The Sacrament of Marriage
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 (Tel. 096-70555) to make sure that the church is available on the day you require.
You will also need to participate in a marriage preparation course which is a lovely way for you as a couple to take a serious look at your own relationship. These courses are organised by Accord (the Catholic Marriage Advisory Agency). The Ballina Centre can be contacted at 096-21478.
The sacrament of Matrimony celebrates a couple’s commitment to share the whole of their life together and to show the love of God to each other, to their children and to others through their relationship. Christian marriage is the place where husband and wife, children, family and friends meet God.
The following practical information may be helpful.
Go to a priest in the parish of the bride at least THREE MONTHS before the date on which you plan to marry. 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 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.
Letter of Freedom
If you have lived somewhere else, other than your present parish, since you were sixteen, then you will need to get a Letter of Freedom from each parish in which you lived for more than six months to state that you did not get married while you lived there. Any Parish Office or priest from the parish (or parishes) where you lived will supply you with this document.
The bishop’s permission is required for a Church marriage involving someone under 18. Christian marriage requires the capability for a mature commitment and therefore such permissions are only granted in exceptional circumstances.
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 the parish where you propose to marry has been consulted.
Special permissions are required for full church recognition of marriages between a Roman Catholic and a baptised non-RC or someone unbaptised. Applications are handled by the diocesan office once the priest of the catholic party has forwarded the standard paperwork.
The marriage ceremony should normally take place in a church in the bride’s parish. If the couple have a good reason for getting married elsewhere, the bride should inform a priest in the parish where she is now living to give her the necessary Letter of Permission 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 solemniser (the priest who officiates at the marriage) to be on the ‘List of Solemnisers’ submitted by each local Bishop to the Registrar-General.
Celebrants from Overseas
All diocesan priests in the Republic of Ireland are on the State’s ‘List of Solemnisers’. In order for a priest from oversees to be placed on this list in a temporary capacity, it is necessary for him to send his name, address and telephone number to the Diocesan Office.
The Diocesan Office is located at:
It will be necessary to contact the office to formalise matters with them.
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.
Celebration Without a Mass
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 in a “mixed” marriage or when a couple are not regularly practising. Some couples today find the celebration of Marriage without the Eucharist, to be more appropriate for them.
Sundays and Holy Days
Marriages on Sundays, Holydays and some special Church celebrations (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St.Patrick’s Day, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Feast of All Souls) are not permitted in this Diocese.
All information regarding Church marriages in our parish is available from the Parish Office at 096-70555.