Save the Date: The Paperwork
You’ve bought the ring, set the date and shamefacedly bought your first bridal magazine. Now the real work starts. The paperwork.
There is, unfortunately, no way to avoid this and you cannot get married in Ireland, in either a civil or church ceremony, without having to do some paperwork. Indeed’n it is a pain in the hoop but if you work through it step by step, it needn’t take over your life.
To register your marriage with the State, you must Register your Intent to Marry, in person, at your local Civil Registration Office or HSE headquarters (generally known as the Births/Marriages/Deaths office).
This registration must take place at least three months before your wedding, but beware, there is usually a backlog so don’t leave it too late. Ring up to make the appointment about six months before the wedding.
When you call, you will be given a date and time to meet the registrar – usually a 15 minute appointment – and both you and your partner must attend.
The registrar will take all the relevant details such as name, age and address and you will also be asked to sign a declaration of no impediment stating that you are not aware of any legal reason why you should not be married.
Basically they want to make sure you’re not marrying your brother’s daughter’s son. Or your grandfather’s wife. Or something.
In general you will be asked to bring the following with you – obviously not all will apply to everyone:
- Passport, birth certificate, PPS number, fee of €150
- Original final decrees in respect of any previous divorces
- Original dissolutions in respect of all previous civil partnerships
- Death certificate of the previous spouse, if widowed
- Death certificate of the previous civil partner, if a surviving civil partner
- A final decree of nullity if a civil partnership or marriage was annulled by an Irish Court.
Other documentation may be required – for example, if a divorce was granted outside of the State – so you should check with your registrar when you ring up for the appointment to make sure you have all the documents you require.
Once you’ve handed over all your documentation and signed the paperwork saying that you’re not secret sibling lovers like Nat and Georgia off Brookside, you’ll be asked to provide some details of your proposed marriage.
- The intended date of marriage
- Details of whether it’s a civil or religious ceremony
- The names and dates of birth of two witnesses (over the age of 18)
- Details of the proposed solemniser and the venue (your priest say, and the address of the church)
Once you’ve provided all the documentation needed and given all the details to the registrar at your appointment, he or she will issue you with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) which is basically your marriage licence. You and your partner, your solomniser and your witnesses will sign this on the day of the wedding and hey presto, you’re married! This is a hugely important document, so guard it with your life; without it the marriage cannot go ahead. After the wedding, you must bring the signed MRF form back to the registrar’s office, within one month, where it is filed and your marriage is then officially registered.
If you are having a Civil Partnership the process is the same. You must give three months notice to the State, register your intent in person with a registrar and provide the same documentation and details as above. You will be issued with a Civil Partnership Registration Form (CPRF) which will be signed on the day of the wedding.
If you are having a religious wedding, there is further documentation you will need, separate to the State documentation. Each religion differs, so make sure you ask the head of your church exactly what you need well in advance of the day.
As an example, the following is needed if you’re having a Catholic wedding:
- Certificates of Baptism and Confirmation
- Letter of Freedom from every parish you’ve lived in since the age of 18. This document states that you have not been married before.
- Certificate of attendance at a Pre-Marriage Course. Generally most couples have to do one of these, run by church-approved bodies.
Aside from the Pre-Marriage Course which can be done at any time leading up to the wedding, all other religious documentation must be dated within six months of the marriage. So if your mother has your Confirmation Certificate from 1989 sitting up in the attic, unfortunately that’s no good to you; you’ll need to get the church you were baptised and confirmed in to issue new ones.
With the Letter of Freedom, it’s best to speak to the parish priest in each parish directly and it’s seen as good manners to pick up the letter yourself if at all possible. It’s usual, though optional, to make a small donation to the church for this.
Prior to the wedding you will also have to do a Pre-Nuptial Enquiry with the parish priest of the parish you are living in now. This is a simple meeting with the priest where you sign a form confirming you are free to marry and understand the responsibilities of marriage.
At this meeting you give the priest your Certificates of Baptism and Confirmation, any Letters of Freedom and your pre-marriage course certificate. These plus your signed Pre-Nuptial Enquiry form will be sent off to the priest in the parish you’re getting married in to be kept on record there.
On the wedding day, as well as the MRF form for the State, you will be asked to sign a church register form as well, which will be kept in the parish archive.
Reading back over that it seems like a mammoth task for a simple wedding, but it really isn’t. True, it’s more complicated than yesteryear but remember the people who you’ll be dealing with will know what they’re doing, so ask their advice. Listen to what they tell you and above all, don’t panic.
It will be worth it in the end because on the wedding day, there’s cake. So grit your teeth and think of the cake. Always, think of the cake.
Of course the above information is not exhaustive. See here for more details on civil marriage and State requirements.
And see here for more information on Catholic marriage.