Getting Married


Your choice to get married is one of the most important decisions of your whole life. This article is compiled to be of assistance to you in your preparation for your wedding day and your future married life. Please accept our warmest congratulations.

During this very special time in your relationship, when you are thinking of spending the rest of your lives together, arrangements for "the big day" can overtake the emotional factor of the huge decision you have just made.

Connecting with your Parish

Every engagement takes place at a moment that will always be a special memory for the two people involved. In the days and weeks after saying yes to one another there will be many opportunities to tell the other important people in your lives your good news. Soon after your engagement, when you have settled on when you would like to get married, and having chosen a Church wedding, you will need to get in touch with a priest. For some couples all this may seem a little daunting, as this is probably your first time to plan a Church service. However, for the priest it is a normal part of parish ministry to be available to meet with couples preparing for their wedding day.

Contacting your Priest

Larger parishes are often divided into areas and each priest has responsibility for one of these areas. When you make your first contact, either at the sacristy or by phone, you should be told which priest is in charge of your area. Make an appointment with him, so that he can give you plenty of time. Most priests are happy to meet with couples at evenings or weekends. The priest will explain the whole process to you and lead you through it in a couple of meetings.

Essential Steps

There are a number of steps that you must take to ensure that your marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church and the State. It is a good idea to be organised and complete these steps in plenty of time before your Wedding Day. For more information on what the Church and the State require, please see the subsections.

Church Regulations

Every couple marrying in the Catholic Church are required to give a minimum of three months notice to their priest and complete a Pre Nuptial Enquiry Form. The form is completed a meeting with local priest of each party.

There are at least three forms that you need to get before going to meet your priest.
1. A recently issued copy of your Baptismal Certificate
2. A recently issued copy of your Confirmation Certificate
3. A Letter of Freedom from each parish you have lived in since you were 18.

These forms indicate that you are a full member of the Church, and that there is no record of you having been married previously in Church. Or in the event of your having been married that the previous marriage ceased, normally when your spouse died.

Some people's personal circumstances are more complicated than the norm and require further permission. It is always best to meet with the priest and discuss the situation. In very brief outline these are the common situations. 

Inter Church Marriage
When a Catholic wishes to marry a Christian of another denomination they must ask for a dispensation from their local bishop. The granting of this dispensation is dependant upon the promise of the Catholic party to ensure that their future children will be baptised in the Catholic Church and brought up in the faith. This promise is also by all Catholic couples.

In the event of the marriage ceremony being held in the church of another denomination it is necessary to ask for a dispensation of Form, that is permission to be married by the rites of another church. Again this permission is granted by the diocesan bishop.

Inter Faith Marriage
When a Catholic wishes to marry a person who is not baptised, or who is a member of another faith, they must seek a  dispensation from the bishop. This is called a Disparity of Cult dispensation.

State Regulations

The demands of the state vary from one jurisdiction to another. If you contact your local priest in good time he will inform you of all the requirements, civil as well as religious. However, it is good to be informed of the requirements of the civil law in your own country or state.

In the Republic of Ireland, according to the Family Law Act 1995, you must notify the Registrar of Marriages, in person, at least three months before the date of the marriage. Find out where marriages are registered in your local area and contact that office. In the Republic of Ireland contact the General Register Office, 8-11 Lombard Street East, Dublin 2 Tel 01 635 4000

In Northern Ireland contact General Register Office, Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4HL. 028 90252000 and click on How to get married.


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