Whether you are going for a church wedding and a hotel reception or a low-key affair at the registry office, there are some processes that are necessary for all prospective marriages in Ireland. So before buying the dress or confirming any venues or suppliers, here are some things you need to consider.
First, you need to decide on your date and venue. At least three months before you wish to marry, you must meet with the registrar in person in order to give your three months’ notice of intention to marry. You must contact the General Registers office to make an appointment with your local registrar as soon as possible, but at the very least 3-4 months before the wedding date.
To contract a valid marriage in this State, you must have the capacity to marry each other, must freely consent to the marriage and observe the marriage notification process as required by the laws of this State.
When you attend your appointment with the registrar, you must each bring a passport or driving licence for photo ID, your PPS number, if either party is divorced, an original final decree; if widowed, a death certificate for the previous spouse and the previous marriage certificate. A notification fee of 150 euro must also be paid to the registrar.
You must inform the registrar of the intended date of marriage, whether you require a civil or religious ceremony, the names and dates of birth of your witnesses, and details of the proposed solemniser and venue. The registrar will issue you with an acknowledgement confirming the date of the receipt of the notification, and after your appointment you will receive your Marriage Registration Form (MRF) to permit the wedding.
If you are having a civil ceremony at a registry office, then things are pretty straightforward and the registrar will let you know if your chosen date is available. If a couple wants a venue other than a church or registry office, then it needs to be inspected by the registrar before permission will be granted. The venue has to meet strict guidelines: it must be in a fixed structure, so a tent in the garden is out of the question. Generally couples opt for hotels.
For religious ceremonies, you will have done all of the above along with contacting your solemniser or celebrant. You will also need your baptism & confirmation certs, letters of freedom from any other parish you resided in since age 18, a pre-nuptial enquiry form filled in by your parish priest after an interview, and dispensations if either party is not a Catholic. You will already have your MRF, which is the critical document.
It is important to make sure that your solemniser is on the Register of Solemnisers, nominated by his or her church or religious body. You will find this list on the website www.groireland.ie . Marriages by religious ceremony may be performed according to the customs and ceremonies of the church or religious body carrying out the ceremony, and all marriages must take place at venues that are open to the public.
At the end of the ceremony, the solemniser, the wedding couple, and the witnesses must all sign the MRF, which is then given to the registrar. Your marriage certificate then follows.
If you are going to have a Roman Catholic marriage, there is another compulsory step – a pre-marriage course. There are many such courses on offer around the country, mostly from a Catholic perspective, but some are non-denominational. Most couples attend these courses reluctantly, but leave with their eyes opened.