Sacramental Preparation




Marriage is a daily job. We could even say it’s like craftmanship. In a way it’s like being a goldsmith, because a husband makes his wife more of a woman, and she in return makes  him a better man. Whether you are hoping to marry here at  Our Lady of the Rosary or St. Bernard, or in another parish anywhere in the world, we would like to offer you our best wishes for this time of preparation and much happiness in the years ahead.

No doubt you are already finding that there are a number of detailed arrangements to be made for your wedding day. We hope that the information given here will indicate clearly all the essential preparations for your marriage and the wedding service itself. There will be a great deal of paperwork that has to be completed before permission is granted for you to marry                            (some of which is time critical) so please contact the parish office as soon as possible so that we may advise and assist you with planning your happy day. If anything seems confusing or there are any other matters not mentioned here that you would like to discuss, then we will be happy to help you!

Who can marry in the Catholic Church?

  • Catholics who have not been married before or in a civil partnership and who are free to marry.
  • Catholics marrying Christians of another denomination or someone who belongs to a non-Christian faith or religion.
  • Catholics whose partner does not belong to any particular faith or group.


The Marriage Preparation Course

You have chosen to marry in the Catholic Church, in a Catholic ceremony. There are also many  other arrangements that you will be making, whether for your wedding reception or in buying and preparing your home.

The time of your engagement is also the time of preparation for the married life which will follow your wedding day, and it is very important that we also invite you to consider your own expectations and values. Your marriage will be uniquely your own, and no-one can teach you about how to be married. It is important, however, that the right sort of questions are considered now, which will help you meet the demands and the challenge of a life-long relationship.

We run a Marriage Preparation course to compliment the one provided by Bristol Marriage Care. To gain the maximum benefit from these courses you should register as soon as possible after fixing a date of your marriage. Our bishop requires that all couples attend a course, and such a course is a requirement for all couples wishing to marry in the Catholic Church. Please click on the link below to contact Marriage Care.

Should you still have questions about your marriage and would value some assistance in answering them but would prefer not to talk to a priest, you can contact Marriage Care, the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council 0845 660 6000. When you have completed a course, please make sure you give us the Certificate that you will receive as it will form part of your ‘ Church’ paperwork.

Marriage and the Civil Law
(This may appear complicated. Please ask if in doubt.)

The marriage ceremony of the Church must include the civil marriage declarations for this country. The Civil and Church authorities have carefully agreed the words of the Marriage Rite and they may not be varied. Any differences in the Civil and Church laws are the result of the Church placing great emphasis on the sacrament of the marriage.

Freedom to Marry

The Civil Law states that a minimum age of 16 years is required in order to marry. Parental consent (or, if the parents are divorced, the consent of the parent who has custody) is needed between the ages of 16 and 18 years. No marriage can take place without two Certificates for marriage forms, one for each person. These must be applied for in person, collected by you after 28 days and given to your priest before the wedding can take place ( More commonly known as ‘ Blue forms’).

Please note the following:

  1. Seven days residence within the registration district is necessary prior to giving notice of marriage to the Registrar.
  2. If the couple live in two different registration districts, notice must be given to the Registrar of each
  3. The Registrar will issue the certificate after 28 clear days, it costs about £30.
    B. You are advised to take copies of your birth certificates when giving notice of your intention to marry. If you are under 23, your birth certificate must be produced. Most offices operate an appointment system, so you are advised to telephone beforehand.

If you live in Bristol, the Register Office details are:

Bristol Register Office

The Old Council House, Corn Street, Bristol BS1 1JG

Phone: 0117 922 2800

If you live in Gloucestershire area, the Register Office details are:

Gloucestershire Register Office

Shire Hall,  Westgate Street,



Phone: 01452 425000

Marriage and the Church Law

The Civil Law directs that marriage must take place before an authorised person, in the presence of two witnesses, and in a registered building. The Church Law follows this legislation. The Church at which you are marrying may employ or supply an authorised person (often the priest himself) and most Catholic churches are registered for weddings. Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Bernard parishes are  registered buildings for wedding and Fr. Cosmas is a registered authorised person.

In addition, Church Law requires that a Catholic marry before a Catholic priest or deacon. This usually means that the marriage takes place in the parish of the bride or, if she is not a Catholic, in the parish of the bridegroom. Marriage in a Catholic Church that is neither the parish of the bride nor the groom requires the permission of the Parish Priests involved.

  • If you wish to marry at Our Lady of the Rosary or St. Bernard’s parishes, you must  have a current family link with the respective parishes.
  • No Marriages are celebrated on a Sunday, during Lent or Advent.

Your wedding will be recorded in the marriage register of the parish in which you are married and also in the register of the parish in which you were baptised. In very particular circumstances and where there might otherwise be great difficulties, the Bishops in England and Wales are willing to dispense a Catholic from the obligation of marrying before a Catholic priest or deacon and will consider giving permission for a marriage in another Christian Church.

Impediments and Dispensations

There must be no impediment to the marriage: for example, no previous marriage (civil or religious), or close family or blood relationship. If in doubt, please discuss this with the parish priest as soon as possible. If one of the partners is baptised, but not a Catholic, you need to acquire Permission for a Mixed Marriage before the wedding can take place. If one of the partners is not a Christian, for example Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, you will need a Dispensation for Disparity of Cult. We will help you with these documents.  Catholics who marry someone who is not a Catholic are asked to sign a promise to continue living their own faith and to do all in their power to have children of the marriage baptised and brought up in the Catholic Faith.

Further Information

If you wish to marry a non-British subject and want advice about this, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or write to UK Immigrants’ Advisory Service, Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, Strand, London  WC2E 7LR.

If you wish to marry someone belonging to a non-Christian religion from another country, and you have any difficulties, please write (enclosing a self-addressed envelope.) to: Foreign Marriage Service, International Social Service of Great Britain, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London  SW9 6DD or call 0207735 8941.

Marriage Documents Required by the Church for a Catholic Wedding.

 When Both Parties are Catholics

  1. A new copy of the Baptismal Certificate for each person, issued within six months of the date of the wedding, not before.

  1. A Confirmation Certificate for the Catholic parties – this is an absolute requirement for marriages in some countries such as Poland, Malta, Ireland or Italy and Portugal.

 When One Party is Non-Catholic

  1. When the non-Catholic has been baptised, a copy of the baptismal certificate, or a letter from the parent stating that you have been baptised. There is no six-month rule here.

  1. Whatever your religion, if one or both of you is/are under eighteen you MUST obtain a letter from your parents giving you permission to marry. The person you are to marry MUST be mentioned by name.