Non-parishioners marrying in an Arlington parish

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How do I know if I’m a resident of the Diocese of Arlington?

Go to our Diocesan Parish Locator and enter the zip code of your home address. You are the subject of the diocese in which you live, and not necessarily the one in which you attend church. Be sure to check what diocese you belong to, especially if you are close to the diocesan borders.

I would like my marriage to be celebrated at an Arlington parish by a priest from a different diocese. Is this permitted?

Yes, it is. Your priest will need to have a letter of good standing prepared for him by his home diocese. For full details, go to section 4, ‘Priests from outside the diocese celebrating a marriage in an Arlington parish’. 

If I live in the Archdiocese of Washington or in the Diocese of Richmond, but attend a parish in the Diocese of Arlington, do I need to do my marriage preparation in the diocese in which I live?

No, you are free to go to your parish priest for your marriage preparation. The only difference this will make is that the marriage file that you and your pastor prepare will be sent to the Chancery of the diocese in which you live, and not to the Arlington Diocese. However, it is necessary to inform your local pastor of the arrangement as you begin marriage preparation.

I am not a resident of the Diocese of Arlington. What do I need to do in order to marry in a parish within Arlington?

First, please contact the local parish in which you wish to be wed to find out whether it is possible. Some of our parishes serve an enormous number of parishioners and are unable to accommodate weddings for non-parishioners as a result. This policy is set by the parishes individually.

During your marriage preparation in your home diocese, your pastor will have put together a marriage file on your behalf. This will include, at minimum, the prenuptial investigation for the bride and groom, sacramental certificates, and sworn, notarized statements from other parties confirming your freedom to marry. This file will be sent first to the Chancery of the diocese in which you live, then to this office, and then to the parish in which the wedding is to take place.

We want to celebrate our wedding in a non-traditional setting (outdoors, at a hotel or reception center, etc.). What is the Diocese of Arlington’s policy on such celebrations?

Canon 1118 of the Code of Canon Law states:

§1 “Marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic party is to be celebrated in a parish church; with the permission of the local ordinary or the pastor, it can be celebrated in another church or oratory.”

§2 “The local ordinary can permit marriage to be celebrated in some other suitable place.”

Please see the Office of Family Life for the policy regarding what is considered a suitable place. Please be advised that the Diocese of Arlington does not ordinarily permit outdoor weddings.

We have a particular style of music or decoration that we want to incorporate in the wedding ceremony. Are there any guidelines I need to know about in advance?

Each parish has its own guidelines for music, decoration, and other elements of the ceremony. Please talk to the pastor of the parish at which the wedding is to take place before you finalize your plans.