So you and your proposed partner in life are considering marrying in the Parish of Thomastown. Congratulations to both of you on reaching the huge decision to marry in Church. Appreciate that these days leading up to your marriage are wonderful days. Don’t get so tied up with making arrangements that you haven’t time to further your relationship, and don’t lose a sense of appreciation of the journey ahead after you marry. Remember, ‘the big day’ is a target for you at present. However, it really is only a milestone on an adventure that will last the rest of your lives.
The address in the Marriage Rite states that ‘Christian marriage is a sacred union which enriches natural love. It binds those who enter it to be faithful to each other for ever; it creates between them a bond that endures for life and cannot be broken; it demands that they love and honour each other, that they accept from God the children he may give them, and bring them up in his love. To help them in their marriage the husband and wife receive the life-long grace of the sacrament’.
Most of what follows will apply wherever you marry. As most couples marry only once, some of this will be new to you, and may help you as you make your preparations for ‘the big day’.
- Discuss the time of your weddings with us before finalizing it.
- We request that couples marrying here who are not parishioners bring their own priest or deacon. If you are coming a distance, this may be a little awkward. However, we consider that it is advantageous that the man who blesses your marriage be someone you know, and who knows you. Asking the priest at your parish back home will mean that both of you and he will make contacts which will be beneficial pastorally in the future.
- For the use of the Church we ask for €400. If you haven’t done so already, please forward this to guarantee booking. The Secretary will put your names in the Diary when she receives your contribution. This contribution is towards the upkeep of the Church and does not go to the solemniser. A donation to the solemniser is at your own discretion. A guideline might be what you would contribute to a lay solemniser.
- The State request that any couple intending to marry in the Republic must give at least three months notice to the Registrar of Marriages of their intention to marry. This will involve the two of you visiting the local Registrar’s office. Contact the office of the Registrar of Marriages to make an appointment. The Registrar will inform the Parish here, and forward to you the documentation you will need to sign on the day of your marriage, and afterwards return to the Office. The State requires that the person who blesses your marriage is a ‘solemniser’ who is recognised by the State. So, if he will be coming from outside the State to bless your marriage, he will need to be added, for the occasion, to the list of recognised solemnisers. Check his status with the priest or deacon who you plan to ask to officiate at your marriage, and with the Registrar. Let us know if he needs to become a recognized solemniser.
- At this time you ought to contact a priest of your parish to inform him of your intention to marry. He will have to play a part in your preparation. You ought to enquire from him about pre-marriage courses in your area. This step you plan is such a huge step for both of you that it is only right that you do a pre-marriage course. This is something which can be done even at this time, well in advance of your marriage. We recommend the pre-marriage courses organized by Accord. Check the Accord website for dates and places where they provide courses. Upon completion of the course you are generally given a certificate which you can give to your priest when filling out the prenuptial enquiry form.
- Usually couples fill out the ‘pre-nuptial enquiry’ form with a priest of your parish on completion of the Pre-Marriage Course. You will need some extra documentation at this time. First, you will need a recent Baptismal Certificate, and a Certificate of Confirmation. You may need to get letters of freedom from each parish you lived in since your eighteenth birthday. The priest will advise you on this. If bride and groom are of different faiths, your priest will have to get some clearance for the marriage from your Diocesan office.
- Normally the groom’s parish priest will forward the groom’s papers to the priest of the bride. He, in turn, will forward the completed papers to us here in Thomastown, or indeed wherever you decide to hold your wedding ceremony. The priest of the parish where you marry will have to make sure that the documentation is in order, and prepare the documentation which will be signed on the day of your marriage. Make sure we have the documents in good time – a month in advance.
- If you are living abroad, the priest there will need to forward the completed papers to us through our respective Diocesan Offices.
- Whether resident in Ireland or outside at present, it falls to us to make sure that all the documentation is in order, meaning that only then are you free to marry in Church. So, no Church papers, no marriage in our Churches in Thomastown. To marry in Church in Thomastown all your papers must be in order. So, even if you have paid the contribution and booked, the marriage goes ahead only if all the documentation is in order.
- On the day of your marriage we will give ‘delegation’ to the person who is to bless your marriage, once he is in good standing with his Diocese or Religious Congregation. We will provide you with a Marriage Certificate, and also forward to the places of your Baptisms notice of your marriage. That will be entered into the Baptismal Register there.
- Be sure, in good time, to organise the Ceremony with the priest or deacon whom you have invited to officiate at your Marriage. There is quite a selection of scripture readings, and also a variety of prayers and texts for the Ceremony. Do consider, too, with the solemniser, whether you wish to have your Marriage celebrated in the context of Mass. If a couple are of different faiths it may be more appropriate not to have Mass. Sometimes, nowadays, two people brought up as Catholics don’t often join in their parish celebration of Mass, so it may be more authentic for them, unless they plan to make Mass part of their lives for the future, to marry in Church but not to have Mass. See the Accord website or the Archdiocese of Dublin website for assistance with readings, prayers, etc.
- If you plan to have music at the Ceremony, a good rule of thumb is to have religious music during the Ceremony. After all, your time in Church is a time of prayer, as you come before God and the people of God to make your promises, and ask God’s blessing on your lives as man and wife. The Secretary will be able to provide you with names of some people who provided Church music in this area.
- Flowers oughtn’t to clutter the Sanctuary area of the Church. If using decorations on the seat-ends, please don’t use anything to damage the Church furniture. We appreciate if some flowers are left in the Church as a gift – often to decorate the Church for the weekend Masses.
- Please don’t use candles or lanterns in the main body of the Church – they hamper movement of the congregation. Oh, and confetti … it is impossible to remove, so please don’t use it inside or outside the Church. Perhaps the hotel will facilitate its use.
- If possible, plan a Wedding Rehearsal in Thomastown. Otherwise, sit with the solemniser and talk the ceremony through, so that you all know what is going to happen on the day.
- Our sacristan will be on hand before your wedding ceremony. If you have special requirements regarding the Liturgy, contact the Parish Office, and your wishes will be conveyed to the Sacristan. It is customary that the Sacristan be given an offering – she is sacrificing some of her day to make your day.
- If recording your wedding day, please ask the photographer, video recorder to be unobtrusive – not a distraction to you, your guests, or the solemniser.
- You are making a new beginning when you marry. It is a time to say goodbye to old ways, old habits. It will be a good time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- Occasionally things run late. However, being more than ten minutes late may be a sign of disrespect to one’s guests. They will have been there on time. Groom and Bride ought to be in good time also. Make known to your guests that you plan to be on time. Sometimes people have a reputation for being late, and, if you are one of those, guests may assume that you will be late once again.
We have tried to alert you to some of the bits and pieces of getting married in Church. You may like to check out a number of websites, which you may find helpful:
Do please get back to us if we can be of any further help. Our Parish Office number is 056-7793191, and the Secretary is on duty Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 1 pm. We find it valuable to maintain contact by email. It provides a paper trail. Our email is email@example.com
A short prayer you may like to pray together:
We praise you, Lord, for your gentle plan draws us together in love for one another. Strengthen our hearts, so that we may keep faith with each other, please you in all things, and come to the happiness of celebrating the sacrament of Marriage. Amen.
With all good wishes,
Fr. Dan Bollard.