Planning Ahead: a checklist for your wedding

Church and Ceremony

green tick Book the Church

green tick Book the Priest

green tick Readers and Singers

green tick Wedding Booklet

green tick Wedding Music

green tick Ushers, Servers etc.

green tick Papal Blessing

Documents Needed

green tick Baptism Certificate

green tick Confirmation Cert

green tick Pre-nuptial Enquiry

green tick Letter of Freedom

green tick Pre-marriage course Cert

green tick Disp. for mixed marriage

green tick Civil Registration

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Book the Church

Booking the Church is normally done with a priest, in the parish where you wish to marry. If this is not the bride's parish, she should have a note from her parish priest, approving her marriage taking place elsewhere. In most parishes this booking can be done through the parish secretary or the sacristan. The couple should make this contact personally, at least three months before the intended wedding date.

Book the Priest

At least three months before the wedding you should arrange with a priest to celebrate your sacramental marriage and sign your Marriage Registration Form, as official Solemniser. While the priest you select need not necessarily be from the parish of either the bride or the groom, he must be accepted by the administrator of the church where the wedding is to take place.
To conform with civil regulations, your wedding priest's name must be listed on the Registrar's register of solemnisers.

Readers & Singers

Select your readers, musicians and singers well in advance of the wedding date. Choose as readers people of your own age-group, who would take the trouble to prepare the biblical readings and deliver them properly. Once you have chosen your preferred readings, send them to your readers in a clear, easily legible text.
Since music and singing contribute greatly to the sense of joyful celebration at a wedding, it's worth hearing some samples from the performance artists of your choice. You should also give some thought to the kind of lyrics to be sung during your wedding mass. The guideline is that they must be "suited to the dignity of the occasion". (see Music)

Baptismal Certificate

This is to be sought from the church of your baptism. Very often it is the parish secretary who will issue this cert for you. You may need to collect it in person; phone in advance, so that the cert can be prepared, from the parish records. The Baptismal Certificate to show your priest during your Prenuptial Enquiry should be of recent date (i.e. during the previous six months), so that it can also serve as documentary evidence of your freedom to marry, in the eyes of the church. After the wedding, notification of your marriage will be sent to the church of your baptism where it will be recorded alongside the the record of your baptism. Note: if there's doubt whether a copy of your Baptismal Certificate can be found (e.g. uncertainty about where your Baptism is recorded) you should notify your wedding church about this as early as possible, in case a provisional Baptism needs to be organised for you.

Confirmation Certificate

Get this cert from the church where you received your Confirmation. Very often it is the parish secretary who will issue this cert for you. You may be required to collect it in person. Phone in advance, so that the cert can be prepared, from the parish records.

Pre-nuptial Enquiry Form

As part of the church's pastoral care for engaged couples, you need a personal interview with one of your local priests. After this interview, the priest completes and signs the Pre-nuptial Enquiry Form, a vital document for your wedding. This form records when you were baptised and confirmed. It states that you are free to marry and affirms that as a mature adult you understand the lifelong nature of marriage and accept the duties and responsibilities of married life.

The Pre-nuptial Enquiry Forms of both bride and groom are sent to the parish priest of the place where the wedding is to take place, and afterwards these Forms remain in the parish archive.

Letter of Freedom (or Affidavit)

Documentary proof of your single status is required. The level of documentary proof required can vary from parish to parish. In extreme cases, you might need letters of freedom from every parish where you've lived for more than six months, since you turned eighteen. If this would involve an unrealistic paper-chase, the parish where you are marrying might settle for another kind of documentary proof, viz. an Affidavit or sworn statement.

Ask your wedding parish what level of Documentary proof is normally required. They just might settle for a personal letter from your parents, attesting your single status.

Certificate from a Pre-Marriage Course

In most dioceses this must be shown to the priest at your Pre-nuptial Enquiry. You can check with him in advance whether the pre-marriage course you have in mind is one acceptable in that diocese.
[ It is not clear what approval some courses have; they might not fulfil church regulations in your area. Online pre-marriage courses are not approved by any diocese in Ireland ]

 

Dispensation for a Mixed Marriage (if required)

If a Catholic is marrying either a non-Christian or a baptised person of another Christian hurch, a Mixed Marriage Dispensation is needed, from the bishop of the Catholic party. This should be applied for early, through the parish where the Catholic party resides. Your priest will help you with this.

Papal Blessing (optional)

Many newly married Catholic couples like to have an ornamental Papal Blessing Scroll to display in their new home. If you want one to be read out at your wedding, you should apply for it at least three months in advance of the wedding, along with a letter of recommendation from your parish priest.

Select the scroll you want, in any major bookshop. The cost of the Scroll includes a standard offerring that goes to the designated papal charities, in return for the favour of having your scroll signed by some official in the Vatican, on behalf of the Holy Father.

If you want your Papal Blessing Scroll to include a wedding photo of yourselves, incorporate that choice in the sort of scroll that you select.

Wedding Mass Booklet (optional)

While this is not required, for the convenience of their guests many couples opt to produce a personalised Wedding Mass Booklet, with their details, their wedding vows and the biblical texts they have chosen as the context for the vows.

For those who wish to compose a booklet for themselves, detailed suggestions for such a booklet are found on this website; others may prefer to have it made for them professionally. If the couple’s families are from two different language areas, they may want to produce a Bilingual Wedding Booklet.

Your Wedding Music (optional)

Alongside your readings from the Bible, the music you select for your wedding plays an important part in setting the context for your marriage vows. You should choose the songs and hymns in conjunction with your chosen singer(s), and incorporate the song titles within your wedding booklet.

Some detailed suggestions about the kind of music and lyrics suitable to the wedding ceremony, plus some wedding singers whom we are happy to recommend, can be found on our Music webpage.

Ushers & Altar Servers (optional)

It is usual to appoint at least two Ushers for the wedding ceremony, to help show your guests to their places, distribute the wedding booklets and generally make themselves useful to the groom in having everything ready for the bride's arrival at the church.

Altar Servers are not required for a wedding, but can enhance the ceremony to have one or more servers on the sanctuary. If you do invite Altar Servers to minister at your wedding, please ensure that they will be nicely robed (usually in soutane) and know what to do (the celebrant or sacristan will tell them); and then give them some recognition afterwards for their services (about 20 euro in an envelope will be very well received!)

Flowers; Carpet etc. (optional)

These kinds of ornamentation are entirely at the couple's discretion, with the consent of whoever is in charge of the wedding church.

You should tell the sacristan what arrangements you've made, to ensure that your florist and carpet-layer will have access to the church at the appropriate time, for delivery and removal of these ornaments.

Civil Registration (i.e. registering your marriage civilly)

A couple intending to marry in Ireland must give notification in person to a registrar, at least 3 months before their marriage date. Notification can be given to the Registrar's office in any county. If there is no impediment to your marriage, they will issue you with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) which gives you the civil permission to marry.

Before your ceremony, give the MRF to your solemniser. After the ceremony the MRF should be signed by the spouses, two chosen witnesses and the solemniser. After the ceremony, it is the couple's responsibility within one month to consign the signed MRF to any Registrar (not necessarily the one who issued it), for the marriage to be formally registered. You can do so in person, or by registered post.

If the completed MRF is not returned to a Registrar within 56 days of the intended date recorded on the MRF, the Registrar can serve a notice on you requiring you to attend at the Registrar's office on a particular date with the completed MRF. You cannot get your civil marriage certificate until the marriage is registered.