Frequently Asked Questions

What if my partner is not baptised?

The Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church is normally celebrated between two members of the Church who are free to marry, and is celebrated in the presence of a duly authorised priest and two witnesses in a Catholic church. The local bishop may permit deviation from some of these, including the requirement that both parties be baptised Catholics.

The formal name for what the bishop does in this circumstance is he gives a “dispensation from disparity of cult”. Your local priest makes the application on your behalf to the bishop if your proposed spouse is not a baptised Christian. This is done on paper only and does not require that you engage in any formal process. The dispensation is then enclosed with the rest of the required premarriage papers. My proposed spouse is not Catholic but is a member of the Church of Ireland. How will this affect our plans to marry in church? If your proposed spouse is not Catholic but is a baptised Christian and a member of the other Christian Churches (e .g. Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist) Catholic Church law requires that the local bishop issue a “permission for a mixed marriage”. Your local priest submits the application on your behalf. This process is straight-forward but will require an extra few weeks. Discuss the issue with the priest preparing your premarriage papers in good time.

See also the Anglican Church information on “mixed marriages”

You may also get advice from the Association of Interchurch Families

I was baptised in England but I am not confirmed. Can we still celebrate Christian marriage?

In order for the marriage to be valid, you must be fully initiated in to the Church, i.e. you need to have celebrated Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. An adult can celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation after due preparation in their local parish either as part of the usual ceremony presided over by the bishop or at a special ceremony presided over by the parish priest—who can be delegated by the bishop.

Ask your local priest for more information.

What is the charge for the use of the church?

In general, most churches do not require a fee for marriage ceremonies. However, a donation that is given to offset the costs of keeping and running the building is always appreciated. As well as preparing the church by cleaning it, the church running costs include light, heat, decoration and insurance for you and your guests.

Some smaller churches and chapels that are not parish churches have set fees because their primary income is from these, e .g. Honan Chapel, UCC.

What should we pay the priest?

Priests do not charge hourly rates or fees. They rely on the voluntary offerings of the faithful. These offerings are made at set times throughout the year (parish dues) and at times when particular services are rendered (baptism, marriage, blessings, funerals, etc).
It is helpful to note that you will receive the following services/supports from the priest(s) involved in your wedding plans:

a) Time spent at initial meeting to arrange dates/venue.
b) Time spent preparing and planning the ceremony (and booklet) with you.
c) Time spent conducting the rehearsal.
d) Time spent ensuring that all necessary paperwork is in order.
e) Time spent preparing the church and officiating at the ceremony on the day.

Having considered these factors, the decision is left to the discretion of the couple.

Where is the list of banned music for weddings?

It doesn’t exist! What does exist is a vast repertoire of music and hymns spanning the centuries which capture some of the essential values associated with the Sacrament of Marriage, Christian living and married life. Many of these themes are also reflected in contemporary church music.

In selecting someone to lead the music, ensure that they are versed in appropriate music and hymns. Also ask your priest for assistance.

I am married already but it was in America and was only for a month. Now I want to marry the person I am with for the past two years. Can we marry in church?

The particular question raised here is whether you are ‘free’ to marry. In other words, in your present circumstances, are there any impediments which would prevent your marriage from being valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

The critical question, therefore, is: did you already contract a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church?

If you did, and if the spouse is still alive, then may not be free to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage. If you contacted a marriage only in the civil forum and if there are no obligations still arising from that union, then you may be free to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage.

You need to make contact with your local priest who will be in apposition to contact appropriate authorities to help you assess whether you are free to marry in Church or not.

Do I have to print a booklet for the ceremony?

No. The booklet is an optional extra. Consult the priest/deacon who will officiate before you plan any booklet. If you print a booklet it should have a clear purpose, e.g. to assist the congregation in participating fully in the ceremony. That would indicate that it should contain the words of the hymns and other texts needed for responses.

There is no point in printing in a booklet every single word that is going to be spoken, read or sung at the ceremony - most people prefer to be able to look at what is happening rather than read it.

The people proclaiming the scripture readings should have prepared them so that the congregation can hear the Word of God without also having to read it!

Can I have a Church blessing on my wedding day?

This is a phrase which is becoming current in conversation but whose precise meaning remains a mystery! In general, there are no restrictions on blessings for members of the Catholic Church. [Clergy regularly ask God’s blessing for people who are ill, travelling, new-born, troubled, doing exams, moving into a new home … and in a wide variety of circumstance.]

When Roman Catholics celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, part of the ritual is a prayer whereby the couple asks God to “bless our marriage, keep us faithful”. Each couple who celebrates the Sacrament of Marriage is recognised by the Church as being validly married.

If you are not free to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage for whatever reason, the Church cannot recognise your union as a valid marriage - even if the law of the land does. It is often in this circumstance that couples speak of a “blessing” as if it were an accepted alternative to a sacramental marriage. There is no provision in the rites of the Church for such a “blessing”.

Nonetheless, ministers of the Church will always seek to be sensitive to particular circumstances and all people are encouraged to participate as fully as they can in the life of the Church. However, rituals which have the appearance of or the same structure as a Marriage ceremony are forbidden when one or both parties are not free to marry.

What is a Papal blessing?

The Sacrament of Marriage is a very public event and it also has implications in the whole Christian Community. The couple is undertaking to give witness to the love of God by expressing their love for one another and for all people. The whole Church rejoices with the couple in their love and in their prayer for a happy life together.

Many couples wish to have this expressed in the Papal Blessing. This is a parchment script which is signed in Rome on behalf of the Pope, in which the Pope prays for the couple’s happiness. It is customary to have it read at the end of the Wedding Ceremony.

Couples can order it (at least four months before the date) from one of the retailers who process them. The couple needs a signed and stamped letter from a priest indicating that they are Catholic and they supply all the details to the retailer. [In Cork, contact Veritas, Carey’s Lane, or Roman House, North Main St.]

Can a priest who is a friend of mine officiate at my wedding?

Yes, provided he is in good standing with the church and is also on the register of solemnisers maintained by the General Register Office. Priests who are not part of the Diocese of Cork and Ross and who do not hold an appointment in the diocese will be asked to produce a “celebret” to the parish priest or dean of the church where the wedding is to take place. [This is a ‘certificate’ from the priest’s bishop or superior indicating that he is authorised to celebrate the sacraments.]

In order to legally officiate at a marriage in this diocese Irish law requires that a priest who is normally resident in another country needs to be registered on the list of temporary solemnisers with the General Register by the diocese. The priest needs to send the following information to The Diocesan Secretary, Cork & Ross Offices, Redemption Road, Cork. Email the Secretary

(1) The priest’s full name, address, telephone number and date of birth.
(2) A testimonial letter from the priest’s bishop or religious superior,
(3) The place and date of the marriage,
(4) The names of the parties to the marriage.

The couple may not be issued with a Marriage Registration Form until the priest is registered as solemniser.

What is the three months notice about?

It is Church law that you need to give at least three months notice to the parish priest of the place where your wedding will take place. This is to allow for sufficient time for all the necessary formalities to be completed.

The Irish State also requires that similar notice be given to the Registrar who will be responsible for registering the marriage in civil law.

Further details

What if my marriage papers don’t arrive in Mexico?

If you are getting married in a church abroad and you have completed all the papers at home but they did not arrive, do not panic! If the papers have been sent from the Bishop’s Office in Cork but have not arrived at their destination, the Office will issue a declaration to the corresponding diocese abroad that the papers are in order and that the wedding can proceed.