This question is causing a lot of confusion with couples in Ireland. Can a celebrant legally marry you in Ireland? The answer is – not all Celebrants in Ireland are authorised to conduct legal marriages. For your wedding ceremony to be a legal marriage, your Celebrant must be a Registered Solemniser of Marriages – duly authorised by the HSE.
Registered Solemnisers are the Celebrants who represent the Government in their capacity as Solemnisers of legal marriage. Each Registered Solemniser is required to have extensive training over a number of years along with an impeccable knowledge and experience of all aspects of the requirements of the Marriage Act.
Celebrant is a general term which describes a person who conducts a ceremony of any kind. Any member of the public can conduct a ceremony as a celebrant, but not every celebrant can conduct a legal marriage ceremony.
Wedding Celebrants in Ireland can be classified into one of the following two categories:
- Those who are Registered to Solemnise legal marriages, known as Registered Solemnisers, and
- Lay Celebrants – those who conduct wedding ceremonies which don’t have any legal standing, because Lay Celebrants aren’t authorised by the government to Solemnise legal marriage. Many Lay Celebrants do indeed conduct beautiful ceremonies. However, if you engage a Lay Celebrant to conduct your wedding ceremony, you won’t be legally married. In order to be legally married, you will also need to attend a Civil Registration office with your witnesses on another day to be married with a Registry office marriage.
In fact in my home country of Australia, it is illegal for a Lay Celebrant to conduct a wedding ceremony for a couple who are not already legally married. Here in Ireland (at this time) there is no such law, however with so much confusion brought about by the surge in the number of Lay celebrants now calling themselves “Registered Celebrants”, it is inevitable that will change sometime in the not too distant future.
If your wish is to be legally married in Ireland, with a unique and meaningful ceremony designed to your own requirements, with your beloved family & friends with you as your witnesses, your best choice is to find a Celebrant (like myself) who is not only able to create a unique & personalised ceremony to your exact wishes, but who is also duly authorised and Registered to Solemnise legal marriages.
Your ceremony will only be Religious if you are married in a Church which prohibits interfaith marriages or if your marriage is conducted by a Registered Solemniser who is required to talk about their Religion and its beliefs during your ceremony, With a non-denominational Holistic Minister like myself as your Celebrant, your ceremony will be a non-Religious ceremony if that’s what you wish. The true evidence of this can be seen on your legal marriage certificate, where there is no mention of any Rites & Ceremonies taking place, (as there is with a Religious ceremony) or any mention of the name of any Religion or Church (as there is with a Religious ceremony).
Your marriage ceremony can also be a Spiritual Ceremony, Mixed faith ceremony, or Spiritual with a religious feel, or any combination in between! If your family has a Pastor, he/she can take part in your ceremony and give you a blessing, you are limited only by your imagination.
With so many Registered Solemnisers in Ireland, who can conduct legal marriages, your job is to find a Solemniser who you get along well with and who shares your beliefs. (pick me!). The ceremonial services provided by each Solemniser is very much unique to their own character and individual style – it’s up to you to find the Marriage Solemniser who is right for you, you need to do the job interview!.
Here in Ireland you can choose to pay an extra fee to the HSE and book a HSE Civil Registrar to attend your wedding venue outside of office hours, to conduct a Registry Office marriage there for you, also known as a “Civil Ceremony”. This is the standard government non-religious ceremony and is perfect for those who don’t wish to have a unique ceremony designed to their wishes, and who don’t wish to include any Spiritual or Religious elements.
A Civil Ceremony in Ireland is not the same as a Civil Ceremony in Australia, where the meaning of a Civil Ceremony is a ceremony designed to your own wishes by a Celebrant who is self employed. The Marriage Act in Australia is very different in that regard. Here in Ireland a Civil Ceremony is a Registry Office Marriage, a standard government ceremony, conducted by an employee of the HSE Civil Registration Office, The Civil Ceremony in Ireland is short and simple without any fuss. Perfect for those who prefer this option.
How to Find Your Celebrant
Some of the best ways to find your Celebrant/Solemniser include asking your friends about any memorable and remarkable weddings they have attended in Ireland, or ask your wedding venue to recommend you a Registered Solemniser who conducts a lot of ceremonies with them. Of course you can use website search for your wedding venue and the word “Solemniser” eg. “Dromoland Castle Solemniser” and see what comes up, see how much effort they have made to ensure their website is presentable and informative.
Of course I’d love to speak with you about your ceremony requirements, I would be honoured to work with you. But I realise choosing Celebrant is a very important decision you must make for yourself after meeting up in person, or by Zoom or by having a good chat on the phone. You should never cut corners by missing this vital step to interview your potential Solemniser/Celebrant to make sure they are right for you.
Most of the time, couples just don’t realise that there is an abundance of Celebrants in Ireland (like myself) who are Registered to Solemnise legal marriage, and that they should spend a little more time looking for the right one. With the abundance of Marriage Solemnisers and gorgeous wedding venues, it’s now a wonderful time to be legally married in Ireland!
Your Special Day
If you believe your ceremony should be an important part of your special day, no matter how big or small your ceremony wishes may be, you have found the right place.
If you would like a ceremony as unique as you are, created to suit your own style, please don't hesitate to get in touch so I can answer any questions you might have - and to find out if I am available on your big day. I would be honoured to work with you!
Rev. Sharon Q.
from Australia (in Ireland since 2013)
Non-denominational Holistic Minister
Celebrant & Registered Solemniser