however, does not affect the rights legitimately acquired by third parties.

  • Disability. WHEREAS, of the validity of Catholic marriage, as such, the ecclesiastical courts are competent to judge, serious uncertainties had raised the permanence of similar reservation of jurisdiction regarding the validity of concordat marriage following the 1984 Palazzo Madama Agreements.
    In the sense of the termination of this reservation, the Supreme Court has ruled: therefore, competent to judge the validity of the concordat marriage are also the civil courts that will apply the civil norms. The Supreme Court’s pronouncement opens the debate on delicate problems inherent, especially, in the possible parallel pendency of two trials, one canonical, the other civil: nor can the difficulties be said to have been overcome, on a practical level, by the fact that the spouse who did not accept ecclesiastical jurisdiction could act, before the civil court, to obtain a judgment of divorce. In fact, “the consequences of a declaration of invalidity are much more radical than the situation that also comes with divorce”

In addition, the bride and groom must submit:

Certificate of attendance at the premarital course
The Catholic Church requires prospective brides and grooms to participate in a special marriage preparation course, to be taken at one of their home parishes or at a third of their choice; the duration of this course usually does not exceed two months;

Certificate of baptism for marriage use, issued not more than six months ago.
This document is issued by the church in which the sacrament was received. In cases where it is impossible to obtain a recent or even old baptismal certificate, it will be sufficient to go to the Priest together with another (Christian) person to confirm receipt of the sacrament;

Certificate of Confirmation
It must be requested from the priest of the parish where the baptism took place. Usually, Confirmation is noted in the baptismal certificate. If not, the certificate should be requested from the parish where the ceremony was held;

Evidence of Ecclesiastical Free State of the person.
It is required when one of the spouses, after reaching the age of 16, has been a resident of dioceses other than the present one. The Free State Trial takes place in the presence of two witnesses: the Priest instructs a “processicle” and collects the testimony of two people who knew the groom (or bride) during the time he (or she) had residence in another diocese. If there are no witnesses, proof is by oath of the person concerned.
Produced such certificates, the priest delivers the request for civil banns to the bride and groom-to-be to take to the City Hall. Then proceed with the civil practice, at the end of which, the ‘Civil Registrar will issue the certificate of successful civil publications. This document, along with the religious certificates, will then be taken to the Priest who will separately question the future spouses during the so-called “consent.”
Having ascertained the absence of irregularities, the Priest shall provide for “Religious Publications”
The banns, which indicate the particulars of the bride and groom and the place where they intend to celebrate the marriage, are to be displayed in the parish or both if the bride and groom do not belong to the same parish.
If the couple has decided to marry at a diocese other than their own, the Priest of the latter will issue a form called the state of the documents which, endorsed by the Curia, must be delivered to the chosen parish in order to proceed with the marriage.
Immediately after the celebration, the Priest completes the marriage certificate in duplicate and within the next 5 days sends a copy to the ‘registrar of the municipality where the marriage took place. The officer transcribes the deed the following day and notifies the priest.

That said.

I hope you found the information in this article useful.

I am Paolo Furlan founder of the music agencies Wedding Symphony specializing in ceremony music and Wedding Music Fun specializing in wedding music and entertainment. Follow our social channels to stay up to date with the latest news and get helpful tips on how to best plan your wedding!
More info awaits you on our blog.
Don’t let them pass you by.
Enjoy your reading and have a good life!

Did you like it? Share this content on