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The marriage of two people is a very special celebration. The priests of the parish work together with the couple to be married to prepare them for their special day. It is advisable to book the Church as early as possible (a minimum of three months notice is required). Make contact with the Parish Office and with the priest in charge of your area. The Marriage Provisions of the Civil Registration Act 2004 requires couples to give a minimum of three months notice to the State of their intention to marry. Once the Church is booked, this notification should be sought. Without the notification to the State, the marriage will be not valid in civil law. You must call in person to the Registrars Office ( Registrar of Marriages, Room 1, Joyce House, 8-11 Lombard Street East, Dublin 2. Phone: 6711863) in order to give notification of intention to marry. The Registrars arrangements have changed and this new arrangement comes into effect from 5 November 2007 (check www.groireland.ie for further information).

Pre-marriage course

It is essential to do a pre-marriage course. Courses are run throughout the year but are generally limited to ten couples so early booking is advisable. The courses can be a weekend (Friday night and all day Saturday) or spread out over a few weeks (one night a week). They are run by married couples and are very practical and out of which you will be enriched. Courses are provided by:

  • ‘Accord’ The Catholic Dublin Diocesan Agency for Marriage run courses in the Dublin area, (phone 4784400 or email: marriagepreparation@dublin.accord.ie).
  • 'Naomi' (16 North Great Georges Street, Phone 8786156).
  • Another excellent pre marriage course is the one run by Fr Pat Rogers in Mount Argus.

Documents required by the church include:

  • A current baptism cert (not a state birth cert and not an old baptism cert). It is evidence of your baptism and also that you were not previously married. This is why it must be dated within six months of the wedding. You can get this from the Church where you were baptised.
  • A confirmation cert available from the Church where you were confirmed.
  • A Letter of Freedom: from every place that you lived for more than six months over the age of sixteen. If you were in a lot of places, it may be necessary to get a sworn affividavit or a letter from your parents who can vouch for the fact that you were never previously married. The letter of freedom can be got from the priest in the area in question.

An arrangement to meet the priest should be made. The documentation outlined above, should be brought to this meeting and the Priest will fill out a Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form. This is a form which basically asks a number of questions to make sure that the step that is about to be taken is fully understood by both parties. All of these documents are then sent to the Church where the wedding is to take place.

Wedding Liturgy

As regards planning the liturgy for the wedding, a book called 'A Wedding of your Own' by Padraig Mc Carthy (Veritas) can be useful. This book contains all the readings, wedding rites and prayers. There is even a checklist at the back to make sure that you have remembered everything from the readers to the flowers. Flor Mc Carthy's Book 'Wedding Liturgies' (Dominican Press) contains just the readings and prayers of the faithful but it does so under various themes. Another excellent preparation booklet is 'Your Wedding' published by the Dublin Redemptorist Publications in January 1998. It is advisable to read and plan the day. Choose the readings that mean a lot to you and your partner and try to involve both families in the allocation of readings and prayers.

If you would like to have a 'Papal Blessing', you can order one through Veritas. It takes a few months to get it and before ordering you will need to have a letter from your priest stating that you are to be married on a particular date and that you are practicing Catholics.

Receiving Holy Communion at the Wedding Mass can be a matter of some delicacy as so many people today have ceased to be regular church goers. This matter should be discussed with groomsmen and maids of honour before the wedding. It would be helpful to keep the following in mind. Receiving Holy Communion is meant to be an expression of faith and a sign of commitment to the Catholic way of life. If this is lacking, it is inappropriate to receive Holy Communion. No one should receive the Sacred Host and the Chalice just because they see that is what everyone else seems to be doing. To avoid embarrassment anyone who is not receiving the Eucharist should lower his or her head as the priest approaches.

For those who have been living together as partners there is a need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be arranged before the Wedding Day.