5.E.4 Proper Parish and Place of Marriage

1. Those who prepare engaged couples are advised:

   a. to explain that marriage between the baptized is to be celebrated in a sacred place (i.e., a Catholic church, oratory or chapel [1]) to emphasize its spiritual and sacramental nature, [2]

   b. to encourage Catholics and unbaptized parties to wed in a sacred place to emphasize its spiritual character as an institution of divine origin, and

   c. to explain that since spouses live out the marital covenant within a local parish community, it is most appropriate to celebrate marriage there. [3]

2. Marriages are to be celebrated in the parish where either party has a domicile, quasi-domicile or month-long residence, but they can be celebrated in a different parish or an oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor of the Catholic party and the consent of the pastor, rector or superior of the other parish or oratory. [4]

3. When the canonical form of marriage is celebrated between two Catholics or between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic, it must take place in a sacred place, unless the local ordinary permits it to be celebrated in another place that he judges to be suitable. [5]

    In the Diocese of Lansing, by long-standing custom, the only other places for which permission has been given: are the Alumni Memorial Chapel (Michigan State University, East Lansing), Saint Dominic Chapel (Siena Heights University, Adrian) and the chapel of the Lithuanian Youth Camp Dainava (Lithuanian Roman Catholic Federation of America, Manchester). Appropriate delegation is to be sought from the local pastor, respectively:  Saint Thomas Aquinas (East Lansing), Saint Joseph (Adrian), Saint Mary (Manchester).

4. When the canonical form of marriage is celebrated between a Catholic and a non-baptized person, it may take place in either a sacred place or another suitable place. [6]

5. When dispensation from canonical form is given, ordinarily the marriage is celebrated in a nonCatholic house of worship. The chancery is to be consulted in exceptional cases.



[1] Many places are called “chapels” although they possess the canonical status of an oratory. However, the local ordinary can permit sacred celebrations to take place even in private Catholic chapels (c. 1228).

[2] Bishop of Lansing, Guidelines for Preparing the Wedding Liturgy Commentary (January 25, 2007) p. 1. Available at diocesan website.

[3] Also see Lumen Gentium, n. 26. 

[4] c. 1115.

[5] c. 1118 §2 provides that the local ordinary can permit a marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party to be celebrated in another suitable place. 

[6] c. 1118 §3 itself gives the permission: a marriage between a Catholic party and a non-baptized party can be celebrated in a church or in another suitable place.

[7] NCCB, Statement on the Implementation of the Apostolic Letter on Mixed Marriages (November 16, 1970, effective January 1, 1971) norm 20 (under “VI. Place of Marriage”) in CLD 7:739. [Hereafter, Statement on Implementation.] These norms continued in effect (Memorandum to All Bishops, promulgated, October 21, 1983). There, see USCCB complementary norm on canon 1127§2. Available at USCCB website.


Date approved by Bishop


Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor