From an early age most people look forward to the day when they will get married. Girls and boys look out for prospective partners and sometimes through chance encounters they come across someone that pleases them. Then the courtship begins and this can last a long time. During this time they are sharing with one another and getting to know each other better. As the relationship grows stronger the trust grows and they may become engaged. This is a wonderful stage to have reached and the couple deserve to be congratulated. So now they can begin to plan their future together, a future that will begin with their exchange of marriage vows, a future which they will face together and in which their love will continue to grow as they rub up closely with each other as they set themselves targets and meet various unknown challenges. Meanwhile God has been with them through all this process, though they have not always recognised his presence nor followed his guidance. Christians, who know him as a loving Father, will want his blessing on their marriage. They know that his help will be necessary in the years ahead to support them in their commitment to one another. For this reason, they will want to get married in Church, and we would be delighted to facilitate this taking place. What makes this day a day of celebration is the couple themselves and their taking of the vows in the company of their relatives and friends, and we sincerely hope that the rest of the day will also go well for them.
Booking the marriage
You may choose to have your marriage in a different Church, but usually marriages should take place in the Church of the parish in which the bride lives and one of the priests of the parish solemnises the marriage, but if someone has a priest-friend or relative whom they would like to ask to do so, that’s all the better. (Only priests on the civil solemnisers list may officiate at weddings and priests coming from abroad need also to be approved by the diocese) The first thing to do so is to contact the priest and ensure that he is happy to do so and that he is available on the date fixed for the marriage, which is often decided by the booking for the reception afterwards. Next confirm that this date is available in the Church by calling into the parish office and filling a booking form. In Dublin Archdiocese marriage can take place on any day other than Sundays, major feasts and Holy Week. Three months notice of intention to marry must be given to the parish of the groom as well as that of the bride. This should give them sufficient time to meet the couple and fill in their Church marriage papers. But note, if either of the partners were married before or if there is an impediment to the marriage the booking cannot be cleared until it has been approved by the Archbishop. Couples are also required by the Archbishop to complete a pre-marriage course and they need to be booked well in advance to ensure getting a place. Couples are often hesitant about attending these courses, but then are generally surprised at how much they enjoyed them and are glad that they learnt something useful. We recommend Accord Dublin: Tel.01-4784400, www.accorddublin.ie The nearest Accord centre is in Clondalkin, Tel. 01-4593467. Special courses are available for those who are entering a marriage and where one of the partners is not a Roman Catholic.
Having booked the Church, you are now ready to make an appointment to meet the Civil Registrar who also needs three months notice of your intention to marry. In the Dublin area the Registrar is at Joyce House, Lombard Street East, Dublin 2 (Tel. 01-8638200). You will need the following information and documentation for your meeting with the Registrar: Photo Identification (preferably a passport or a driving licence), Names/ dates of birth and addresses of both witnesses, Name of the Church in which you wish to marry, Date of marriage and the Name of the priest who will officiate at your marriage. If either of you has been previously married, you must provide the Civil Registrar with an original divorce decree, or death certificate if widowed. Make sure you get the Marriage Registration Form from the Registrar and show it to the priest who has agreed to marry you as soon as possible to ensure that all the details are correct. This is the form you will bring to the Church to be signed on the day of your marriage. You must return this signed form to the Civil Registrar‘s Office not later than one month after the marriage has taken place. You will need to make a verbal declaration of no civil impediment to your marriage before the priest and your two witnesses not more than two days before the marriage. Usually this is done at the very start of the wedding ceremony.
In order to fill in the first part of the Pre-nuptial enquiry Form the pries will need a full baptismal certificate from the Church in which you were baptised, and a confirmation certificate if your confirmation is not recorded on your baptismal certificate. You will also need to give proof of your freedom to marry if you lived outside of the parish in which you now live for six months or more since you were 18 years of age. A Letter of Freedom from those parishes, or a Statement of Freedom to Marry signed by an older relative and witnessed by a priest, or a sworn affidavit will cover that. All these need to be issued within six months of the proposed marriage. After you have completed the pre-marriage course the priest will fill in the second part of the Pre-nuptial Enquiry Form. This part is to certify that what you are intending is what the Church understands Christian Marriage to be. All this should be completed and passed on to the Church in which the marriage will take place at least a month before the marriage is to take place. Note that if your papers have to go to the Archbishop because you are getting married abroad there can be delays. The booking fee for the Church is 125 euro, the sacristan is paid 75 euro and the priest officiating at the wedding is normally given a donation of 100 euro, all of which comes to 300 euro, which should be paid at the wedding rehearsal at the very latest.
The marriage ceremony
People spend a lot of time planning what they will do on the day, but it is also very important to give time to the meaning of what will be taking place and indeed praying about it even if you have not in the habit of doing so. The vows you take on this day will influence the rest of your life, and you want both of you to be fully aware of and committed to what you are taking on. The readings and the prayers you pick should spell out for you what will be specific to your new family life. www.gettingmaried.ie or www.litmusdublin.ie might help. However, there is probably no need to produce a wedding booklet for everyone as few make use of these and they will just get thrown out after. If you do intend to do so, please show a copy of it to the priest before having it printed as mistakes are often made. It is helpful to have a wedding rehearsal near the day of the wedding as this makes practicalities clearer in their minds for people and eases pressure on the big day. The bride and groom and some of the groomsmen and bridesmaids should attend and anyone else who has ideas about how things should be done would be welcome. It’s particularly good for those who are to read to have this practice so that on the day they can concentrate on communicating the meaning of their readings. Music chosen should honour the presence of God who is party to the wedding. If those coming to the wedding don’t usually receive Communion, you may choose to have a shorter ceremony, but encourage everyone to be attentive and join in the prayers as best they can. Photographers should not intrude on this by their demeanour. Flowers should be brought to the Church in good time and we would appreciate if they were left behind as a way of thanking God.
Ordering a Papal Blessing
If you would like to have a ‘Papal Blessing’, you can order them through Veritas in Middle Abbey Street. It takes a few months to get it and before ordering you will need to have a letter from your priest stating that you are to be married on a particular date and that you are practicing Catholics.
Your Wedding Day
Please make sure the Best Man has the ring(s) and coin (if being used) and Papal Blessing (if applicable). We realise that there can be delays, but in respect for those, including the priest who may have another appointment later, do plan for the groom to arrive at least 15 minutes before the marriage is to take place and for the bride to arrive on time.
Getting Married Abroad?
For information on getting married in Rome see the website for the Irish College in Rome www.irishcollege.org.
Marriages which take place outside the State are normally registered in the country in which they occur and are NOT registered in Ireland. Persons marrying abroad should ensure that all the legal requirements of the country in question are met, and should enquire as to the procedure for obtaining a marriage certificate from that country – the relevant Embassy and/or religious authorities may be able to advise.
In particular, the Italian Embassy, (63 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4, tel: +353 (0) 1 660 17 44) can provide useful information on marriage in Rome. If a marriage certificate is in a foreign language, it should normally be accepted for official purposes in this State if accompanied by an official translation, or a translation from a recognised translation agency. If one or both of the parties to a marriage contracted abroad is or are ordinarily resident in the State, both of them must be over 18 for the marriage to be valid in Irish law.
Certificates of Freedom to marry (also known as ‘Civil Letters of Freedom’, “Certificates de Coutume” or “Certificates of Nulla Osta”) which state that a person is not married, may be needed for marriage in some foreign countries, and are not issued by the General Register Office. Irish citizens living in Ireland wishing to obtain such a Certificate should apply to the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs, 72/76 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Tel.: +353 (0) 1 4082568. Irish Citizens living abroad should contact their nearest Irish Embassy.
The General Register Office has no function in advising on, or in the registration of, marriages which take place outside the State. There is no facility for registering such marriages in the State, and the civil marriage certificate would normally be accepted as the legal proof of the marriage. In cases where a serious doubt exists as to whether the marriage is recognised in Irish law, legal advice may be sought and an application made to the Circuit Family Court for a ruling under Section 29 of the Family Law Act, 1995 as to whether the marriage is recognisable under Irish law.
Useful Addresses & Telephone Numbers:
Registrar-General of Marriages, General Register Office, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon, LoCall 1890-252 076 or 0906-632900;