Can you get married in church without the sacraments?

What happens if one of the spouses has not been baptized or has not received Communion or Confirmation? What does Canon Law provide?

The law provides so many possibilities for forming a family that those who opt for religious marriage should do so out of conviction and not out of convention. In short, it is assumed that those who go before the altar to ask a minister of the Church “freely and without any compulsion” to bless their love in the name of God have at least enough spirituality to give specific weight to their wedding. It is difficult, as well as out of place, to judge choices that belong to such an intimate sphere of a person. It is legitimate, however, remaining Super parteswonder if you can get married in church without the sacraments. That is, without first having received Baptism, the Eucharist at First Communion and Confirmation.

Sometimes, such a situation involves only one of the spouses who, due to education received, by choice of parents or for who knows what other respectable reason, has never been baptized and, therefore, has not wanted or been able to follow the various steps to receive the other sacraments. Conversely, the other future spouse followed the, so to speak, “traditional” path.

It should be emphasized that there may be situations in which a parish priest, so to speak, “turns a blind eye” to certain formalities while others have a more severe attitude. What is certain is that, a priori, one cannot go against canon law because there is a risk that a marriage celebrated by a priest without the requisites required by the Catholic Church not being valid.

What does it take to get married in church

Let’s first see that what is required to get married in church. The first thing to do is to attend the compulsory premarital course (o course for boyfriends). It consists of a series of meetings held by a priest, an already married couple and a gynecologist who gives some advice on family planning methods. The purpose is to provide a vision of married life compatible with the teachings of the Church. Eventually, a participation certificate to be delivered to the pastor of the church where the wedding will be celebrated together with the following papers:

  • L’birth certificate to be requested from the Municipality;
  • the contextual certificate (or «multiple») which contains information about the personal details, residence, citizenship and free status of the spouses, which must always be requested in the Municipality;
  • the Baptism certificateto be requested from the parish where you were baptised;
  • the confirmation certificate to be requested, when it is not noted on the baptismal certificate, from the parish where it was celebrated;
  • the certificate of “free ecclesiastical state» certifying that the applicant has not already contracted a marriage. This document can be replaced by an oath before the pastor and two witnesses or the spouse’s death certificate for widows;
  • the clearance to be requested from the Curia in the event that the spouses wish to marry in a parish other than their own or outside the Municipality of residence.

Having received all these documents, the parish priest draws up and issues the request for publications to the Municipality.

Church marriage: if one is baptized and the other is not

As just mentioned, among the documents to be delivered to the parish priest for get married in church there is the Baptism certificate. But what happens if one of the spouses has not been baptized?

Anyone who has received the sacrament of Baptism must carry out the normal preliminary investigation with the documents listed above but must also sign a declaration before the parish priest in which he undertakes not to stray from the faith and to do everything possible so that his children are baptized and educated according to the principles of the Catholic Church.

Those who, on the other hand, have not been baptized must deliver:

  • the statement attesting to never married first, possibly countersigned by a witness;
  • the documents required for the publication

Furthermore, the parish priest must make him aware of the meaning and value of the promise that the believing spouse who has received the sacraments is about to make.

Wedding in church: if there has been no Communion and Confirmation

As a rule, the third sacrament that is administered by the Catholic Church is that of the Eucharist. The third is because before making First Communion it is necessary to receive the sacrament of Penance, that is, one must confess. For get married in church must have done the Communion?

In theory, no. And this is because today the religious rite of marriage without the celebration of Mass. Which, of course, means that no Eucharist is administered during the ceremony.

However, as regards the Confirmationthe question is more delicate. Canon Law says: “Engaged couples who have not yet received the sacrament of Confirmation should receive it before being admitted to marriage, if it is possible to do so without serious inconvenience”. Therefore, receiving Confirmation before the wedding is obligatory except when there are “subjective and objective situations of serious difficulty” which make the celebration of Confirmation very onerous, such as for example the absence of a bishop or the lack of material time to carry out the necessary preparation for the sacrament [1].

Unconfirmed spouses are usually offered to attend a special course to receive the sacrament before the wedding or a declaration promising to receive it after the wedding.


[1] fee no. 1116 Canon law.

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Can you get married in church without the sacraments?