Practical matters

Church requirements for Christian marriage (from Diocese of Galway website)

Though seemingly complex, the practical requirements necessary to receive the sacrament of Matrimony are very straightforward. 

Please see the bottom on this page for a selection of readings and the choices for the Rite of Marriage itself.

A minimum of three months’ notice to the church (represented by the priest), however at least 6 months is preferred.

The reason? This is a lifelong commitment and it is never to be rushed. This should be taken into mind for example if you have a sick family member/friend whom you may want at your special day. Make a decision earlier rather than later, without being rushed, and give the preparation process plenty of time to allow you both to receive the most from it. 

A recent certificate of baptism & Confirmation (issued within 6 months of your proposed wedding date)

The reason? To ensure its authenticity (and to check if either party has previously been married). It is not possible to receive any of the sacraments without first being baptised, though it may be possible to be married without being confirmed, provided good reason for the omission is shown. 

Letter of freedom or an affidavit (where applicable)

The reason? You may only be married once in the Catholic church (unless your spouse has died) and this needs to be checked. An annulment shows that a valid marriage has never taken place, and is not similar to a divorce. This is to protect the sanctity of marriage, which is of paramount social significance as well as vocation instituted by God, and made a sacrament by Christ. As a church, the people of God, we always want to offer all support and sympathy to those whose marriages have ended in separation, without any judgment. 

Why an affidavit, isn’t it very legal for a church matter? We live and work within civil society and allow ourselves to be governed by all laws and norms for the true common good, and we accept the veracity of sound legal documents. Young adults are often in so many different places before committing to marriage that it may be impossible to go back to each parish where one has lived and seek a letter of freedom. 

Attendance at a recognised Catholic pre-marriage course. ACCORD currently offer the only accredited courses for the Galway diocese

The reason? It is obvious that professionals will have many things to offer young couples, and recognised courses based on true Catholic teaching is there to supplement what the man and woman have learnt about marriage from their own families. 

Completed pre-nuptial enquiry form, with the help of the priest of your domiciled parish (i.e. where you live, not where you are from)

The reason? This is not a test to pass, but an enquiry into the couples status and readiness to receive the sacrament.

Status? The couples may not be related by blood, marriage nor adoption. Neither party may be bound by vows of celibacy or other religious vows (which represent either marriage to Christ or to His body, the Church). Any commitments relating to children, property of financial issues from previous partnerships must be divulged and discussed at considerable length. This is because they may place a considerable strain on relationships during stressful times of life that will always happen. 

Readiness? A lifelong commitment is exciting, liberating but also quite frightening, and very demanding. It is not possible to keep up an act for the rest of your life; we must be ourselves and allow others to be their selves (within respectable limits of course). Well grounded maturity is required, as is a sound understanding of what a human being is, and how we may live successfully in love. No one,  but no one, is ever fully ready for this, but a certain level of maturity, mental and emotional health, and some semblance of faith are essential. You will be asked if you accept the following: marriage till death do you part, lifelong responsibility to love and support each other, exclusive relationship always and most importantly, are YOU FULLY FREE IN YOUR DECISION? This is asked twice to be sure, and the priest separates the couple when asking about this to ensure full freedom to respond. 

Readiness also pertains to the understanding of marriage as a sacrament. Only one party needs to be of the Catholic faith for a Catholic marriage. However, when a Catholic marriage is entered into, certain commitments have to be met. The children need to be brought up as Catholic if at all possible, your adherence to the Catholic faith in all its demands, and to practice it regularly (weekly mass) and days of obligation, daily prayer, devotions etc. 

Relevant dispensations (where applicable)

The reason? A dispensation is a permit granted by the local bishop which removes an otherwise obligatory condition for the celebration of Christian Marriage. A typical example of where a dispensation would be required is when a Catholic person wishes to marry a person who is not Christian. In this example the dispensation removes the obligation for baptism and confirmation of the non-Christian person. In all cases where a dispensation is required, it is the parish priest, assisting in your preparation, who will obtain it for you by petitioning the bishop.

All civil requirements satisfied

The reason? Marriage is a solemn legal contract and it is vital that all the necessary preliminaries for a marriage be completed in order that the marriage is legally valid. The marriage provisions of the Civil Registration Act, 2004 became law on 5th November 2007. The General Register Office is the statutory body which administers the relevant legislation.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is the local point of contact where a minimum three months notice of intention to marry is required. The list of Registrars will help you locate your local office.


The Wedding Booklet

There are varied opinions on producing a wedding booklet. For those who wish to produce a large booklet, including all the readings and prayers, it will form a beautiful souvenir of your Wedding day. The downside is that some people may spend their time in the church flicking through it and not be engaged with the sacrament and the mass. 

Rite of Marriage:

Please find HERE a word document containing the choices for the rite of marriage itself. Please note that these words must be used exactly, for a valid marriage to be effected. 


Readings for the mass:

Please download a pdf. file HERE with a selection of readings.