Marriage Preparation

Is there a set time prior to getting married to attend a marriage preparation course?

There is no set time prior to your wedding to attend a Marriage Preparation Course. We usually advise couples to book at least six months in advance of the wedding so as they get the date and centre of their choice as some courses tend to get booked up very quickly.

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Do we need to bring any documents when attending the marriage preparation course?

It is not necessary to bring any documentation to the Marriage Preparation Course. All course materials will be supplied.

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Can I attend a one day course or do my marriage preparation using a DVD?

ACCORD do not provide one day Marriage Preparation Courses or courses on DVD.

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I was wondering do we have to have the state notified before we complete the marriage preparation course?

No it is not necessary to have notified the State prior to attending a Marriage Preparation Course. In the south of Ireland you must give the State 3 months notice this must be given to the General Registrar’s Office. For details see http://www.groIreland.ie (link) In Northern Ireland you must give a minimum of 14 days notice to the Registrar in the district in which you are getting married. Notice forms must be completed by both the bride and the groom accompanied by full birth certificates. For details see http://www.groni.gov.uk (link)

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I am a catholic but my fiancé is not. Will the ACCORD marriage preparation course be ok?

It is best to chat with the priest who is helping you with your paperwork and planning and get his advice regarding what type of marriage preparation he feels you might undertake. Some couples make the decision to attend the standard (nine hours) Accord marriage preparation course but if you are a couple from different faith backgrounds there are particular benefits from attending the Interchurch course. This course is specifically designed to explore the particular rewards of being an interchurch couple and will also look at strategies for dealing with any challenges they may encounter.  Couples from different denomination or religious affiliation can have significant religious differences, the course will provide the opportunity to discuss this privately as a couple and will also explore how religious differences can facilitate growth.

For information on/to book these courses please contact Embrace, Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3 - Phone Number 4784400 or Email marriagepreparation@interchurch.ie

The courses in Northern Ireland are run on a Tuesday from 7.00pm to 10.00pm and Sunday from 10.00am to 5.00pm.   For information on/to book these courses please contact ACCORD NI Regional Office - Phone Number 028 90233002 or Email info@accordni.com. 


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Do I have to do the marriage preparation course in the diocese where my wedding is taking place?

No you can book on line and attend a Marriage Preparation Course in any of our 55 Centres throughout the country.

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We are living abroad and plan to get married in Ireland. Can we do our marriage preparation course here and will it be accepted?

It is best to check with your priest if the course you have in mind is acceptable to him as he is responsible for your preparation.

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Is a marriage course compulsory in order to get married here in Ireland?

The priest responsible for the wedding has an obligation under church law to ensure that each couple are adequately prepared for their wedding and married life. He can therefore elect to give the marriage preparation guidance to the couple himself but generally speaking the priest will give the couple information regarding formal courses which are run by people like ourselves in ACCORD http://www.ACCORD.ie It is therefore best to check with your priest in the first instance as to the type of preparation he feels you could undertake.

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Where can I find more information on what is required by the Church and the State before our wedding?

The ACCORD publication "Planning your Wedding Day" will provide you will all the necessary information.

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Marriage & Relationship Counselling

Will counselling help?
Research carried out by ACCORD in 2002 indicates that counselling helps both males and females to explore, discuss, understand and manage difficulties in their marriages and relationships and ease the levels of stress experienced. Anecdotally feedback from ACCORD clients is very positive on their experience of counselling. Close Answer
How long will counselling last?
The period of time a couple or individual attend for counselling will vary as there are many variables to be considered such the nature of the difficulty/ies, the frequency of sessions, if a specialised service is indicated. Counselling is intended to be shorter term rather than longer term. Generally counselling will be ongoing for a period of 6- 14 sessions. Clients who have completed counselling can return to ACCORD should they require support with their marriages/relationships in the future. Close Answer
What if counselling is finished and further down the road we/I experience the same / other problems, can we/I come back to ACCORD?

Yes, Clients who have completed counselling can return to ACCORD should they require support with their marriages/relationships in the future.

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What if things don’t get better between us?
Generally when couples attend counselling they gain a better understanding of their difficulties, themselves and their partners. Increased understanding coupled with a commitment and a desire to do what is necessary to resolve the difficulties identified usually results in the situation improving. However during the process of counselling couples often report lack of improvement initially as problems are being identified and explored. This can be a difficult experience for couples. However as counselling progresses there is usually improvement if both individuals are prepared to work on addressing the difficulties. In some circumstances where one or both individuals are not prepared to look at their own role in their relationship difficulties then merely attending counselling will not resolve their difficulties. Close Answer
Can a marriage/relationship survive an addiction?
Yes a marriage/ relationship can survive addiction. The person with the addiction needs to acknowledge it , support themselves not to engage in that behaviour and attend support and aftercare programmes as appropriate. When the addiction is acknowledged, understood and appropriately managed the relationship can be focused on again and couples can work to resolve the issues existing between them. Close Answer
Can a marriage/relationship survive an affair?
Yes, a marriage /relationship can survive an affair. Following an affair trust needs to be rebuilt. If both spouses/partners wish to continue in the relationship. If both are willing to work on the relationship the trust can be rebuilt over time. The individual who engaged in the affair will need to acknowledge their breach of trust, take responsibility for it and be prepared to work to rebuild trust and be very honest, open and transparent in the process. They will also need to listen to the impact of their affair on their partner. Close Answer
Will we always be seen together?

Generally couples will be seen together. However in some circumstances i.e. Domestic Abuse counselling it may be appropriate for couples to be seen individually for a period of time or for the duration of counselling.

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Is the service confidential?
ACCORD maintains the highest standards of privacy & confidentiality at all times. However ACCORD confidentiality will be breached if the counsellor assesses any client or adult to be in danger or if there is a child protection issue. Clients will be asked to sign that they accept and understand the nature of the confidentiality offered by ACCORD before counselling commences. Close Answer
Does it matter that we’re not married?
Clients don’t have to be to be married to access ACCORD counselling. Close Answer
My partner/spouse says everything is my fault, will the counsellor see it this way?
ACCORD counsellors are non judgemental in their approach. Your counsellor will want to help both individuals to explore, understand and work to resolve their difficulties and will focus on the issues between couples and how they can be resolved by both of you. Close Answer
What if my spouse/partner does not want to come with me?

ACCORD works with both couples and individuals. If an individual’s spouse/partner is not agreeable to attend counselling that individual should feel free to attend as an individual. Even if you are disappointed that your spouse will not come with you, coming to ACCORD can benefit you and your relationship.

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How much will counselling cost?

ACCORD is a non-profit organisation, but we do incur overheads in providing our service. To cover some of these costs we invite clients who are in a position to do so to make a voluntary donation based on their ability to pay. The voluntary donation per session will be agreed at the Needs Assessment Session. No one is turned away from ACCORD due to lack of money.

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What if we/I can’t make a session?

ACCORD understands that on occasions couples and individuals may not be in a position to attend pre arranged counselling sessions. In such circumstances clients are asked to give as much notice as possible preferable 24 hours if possible, by phoning the centre. Cancellation of sessions is discussed with clients before they commence counselling with ACCORD.

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How often do we/I attend?

Initially sessions tend to be weekly and last one hour. Longer breaks occur between sessions as deemed appropriate and agreed by clients and counsellor.

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How long will we/I have to wait for an appointment?

It will depend on the demand for appointments in the centre you contact. Centres make every effort to organise appointments to have a Needs Assessment session as soon as possible after the initial contact with ACCORD. Client may also be offered an opportunity to attend another ACCORD centre (if convenient for them) if the waiting time is shorter in that centre. Overall the waiting time for an appointment can be very short and is usually no longer than a couple of weeks.

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Do we/I have to be Catholic to avail of ACCORD’s Counselling Service ?

No. ACCORD accepts and values clients irrespective of their religious or ethnic background.

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What if we/I find we/I can’t work with the counsellor assigned to us/me?

It is very important that couples establish a good therapeutic working relationship with their ACCORD Counsellor. Research in the field of counselling and therapy indicates that a positive therapeutic relationship enhances the outcome of counselling for clients. ACCORD selects and trains individuals who can work with clients in a non judgemental, warm, respectful, ethical and professional manner. If ACCORD clients find they feel unable to establish such a relationship with the counsellor who has been allocated to them, they are free to discuss any difficulties they are experiencing with the counsellor or request that another counsellor works with them.

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Getting Married

My fiancée is a catholic and was previously married in a registry office. is it possible for us to marry now in the catholic church?

Your fiancée’s previous civil marriage would have to be investigated for what is called a “lack of canonical form” i.e. when a baptised Catholic marries he/she must marry before a priest and two witnesses. When a Catholic marries in a registry office this “canonical form” is usually missing. However this has to be investigated by the local diocese either through the bishop’s office or the local ecclesiastical tribunal. They must ensure that there was no dispensation given or that the marriage was not sanated or convalidated at a later stage i.e. that the bishop didn’t heal or rectify what was lacking in the civil marriage. This process can vary from diocese to diocese. When the investigation is completed and if the dioceses are satisfied that the marriage was in fact invalid from a catholic point of view it will usually issue a letter to that effect. It is best to talk to your local priest who should be able to put you in touch with the person or office who deals with it in your particular diocese.

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I have lived in a number of different countries since I was 18 years of age, do I have to get a letter of freedom from each parish I lived in?

While the standard way of establishing freedom has been letters of freedom i.e. a letter from any parish you have lived in since you were 18 years old stating that there is no record of you having contracted marriage in their marriage registrar, it is usually acceptable if you have lived in a number of parishes or in different parts of the world to get a signed letter by a parent(s) or brother or sister stating that, to the best of their knowledge you have never been married before in either a religious or civil ceremony in any jurisdiction. Another possibility is to swear an affidavit before a Commissioner of Oaths attesting that you have never been married religiously or civilly in any jurisdiction. It is always best to check with your local priest with regard to methods of establishing freedom for marriage as practices vary from place to place See our link Church Documents and Civil Requirements for more information (link)

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Do I have to be confirmed before I get married in the catholic church?

It is envisaged that all Catholics would have received the Sacrament of Confirmation before being married in he Catholic Church. However, if this cannot be done without ‘grave inconvenience’ before you proposed marriage it should not stop you getting married. What is meant by ‘grave inconvenience’ is interpreted differently from diocese to diocese in various parts of the world. It is always best to check this out with the local priest where you are getting married as soon as possible, as some diocese can be quite insistent on confirmation before marriage.

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Is it possible for us to have our marriage on sunday?

The regulations with regard to Sunday Weddings varies from diocese to diocese. It is best to contact your local priest or the local bishop’s office who will be able to inform you of the particular regulations in your diocese.

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My husband and I were married in a registry office, we would like to be married in the eyes of the Church. Is this possible

If you and your husband are free to marry in the eyes of the Church, it is possible to have your civil marriage convalidated in the Church. This takes the form of a normal Church ceremony. The preparation and documentation is the same as any other couple getting married in the Church. If you talk to your local priest he should be able to give you more specific direction.

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I am a catholic and my fiancé is a baptised member of one of the other christian churches, can we get married in the catholic church?

Yes, a Catholic can marry a member of another Christian Church. He/she must write to the local bishop to request this permission. The Catholic party is asked to remain steadfast to their Catholic faith and do their best within the unity of their partnership to have whatever children they may have baptised and brought up in the Catholic faith. The Non-Catholic party is made aware of the promises the Catholic party makes. If you talk to your local priest he should be able to advise you. There are Inter-Church courses run in ACCORD Dublin, Dublin 3 – Phone Number 4784400 or Email marriagepreparation@interchurch.ie and in the North of Ireland – NI Regional Office (028 90233002) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

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I am a catholic and my fiancé is not baptised in any christian church, can we get married in the catholic church?

In order for a Catholic to marry somebody who is not baptised in any of the Christian Churches he/she has to write to the local bishop seeking a dispensation. In order for the dispensation to be granted the Catholic party is asked to remain steadfast to their catholic faith and do their best within the unity of their partnership to have whatever children they may have baptised and brought up in the Catholic faith. The Non-Catholic party is made aware of the promises the Catholic party makes. If you talk to your local priest he should be able to advise you.

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Can a catholic who is not Irish or living in Ireland get married in the catholic church there?

The normal or proper place for a Catholic to get married is their local parish church. However, if you find a catholic church in Ireland and a priest who is willing to celebrate your marriage there, you can with the permission of your own local parish priest get married there. The preparation and documentation are prepared by your local priest who sends them through your local bishop’s office to the bishop’s office in Ireland in whose diocese the marriage is being celebrated. They will then forward them to the parish church where you are to be married. With regard to the civil requirements you should check these out with the General Registrar’s Office. (Link)

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How much do you pay the church/priest on the day or who to contact in this regard?

It is important to check with the priest if there is a fee for booking the Church. There is no Church policy on payment for a wedding or helping a couple with paperwork, however it is customary to make a financial gift to the church, as this varies from parish to parish it is best to check with your priest.

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Can you advise us of what documents are needed to bring when meeting with our priest to complete the prenuptial enquiry form? (see link)

Baptismal certificate Confirmation certificate A letter of freedom Marriage Registration Form (MRF) – issued by the Civil Registrar (Link) See our link Church Documents and Civil Requirements for more information (link)

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We are thinking of getting married in a civil ceremony and thought about having a church blessing immediately afterwards, is this possible?

Unfortunately, if somebody chooses to get married in a civil ceremony it is not then possible to have a blessing and readings carried out by a priest afterwards as this could lead to the mistaken impression that the priest or Church was in someway being part of one of its members being married in a purely civil ceremony. This is to be distinguished from the practice in certain countries where a couple must marry civilly before their Church marriage to fulfil civil requirements. For a Catholic the place of marriage is the church so if you wish to have your marriage in the Catholic Church you should talk to your local priest.

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