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Help! I'm confused about the legal side of getting married in Ireland.....

Ok, let me walk you through it. Once you have decided on a date/venue/solemniser it's time to give notice of your intent to marry. This must be done at least 3 months * before your intended date, but I would recommend you do it as soon as possible (you can always amend details if details change). You can find a list of Civil Registration Offices on the HSE website. If you have trouble getting a suitable appointment, its a good idea to check out availability in nearby counties, you can register at any office, regardless of where you live or where you are getting married. I will say that the staff are very accomodating and in my experience, really help couples with this. You can either go online and fill out a data capture form, or contact the office and ask them to send you out a form, but either way you must make an in-person appointment at a HSE civil registration office. Some areas of the country allow you to make an appointment online, for others you need to call ahead.If you are coming to Ireland to get married, it is possible to get an appointment 5 days minimum ahead of your wedding date, so make sure you have the appointment before booking your flights. You must both attend the appointment and bring all requested documentation with you. This will include; completed application form, passport, photo ID, your original birth certificate, proof of address PPS numbers. The notification fee is €200 ( non-refundable!)

Your application form

You must fill out where, when and be whom you will be married, and the names and dates of birth of your two witnesses. If one or both of you is divorced or widowed or a non- EU citizen there will be some additional paperwork required. There is a central register of legal solemnisers, so the person you have chosen must be on that register. If the person who is marrying you is a One Spirit Minister ( like me!), then you tick that you are having a "Religious" ceremony. I know, I know, you likely don't want a fully religious ceremony, don't worry, that's just HSE speak, it has no bearing on the type of ceremony you are having, and simply denotes that you are being married by an ordained Minister. If you tick that you are having a "Civil" ceremony, it means you are getting married in a registry office!

The appointment

Bring everything required with you. When you meet the registrar, you will both be asked to sign a declaration that you are free to marry each other and that you know of no lawful impediment to your proposed marriage. All going well, you will then be given a Marriage Registration Form ( the "green folder"), and your solemniser will be contacted to confirm this has been issued to you. I ask couples to send me a photo of all the information ahead of time, just to be sure to be sure. This form is good for 6 months, so if you have to postpone your wedding, the form is good for 6 months from the proposed date and can be amended by the Solemniser. If the new wedding date falls outside of the 6 months, you will have to reapply.

The ceremony

Don't forget the green folder!!! Give it to a responsible person to mind and impress on them that they need to bring it to the Solemniser at least half an hour before the ceremony starts. This is really important. All details need to be checked before the ceremony begins and any changes (such as a change of witness for example) can be made. The ceremony cannot start without the Green Folder being present if you want to be legally married. The other thing worth mentioning is that you cannot enter into a legal contract if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol... so save the drinks for after the ceremony.

You will have created your dream ceremony with your celebrant/solemniser, much of the ceremony will be individual to you, but again, when it comes to the legals, it must be done by the book. Before you get to the vows the Solemniser will ask you to make two declarations:

1: That you are free to marry each other. This is a little wieldy, so I always give the couple a copyof the wording ahead of time; just read it slowly, or if you prefer, you can repeat it after the solemniser. It is not acceptable for the Solemniser to read it and you to answer "I do".

2: The second declaration is that you take each other as husband/wife, wife/wife, husband/husband. The answer to this question is "I do". Occasionally, often through nerves, someone will answer " Can I think about it?", " Can I phone a friend", or "oh I suppose so", not the time for jokes, just answer " I do ". After that you are free to make any vow you like ot each other. After the Solemniser pronounces you, s/he will invite your witnesses up, and all 5 of you sign the Green Folder. Brides that intend to change their names, must sign their given ( maiden) name. Any changes, or mistakes can be amended once the Solemniser notes it, and all 5 people initial the changes.

After the ceremony

After the ceremony, give charge of the Green Folder to a responsible person. If you are staying in the venue, they will often put it in the safe for you overnight. You then have one month to return the Green Folder to the office ( you can post it in, but I recommend one of you brings it in person), and they will issue you your marriage license. Fee for this is €20.

*Court Exemption Order

In certain situations, such as extremely serious illness, you may be able to get a court exemption, allowing the marriage to proceed without the 3 month notification.. You should contact the circuit family court in your area for information on how to apply. You do not need to hire a legal representitive and again, those involved are usually very helpful. If the 3 months is waived, you do still have to meet with the registrar at least 5 days before you get married.

and there you go! Feel free to be in touch if you have any questions. You do want your marriage to be legal... imagine if your spouse won the Euro millions and hired a canny lawyer who was able to demonstrate that the marriage was not legal because of some technicality.. :-(



December 2023

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