Requirements for Civil Registration
When the couple have chosen the date, church and priest for their marriage (and confirmed these matters with the relevant priest or priests), they will then need to make an appointment to meet with any civil registrar in person to give notice of their intention to marry. This meeting with the registrar must take place at least three months before the wedding in order to comply with the civil requirement. The couple will be required to bring the following documentation to the registrar’s office:
- photo identity (preferably a passport or driving license)
- names and dates of birth of witnesses
- name of the church where they wish to be married
- name of the priest who will officiate at the marriage; this presumes that the celebrant is a registered solemniser and that he has agreed to officiate at the marriage.
- if either party has been previously married, they must provide the civil registrar with an original divorce decree or a death certificate if widowed.
When all the civil requirements have been completed satisfactorily the couple will receive, from the registrar, a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). This document will replace the current form. Without this form the couple cannot get married nor may the solemniser proceed with the marriage ceremony.
Both the solemniser and the parish priest of the place of marriage will receive notification from the civil registrar’s office concerning the marriage due to take place.
The couple must present the MRF to the solemniser before the wedding so that he can check that the details are correct before marriage takes place. This should be done as early as is convenient.
If changes are necessary – for instance, changing the name of the solemniser – the couple should contact the civil registrar to arrange for the re-issue of the MRF at the earliest possible stage before the ceremony.
After the wedding, the solemniser must ensure that the MRF is signed by the couple, the two witnesses and himself.
After the marriage has been celebrated, it is the responsibility of the couple (not the local priest or solemniser) to return the MRF to any Registrar’s Office. This form must be returned within one month of the marriage.
Legislation requires that the solemniser (the priest who officiates at the marriage) must ask the couple to make a verbal declaration of no civil impediment. It is recommended practice that this declaration be made at the beginning of the wedding, when the bride and groom arrive at the sanctuary.
In order to summarise the above legal requirements for valid civil registration of marriage, please study the following check-list of what the couple must do:
- meet one of the local parish clergy
- book the church where you wish to marry
- meet a civil registrar at least three months before the wedding to give notice of your intention to marry
- receive the Marriage Registration Form (MRF) from the civil registrar
- bring the MRF to the solemniser
- make the verbal declaration of no civil impediment in the presence of each other and before the solemniser and the two witnesses at the beginning of the wedding ceremony (or not more than two days beforehand)
- return the signed MRF to any civil registrar not later than one month after the wedding
If you have any further queries regarding your Church Ceremony, please contact the Parish Office.