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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 is already married, whether in a register office or by a officiant 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 pastor’s and organist’s services. 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 in the popular Church of St. Lawrence. The event is organised annually in September.
There are two types of marriage related ceremonies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Adults who are members of the Lutheran church and 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. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland does not currently officiate same-sex weddings, but our pastors can participate in prayer for a same-sex couple's relationship.
If these conditions are not met but a marriage is possible under the Finnish law, the couple can get married in a civil ceremony at a state register office (maistraatti). After a civil ceremony, the marriage can be blessed in a church ceremony as long as one of the spouses is a member of the Church. The same applies to a couple married in a civil ceremony in another country. The blessing of a civil marriage is very much like a church wedding.
In order to be legally married (regardless of the type of ceremony), a couple must have a certificate of non-impediment (esteettömyystodistus). According to the Finnish 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. The couple must taken care of this well in advance, even months before the intended wedding date, because the official procedure may take much time in some countries. When the certificate of non-impediment is issued, it is mailed to the couple who then give it to the wedding officiant or pastor who will perform 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 websiteLinkki avautuu uudessa välilehdessä.
The very first ‘Hääyö’ ("Wedding night") event took place in the medieval Church of St. Lawrence in Vantaa in 2009. The concept of a church wedding night was invented by the Chaplain of Tikkurila Evangelical Lutheran Parish, Heikki Leppä.
‘Hääyö’ became so popular that the concept of an effortless yet elegant wedding ceremony has now spread across Finland. This annual event of Tikkurila Parish is now a registered trademark.
You need to bring with you
If your civil marriage has already been officiated in the Administrative Court, but you want to have your marriage consecrated in the Church, ask for a marriage certificate and bring it with you. You do not need to contact the event organisers in advance.
Do you have any questions? Please contact Terhi Viljanen firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 050 310 6824
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