Legal requirements and arranging a Catholic Church Wedding.

So to help you get started, I have a list of what you will need for the state (legal side of things) followed by planning for a Church Wedding.

There can be some paperwork involved and it is best to have this all organised sooner rather than later, as, without this, there will be no wedding!

The Legal Stuff: Your Civil Requirements

Anyone getting married in Ireland whether it’s Church, Civil or Humanist ceremony must give a minimum of three months notice to the state of their intention to marry. To do this, you must book an appointment with your local registrar office, at least three months before your wedding date.

You will need to bring the following documents along with you to your appointment:

  • Photo ID (it must be in date). This can be a Passport, Refugee/Asylum card issued by the Department of Justice & Law Reform, or National ID card (from EU countries where they are an accepted form of travel). You will also need a colour photocopy for both parties
  • Original Long Birth Certificate plus a colour photocopy for both parties
  • The name and date of birth of both witnesses (they must be over 18 on the date of the ceremony)
  • Proof of address in the form of a utility bill (for both parties)
  • PPS Number (for both parties)

You will also need to know the following

Whether it is a religious, civil or secular ceremony:

  • The intended date and location of the ceremony
  • Name of registered Solemniser/Priest
  • Original final divorce decree if either of you is divorced
  • The death certificate and previous marriage certificate if either of you is widowed
  • Fee: There is a fee of €200 for all couples. Additional charges also apply for civil ceremonies.

Marriage Registration Form (MRF)

At the appointment, you will be asked a series of questions to establish if you’re free to marry. Once you have completed the questions and provide all the required documents, the Registrar will issue you with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) which gives you permission to get married in Ireland. It must be signed by both of you, your witnesses and the Priest/Celebrant/Registrar at the wedding ceremony and returned to the registrar office you attended, no later than one month after the wedding so the wedding can be registered. If the marriage doesn’t take place within six months, you'll have to apply for a new MRF if you still intend to get married.

Arranging Your Catholic Church Ceremony

Between pre-nuptial forms and Letters of Freedoms, the paperwork for a Catholic wedding ceremony can confuse even the most organised bride or groom. So, I’ve put together a little guide to help keep you on track...

  1. Contact the Church.

All Catholic ceremonies must be performed in a church. If you’ve decided on a church wedding, you must give the church at least three months’ notice as well as three months’ notice to the state.

  1. Check your date.

Contact your church to see if your date is available – you can get married in a local parish or in another parish of your choice. Some churches won’t allow weddings on a Sunday (or Holy Days such as Good Friday) so always check with the church regarding regulations.

  1. Arrange Priest.

Ensure that you have a priest that is willing to officiate. If you’re getting married outside your parish or if he is on holidays, you may have to arrange your own priest.

  1. Enquire about the fee.

There may be no fee but some churches will require some form of a donation. It varies from parish to parish and can be anything up to €250/€300.00.

The Documents Required:

There are several documents you’ll need before you can get married in a Catholic church:

  1. A New Long Form of Baptismal Cert: You’ll need a copy of your baptismal cert from the church where you were baptised. It must be issued with six months of your wedding – older certificates won’t be accepted.
  2. Indication of Confirmation: You will also need a copy of your confirmation certificate. You can get this from the church you were confirmed and again it must be issued within six months of your wedding date.
  3. Proof of Freedom to Marry: The general rule is that you should have a Letter of Freedom from every parish you lived in for more than six months once you turned 18 but if you’ve moved regularly, this can be difficult. The purpose of the Letter of Freedom is to prove that you are in fact free to get married. Another option is to swear an affidavit before a Commissioner of Oaths stating you’ve never been married.
  4. Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form: Every person getting married in a Catholic Church must have a pre-nuptial Enquiry form completed by the priest from their local parish. The priest will provide you with this document. It states that you’re free to marry and that you understand the sacrament of marriage. All of your other documentation (baptism/confirmation cert, letters of freedom and pre-marriage certificate) will need to be shown to the priest at this point also.
  5. Dispensation: If your partner isn’t Catholic, you will need to apply for a ‘Dispensation’ from the local Bishop. Your local parish priest will be able to help you with details on this.
  6. Pre-Marriage Course: Most Catholic churches will request that you attend a pre-marriage course and obtain a certificate of completion. This is normally done through Accord here in Newtownsmith in Galway.

Tip of the Week:

If you are living abroad but are getting married in Ireland, you can give your notification of intention to marry by post if arranged in advance. You will also need to contact the Registrar of Marriages to get approval.
When you do get permission to marry, both of you will still need to make an appointment to visit the Registrar in person at least 5 days before your wedding. At this appointment, you will make the declaration of no impediment to the marriage and receive your MRF form.