Speaking of a church wedding, we really mean a ‘concordat wedding’, which is a combination of a church and civil marriage. This option is required if you want your wedding to have a legal effect in a given country. If you decided to take a church wedding without a civil ceremony, your marriage would not have a legal effect.
If you’d like to have a church wedding in Poland but a civil ceremony in a country you’re currently residing, it’s possible. You’ll only need a special set of documents to bring with you to Poland (we describe this in detail below).
Church wedding – step by step
Selecting the venue
A ceremony in a church usually takes place in the parish of the bride or groom. Couples who wish to perform a ceremony in another church must obtain a permission from the priests of their local parishes. Such a document is called a license (you can see a sample of such document here). This license is a piece of document that permits the couple to organise a wedding outside their parishes. The cost of issuing the license in Poland is “what is grace” (in Polish: “co łaska”), which in practice means about 100-200 PLN depending on the parish. This consent (the license) must be presented at the parish office of where the couple is going to marry.
The license is also required from foreign couples, so when the young couple takes care of formalities in Poland, they should try to complete all documents in their own church abroad beforehand. The cost of it may vary depending on the customs of a given church. If you don’t take care of this in your own country beforehand, you may not be allowed to organise a wedding in a Polish church.
Visiting the parish office
Once you have determined where you want to get married, you should go to the church’s parish office. The earlier, the better, but no later than 3 months before your scheduled wedding date. To save yourself some time (and going back and forth), remember to bring with you this set of documents:
- confirmation of your confirmation. To obtain an original copy, you must contact the church you were baptised in and request a copy of it there.
- baptismal certificate. To obtain an original copy, you must contact the church you were baptised in and request a copy of it there.
- passports (or your Polish ID if you’re a Polish citizen)
- confirmation of your prenuptial agreement (in pl. Kurs Przedmałżeński) and a certificate of completion from a Marriage Preparation Program (in pl. zaświadczenie z poradni rodzinnej).
The presence at the premariters lessons and participation in the marriage preparation program need to be attended by both the bride and groom. If a couple (or one of the partners) doesn’t speak Polish, you’ll need to look around for classes in English or other languages. Information about the place and dates of taking part in such classes should be sought directly in the parish office. You can also take classes abroad and take the appropriate certificates with you to Poland (on the condition they’re going to be translated by a certified translator).
When the above documents are delivered, the parish office drafts down the prenuptial record and the prenuptial announcements. If at least one of the future spouses speaks Polish, there is no need for an interpreter when dealing with church formalities. The prenuptial record is in a form of a questionnaire that collects all the information about the future spouses and allows the priest to determine if they can be admitted to marriage. Also, it prepares the spouses to accept the sacrament of marriage (see a sample form here – in Polish).
The prenuptial announcements is a public announcement of the intention to marry in the parish the couple decides to get married. Such announcement is obligatory, but in justified cases the parish priest may request a dispensation from the bishop (remission). For example, if one of the spouses is a foreigner, the need to make announcements in a church abroad could be problematic. The bishop may (but does not have to) give dispensation to the announcement, so a couple in which one is a foreigner should ask beforehand what it looks like at the parish.
A statement of the announcements made in the parishes of the future spouses must be reported before the wedding day to the chancellery of the church where the ceremony is to take place. Please note that it takes 2-3 weeks to make the announcement, so do not leave it till the last minute. The certificate is valid for 6 months and can be brought to the parish at any time before the wedding (if the couple does not get married within this time, the announcements will have to be done again).
Visiting the register office
The couple should also make a visit to the Polish register office within 3 months before the planned date of the wedding, where they will sign a confirmation that they both are single and are ok to get married (this confirmation is usually valid for 3 months). To obtain this certificate from the register office you must bring with you:
- your passport
- baptismal certificate
- (additionally) widow / widower should also additionally have a copy of their spouses death certificate
- as a foreigner getting married in Poland you should also have with you a certificate of no impediment (i.e. a certificate confirming you are not married in the country of your origin)
Find our more about how to obtain a certificate of no impediment here: Getting married abroad. If the spouse whose first language is not Polish doesn’t speak Polish, they need to have a certified translator with them during their visit to the registrar office (also, all of the copies of the above documents need to be translated to Polish and signed by a certified translator).
There is some exceptions to the above list of documents. For instance, if the couple have already had their civil ceremony (i.e. is legally married) a visit to the USC is not required and a shortened marriage certificate must be provided to the parish. If the marriage was concluded abroad, a shortened copy of the marriage certificate must be obtained from the Office of the Civil Service or equivalent in the country you git married in.
Additional visit to the parish office
Once the couple receives the documents previously signed at the register office, they need deliver them to the parish office. A foreign spouse must also provide the certificate that shows no circumstances that would preclude the marriage (he document received at the time of filing the documents at the register office mentioned above).
After completion of the above formalities, you can start preparing for your wedding ceremony.
On the wedding day
You must bring with you the certificate of completion of your prenuptial confession. You can ask your confessor for this once it’s done. It’s important to book an appointment with your confessor as your prenuptial confession is compulsory (an it must happen before you get married – on the same day). If a foreigner does not speak Polish, he or she must find a confessor using his / her native language and obtain a certificate from him / her (it’s not necessary to have it translated to Polish. It’s recommended though).
Before your wedding ceremony starts, the future spouses, their witnesses* and the priest performing the ceremony need to sign the act of marriage in order to make the marriage valid. This document then (i.e. consent to the civil-legal consequences of a concordat marriage) is then sent by the parish to the Office of Civil Status, where the marriage certificate is drawn up and after 2 weeks the (then) bride and groom can collect it from any registrar office in Poland.
*The witnesses must be adults, living in harmony with the Catholic faith, who have received the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation. They can not be of another faith. In justified situations, it is permissible for a person to be a member of the Orthodox Church, but this requires prior arrangement with the parish priest (read more here). They don’t need to speak Polish but the presence of an interpreter is required.
A religious wedding of a couple where one of the partners is not a Catholic are possible but difficult to implement. The Catholic Church is reluctant to conclude mixed marriages and is required to obtain the permission of the diocesan bishop. This authorisation is granted on condition that the Catholic side undertakes to:
“remove the obstacle of losing faith and make a sincere promise that it will do everything to ensure that their children are baptised in the Roman Catholic Church and brought up in the Catholic Church and that the non-Catholic party is required to make such a warrant” (Source of quote: ekumenizm.pl).
A non-Catholic person, and a foreign spouse, must obtain the consent of the diocesan bishop (from the diocese at which territory the marriage is to take place). For a Catholic wedding to be valid, the ceremony must be carried out by a Roman Catholic priest. The presence of a non-Catholic representative is acceptable, but he can not accept marital oath. Nor it is possible to make an oath twice in front of the Roman Catholic and non-Catholic minister. A person of another religion must therefore decide on one type of marriage (it’s not possible to have a both Catholic and a non-Catholic marriage).
A wedding of mixed religious couples is a difficult undertaking that different parishes approach differently, so it is best to inquire directly with a parish where the couple wants to get married and ask them what’s their procedure is like. Read more on this topic here: Mixed marriage and the difference of religion.
Cost of a religious wedding in Poland
- register office payment – 84 PLN
- church payment (for performing the wedding) – “what is grace” (in Polish: “co łaska”), i.e. 50 – 2,000 PLN. The price usually depends on what’s traditionally acceptable at the church you’re planning to get married
- premariters lessons (after which you receive prenuptial agreement) – free or between 50 – 200 PLN
- participation in the marriage preparation program – free or between 50 – 200 PLN
- prenuptial announcements – between 100 – 200 PLN
- prenuptial announcements and baptismal certificate – about 100 PLN
- marriage license – between 100 – 200 PLN
The remaining fees are optional, for instance, you as a couple decide how much you should pay the priest, the organist, altar boys, etc. You should also think of the extra cost of decorating the church. You can read more about the cost of organising a wedding in Poland here.