The Catholic University of America

Weddings at CUA

Marriage: A celebration for the entire Church

Whenever the people of God gather in prayer as the Church, we celebrate our election, our adoption, into the Body of Christ. We bear witness to the communal nature of this family we call "the Church, the Body of Christ" every time we come together for our public worship. Indeed, all of the sacraments are celebrated most poignantly when they are prayed in the context of a communal celebration. On the local level, this public prayer and worship of the universal Church is realized in the parish community. Since every sacrament is a participation in the prayer of the entire Body of Christ, a marriage celebration that focuses on those receiving the sacrament alone would somehow fall short of its full meaning as a celebration of the entire people of God.

Thus, the exchange of wedding vows is a visible sign of God's presence and love in the world in general and the parish community in particular, and the creation of a new family within this worldwide body. As the couple vow to each other, the local community promises to support the couple and each other in times of joy and in times of need. A commitment is made not only between the woman and the man, but also between the couple and the Church, and the Church with her members.

For these reasons, the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1963) strongly favor and encourage a communal celebration of sacraments in the parish setting. It is further stated that graduates of educational institutions are expected to register in a parish. The Catholic University of America (CUA) is not a University Parish. The University is located within the territorial limits of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Brookland Neighborhood of Northeast Washington, D.C.

Because of the nature of the University community and the ties which sometimes develop between individuals and the University, students, faculty, and staff may wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage on campus in one of the University Chapels. The Archdiocese of Washington and the Office of Campus Ministry at CUA have set guidelines to facilitate a valid celebration of this sacrament.

Eligibilty Requirements

Those who are eligible to be married in a Roman Catholic celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage in a University Chapel:

  1. Full-time graduate and undergraduate CUA students if they meet all the canonical requirements.
  2. CUA faculty and/or staff members and their children if they meet all the canonical requirements.
  3. Graduates of CUA may seek permission from the Chaplain of the University to be married in a University chapel. 

Anyone seeking to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage in a University chapel who meets all eligibility requirements must submit, prior to securing a date for a wedding, a letter from their pastor(s) permitting them to marry outside their parish boundary in a chapel at CUA.

Use of University Chapel

The CUA community uses University chapels on a daily basis. When scheduling chapel availability, it is important that the needs, regulations, and the guidelines set by the University are followed. 

Caldwell Chapel (dedicated in 1889 as St. Paul's Chapel) is located in Caldwell Hall, mezzanine level, and is the original chapel of The Catholic University of America. The chapel seats 60 to 70 adults comfortably. It is not air-conditioned. The Odell pipe organ (New York, 1889) is original and in disrepair. Because of the chapel's location in Caldwell Hall, Caldwell Chapel is not easily accessible for those with disabilities. In addition, there is no dressing area for the bridal party. The chapel is equipped with Gather Comprehensive hymnals and the accompaniment books (keyboard and guitar). 

St. Vincent de Paul Chapel is located on John McCormack Road, between Millennium North and Millennium South residence halls. Built in 1949, and renovated and re-dedicated in 1992, the chapel proper seats approximately 225 adults, and 75 additional adults with use of the balcony. It is air conditioned. The chapel is equipped with a baby grand piano and a Schudi pipe organ (1987). Those persons wishing to use the pipe organ must speak with the Associate Chaplain for Liturgy and Worship. Restrooms are located to the left and right of the main entrance. The chapel is accessible for people with disabilities. There is no dressing area for the bridal party. The chapel is equipped with Gather Comprehensive II hymnals and the accompaniment books (keyboard and guitar). 

Wedding Guidelines 

Arrangements for a wedding to be celebrated at one of the University chapels must be made with the University Chaplain, the Associate Chaplain for Liturgy and Worship, and the officiating priest/deacon a minimum of six (6) months prior to the wedding date.  All norms of Canon Law and the Archdiocese of Washington, DC must be followed. 

The following documents must be presented before a date for the wedding can be secured: 

  1. A letter from the officiating priest/deacon that he has canonical faculties to celebrate the sacraments.
  2. A certificate that the officiating priest/deacon is licensed by the DC government to witness marriages.
  3. Written permission from the pastor of the Catholic parties for the wedding to take place in a University Chapel.

The following documents must be presented at least (3) months before the wedding:

  1. Written delegation from the Pastor of St. Anthony Parish for the officiant.
  2. The complete marriage file with all documentation, forms, etc.
  3. In the case of a couple prepared for marriage outside of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, a letter from the priest/deacon who conducted the marriage preparation stating that preparation has been completed and that appropriate wedding file has been sent to (Arch)bishop of the diocese where the preparation took place.  

Responsibilities of the Couple

  1. Officiant: The couple wishing to marry must secure a presider (either a Catholic priest or Catholic deacon with appropriate canonical faculties) and ensure that he is aware of his responsibilities to conduct a legal marriage in Washington, DC.
  2. Marriage preparation: The couple must receive appropriate education and pastoral preparation through participation in a marriage preparation program approved by the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. A certification of completion must be submitted and kept with the couple’s marriage records at the University. 
  3. DC Marriage license: This is obtained at the Marriage License Bureau, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 4485; 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, tel. (202) 879-4840. The license is valid for one (1) month and requires a five (5) day waiting period after the application has been filed and payment of fee.
  4. Sacramental Records: Each baptized person being married must present an official copy of his/her baptismal record for inclusion in the marriage file. For Catholics, this means obtaining an official copy of your baptism and confirmation certificate issued within six months of the wedding. For non-Catholics, any permanent copy of your baptismal record will suffice. These documents become part of the official marriage file and cannot be returned.
  5. Freedom to Marry: Each party is given a copy of a form to be completed by a priest, who questions a parent, relative, or close acquaintance regarding each person's freedom to marry. 
  6. Pre-Nuptial Investigation: Each party is questioned, under oath, that nothing stands in the way of a valid and licit celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage. 
  7. If necessary, any canonical dispensation or declaration of nullity forms as determined by Canon Law and the Archdiocese of Washington. 
  8. Any other documentation needed for the wedding ceremony to proceed as determined by the University Chaplain and/or his delegate.