The Celebration of Marriage

According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the traditions of the Eastern Churches, the priest (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary. — CCC, no. 1623

In the Latin Church, the free consent of the couple is at the heart of the marriage celebration. By Church law, when two Catholics marry they must exchange this consent in the presence of the Church’s minister, two witnesses, and the congregation. The priest or deacon calls forth this consent, but the marriage itself takes place through the public consent of the couple. The priest invites the couple to do so in these words: “Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands and declare your consent before God and his Church.” There are various formulas for this consent. One that may be used is as follows: “I, [ Name ], take you, [ Name ], to be my [ wife/husband ]. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

In the Eastern Churches, the Sacrament is conferred by the blessing of the priest after receiving the couple’s consent.

The consent is further symbolized in the Latin Church by the blessing and exchange of rings with the words: “Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”