My homeland Australia is renowned for its beach weddings. Here in Ireland it is possible to be legally married on a beach, but only if your chosen wedding venue has direct access to the beach from within their grounds. There are a number of glorious wedding venues in Ireland which satisfy this criteria.

In Ireland a legal marriage ceremony must be conducted at a location recognised by the Marriage Act, which is open to the public without hindrance, also with a building and a postal address.. The location does not need HSE inspection & approval, unless the marriage ceremony will be a Registry Office marriage ceremony (Civil Ceremony) conducted by a Civil Registrar.

For many couples getting married in Ireland who dream of a beach wedding, its not always that simple. Especially if they already have their favourite beach in mind which does not have an adjoining wedding venue! But there is a dignified solution, and here it is:

Option No.1

Here in Ireland it is possible to be legally married on a beach if your chosen wedding venue has direct access to the beach from within their grounds. There are a number of glorious wedding venues in Ireland which satisfy this criteria. 

Another very popular oceanside venue where you can be legally married is Hags Head, or Tighe Na Grá at the Cliffs of Moher and there are many more including those with direct access to a beach ceremony location.

Option No.2

Have 2 ceremonies on the day, and enchanted commitment ceremony on the beach, followed by a legal marriage ceremony at a. nearby location. I have conducted beach weddings many times using this method, and I can say from experience that it is a wonderful experience for your guests!

  • Your first ceremony is a commitment ceremony at the beach. This is complete with your choice of ceremony traditions which may include reading your own personal vows written to for each other and kept as a surprise, exchange of friendship rings if you wish, and of course the beautiful celtic handfasting.
    What could be more enchanting for a beach wedding here in Ireland to include the celtic handfasting? At this non-legal handfasting ceremony you are declared hand-fasted, you are not declared or pronounced married..
  • Next, have your legal marriage ceremony at a nearby location, approximately 1 hour later. Your handfasting chord can remain tied around your two wrists for this ceremony if you wish, as a symbol of your handfasting ceremony and removed when signing documents. Or your handfasting chord can be laid onto the altar as a decoration.

It’s not an offence to have a non-legal ceremony before a legal marriage ceremony – what is an offence is to include any ceremony parts from the Marriage Act in a non-legal ceremony (including do you take each other to be husband/wife/spouse) if the couple aren’t already married, and to pronounced a couple as being married when they are not really married at all.

Anyone can have a commitment ceremony without being legally married, in ancient times this was traditionally done as part of an engagement celebration, as long as they are not pronounced married in the non-legal ceremony.

.By including the handfasting in their non-legal beach commitment ceremony and declaring the couple handfasted, rather than married, is a very easy way to ensure that the handfasting ceremony complies with the Marriage Act.

Option No.3

Have 2 ceremonies with your legal marriage ceremony first, but on a different day and later on another day, have your non-legal beach wedding with all your guests.  Your legal marriage ceremony attended only by your two witnesses.  Honestly I can’t see the point of doing this – why would you ever want to have a fake beach wedding, when you are already married?

I am from Australia where every wedding ceremony is a legal marriage ceremony, because you can be legally married anywhere. But divorce rates are also much higher in Australia. So having some restrictions on the location of your marriage isn’t really such a bad thing. Being married the day before your big wedding ceremony day is a very European thing and something which as an Aussie, I just find very strange indeed!.

But if this makes perfect sense to you and you feel it is the best option, then just go for it! At the end of the day its your wedding, and what matters is that you have the wedding you have always wanted.


My Option 1 format for beach ceremonies where the beach ceremony is not a legal marriage, is what makes sense to me, but may not make sense to everyone. Which doesn’t mean that its either right or wrong.
Some couples may prefer to have legal marriage ceremony first, followed by beach ceremony eg. at sunset.
It’s all about what the couple really wants. I hope that makes sense!

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