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Just as individual states have certain requirements for civil marriage (e.g., a marriage license, blood tests), the Catholic Church also has requirements before Catholics can be considered validly married in the eyes of the Church.
A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements: (1) the spouses are free to marry; (2) they freely exchange their consent; (3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children; and (4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister.
For this reason, the Church prefers that marriages between Catholics, or between Catholics and other Christians, be celebrated in the parish church of one of the spouses.
Only the local bishop can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.
Why does a Catholic wedding have to take place in a church?
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament.Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.If a Catholic wants to marry a non-Catholic, how can they assure that the marriage is recognized by the Church?If the situation warrants it and the local bishop gives permission, a Nuptial Mass may be celebrated for a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized person who is not a Catholic, except that Communion is not given to the non-Catholic since the general law of the church does not allow it.In such instances, it is better to use the appropriate ritual for marriage outside Mass.