A Guide to
Your Church Wedding
Congratulations on your decision to get married. We are delighted that you have chosen to mark such an important moment in your life by asking God’s blessing on your marriage by celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage. As a parish we will be delighted to help you in any way we can as you journey together as a couple towards your wedding day.
This brief guide is intended to help you with planning your journey towards the wedding day. The different issues are addressed in the context of norms that operate here in the Diocese of Cork and Ross. These may vary in other dioceses. Several of the issues will vary significantly if you choose to celebrate your marriage in a Church abroad and we recommend that you speak to one of the priests personally if you plan on marrying in a Church abroad so that we can advise you on the particular requirements.
State Requirements for all Marriages in Ireland
Anyone wishing to get married in Ireland must give at least 3 months notification in person to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This applies to all marriages, whether solemnised by a Registrar or according to religious rites and ceremonies.
In order to officiate at a marriage in the Republic of Ireland, a priest must be registered as a Solemniser with the General Registrar’s Office.
You need to make an appointment with the Registrar in order to give the notification. In order to ensure the notification is given at least 3 months before the date you intend getting married on, it is advisable to arrange the appointment well in advance. When you make the appointment with the Registrar you will be informed what information and documents you need to bring with you.
Once all the requirements have been fulfilled the Registrar will issue a Marriage Registration Form [MRF] to the couple. They should show this to their priest in advance of the wedding to ensure that the details are correct.
It is the responsibility of the couple to bring the MRF with them on the day of the wedding.
The couple must make a declaration of no impediment in the presence of the priest and their two witnesses, reaffirming their freedom to marry. To be valid, this must be done within two days prior to the marriage. It can be done at the rehearsal if it is within this timeframe or just as the church ceremony is about to begin.
After the marriage ceremony the couple, the two witnesses and the priest listed on the MRF sign it.
It is the responsibility of the couple to return the signed MRF to the Registrar’s Office within a month of the date of the marriage.
If any changes are required to the MRF after it has been issued to the couple this should be communicated to the Registrar’s Office and a new MRF issued. It is only in exceptional circumstances, where a change occurs at the last minute, over a weekend when the Registrar’s Office is closed, that the MRF should be changed using the facility that exists for changes on the MRF.
For up-to-date information and all matters relating to civil registration of marriage in Ireland consult the General Register Office at
A Guide to preparing for your Church Wedding
Choose a Date and a Location
Here in the Harbour Parishes we welcome couples to celebrate their marriage in any of our four churches in Passage West, Monkstown, Shanbally or Ringaskiddy Oratory. Couples are free to choose which Church would best suit them.
It is recommended that you book the Church well in advance. Because Sundays and Holy Days are the days when the faith community gathers for worship, weddings are not celebrated in the Diocese of Cork and Ross on these days. A few other days (Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) are also excluded, but you can choose from the other 300+ days of the year!
Invite a Priest/Deacon to officiate at your wedding.
The choice of priest who officiates at your ceremony is completely yours. If he is not a priest of our parish, we will gladly give him the necessary permission to officiate at your ceremony. Diocesan policy requires that visiting priests produce a current Celebret [a standard statement from the priest’s bishop or superior verifying that he is in good standing]. The priest or deacon must also be registered on the Civil Registrar’s Approved List of Solemnisers. Priests from abroad can be added temporarily to this list by personally contacting the diocesan office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish, you may invite other priests to concelebrate.
The Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form
Each Catholic getting married needs to complete a Pre-Nuptial Inquiry Form with the priest of the parish where he/she is currently living. This is usually done by appointment. Each Catholic party to the marriage needs to complete this form with his/her priest.
If your partner is not a Catholic the priest completing your pre-marriage papers will need to apply to your bishop for a ‘dispensation’ or special permission. Your priest will process this for you. Allow extra time (usually about four weeks) for this process.
New Pastoral Guidelines in respect of the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form were issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in November 2016. These recommend that from now on the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form be completed in two moments:
Moment 1. Complete Section A
Section A should be completed by the couple with their priest as soon as possible after they book their wedding. This section deals with a person’s freedom to marry. The booking of the Church will be regarded as provisional until confirmation is received that Section A has been completed and the freedom of the couple to marry has been established.
To complete Section A your priest will require:
A Certificate of Baptism from the church where you were baptised, which has been issued in the six months previous.
A Certificate of Confirmation from the church where you were confirmed (This is not required if your Certificate of Baptism includes a record of Confirmation).
Documentary proof of freedom to marry for both parties. This can be in the form of of the following:
Letters of freedom from each place the party lived for six months or more since they were eighteen.
Statement of freedom to marry by a parent or sibling stating that, to the best of his/her knowledge, the person in question has never been married, either civilly or religiously. This statement must be signed in the present of the priest completing the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form.
A sworn affidavit before a Commissioner for Oaths attesting that the person has never been married either religiously or civilly in any jurisdiction.
Where appropriate, the special permission or dispensation from the Bishop’s Office, if so required.
Moment 2: Complete Section B
Section B concerns a person’s understanding of marriage and its obligations and responsibilities. This is completed with the priest of your parish once you have undertaken one of the approved Marriage Preparation Courses but it is recommended that it be completed no later than two months before the marriage. To complete this section you will require a Certificate or statement regarding the form of marriage preparation you have undertaken.
Marriage Preparation Courses
The Marriage Preparation Course is one way the Church wishes to help all couples who are getting married. It is in your own best interest to book a Marriage Preparation Course as early as possible; ideally, this should be done at least one year before the date of your wedding. This way, you will have better choices about which course you can participate in.
The course recognised by the Church in Ireland that we recommend is run by Accord - The Catholic Marriage Care Service. For more details on their courses visit
At the conclusion your Marriage Preparation Course, you will receive a certificate which will be included in your Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form.
Once the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry is complete the priest will forward it to the priest of the church where the marriage is to take place.
In the case of marriages abroad the papers must first be sent to the Bishop’s Office so it is advisable to complete the papers well in advance to allow time for them to reach the parish abroad to which they have to be sent.