Love is a gift from God. Asking for His blessing gives a good start to a marriage.
Marriage is a gift given by God. At the celebration of marriage the couple come before the face of God to confess that they have received the gift of love that God has given them in each other, to affirm their commitment to one another in love and faithfulness and to pray for blessing, strength and guidance in their life together.
In Finland, a pastor can legally act as a marriage officiator – a church wedding is a legally binding contract and there is no need for a separate visit to a register office. If the couple have already married, whether in a register office or by a offiator of a different church denomination, the marriage may be blessed in a Lutheran ceremony.
A church wedding can be a small or a big affair depending on the couple's wishes. There are no fees for the church or the services of the pastor and the organist. In Vantaa, there is also an opportunity to get married in a special event called Hääyö (lit. Wedding Night), where dozens of couples get married on a first-come-first-served-basis at the popular Church of St. Lawrence. The event is organised annually in September.
How can I get married in the Vantaa Parish Union?
There are two types of marriage related ceremonies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Adults who are members of the Lutheran church and who have been confirmed can have a church wedding in which a Lutheran pastor acts as the marriage officiator – in this case the ceremony is legally binding and there is no need to visit the register office. A church wedding is also possible if one of the parties is a member of the Finnish Lutheran Church and the other is a member of a Christian church in some other denomination or country. Some document to prove church membership is required.
If these conditions are not met but a marriage is possible under Finnish law, the couple can be married in a civil ceremony at a state register office (maistraatti). After the civil ceremony this marriage can be blessed in a church ceremony as long as one of the spouses is a church member. The same applies for a couple married in a civil ceremony in another country. The blessing of a civil marriage is very much like a church wedding.
To become legally married (regardless of the type of ceremony) a couple must have a certificate of non-impediment (esteettömyystodistus). According to national law the certificate can be issued seven days after it has been requested, and it is then valid for four months. If both persons involved are already registered in Finland's Population Register so that their current marital status is officially known, they only need to take along ID cards when they go to request this certificate. If either, however, is a non-Finnish citizen not registered in Finland, official documents from another country are required, and this must be taken care of well in advance, even months before the intended wedding date, because the official procedure in some countries may take much time. When the certificate of non-impediment is issued, it is mailed to the couple who then gives it to the marriage officer or pastor performing the wedding.
► To request a certificate of non-impediment or to inquire about weddings in general, contact your local parish.
► Read more about church weddings and blessings of a marriage on the Evangelical Lutheran Church website.
► To learn about an annual night of church weddings in Vantaa, see 'Hääyö'.