Prerequisites for a church wedding
Adults who are members of the Lutheran church and who have completed confirmation class (rippikoulu) can have a church wedding in which a Lutheran pastor acts as the marriage officer. Usually teenagers take confirmation class, but it is also possible to do at a later age. Ask the Service Center (palvelukeskus) of the Lutheran congregations for more information.
In Finland, a Lutheran pastor may also act as a marriage officer if one of the couple 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 registry office (maistraatti). After the civil ceremony this marriage can be consecrated 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. A consecration of a civil marriage is very much like a church wedding in which the pastor acts as a marriage officer.
To become legally married (regardless of the type of ceremony) a couple must have a certificate of non-impediment (esteettömyystodistus, a 'marriage license'). In Espoo this can be obtained from the Service Center. 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.