For advice, please email


The approved Diocesan Marriage Preparation Course

The New Marriage Preparation Course will be from 19h15-20h15

Please click on the SGM Registration Form below first regarding:




SGM registration form



 Cambridge Marriage Preparation Information 2019- 2020

Marriage Preparation

So Great a Mystery
Marriage Preparation Courses 2019/2020
For Parishes in the Cambridge area, Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia.

Congratulation on your engagement and God bless you abundantly for coming to get married in the Church.

All couples getting married in the Catholic Church are required to receive instruction and preparation for this important and holy Sacrament.
This document will give you more information on the preparation course in the Cambridge area of the Diocese of East Anglia.

If you have any questions please contact Antonia at

  1. What does the marriage preparation course consist of?

Marriage preparation consists of both:

  1. A four-session course (which is with Antonia & Chris Braithwaite.)

AND ALSO One Saturday Day.

2. What are the dates for the next course?
Preparation Course : All classes take place on a Sunday evening. Multiple courses are run throughout the year. The material in each course (classes 1-4) is identical.
Location:  Saint Philip Howard Church, Cambridge CB1 3TH
Starting:   7.15pm
Each class lasts 1 – 1.5 hours
Course dates for autumn 2019, and for the year 2020:

  Autumn 2019 Course 1 Course 2

Course 3

Class 1 September 29th January 26th 2020 April 5th September 27th
Class 2 October 13th February 9th April 19th October 11th
Class 3 October 27th February 23rd May 3rd October 25th
Class 4 November 10th March 8th May 10th November 8th

Saturday Day

These take place in different locations throughout the Diocese. You only need to attend one. Please choose whichever one is most convenient for you.
The day lasts from 10.30am – 3pm, lunch is included.

Date Location
2nd November 2019 Our Lady Immaculate and St Etheldreda, Newmarket
1st February 2020 St Mary’s, Ipswich
8th February 2020 Our Lady Immaculate and St Etheldreda, Newmarket
18th April 2020 St Oswald’s, Peterborough
25th April 2020 St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Norwich
14th November 2020 Our Lady Immaculate and St Etheldreda, Newmarket
  1. How do I book for the course?

If you’d like to attend the course at St. Philip Howard Church please could you email Antonia with the following information,

– Bride’s name
– Groom’s name
– Contact Email Address
– Date of wedding & location (country)


This information provided will be used to create a sign-in sheet for the classes and to contact you if needed during the course. The information, both digitally and on paper, will then be permanently deleted at the end of the course. If you do not wish your information to be used in this way, please let me know.

For more information please read the Diocese’s Privacy Notice which is available at

4.How do I book for the Saturday Day?

Please register for the Saturday Day online: click on departments, then marriage and family life.

The full web address is

5.What is the cost of marriage preparation?

The cost is £90 per couple. Please pay either by cheque:  made out to East Anglia Roman Catholic Trustee (and give it to your parish priest or Antonia for forwarding  or by bank transfer:         East Anglia Roman Catholic Trustee

Natwest, City Branch, Norwich , Sort Code:  60-15-31, Account No:  08741697

Please make sure you include the reference ‘MFL prep’ and your name

If you have financial difficulties please speak with Antonia.

 6.Can I attend either the course or the Saturday Day?

The full course consists of both the course and also the Saturday Day as they cover different topics.  If you definitely can’t attend one or the other please contact Antonia.

7. Do I have to attend the course before the Saturday Day?

No, they cover different topics so it doesn’t matter which one you do first.

8.What happens if we are unable to attend one of the classes of the course?

If only one of you can attend, then we encourage you to read the relevant chapter of the course booklet together before the class, and then talk afterwards about what was discussed.

If neither of you are able to attend a class then, as the course is run three times per year, please try to attend the corresponding class in a different course.  For example, if you are unable to attend Class 2 in your course, please try to attend Class 2 in a different course that we are offering during the year.If this is not possible, please speak to Antonia.

9.What if only one of us can attend the course at all?

It is really important that you both attend the preparation course, even if one of you is not Catholic. You are both very warmly invited to attend.  If it is impossible for one of you to attend at all, due to living abroad for example, please speak to Antonia.

10.What if we can only come to the course but not the Saturday Day?

The full course consists of both the course and also the Saturday Day. If you are unable to attend one or the other please speak to Antonia.

11.How soon before my wedding do I need to do the marriage preparation course?

You can attend a marriage preparation course any time about two years before your wedding.
But please note that the official paperwork can only be dated a maximum of six months before your wedding date.

12.How soon before my wedding do I need to meet with the Priest to do my paperwork?

You can only meet with the Priest a maximum of six months before your wedding. The paperwork cannot be dated more than six months before your wedding.

13.What happens once we have finished the marriage preparation course?

Once you have done the course with us, you will receive a certificate, and you can then arrange to meet with the Parish Priest in Cambridge to do the official paperwork. Couples need to meet with the Priest here in Cambridge to do their paperwork even if they are getting married elsewhere, as it is the responsibility of the Diocese in which you live to do your documentation, not the Diocese in which you are getting married. The completed paperwork will then be sent to the Diocese where couples are planning on getting married.

14.Which Priest should I make the appointment with?

You should go to see your Parish Priest where you attend Sunday Mass:

Area Parish Priest Contact
CB1, CB21 Saint Philip Howard Church Fr. Philip John Panthamkal
CB2, CB22 Our Lady and the English Martyrs Rev. Canon Eugene Harkness
CB3, CB4, CB5 St. Lawrence’s Church Fr. Simon Blakesley
Sawston & surrounding villages Our Lady of Lourdes, Sawston Fr. John Mihn 01223 832397

If you live somewhere else and are not sure who to contact, please speak to Antonia.

NB:  The paperwork with the Priest cannot be dated more than six months before your wedding date.  Please do not contact the Priest until you have finished the marriage preparation course.
Civil and Church Requirements

1. Introduction

A man and a woman make a serious and sacred commitment when they decide to marry in the Catholic Church.  Marriage is a permanent commitment to a way of Christian life; it requires serious discernment, prayer, and preparation.

2. The Sacrament of Marriage

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1601)

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholics normally takes place during Mass because of the connection of all the sacraments with the death and resurrection of Christ.  The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptised man and woman who are free to contract marriage, and who freely express their consent.  The Church holds “the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that ‘makes the marriage’” (Catechism of the Catholic  Church, n. 1626).  If there is no true consent, there is no marriage.


3. Initial Contact with the Church

A couple who are either UK or EU citizens wishing to marry should contact their parish priest at least six months prior to the anticipated date of the wedding.

4. Initial Contact with the Civil Authorities

You need to give notice with the Register Office at least 16 working days (three weeks plus one day) before the ceremony. Priests and Deacons can be authorised to register marriages but if the official performing the ceremony is not authorised, either a Registrar must attend the religious ceremony.

5. Foreign nationals

You and your partner must go to a designated register office if either of you are not from the European Economic Area (EAA) or Switzerland, and are subject to immigration control.

The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

You will need to apply for one of the following if you are not already in the UK:

  • a visa to come here as a fiancé(e) if  your partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and you intend to remain in the UK
  • an EEA Family Permit if you are from outside the EEA and the person you are marrying is from the EEA or Switzerland but not the UK
  • Marriage Visitor Visa  if you and your partner are from outside the EEA or Switzerland, you want to come to the UK to get married and you and your partner intend to leave the country within 6 months

You must get married within 1 year, or 3 months if you are in Scotland.

6. Documents required by the Register Office

When you go to the register office, you need to take proof of your name, age and nationality, e.g. your:

  • passport
  • birth certificate
  • driving licence
  • national identity card
  • immigration status document

You should bring at least 2 of these.

The registrar also needs something with your address on it, e.g. our driving licence or one of the following dated within the last 3 months:

  • gas, water or electricity bill
  • bank statement
  • Council Tax bill

You might need other documents if you don’t have a valid passport and you were born after 1983 – check with the register office.

You each need to pay a £35 fee when you attend the register office to give notice.

7. Civil Regulations for the divorced or widowed

If you have been married or in a civil partnership before, you need to take either:

  • decree absolute or final order
  • the death certificate of your former partner

A foreign divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it took place.

The registrar will check your overseas divorce documents and may have to get in touch with the General Register Office to confirm whether your marriage can go ahead.

8. Documents required by the Church

When you go to the Parish Priest or one of  the clergy, you will need to take

  • a recently issued Baptism Certificate (a copy of the original entry in the Baptism Register but dated within 6 months of the planned date of the marriage)
  • a Letter of Freedom from the Parish where you were baptised
  • if your partner is not a Catholic, a letter from a parent stating that he/she has never been married before will suffice

9. Church Regulations for the divorced or widowed

If you have been married and divorced you will need to provide the Church with:

  • a copy of the Decree of Annulment for the first marriage from the appropriate diocesan marriage tribunal or
  • the death certificate of your former partner

10. Marriage Preparation

Couples are required to engage in a marriage preparation process provided or arranged by the parish.  Such preparation allows the couple to come to a deeper knowledge of each other and of the sacrament they will receive, including the reasons for its indissolubility.  For these reasons, it is even advisable to contact one’s parish priest at the beginning of the engagement.

You will normally be required to attend an approved marriage preparation programme.  This should be completed well in advance of your wedding date.  The priest assisting your preparation will help you choose an approved diocesan programme or there may be an existing programme in the parish.

11. Process

Your marriage is an important part of your life and growth as a follower of Jesus.  Your priest will help you reflect on your understanding of Christian marriage, so that you can enter into this commitment to God and to each other well prepared.  The process begins with an initial interview with your priest, and addresses your faith experience, your relationship as a couple, and your understanding of Christian marriage.  There are documents to be assembled and some pre-nuptial papers to be completed (see above).

12. Special Circumstances

Some couples have special circumstances and will need further assistance in planning a marriage in the Church.  Please discuss with your priest if:

  • Either or both of you have been married before
  • Either of you are in, or have been in, a common-law union
  • Are now civilly married (to each other) and wish to have your marriage blessed (Convalidated) in the Catholic Church
  • You are presently living together
  • Either you or your fiancé(e) is a teenager
  • A pregnancy is involved
  • One of you practise another faith or does not follow any particular faith.

13. Place of the Wedding

  • The wedding of two Catholics is a Sacrament and takes place in the parish church of either the bride or groom.
  • To be married in another parish, it is required that permission be received from the parish in which you wish to be married, as well as from either of the parishes where you reside.
  • A wedding in which only one of you is Catholic takes place in the parish of the Catholic party.
  • The celebration of marriage is an act of worship and a Sacrament for two baptised Christians.  Hence, the church building, the house of God and home of His people, is the proper place for weddings.  Gardens, secular “wedding chapels”, or other settings outside a church are not appropriate.

14. When the Celebrant is a Visiting Priest

If a priest other than one of those assigned to the parish where your wedding will take place is to witness the exchange of vows, he must receive permission from the parish priest of the parish in order to officiate at the ceremony if he is already exercising his ministry within theBishops Conference of England and Wales.

In addition, a priest from outside the Bishops Conference of England and Wales will require permission from the Bishop of East Anglia. The visiting priest will be required to contact the Curia Offices of East Anglia in good time before the marriage in order that all the necessary checks and paperwork are completed that will allow him to function as a priest in this Diocese.

You should discuss this with your priest at the beginning of your preparation.

15. Celebration of the Sacraments

The Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist should be a vital part of every Catholic’s growth as a disciple of Christ.  These Sacraments will prepare you for a more meaningful experience of your wedding liturgy and deepen your relationship with Jesus as the foundation of your married life.

Every Catholic should complete his or her initiation into the Faith by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  If you have not been confirmed, the time of your preparation for marriage can be an opportunity to prepare for Confirmation also.  Your priest will be able to assist you if necessary.

16. Planning the Wedding Liturgy

Your priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy which may be celebrated with/without the Mass according to particular circumstances.  The care you put into the choice of Scripture readings and music will help make your liturgy a meaningful expression of you as a couple.

Please remember that the wedding is to take place in the context of the worship of the Church.  The Church has a wealth of inspired readings from Holy Scripture and a treasury of sacred music. Secular music or readings are not permitted even if they might have quasi-religious overtones.

Your parish priest will inform you of any additional requirements that are particular to your parish.