Congratulations on your decision to get married. It’s an exciting time with lots of planning ahead! Please remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that both Church and Civil requirements are fulfilled prior to getting married.
Requirements for Civil Registration
Northern Ireland (Marriage Schedule)
The Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 came into effect on 1st January 2004. This law has changed the way church weddings are registered in Northern Ireland. In addition to completing their Pre-Nuptial Enquiry forms for the Church, couples must now give notice to the local registrar of their intention to get married. Please check the civil requirements carefully with your local Registrar, as if you do not fulfill these obligations, you will not be able to marry.
To give notice to the Registrar, couples should obtain a Marriage Notice Application Form (one each) from your local Registrar’s office. Once you have completed these forms (full notes are provided by the Registrar) you should bring them to the priest or deacon who will officiate at your wedding, for him to sign. Please note: if the celebrant is a priest or deacon, visiting from a religious order or from outside the Diocese of Down & Connor he may have to obtain temporary registration, please speak to the parish priest about this.
After you have returned these forms to the local Registrar (in the Church’s Council Area) and they are satisfied that you are both free to marry, they will issue a Marriage Schedule. This must be given to the priest or deacon prior to the wedding, signed by the couple, their witnesses and the officiant on the day of the wedding and returned to the Registrar within the specified time.
How to book a Wedding in the Parish of Aghagallon and Ballinderry
Weddings can only be booked in person, by the couple themselves, in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Church, Aghagallon after any Mass with the parish priest. Only one marriage can be booked per day.
Couples are required to give at least six months’ notice of their marriage to ensure their preferred dates are available and that adequate time to complete all civil and Church paperwork is available. Couples are also responsible for ensuring that they attend a marriage preparation course prior to the wedding.
Couples living outside the parish are welcome to get married in St. Patrick’s, Aghagallon. However, a priest or deacon from their own parish should be willing to officiate at the wedding and confirm this in writing prior to the date being confirmed. The priest or deacon must also present a celebret (Identification form their Diocese or Religious Order) and complete the mandatory Safeguarding forms prior to officiating. A donation to cover administration costs for those living outside the parish is required.
Dates for Weddings
We regret that weddings cannot be celebrated on Sundays and Holydays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Saint Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Feast of All Souls.
All Diocesan priests in Northern Ireland are on a registered ‘List of Officiants’. In order for a priest or deacon from oversees to be placed on this list in a temporary capacity, it is necessary for him to fill out a Nomination of Visiting Priest (Officiant) form and return it to the Diocesan Office at The Good Shepherd Centre. The Diocesan Office will then contact the officiating priest and the priest in the parish where the wedding is taking place to formalise matters with them.
Wedding Mass or Wedding Service?
To celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage does not require the celebration of Eucharist (Mass). If many of your guests are non-Catholic and cannot receive Eucharist or if you and the majority of your guests are not regularly practicing Catholics, then a Wedding Service is more appropriate.
If you have not been practicing your faith for some time and still wish to have a Wedding Mass, the six month notice of marriage is a great opportunity for you to return to Sunday Mass.
Help with Planning the Ceremony
Ask the priest who is to officiate at your wedding to help you with the task of creating your marriage ceremony. There are a variety of beautiful liturgical prayers, blessings, readings, music, etc. Choose the people who will read, provide the music, etc., carefully and ensure they are familiar with Church etiquette. If you would like to include readings, poems, music etc., which are not liturgical, then a Marriage Service may be more appropriate for you. You can discuss this with the parish priest. A wedding Rehearsal in the Church with the priest before the wedding day is also important.
If you have any further queries regarding your Church Ceremony, please contact the parish priest. You may also find the following link helpful: www.together.ie