Congratulations on your decision to get married. It’s an exciting time with lots of wedding planning ahead!
While you need only give three 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 to make sure that the church is available on the day you require. You will also need to look at participating in a marriage preparation course which is a lovely way for you as a couple to take a look at your own relationship. The Civil Authorities also have requirements which must be fulfilled.
The following information may be helpful
Contact the Parish Office of the bride at least THREE MONTHS before the date on which you plan to marry, to book your wedding and arrange to meet the priest. The meetings of the couple with their priest are a key part of the preparation process. These meetings have taken on a new significance in recent times, because it can no longer be assumed that seeking a Church wedding is an expression of Christian faith on the part of one or both partners. These meetings are an opportunity for a couple to reflect on what Christian marriage asks of them.
The priest will also begin the process of filling out Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Forms and advise you about the various documents that you need to collect. You will need to get a new copy Certificate of Baptism from the parish in which you were baptised and a Certificate of Confirmation from the parish in which you were confirmed. These documents should be issued no less than six months prior to the date of marriage.
If you have lived somewhere else, other than your present parish, since you were sixteen, then the priest will be able to help you with the required paperwork ensuring your freedom to marry.
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 you have spoken to the priest and the diocesan office has been consulted.
Mixed Marriages: Special permissions are required for full Church recognition of marriages between a Catholic and a baptised Christian from a different tradition or someone who is unbaptised. Applications are handled by the diocesan office once the priest of the catholic party has forwarded the standard paperwork.
It is recommended and is expected that all couples who are getting married should attend a Pre-Marriage Course. You can get information on pre-marriage courses from the Parish Office or contact “ACCORD” at least 7/8 months before the date of the Marriage,
The marriage ceremony should normally take place in the bride’s Parish Church. If the couple have a good reason for getting married elsewhere, the bride requires permission from the priest in the parish where she presently lives in order to get married outside the parish. Obviously, in this case, the couple will need to make arrangements for the use of the church in the parish where they intend to get married.
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. In Civil Law, it is now a legal requirement for the Officiant (the priest who officiates at the marriage) to be on the ‘List of Officiants’ submitted by each local Bishop to the Registrar-General.
Celebrants from outside Northern Ireland: All priests in Northern Ireland are on the ‘List of Officiants’. In order for a priest from outside Northern Ireland to be placed on this list in a temporary capacity, it is necessary for him to fill out a Nomination of Visiting Priest (Officiant) form and return it to the Diocesan. The Diocesan Office will then contact the officiating priest and the priest in the parish where the wedding is taking place to formalise matters with them. The priest in the parish can obtain this form for you.
Ask the priest who is to officiate at your wedding to help you with the task of creating your marriage ceremony. 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 when a couple are not regularly practising, or in a “mixed” marriage. 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 Feasts (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St.Patrick’s Day, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Feast of All Souls) are not permitted in this Diocese.
If you have any further queries regarding your Church Ceremony, please contact the Parish Office. You may also find the following links helpful www.together.ie and http://www.gettingmarried.ie/.
All couples intending to marry are expected to participate in a marriage preparation course. The courses are prepared and presented by married couples and are a lovely way for you as a couple to take a look at your own relationship. This is time for yourselves, and time that will be really well spent.
For further information about Pre-Marriage Courses in the Drumbo and Carryduff area, contact Passionist Retreat Centre, Crossgar on 028 44830242 or book online on at the Accord website.
You may also find the following links helpful www.together.ie and http://www.gettingmarried.ie/
State Requirements for Marriage
Requirements for Civil Registration
Northern Ireland (Marriage Schedule)
The Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 came into effect on 1 January 2004. This law has changed the way church weddings are registered in Northern Ireland.
In addition to completing their Pre-Nuptial Enquiry for the Church, couples must now give notice to the local registrar of their intention to get married.
Notice may be given up to a year before the date of marriage; however it is recommended that eight to ten weeks notice be given. Notice must be given not later than 30 days before the date of marriage, but if you leave things as late as this you may be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.
To give notice to the registrar, couples should obtain a Marriage Notice Application Form (one each) from the Registrar’s office at Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Council or from the Belfast Registrar’s website at: www.belfastcity.gov.uk/bdm/pdf/MARRIAGE-NOTICE-APPLICATION-FORM1.pdf
Once you have completed these forms (full notes are provided by the Registrar) you should bring them to the celebrant who will officiate at your wedding, for him to sign. Please note: if the celebrant is a deacon, visiting from a religious order or from outside the Diocese of Down & Connor he may have to obtain temporary registration, please speak to the Parish Office about this. After you have returned these forms to the local Registrar (in the Church’s Council Area) and they are satisfied that you are both free to marry, they will, no more than 14 days before the marriage, issue a Marriage Schedule to the couple.
The Marriage Schedule is very important, if the celebrant does not have this document your wedding CANNOT take place. You should give it to him or leave it in the Parish Office a week before the wedding, ideally on the day you pick it up from the Registrar.
After the wedding ceremony, the Marriage Schedule will be signed by the couple, the witnesses and the celebrant. The Celebrant will return it to you immediately after the wedding; you should arrange to have it delivered to the Registrar’s Office within 3 days of your marriage, in person or by post. Further advice is available from the Registrar’s Office and website.
Couples getting married in the Republic of Ireland need to contact the Civil Registrar of the district in which the marriage is to take place. Further details can be obtained from the parish in which you are getting married. If the Marriage is to take place abroad, or either of you is currently living abroad, or is a foreign national subject to immigration control please contact the parish to ensure that the Church as well as Civil documents are in order. For weddings in Rome, visit: www.irishcollege.org/Pagine/Weddings/WeddingsHome.htm
If you have any further queries regarding your Church Ceremony, please contact the Parish Office.