Congratulations on your decision to get married. It’s an exciting time with lots of planning ahead!
Planning your wedding.
1. The Church.
While you need only give four months notice of your intention to marry it is common practice for a couple to book the church a long time in advance. So it is important to contact the Parish office as early as possible to make sure that the church is available on the day you require.
The Preliminary Booking Form must be filled in. You will get this form from the Parish Office, (beside the Parish church). This needs to be signed and returned to the parish office. This will then confirm your church booking.
2. The Priest… (Solemniser or Celebrant).
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. Let your priest know in good time of the date of your wedding.
Celebrants from overseas.
All diocesan priests in the Republic of Ireland are on the States list of Solemnisers. In order for a priest from overseas to be placed on this list in a temporary capacity, it is necessary for him to send his name, address and telephone number to the Diocesan Office. The Diocesan Office in Carlow will then contact the officiating priest to formalise matters with him.
3. Pre- Marriage Course.
Couple are strongly recommended to participate in a pre-marriage course organised by Accord(the Church’s marriage service) available in different centres in the diocese. These courses are designed to help the couple to grow in clarity about and appreciation of the nature of the commitment that is Christian marriage. The course is a lovely way for you, as a couple, to take a look at your own relationship.
4. Meeting the Priest of your Parish.
The meeting of the couple with the priest is a key part of the preparation process. Go to your priest at least four months before your wedding. The priest will also begin the process of filling out Preliminary Booking Forms and advise you about various documents that you need to collect. You will need to get a certificate of Baptism from the parish in which you were baptised and a certificate of Confirmation from the parish in which who were confirmed. These documents should be issued no more than six months prior to the date of marriage.
If you have lived somewhere else other than your current parish since you were sixteen then you will need to get a letter of freedom from each parish in each you lived for more than six months to state that you did not get married while you lived there. Your priest will help you with any difficulties that may arise regarding the letters of freedom.
6. Civil Registration
The civil authorities also have state requirements which must be fulfilled. You will need to make an appointment to meet with the civil registrar in person to give notice of your intention to marry. This meeting must take place at least 3 months before the wedding. The nearest civil registrar is based in the H.S.E. Centre, Arden Road, Tullamore. 0579359560. When all civil requirements have been completed satisfactorily the couple will receive, from the registrar, a Marriage Registration From (MRF). Without the Marriage Registration form the couple cannot get married nor may the priest proceed with the marriage. On the day of the wedding the MRF will be signed by the couple, the witnesses and the priest following the ceremony. The form will then be returned to the couple. It is then the couple’s responsibility, not the priest to return this form to the registrar’s office within one month of the marriage.
More and more today, the couple desire and are encouraged to put their own shape on the ceremony. This includes choosing readings, prayers, music and a version of the vows. It also includes asking family and friends to participate in the ceremony. The couple will need to discuss their plans with the priest they have asked to preside at the wedding. There are 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 or Feast of All souls) are not permitted in this Diocese.
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.
Special permissions are required for full church recognition of marriages between a Roman Catholic and a baptised non-RC or someone un-baptised. Applications are handled by the diocesan office once the priest of the catholic party has forwarded the standard paperwork.