Marriage preparation

The greatest preparations for your marriage are already under your belt. You have been together through thick and thin, you have seen the best, and not so best, of each other and you now want to bring this friendship and love of yours to its fulfilment by the sacrament of marriage.  Relax, and enjoy these final preparations that are much more formal, but still essential, for your blessed day. Your parish and diocese are behind you all the way, and God himself will bind Himself to your union on your wedding day with an unbreakable bond, a commitment so strong its called a covenant, to help and support you both, and please God your children and wider circle of family and friends too. 

Marriage is in giving, even when it is not reciprocated, nor even appreciated at times. All marriages go through their rough, dry and painful times. This is the theatre where love grows stronger. The grace of the sacrament is the ability to give without hope of return, but in the expectation that it will be some time soon when healing has come. One invaluable piece of advice from sacred scripture is “never let the sun go down on your anger”. There are many many more gems that will help you in good times and bad. Please be a frequent member of the congregation as Sunday masses; it is here where we receive the Word of life, and nourishment for our souls too. 

There follows a list of some essential requirements, with their explanations, that are treated in more detail again on the following tab – Practical matters.


Pre-marriage course explained

The Catholic Church desires that all who wish to marry prepare adequately for the celebration of the Rite of Marriage. The pre-marriage course is part of the outreach of the church to those preparing for their wedding. These courses are run by ACCORD and by other approved catholic centres around the country. Attendance at an approved pre-marriage course is obligatory for all persons. Courses are eight hours in length and are held over weekends or during the week.

ACCORD, Galway Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Árus de Brún, Nowtownsmith, Galway
email: [email protected]

Pre-nuptial enquiry form explained

When you decide to get married your first task should be contacting the parish priest of your domiciled parish to let him know of your intention to marry. This may not necessarily be the same priest who celebrates your wedding with you. The parish priest will make an appointment with you and discuss all relevant necessities appropriate to your own personal circumstances. Part of the documentation required for Christian marriage is a pre-nuptial enquiry form (not to be confused with a pre-nuptial civil agreement) which details the specifics of your wedding. It is the parish priest who fills out this form with you. The purpose of the form is to help the engaged couple by ensuring all the necessary parts are in place for a catholic marriage.


Putting your Wedding Booklet together

Please visit the Accord website HERE for material to download or else visit the VERITAS bookstore online selection HERE to purchase a guide.

ACCORD material for wedding booklet, download from HERE

A good reflection on the meaning of Christian Marriage can be found HERE


Music at Christian weddings

Getting married is a hugely significant step in life and a profoundly sacred moment. The rite of Christian marriage should be celebrated with dignity and honour. As a sacrament of the Church marriage is a personal commitment lived out in a faith community. The purpose of music at any act of worship is to direct our minds and hearts towards God and assist in creating a sacred atmosphere. It is not merely to entertain the congregation. Mindful that couples sometimes seek to personalise their wedding ceremony with the use of music the Church encourages couples to reflect carefully on their choice of music and to be conscious of the liturgical guidelines in existence. As a matter of policy in our diocese music of a religious nature only – in text and style – is to be used at weddings. The reasons for this are in fact quite profound.
Your future wedding will be a special day for you and your families. It will also be a special day for our society and our church because a new family is being formed in Gods eyes. The family is the living cell from which the whole body of society is formed (paraphrasing St JP II) which means it is of importance even outside your family circle. Weather other people realise this or not is inconsequential; truth stands on its own two feet! To humbly invoke God the Fathers’ blessing on your marriage we foster an environment of prayer, reverence and heightened dignity in the church for your wedding. Remember there is a very long day (and night) for those special songs and music that are dear to you.
Couples will be asked to indicate that this is understood on the parish marriage booking form. A booking will not be valid without this consent.


Practical matters to attend to before the Church ceremony

Certificate of baptism explained

This document records the fact of your baptism into the Christian faith, and indicates the venue and date of the celebration of the sacrament. Evidence of Christian baptism is required before the celebration of most sacraments, since baptism marks the beginning of the process of initiation into the church. For the purpose of preparing for Christian marriage, your baptism certificate should be obtained from the church where you were baptised within the six month period prior to your wedding. Persons who are not of the Christian faith are not required to provide a baptism certificate.
If you have baptised into another Christian denomination, you will need to verify that your baptism is recognised by the catholic church. Your local priest may be able to assist you if you are unsure.

Certificate of confirmation explained

When you are confirmed in the Christian faith some time after your baptism, you receive a confirmation certificate. Like your baptism certificate it too provides the specific details of your confirmation and serves as evidence of your full membership of the Christian church. Persons who for whatever reason were baptised but not confirmed are strongly encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation before their marriage. The parish priest can arrange this if given sufficient notice.
Though Confirmation is not essential for the reception of marriage, it may be considered a serious concern if the individual expresses no desire for the completion of the “sacraments of Initiation” which Confirmation affords. Adult catechesis (training in the catholic faith) can in fact be a renewing experience and give a new outlook on life and its meaning, as well as a good grounding in the reality of catholic marriage.

Letter of freedom explained

A letter of freedom is a statement from the parish priest of the parishes where you may have lived for six months or more since the age of 16 stating that you did not get married while living in that parish and that you are, therefore, free to marry now. They are necessary for both the bride and the groom. The parish priest can help you obtain the necessary letters of freedom. If you have lived in more than two or three parishes since 18 years of age, it will be more convenient to obtain an affidavit from a solicitor, stating on oath that you have not been married before.


Getting married abroad

A fee of €50 is applicable when you are getting married abroad. It is advisable that you organise all paperwork both with the parish priest and with the state well in advance.

Preparing for your Irish wedding while living abroad

It is essential to ensure that all marriage preparations courses undertaken outside of Ireland are valid preparations for the sacrament of marriage. As a general rule, if the catholic diocese where you are living recognises a particular marriage course it should be accepted in all other catholic dioceses around the world. You will also need a letter of freedom from every parish where you have lived since the age of 18. For people who travel a lot, it is more sensible to get a sworn affidavit from a recognised solicitor, stating that you have never been married before. Please ensure the legal standing of the affidavit is acceptable in Ireland.

Bringing your own priest

It may so happen that you know a particular priest well or that a priest is a family friend or relative and you would like him to celebrate your wedding with you. Galway Diocese welcomes visiting priests to celebrate weddings and makes every effort to accommodate them. Priests who do not normally minister in Galway Diocese require special permission from both the Church and the State. The parish priest will take care of that for you but you must let him know well in advance so that the necessary permissions can be obtained.