1) All about pre-marriage courses

FAQs about Pre-Marriage Courses

For the reply in each case, click the info icon:

 Would an online pre-mar course suffice?  


 Would an ONLINE course suffice?

Some courses are advertised online "that a couple may do in the privacy of their home." While such a course may be acceptable in exceptional cases (eg, personnel on military or security duty abroad), online courses are not normally approved by any Catholic diocese in Ireland, as meeting the criteria of the Bishops' Conference for preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. Our Together website provides much wedding-related material, but our Attendance Cert specifies that the couple have actually attended a specific course.

If marrying abroad, your course should be one approved by your home diocese; since the course's certificate will be checked (along with your other documents) by your Irish bishop's office, and then sent to the bishop's office abroad.

Is doing a pre-marriage course obligatory?      


Is the premarriage course obligatory?

The priest responsible for the wedding is obliged under church law to ensure that Catholic couples are adequately prepared for entering married life. He can opt to give them basic guidance himself but will probably refer the couple to an approved marriage preparation course.
In most dioceses in Ireland, attending an approved course is required. You can ask your priest to clarify what is required in your home diocese.
As a group, the Irish bishops have agreed a practical set of standards for such courses to follow. These indicate the high value of marriage in the eyes of the Church.

Why are premarriage courses not free?     


Why are premarriage courses not free?

Ideally perhaps, they should be offered gratis to all engaged couples. But in practice the costs involved in organising, staffing and running these courses must somehow be recouped.

Our Together course is modestly priced and we provide a lot of marriage-related material online, as a help to our couples.

Remember that the cost of your pre-marriage course is a small part of total wedding expenses, and if you get useful ideas for your future married life, it will be well worthwhile.

How is a premarriage course approved?    


How are premarriage courses approved?

ACCORD conducts the official pre-marriage courses promoted by the Catholic bishops of Ireland, and sets the standard for other courses to follow. Some diocesesan websites mention only Accord courses, but our Together course has long been accepted in Ireland and abroad; and our bishops generally leave the judgment on approving preparation for individual couples to the local clergy.

Before booking their pre-marriage course, a couple can ask the priest arranging their ceremony just to be quite certain that the course's certificate will be acceptable to him.

What does the "Together" course cover?    


What does the Together course contain?

Together (also called the Mount Argus Pre-Marriage course) reflects on marriage as a partnership pledged to be lifelong and a Christian sacrament, in light of today's social realities. Our couples are helped to focus mentally, emotionally and (we hope) spiritually on what their marriage can mean, through sessions that are interactive rather than by straight lectures. Our speakers welcome dialogue; and try to answer all questions honestly and frankly.

The four sessions cover these topics: 1. Communication. 2. Sexual intimacy. 3. Marriage in law and in church. 4. Marriage, as a life-together project.

Must we book our course well in advance?   


Must the course be booked in advance?

Yes, advance booking is required. We could not organise the courses without this or prepare your personalised certificate of attendance to issue at the end of the course.

Your booking will be confirmed by email. Please keep a note of the date for which you've booked. It will be printed on the top segment of your booking form - the part you keep as a reminder of the course date and venue.

Will we be refunded if we have to cancel?  


Will we be refunded if we have to cancel?

Yes, we will refund your fee in full if we are notified by phone (01 296-4257) at least 5 days before the date you booked. Sometimes we can transfer you to another date at no extra charge. The same applies to last-minute, genuine emergencies.

However, in case of a couple simply failing to turn up for their course, no refund is due, since their unused places were unavailable to others. In case of need, however, a small refund may be made.

What kind of attendance cert. will we get?    


What Attendance Certificate is issued?

After our final session, couples who have attended the full course get an ornate, personalised course Certificate, including their names, place and date of the course and contact details for the course director and coordinator.

Illustrated here is the kind of cert that your priest will be looking for. Our distinctive certificates are widely accepted at home and abroad.

Optional texts, for the church ceremony     


Optional texts, for the church ceremony

The main choices you can make for the ceremony are listed in our Wedding Booklet. These include, above all, your personally preferred biblical readings.,

They also include various prayers, the form of wedding vows, and the nuptial blessing. Couples may also choose whether or not to use the "Unity-Candle" ceremony, and other optional details, such as the Prayer of the Newly-Married Couple.

How early should we take our course?       


How early should we take our pre-marriage course?

A good rule-of-thumb is: As soon as is convenient for you, once you have become engaged and have set a date for your wedding. It's not unusual for couples to take their course even 7 or 8 months before their wedding. Anyway, don't leave it to the last minute! You may actually get more benefit from it if you take it at leisure, well before the big day itself.

If having your wedding ABROAD, you should do your pre-marriage course at least FOUR MONTHS ahead of your wedding date. In general, the parish abroad will want to see your cert from an approved pre-marriage-course as part of the documentation, validated by your home parish or diocese .

What do we need to bring on the course? 


What should we bring with us, to the course?

Just bring yourselves, with a spirit of curiosity and an open mind. There is no need to take notes, though you are of course free to do so if you wish. Elsewhere on this website we have some notes to accompany the course, which we hope you will read. You can also find them on our Irish Wedding Planner app.
Since catering is not included in your course fee, you'll probably want to buy your lunch, and also perhaps tea/coffee and a pastry during the mid-morning and mid afternoon. These are conveniently available in the hotel.

Financial issues - how do they feature?     


Financial issues - how do they feature?

We do not have a specific session devoted to financial issues and problems in marriage, but the topic is mentioned during each of our sessions, as something to be handled openly and fairly by couples.

As a useful supplement to our course, any couples who request it may have an initial consultation, absolutely free, with John Lowe, the highly regarded Money Doctor. For details of this offer, just click here.

Is any counselling given on the course?     


Is Counselling included in the course?

There is no individual counselling DURING the course, though we may have some light-hearted, non-intrusive communication exercises to liven things up.

Any couple may request a counselling session, after the course, if they have any critical issue to be resolved before making their wedding vows. On request, we refer individuals or couples to one of our counsellors for a free initial appointment.

For Interfaith Couples can Together suit?   


For Interfaith Couples can Together suit?

We believe so, though most couples attending our courses are both Catholics. Any interfaith couples who join us should notify us in advance (and remind our priest on the day itself), so that their specific concerns are addressed and their ceremony options are clarified.

Specialised interchurch marriage courses under the title of Embrace are available from Accord, 39 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 – Telephone 01 4784400.

For weddings abroad, what rules apply?    


For Weddings Abroad, what rules apply?

The rules for getting married abroad are explained in detail on this site (click here), or consult the General Registry Office website. As a rule of thumb, have your wedding documents gathered at least four months before the wedding date.

Sometimes the priest in charge of your wedding church abroad may require your pre-marriage course certificate to be signed by hand, by the priest in charge of your p-m course, and sealed with his seal. To avoid complications, if your wedding is in France, Spain or Poland, it is well to have your priest do this on the day of your course.

Can we have some form of Handfasting?      


Can we have some form of Handfasting?

This ritual is not part of the Catholic marriage rite, but your celebrant might agree to a Christian version of it as an optional extra. You could propose a simple form of Handfasting like the following:

[Names], please hold your hands together, to show the gift you hope to be for each other. With God's help, with these hands you will serve and strengthen each other as you journey through life together. With these hands you will tend to each other when either of you is sick and hold each other when you are sad or grieving. [see our Handfasting page]

For other queries, please phone (01) 296 4257
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