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A couples guide or planning a Roman Catholic Wedding or Civil ceremony in Ireland

Congratulations on your engagement

Congratulations on your engagement

Hurray!  You’re engaged, ‘The Wedding Guy’ would like to convey his congratulations. After the whirlwind and the excitement of it all and breaking the news to friends and family comes the planning and hard work. Basically this period of time involves a bit of phone calls, running around, paperwork, organisation and constant reminders to self not to let it stress you out… Do not panic! Remember, these systems and everyone involved in them are there to HELP you to get married.

Ideally and normally it will go in this order.

* decide on a date and venue for the celebrations.

* If you have a venue in mind or somewhere you love you may have had this booked before your engagement, yes some savvy couples do plan their engagements. !!!

* If your dream venue is not available then it may be back to the drawing board; either rethink your venue or your date, or sometimes both!!

* Remember some of the most popular dates are booked up for up to two years in advance and in extreme cases three to four years for the more popular dates…

* When you manage to procure a date in a venue that was on your dream list.. Now what??

First of all buy yourselves a folder and decide on who is going to assimilate and control the gathering of the information, I’m sure in every couple there is one party who excels at this over the other! If not choose one.

The Paperwork & legalities

This can appear daunting but if you follow these simple rules and steps then it should remain hassle free.


A Roman Catholic Church Wedding.

This process is a two tier process involving the Church & The State.

To ensure that your marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church and the State, you must take the steps listed below. It is a good idea to be organised and complete the following  steps in plenty of time before your Wedding Day.

NB: you must book your church wedding within a minimum of 3 months before your desired wedding date. The Wedding Guy suggests & it is always a good idea to have a list of a few churches in mind as your local one or the one near your venue may be booked up already or not available on your desired day.

After having chosen your church and confirming that the date you want is actually available and that a solemniser is available and willing to perform the ceremony…

Q. Hold on, What is a solemniser?       A. It’s the priest

You will come across this In the state paperwork so let’s get this straightened out now…. In the eyes of the state, a solomoniser is the person who carries out the ceremony, (whether it be priest, humanist or civil servant).



Paperwork; Q. What will the church/priest need to see?

Bring this to your first meeting or start gathering it afterwards straight away.

1. A recently issued copy of both of your Baptismal Certificates.

2. A recently issued copy of both of your Confirmation Certificates.

3. A Letter of Freedom from each parish you have lived in since you were 18.

4. A prenuptial enquiry form. To view a sample click HERE.

The R.C Church insists on a wedding preparation course and your priest will give you details on these and what are required. 

Q. What if one of us is not RC?

* 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.

Paperwork. Q. What will the state expect from us?

You will need to meet the Civil Registrar at least 3 months before the wedding to give notice of your intention to marry.

Basically photo ID, and bring copies of what you brought to the priest, some may not be required but have them in your folder anyway.

* Names and dates of birth of witnesses

* Name of the church, the date and name of the priest, this assumes that the priest is a registered solemniser.

* If either party has been previously married, a death certificate must be provided if widowed or if divorced an original divorce decree.

Note: 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

Click on for details

In Northern Ireland contact General Register Office, Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4HL. 028 90252000

Click HERE for the website and click on How to get married.

Next the Registrar will issue you with a certificate the ‘MRF’ Marriage Registration Form, this should brought to your solemniser really as soon as you can to get it out of the way and have all completed, remember without this certificate, the wedding ceremony cannot go ahead!!!

Civil Ceremonies 


So you are planning on getting married outside the church, these steps will inform you how to get married being recognised under Irish law.

The HSE is the medium which through Civil Ceremonies are organised and conducted through in the Irish Republic.

You need to decide where you want to get married; as in which county, most areas require a minimum of three months notice but this can vary depending on demand and population. Dublin being the most popular can take up to 8 months notice. Also bear in mind that Civil ceremonies can only take place Monday to Friday as this may affect your reception plans. Some couples decide on a Civil ceremony with close friends and family on the week before their reception and then follow with a blessing before their reception at the weekend.

If you’re planning on having the civil ceremony at your chosen venue with a weekday wedding then the venue must be approved and licenced for civil ceremonies and adhere to a strict list of requirements. The ceremony can only be officiated by a Civil Servant.  The venue must be a solid structure so therefore cannot be held outdoors although this issue is still being debated within government departments. There is as yet no clear decision on this issue.  (Note: Humanist blessings can be held outdoors & at weekends)

What you will need to do:

*Choose your location ( i.e. in which county)  and make an appointment to meet with the registrar in the area you want to get married.

*For Civil Partnerships a full list of Civil Registration offices are listed HERE.

*This meeting is held so  you can officially notify the HSE of your intention to get married, at this meeting you give at least three months notice. My advice is to go and get this meeting organised as soon as you start making plans. The earlier the better especially if you want the ceremony located at your chosen venue.

* Paperwork: Bring the following to the meeting: passports, birth certs, any divorce papers from a previous marriage or death certificates in the case of a widow, PPS numbers & €200 if getting married in the registrars office or €400 if in another licensed venue.
You’ll need to tell the registrar the date you want to marry, the venue for your civil ceremony and the name and date of birth of your two witnesses.

*Once its all processed you’ll receive a marriage registration form, which is the document authorising you to proceed with your marriage.

This post is compiled using all up to date information available at time of publishing. As always the Church and HSE should be consulted in case of any updates or changes in the State Law.

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