Time of Marriage

In England and Wales there is a law (statute, i.e. Act of Parliament) that requires marriages to be celebrated between the hours 08.00 (8 a.m.) and 18.00 (6 p.m.). Does the Church’s Canon Law prescribe times during which marriages have to be celebrated?

No. Canon law does not specify time-of-day. Of course, there are days when marriages can’t be celebrated (like Good Friday).

Canon law does say that civil law must be followed when a couple gets married, so indirectly we might say that canon law likewise has that requirement in England and Wales.

I just saw a movie (Waterloo Bridge) where the time was 3pm, and Sherlock Holmes has a story where the time is noon so evidently that is subject to change of civil law. In general where the Church witness is also the witness of officiant in civil laws then civil law applies. You can see where they are coming from. I imagine this would really cut down business in a place like Vegas.

The two you mention take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. so would fall in line with civil law.

Now I got married at 7 p.m. which was the usual time for weddings in my parish at the time. Luckily, my parish was neither in England nor in Wales.:wink:

I meant the time limit expired at those times in the stories, wedding had to be before those hours and of course that was a plot element.

that is probably where the custom of the wedding breakfast comes from if marriages were customarily solemnized early in the day

Yes, I believe Mom & Dad were married at 8 or 9 a.m. – I think that most wedding Masses were celebrated at that time since fasting had to be since midnight and no Mass could be celebrated after noon.

Trinidad has a similar law, although I always thought it was 6 to 6. The same applies to funerals, we cannot bury the dead after 6 pm.

I thought that was the case. But, let’s say a marriage was celebrated at 7 p.m. that would not be a reason for the marriage to be declared null and void would it? I don’t know what the consequences would be in terms of civil law.

What prompted this may seem stupid. I once watched a TV drama in which a couple were trying to find a reason that their very recent marriage wasn’t valid. I can’t recall why they didn’t want their marriage to be valid. The parish priest couldn’t find a reason for annulling the marriage. Anyway, the curate found a reason - they we’re married after 6 p.m. It seemed to indicate that he found this in Canon Law. Now I couldn’t find any prescription about time in the 1983 Code. The programme I saw was set in the 1950’s when the 1917 Code would have been in force. I recently purchased an English language translation of the 1917 Code (not to answer this question!) and as far as I can tell it doesn’t prescribe times.

I know it seems a very weak foundation on which to pose a question to this forum. But, sometimes makers of TV programmes do research and consult to get their facts right so I wondered if it had any foundation. Plus, the programme was based on a series of books authored by a real Catholic priest.

I don’t know what it is in Canada, but I think it mught be different in each Province. More than likely it is the same as the UK…I could be wrong…correct me if I am.

I’m unable to comment on Canada because I don’t know about Canadian law. At least one poster in this thread has said Canadian law does not prescribe times for marriage.

I’ve only commented on England and Wales because I know what English law says on this matter (and English law frequently applies in Wales). A new law was passed earlier this year dealing solely with marriage in Wales but it retained the same time restrictions. I cannot comment on the rest of the UK (Northern Ireland and Scotland) because they have separate laws.

Indeed, setting the statutes for marriages is a provincial, not a federal responsibility.

I’ve checked 5 provinces’ statutes and none sets a time of day requirement for celebrating a marriage. Two require the witnesses to be 16 or over; one requires them to have reached the age of majority; one says that they must be “credible adults” and the last says nothing about the witnesses except to refer to “witnesses” but sets no number or age.

Since marriage is a contract, wouldn’t this be covered by laws on contracts and obligations? The law covering marriage may not say it explicitly but I believe the legal ages should be covered by contracts and obligations law.

Church of England Canon Law B35.3 (see here):

A marriage may not be solemnized at any unseasonable hours but only between the hours of eight in the forenoon and six in the afternoon.

Church of England Canon Law is not relevant. We are talking about the situation in the Catholic Church.

Since the Church requires that the marriage ceremony be held according to the requirements of civil law, there might be a case here (in this fictional story).

Here’s the canon:
Can. 1071 §1. Except in a case of necessity, a person is not to assist without the permission of the local ordinary at:

1/ a marriage of transients;

2/ a marriage which cannot be recognized or celebrated according to the norm of civil law;

I’m sure there’s a similar canon in the 1917 code.

Let’s say that this fictional couple were to have their marriage declared null by a civil court based on an illegal time-of-day. They might then be able to petition for a decree of nullity from the Church based on “lack of form” because canon 1071 was not followed. I think they would have good reason here.

That’s really interesting. Would it depend on what the state does if a particular law is broken. For example, in England if you’re 16 or 17 you need parental consent to get married. If young people of that age get married the state allows the marriage to stand.

Now we’re getting into a whole different set of questions, because there are canons that deal with the minimum age for marriage. Canon 1071 goes on to forbid the marriage of minor children without parental permission. Also canon law says that the conference of bishops can establish a minimum age for marriage for each territory.

The Church will not consider an annulment unless the couple first has a civil divorce or a civil annulment. Therefore, if 2 16-year olds get married w/o parental consent (assuming they even find a priest willing to do this), but with a civil marriage license (again, assuming they can manage to pull this off), they would still have to get an annulment or divorce from the courts before the Church will consider a petition for a decree of nullity.

The Church does not want to interfere in civil law; that’s why the civil divorce must come first. In the eyes of the law, that marriage is legal, and if the Church were to declare a legal marriage to be null-and-void, that would be interfering in the authority of the state to regulate what constitutes a legal marriage contract. It would be similar to asking an ecclesiastical court to declare a real estate sale null and void based on Church law.

Perhaps age wasn’t the best example to use but it was the only one I could think of.

Then let’s forget about the age issue.

Anyway, the point is that the couple has to follow the requirements of civil law in a church wedding. The bishop can give his permission, but without his permission, the marriage would be in violation of canon 1071, and in my opinion, I think that would be grounds for a petition based on lack of canonical form.

yes it is relevant because OP is talking about England where the Church of England is the established Church. Unless anyone knowledgeable there knows if civil law conforms or does not conform.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.