Catholic Church Weddings in Ireland

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Find out what is involved in a Catholic Church Wedding in Ireland.

Once engaged, one of the first things to organise is your ceremony. If you decide to have a religious ceremony in a Catholic Church, you need to choose a church and also the priest (solemniser) to officiate in the ceremony. Every couple getting married in the Catholic Church is required to give at least three months notice.  Arrange to meet your priest to discuss the marriage ceremony. He will go through the format of the ceremony, and discuss the different options. The sacrament of marriage can be celebrated within a Mass or as a shorter ceremony without the Communion. The choice is up to the couple.

The Paperwork

Both the bride and groom will need to complete a Pre Nuptial Enquiry Form. This forms part of the paperwork for the church. This paperwork should not be confused with the civil registration paperwork required by the State. The bride and groom must meet with a priest from their own parish who completes the Pre Nuptial Enquiry.  The form indicates that you are a full member of the Catholic Church, that you are free to marry, and that you are a mature adult who understands the sacrament of marriage, and accepts the responsibilities of marriage.

You must provide the following to the priest:

  • A recently issued copy of your Baptismal Certificate (from the parish where you were baptised)
  • A recently issued copy of your Confirmation Certificate (from the parish where you were confirmed)
  • A Letter of Freedom from each parish you have lived in for more than 6 months since you were 18 (from the Parish Priest which states that you have not been married before)

These documents form part of the Pre Nuptial Enquiry which is then sent to the parish where the marriage ceremony is taking place.

The Civil Registration Requirements

Even if you are having a religious ceremony, the marriage needs to be registered in Ireland with the General Register Office, and 3 months notice must be given. For further info, please see our article on State Requirements for getting Married in Ireland.

Once notice has been given and the Registrar is satisfied that all details have been provided and that the couple are free to marry, the Registrar will then issue a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). This document is the civil authorisation for the marriage to proceed. All couples who wish to marry in Ireland (by religious or civil ceremony) must first be issued with an MRF. The MRF should be given to the priest or solemniser officiating at the marriage prior to the ceremony so that he can check that all the details are correct before the marriage takes place.

As part of the civil registration process, the priest must ask the bride and groom to make a verbal declaration of no civil impediment declaring that they are free to marry each other. This generally takes place at the beginning of the wedding ceremony, but can take place up to two days before the wedding.  In order to officiate at a marriage a priest must be on the List of Solemnisers submitted by each local Bishop to the Registrar-General. Once the bride and groom are married, it is their responsibility (not the solemniser) to submit the MRF to any Registrar’s Office within one month of the marriage ceremony.

The Pre-Marriage Course

Your priest may request that you attend a pre-marriage course. Most couples today live together before they get married and assume that they have nothing to learn from a pre-marriage course. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the big day and lose sight of why they are getting married in the first place. It gives them an opportunity to focus on their relationship and to receive advice on some potential problem areas.

The Rehearsal

Your priest will arrange a ceremony rehearsal which usually takes place in the last week or two before the wedding. It gives the bride and groom and those involved in the ceremony an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the format. Ideally, all those involved including parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and readers should attend the rehearsal. Hopefully, this will help settle the nerves on the day itself!

Interfaith Marriages

When it comes to religion, some couple’s personal circumstances are not straightforward. Inter Church and Inter Faith marriages will require further permission. You should meet your priest as early as possible to discuss the situation.

Further Information

For further infomation contact your local parish office.

4 thoughts on “Catholic Church Weddings in Ireland”

  1. Deborah says:

    Is there such a thing as completing pre marriage course too early? I want to be as organised as a possible. I dont want to complete the course to find out it is not valid when my wedding day is near. Im getting married in Sept 15 but was going to book into a course in Nov this year. Ks it too soon

  2. Caroline says:

    Hi Deborah, we’re not getting married until December 2015 but our priest recommended that we do it as soon as possible, so we did it last Saturday! Once you have your cert, that’s it. There’s no expiry date.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Bettina says:

    Hi Caroline – where did you do the pre marriage course?

  4. mrsp2b says:

    Can someone help please before i go crazy with lack of consistency

    We are getting married Dec 30Th and I am confused about the whole pre nuptial part???? We live in London so have to meet our parish priest over there which is fine and had appointment booked for sept 1st

    1- Is there a certain time span that the baptism, confirmation and letter of freedom needs to be within before the wedding for it to be valid (grooms priest wont give forms until its 3 months to the wedding whereas my parish gave me mine in june)

    2- Does the pre nuptial form HAVE to be signed within the date of sept 30 and dec 30th (3 months) or can it be done anytime

    3 – if the groom is marrying in a different parish does he have to meet his local priest for an interview (his words)

    anyone shed a bit of light on this

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