Congratulations on your decision to get married. It’s an exciting time with lots of wedding planning ahead!
The Church honours and treasures the married love between husband and wife. For Christians, marriage mirrors the relationship between Christ and the Church. Thus married love was described by St. Paul as a “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) and came to be recognised as one of the seven sacraments.
During the marriage ceremony, a man and a woman marry each other. They are the ministers of the sacrament. It is they who will exchange vows before God and the assembled community. The priest’s role is to receive their consent, to act as a witness, to lead prayer and to bestow God’s blessing.
While you need only give three months notice of your intention to marry it is common practice for a couple to book the church a long time in advance. Once you have decided on a date for your wedding you should contact the Parish Office to make sure that the church is available on the day you require.
You will also need to participate in a marriage preparation course which is a lovely way for you as a couple to take a serious look at your own relationship. These courses are organised by Accord 025 31899. The Civil Authorities also have requirements which must be fulfilled.
The sacrament of Matrimony celebrates a couple’s commitment to share the whole of their life together and to show the love of God to each other, to their children and to others through their relationship. Christian marriage is the place where husband and wife, children, family and friends meet God.
Planning the ceremony
As ministers of the sacrament, the couple should be involved in planning the ceremony. The priest has a responsibility to advise the couple in their choices regarding the liturgy – readings, prayers, music and choice of wording of the vows. Couples are encouraged to look for such guidance early in the process. Family and friends are also encouraged to participate in the ceremony.
The following practical information may be helpful
- Go to a priest in the parish of the bride at least THREE MONTHS before the date on which you plan to marry. The meetings of the couple with their priest are a key part of the preparation process. These meetings are an opportunity for a couple to reflect on what Christian marriage asks of them.
- The priest will also begin the process of filling out Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Forms and advise you about the various documents that you need to provide.
- A new Certificate of Baptism from the parish in which you were baptised
- A Certificate of Confirmation from the parish in which you were confirmed. These documents should be issued no longer than six months prior to the date of marriage.
- If you have lived somewhere else, other than your present parish, since you were sixteen, then you will need to get a Letter of Freedom from each parish in which you lived for more than six months to state that you did not get married while you lived there. Any Parish Office or priest from the parish (or parishes) where you lived will supply you with this document.
- The bishop’s permission is required for a Church marriage involving someone under 18. Christian marriage requires the capability for a mature commitment and therefore such permissions are only granted in exceptional circumstances
- Freedom to marry: The rules governing freedom to marry in the Catholic church can be complicated. The best advice when one party has been married previously (either in a civil or religious ceremony) is not to make arrangements until the diocesan office has been consulted.
- Mixed Marriages: Special permissions are required for full church recognition of marriages between a Roman Catholic and a baptised non-RC or someone unbaptised. Applications are handled by the diocesan office once the priest of the catholic party has forwarded the standard paperwork.
- The marriage ceremony should normally take place in a church in the bride’s parish. If the couple have a good reason for getting married elsewhere, the bride should inform a priest in the parish where she is now living to give her the necessary Letter of Permission to get married outside the parish. Obviously, in this case, the couple will need to make arrangements for the use of the church in the parish where they intend to get married.
- Normally a priest from the bride’s parish officiates at the marriage ceremony, assuming that the ceremony takes place in the bride’s parish. If you wish to have some other priest (e.g. a relative or friend) officiate, inform the priest in the parish where the ceremony is to take place and he will give the necessary authorisation. In Civil Law, it is now a legal requirement for the solemniser (the priest who officiates at the marriage) to be on the ‘List of Solemnisers’ submitted by each local Bishop to the Registrar-General.
- Celebrants From Overseas: All diocesan priests in the Republic of Ireland are on the State’s ‘List of Solemnisers’. In order for a priest from oversees to be placed on this list in a temporary capacity, it is necessary for him to send his name, address and telephone number to Cloyne Diocesan Centre, Cobh, Co. Cork.
- Ask the priest who is to officiate at your wedding to help you prepare your marriage ceremony. There is a variety of prayers, blessings, readings, etc. Read through these together and choose the ones you prefer. Choose the person(s) who will read at Mass, person(s) to read the Prayers of the Faithful and the people to bring up the gifts at the Offertory. Rehearse the ceremony in church with the priest before the wedding day.
- To celebrate the sacrament of Marriage does not require the celebration of Eucharist (Mass). While it has been generally the custom, it may not always be appropriate for example in a “mixed” marriage or when a couple are not regularly practising. Some couples today find the celebration of Marriage without the Eucharist, to be more appropriate for them.
- Marriages on Sundays, Holydays and some special Church celebrations (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St.Patrick’s Day, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Feast of All Souls) are not permitted in this Diocese.
State Requirements for Marriage
The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at Adelaide St. Cork.
When the couple have chosen the date, church and priest for their marriage (and confirmed these matters with the relevant priest or priests), they will then need to make an appointment to meet with any civil registrar in person to give notice of their intention to marry. This meeting with the registrar must take place at least three months before the wedding in order to comply with the civil requirement. The couple will be required to bring several documents to the registrar’s office and a fee of €200.
- photo identity (preferably a passport or driving license)
- names and dates of birth of witnesses
- name of the church where they wish to be married
- name of the priest who will officiate at the marriage; this presumes that the celebrant is a registered solemniser and that he has agreed to officiate at the marriage.
- if either party has been previously married, they must provide the civil registrar with an original divorce decree or a death certificate if widowed.
When all the civil requirements have been completed satisfactorily the couple will receive, from the registrar, a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). This document will replace the current form. Without this form the couple cannot get married nor may the solemniser proceed with the marriage ceremony.
Both the solemniser and the parish priest of the place of marriage will receive notification from the civil registrar’s office concerning the marriage due to take place.
The couple must present the MRF to the solemniser before the wedding so that he can check that the details are correct before marriage takes place. This should be done as early as is convenient.
If changes are necessary – for instance, changing the name of the solemniser – the couple should contact the civil registrar to arrange for the re-issue of the MRF at the earliest possible stage before the ceremony.
After the wedding, the solemniser must ensure that the MRF is signed by the couple, the two witnesses and himself.
After the marriage has been celebrated, it is the responsibility of the couple (not the local priest or solemniser) to return the MRF to any Registrar’s Office. This form must be returned within one month of the marriage.
The new legislation will require that the solemniser (the priest who officiates at the marriage) must ask the couple to make a verbal declaration of no civil impediment. It is recommended practice that this declaration be made at the beginning of the wedding, when the bride and groom arrive at the sanctuary.
In order to summarise the above legal requirements for valid civil registration of marriage, please study the following check-list of what the couple must do:
- meet one of the local parish clergy
- book the church where you wish to marry
- meet a civil registrar at least three months before the wedding to give notice of your intention to marry
- receive the Marriage Registration Form (MRF) from the civil registrar
- bring the MRF to the solemniser
- make the verbal declaration of no civil impediment in the presence of each other and before the solemniser and the two witnesses not more than two days before the wedding, usually at the rehearsal or else at the beginning of the wedding ceremony
- return the signed MRF to any civil registrar not later than one month after the wedding