Plan Ahead: Essentials for your wedding . . . .

Church and Ceremony

Book the Church *

Book the Priest *

Readers and Singers

Wedding Booklet

Wedding Music

Ushers, Servers etc.

Papal Blessing

Items marked * are essential.

Documents Needed

Baptism Certificate *

Confirmation Cert

Pre-nuptial Enquiry *

Letter of Freedom*

Pre-marriage course Cert.

Disp. for mixed marriage

Civil Registration *

Items marked * are essential.

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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 to do a Prenuptial Enquiry with one of your local priests. After the interview, he completes a Pre-nuptial Enquiry Form for you, which is an essential part of your wedding documents.

This form records when you were received into the Church at Baptism and later Confirmed as adult members of the Catholic Church. It also indicates that you are free to marry and helps identify any special permission that you might need. It affirms that as an adult Christian you understand the 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 place to place. 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.

In the archdiocese of Dublin, this requirement may be fulfilled by means of a simple form of declaration, signed by a close relative and witnessed by a priest or deacon of the parish where you live.

Another kind of documentary proof that is widely accepted is an Affidavit or sworn statement.

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

Certificate from a Pre-Marriage Course

A certificate like this is required in most dioceses as part of your Pre-nuptial Enquiry - always needed in order to have a sacramental marriage. You can check with the priest providing your wedding documents whether your intended pre-marriage course actually fulfils the required marriage preparation.

It is not clear what kind of approval some courses have; if a course does no include at least 8 contact hours, it may not fulfil church regulations in your area. The bishops' guidelines are fairly clear; and if in doubt ask your local diocesan office. While online courses are not approved by any diocese in Ireland, in exceptional cases (like army service overseas) your wedding priest might accept a pre-marriage course done online.

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 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.

How do we get a marriage certificate afterwards? for an application form from the central registrar's office. Fill in your details, including date of your wedding, and return application with the relevant fee to the Registrar (address is on the form).