Getting Married in Church?


Planning your wedding day is one of the happiest and yet demanding times in your life.
There’s lots to think about: the hotel, the bridal party, the dress, the colour scheme, the guests, the flowers, the menu, the music and the honeymoon, for example.
Marriage is not just a great wedding day. It is life together.

In all the excitement of planning for your big day two things can easily get pushed down the list.

Don’t forget!

  • The Church
  • The Law

Don’t forget, if you are having your wedding in Church you need to check if the Church and the clergy are free on the date you want.
Don’t forget you can’t get married ‘just like that’. The law of Ireland lays down what is marriage. The Church also has its rules.
This section of our website will help you to plan your wedding day. (Please remember that if these pages have been printed the hyperlinks to other relevant information will only work online!)

Important Note

This section of the Diocesan Website is designed to provide general information on the solemnisation and registration of a valid marriage in Ireland and within the Church of Ireland. It does not purport to be a legal interpretation of the relevant legislation and should not be construed as such.

Step 1: First things first!
At least three full months before your wedding day you need to:
Contact the Office of the Registrar to give your three months’ notice. (If you don’t do this the only way you can get married on your chosen date is by making an application to the Circuit Court).

Contact the clergyperson you want to marry you. (If you don’t do this the clergyperson is not obliged to conduct your marriage service). The list is here.  Please note that only currently licensed clergy are on the Register of Solemnisers.  If you want a retired clergyperson or one from outside Ireland to officiate at your wedding this will take longer and special permission/registration.

Contacting the Office of the Registrar

Telephone the office of the Registrar to make an appointment to go to the Registrar’s Office to give your notification.
You are permitted to make an appointment with, and to attend at, any Civil Registration Office in order to give your notification.

The full list of Civil Registration Offices in Ireland may be found here.

The Civil Registration Office for Cork City and County is

Civil Registration Office
Adelaide Court
Adelaide Street

Telephone: (021) 427 5126
It is open at the following times:
Monday to Wednesday 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
Thursday 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Friday 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Please note:

You must telephone first to make an appointment to go to the Civil Registration Office to give your notification.
You should no longer contact the Diocesan Registrar – Mr John Jermyn – for matters relating to the legal formalities of marriage. The old system of publication of banns or getting a licence for marriage no longer applies.

Contacting the Clergy
Clergy are not required to solemnise marriages of which they have not received proper notice, and should not do so unless
they are satisfied that the circumstances are wholly exceptional and they have consulted with the Bishop

The clergyperson must be a registered solemniser: that is, his/her name must be included on the Register of Solemnisers.

A link to the full list of Registered Solemnisers in Ireland is found in Section 2 here
Retired clergy or clergy from outside Ireland are not on the Register of Solemnisers and require a temporary permission from the Bishop. Contact your own Rector.
The clergyperson who is going to marry you will make arrangements

  • to prepare you for marriage,
  • to ensure that you understand the nature of marriage and
  • to plan the Marriage Service.

Please note, that where a clergyperson other than the rector of a parish is being asked to marry you the permission of the rector is required.

Step 2: Things to know and do when planning your marriage

In order to be married (and recognised as being married) in Ireland:

  • both of you must be at least 18 years of age (unless, in certain circumstances, you have received permission from the Circuit Family Court or the High Court)
  • you must be free to marry (not already married)
  • you must be capable of understanding what you are doing
  • one of you must be a man and the other person a woman
  • you must not be within the prohibited degrees. These are found here.

To be married in a Church of Ireland ceremony, the Church of Ireland also requires that

  • one of you is baptised (in any Christian Church)
  • one of you is a member of the Church of Ireland (or of a Church in full communion with the Church of Ireland), unless in exceptional circumstances the Bishop determines otherwise

The person who marries you must be on the Register of Solemnisers.

Usually a couple’s own clergyperson conducts their marriage service. Where several clergy minister in the one parish the Rector will usually decide who is to conduct the Service. S/he will discuss this with you.

Often couples have a clergyperson who is a close friend or relative. If that clergyperson lives outside the diocese or is a retired clergyperson the permission of the Bishop as well as of your Rector is required. If the clergyperson is not on the Register of Solemnisers (e.g. retired clergy or Anglican clergy from other countries) the Bishop can arrange for him/her temporarily to be put on the Register of Solemnisers for the purpose of conducting that one marriage Service or for a specific period of time.

Please note again that where a clergyperson other than the Rector of a parish is being asked to marry you, the permission of the Rector is required.

Date of Service:
It is crucial that you speak at the earliest possible opportunity with the Rector of the parish in which you hope to get married. The church may not be available and the clergy may not be available. If either is the case you may have to be flexible about your date: so be careful to liaise carefully and to book both the church and the venue for the reception in tandem.

There has been a lot of publicity in relation to the introduction of the new marriage law in Ireland which has centred on options for couples to get married outside Registry Offices such as in hotels or other buildings.
The Church of Ireland has laid down that this freedom does not, other than in wholly exceptional circumstances and also with the Bishop’s permission, apply to marriage in church.
While you, in consultation with the Registered Solemniser, choose the venue for your marriage, the Church of Ireland requires that you be married in a church or chapel which is consecrated for public worship unless the circumstances are wholly exceptional and the Bishop has given his permission. (Where there are wholly exceptional circumstances the Bishop’s permission should be sought before the visit to the Civil Registration Office).
The venue must be open to the public.

The Marriage Service
Marriages in the Church of Ireland must be according to the ceremonies of the Church of Ireland.
This means that you must use one of the two forms of the Marriage Service in the Book of Common Prayer.
This still gives you great flexibility: choice of readings, hymns and other music, forms of intercession, traditional or contemporary language, as well as whether or not to celebrate your marriage in the context of the Holy Communion.

The most used and most popular Marriage Service in this Diocese is found here.

The Witnesses:
At every marriage there must be two witnesses. Both of them must be at least 18 years of age. The couple are required to give the full names and dates of birth of the witnesses to the Registrar.
The witnesses must be available to be present when the parties to the marriage are making the two declarations required by law and which constitute the marriage ceremony.

Witnesses who do not speak English (or Irish, if the ceremony is in Irish):
We live in a very mobile world and many couples getting married will have travelled widely. Many have close friends from all over the world.
Where a person who is acting as witness does not have a sufficient understanding of English (or Irish in the case of a marriage in Irish) to understand the ceremony, the couple must provide the services of an interpreter. (The interpreter cannot be either of the couple or one of the witnesses).

Marriage Preparation and Rehearsal
The clergyperson who is looking after you in the days before your wedding will arrange to meet you to discuss the service and to arrange marriage preparation. In some parishes there are marriage preparation courses.

A date for a wedding rehearsal will be arranged.

Step 3: Notification to the Registrar

On the day of the appointment you have made with the Civil Registration Office (which must be at least three months before your marriage):

Both of you must go.

You must bring with you:

  • A Driving Licence or Passport as a photo I.D.
  • Original divorce papers if either of you is a divorcee (If it is not an Irish divorce additional papers may be requested). However, where one or both of you is/are divorced, before you can get married in church the church’s regulations have to be fulfilled. See here.
  • Death Certificate of a previous spouse if you are widowed
  • Your PPS numbers (where either or both of you have one)
  • Fee of €200

You will be asked:

1. To provide the following information

    • age
    • marital status
    • identity
    • nationality
    • date of proposed marriage
    • whether it is a civil or religious ceremony
    • names and dates of birth of the witnesses
    • the name of the Solemniser
    • the venue for the marriage

2. To establish your identity
3. To make a declaration that there is no impediment to your marriage

You will be issued with a Marriage Registration Form. It is a critical document. In effect it is the permission of the State to go ahead with your marriage. Without this form no clergyperson is allowed marry you. Give it to the clergyperson well before the wedding day.

All couples wishing to get married in Ireland must be in possession of a Marriage Registration Form issued by the Registrar.

No Marriage Registration Form in the clergyperson’s possession = no wedding!

A Marriage that takes place without a Marriage Registration Form having been issued cannot be civilly registered.

Note: in certain limited circumstances postal notification is permitted: for information about this please make direct contact with the Registrar’s Office.

Step 4: Give the Marriage Registration Form to the Clergyperson

The Marriage Registration Form is a critical document. In effect it is the permission of the State to go ahead with your marriage. Without this form no clergyperson is allowed marry you. Give it to the clergyperson in advance of the wedding day.

Step 5: The Marriage!

Both of you must be present at your wedding ceremony!
Two declarations are required
Declaration 1:
This is a declaration (similar to the one you made on the visit to the Civil Registration Office three months previously) to the effect that, neither of you knows of any impediment to your marriage. This declaration may be made either in the ceremony itself or no more than two days beforehand (such as at the rehearsal). In either case, both of you, the registered solemniser and the two witnesses (the same ones on both occasions) must be present when this declaration is made.
Declaration 2:
This is the declaration (already in the Marriage Services in the Book of Common Prayer) that you accept each other as husband/wife.

Step 6: Signing the Marriage Registration Form

At the end of the marriage ceremony the registered solemniser, the couple and the witnesses must sign the Marriage Registration Form.

Step 7: Return of the Marriage Registration Form

Within one month of your marriage the Marriage Registration Form must be returned to a Civil Registration Office. The return of this form is your responsibility as a couple. No civil marriage certificate can be issued until the Marriage Registration Form has been returned. (Don’t put it in the breast pocket of a hired suit and send it to the dry cleaners!)

The Church of Ireland and Marriage

The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and life-long, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

Marriage in Church of Divorced Persons

The Church of Ireland has made provision for the marriage in church of divorced person/s in certain circumstances and where the required procedures are followed. If you are divorced and wish to marry again in Church please consult with the Rector of your parish. The full list of clergy in the Diocese is found here.

Further Information
For more and full information see the website of the General Register Office

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