To assist engaged couples with answering the most common questions or concerns, we have provided below some basic frequently asked questions and responses. We urge couples to thoroughly read the information we provide on the website prior to contacting the parish.
1. How long does it take to prepare to marry?
The answer is dependent on a number of factors, including where you are marrying, if you are free to marry in the Church, how long it takes you to complete the marriage preparation sessions, and your own readiness. The minimum timeline for a wedding at the Co-Cathedral is six months, with no prior failed marriages, attendance at all classes/meetings, on-time documents, and no complications with the relationship or other details.
2. We plan to wed at the Co-Cathedral and want to register for classes and book a date. What do we need to do? After reading the information online, contact the parish office for Bree Delphin and request to register for classes, and an appointment to book a date. She will provide you the necessary forms and information for registration and schedule an appointment for booking a wedding date. Please note that booking a date & attending classes does not guarantee a wedding will occur; only the clergy makes that final determination with each couple.
3. How long should it take if we are marrying at the Co-Cathedral (or another parish in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)? The absolute minimum is six (6) months to complete the marriage preparation classes, however this means no absences, all forms and fees are submitted on time as requested, and all meetings with the clergy assigned to you have been fulfilled and no other serious concern exists. Non-parishioners are responsible to transport the file to the clergy at the parish where they are marrying.
4. How much time do I need to give for a wedding outside the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (or out of country)? The Archdiocese requires that couples planning to marry outside the Archdiocese must have fully completed all Marriage Preparation sessions by two (2) months in advance of the wedding date. This means a minimum of twelve (12) months is needed, no serious concerns exist, and all proper documents and fees are submitted on time before the wedding may take place. In addition, once the documents are complete, couples are responsible for transporting them to the parish where they will marry, including if it is out of the country. The Co-Cathedral is not responsible for transporting/mailing documents.
5. My fiance and/or I have a pending annulment. Is it okay if we go ahead and start marriage preparation and book a wedding while we wait for it to be finalized? First of all, there is no guarantee that an affirmative decision will be reached on any petition for annulment, let alone when it will be completed. Therefore, couples are not permitted to begin any wedding plans, including marriage preparation until an affirmative decision is reached and the final decree of the nullity is received. A copy of the nullity decree must be provided to the parish before any wedding plans may proceed, including marriage preparation classes. This ensures that both parties are free to marry in the Church.
6. My fiance and/or I have had a prior marriage, but not in the Church. Does this count as being "free to marry" since the wedding took place outside the Church? No, both parties must have had all prior civil & religious marriages examined and have a petition for nullity submitted and approved before the couple is free to marry each other. This applies to non-Catholics as well. See information on Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Office of the Tribunal for information on annulments, or contact your parish for assistance.
7. Are the Marriage Preparation classes only for Catholics? No, the classes are for those seeking to marry in the Catholic Church. One partner must be Catholic; the other may be Catholic, Baptized Christian of another church, or non-baptized. The theology is based on Catholic teaching since the wedding is to occur in the Catholic Church. There is no expectation that the non-Catholic will choose to become Catholic, but marrying a Catholic requires some understanding of what is expected in Catholic marriages.
8. What is the procedure for registering for Marriage Prep classes, and can my fiance and I just drop in to the first class when we're ready? Drop-in's are not permitted. All couples must register in advance with Bree Delphin at the parish office, parishioners & non-parishioners alike. Couples may either e-mail or phone her during business hours M-Thursday. Your patience and cooperation are appreciated; please be aware that Bree works with over 100 couples a year and will give each couple the attention they need. Your inquiry will be responded to as soon as she is able. Inquiries made on Fridays will wait until Monday or Tuesday before she can respond.
9. My fiance and I are newly engaged and want to get ahead and book our date for the reception; how soon can we do this? Before you book any events or services, contact the Church first to inquire into Marriage preparation, available wedding dates, and other necessary details. The Church is to be your first and most important phone call or inquiry; not the hotel, travel agent, restaurant, caterer, etc. We are not responsible for deposits that have to be cancelled because a couple did not contact us first before booking a venue or service.
10. What is the fee for Marriage Preparation? The fee for Marriage Preparation is separate from the wedding booking fees. If a couple is marrying at the Co-Cathedral, the fee is $40.00 for the FOCCUS tool processing due at that session. If a couple is only taking classes at the Co-Cathedral and not planning to marry at the Co-Cathedral, the fee is $300.00 and must be paid in full at the Initial Couples Class. If paying by cash, it must be exact cash. The $300.00 fee includes the $40.00 FOCCUS processing tool fee.
11. Why are Catholics obligated to marry in the Catholic Church by a priest or deacon? Are destination weddings not valid? Sacraments occur in the Church; they occur in the context of the parish community with a priest or deacon administering. Since it is at the parish that families come together, marry, have children baptized, receive faith, are anointed, forgiven, grow, worship, and serve together, the sacrament of matrimony rightly belongs in the parish. A Christian wedding is not just about the couple; it is first and foremost an act of worship of God. Weddings that occur in the Church serve to remind us of God's action in the life of the community, and especially in the relationship of the bride and groom. Though the bride and groom have a special place in the marriage liturgy, they are not the object of worship, praise, petition, or thanksgiving.
Destination weddings, even if all the canonical requirements are met, miss the point of Christian marriage by over-emphasizing the focus on the wishes of the couple, on excluding those who cannot afford to travel or do not have the time/ability to do so, excluding the parish community that will be supporting the couple's marriage, and often becoming a production. Often, especially in Latin countries, the Catholic partner must be fully initiated (baptized, confirmed, and First Holy Communion). Sacraments are sacred encounters with God that are not to be rushed through, and involve a commitment to ongoing conversion. Logistics alone complicate this since the timelines for preparing for one or more sacrament of initiation can vary quite a bit. For example, Adult Confirmation in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is only celebrated at Pentecost, with the preparation occuring in the spring. Most parishes do not have the resources to handle short-notice preparation outside this window of time.
12. What if we don't belong to a parish at home yet? This is the time to begin discussing where you will live out your faith together at a parish. Visit the parishes in the area where you will live as a married couple. Find out what the community is like, and how you can be a part of it together, and as individuals. Marriage in the Catholic Church necessarily implies that faith is a critical aspect of your relationship and idea of Christian marriage, otherwise, it is just an empty set of rituals. Contact the parish and inquire into membership and marriage preparation, then start digging your roots to grow. The sooner you do this, the better - you will be establishing not only a place to worship together, but creating relationships that will support your marriage and family life.