Essential Advice for Your Enchanted Beach Wedding in Ireland

Essential Advice for Your Enchanted Beach Wedding in Ireland

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 insprection & 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,

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.2,

Have 2 ceremonies with your legal marriage ceremony at least one day before 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!

Your Special Day

If you believe your ceremony should be an important part of your special day, no matter how big or small your requirements may be,

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.

The Celtic Handfasting Tradition

The Celtic Handfasting Tradition

Above: Aoife & Jimmy’s wedding
at Ballyvolane House
Photo by

Braided handfasting chord fully handmade by me
to the bride’s choice of colours

The wedding tradition of celtic handfasting has seen a resurgence since Prince Wiliam and Kate tied the knot as part of their lavish wedding ceremony in London in 2011.

Handfasting is a rural folkloric and neopagan ceremonial spiritual custom, gaining in popularity as modern couples seek to incorporate ancient traditions in their ceremony.  Iinitially found in Ireland, Scotland and western European countries, the handfasting is a ceremony in which a couple hold a commitment ceremony by tying the hands with woven or braided chord.

Above:  Aoife & Jimmy’s wedding
at Ballyvolane House
Photo by


The handfasting ceremony was believed by many to be firstly conducted as an engagement ceremony,  a temporary binding of one year and a day.   If after this time the couple wished to stay together, the handfasting was repeated a second time as a marriage ceremony, and the couple were married for seven years.

If the couple wished to stay together after this time, the handfasting was repeated for another seven years or as a permanent marriage, depending on the couple’s wishes.  Hence the term “seven year itch”.

In ancient times, the handfasting ceremony was conducted according to the local traditions.  In modern times, a handfasting ceremony is part of a traditional wedding ceremony, and is written to suit the requirements of the couple.

There are unlimited variations in the ceremony wording, from the short, modern format lasting about 3-4 minutes, to the longer traditation format lasting anything from 10 minutes or longer.

If I am conducting your ceremony and you would like to make your own handfasting chord, I can give you creative ideas and explain some simple methods of making various styles.

Pictured are two of the many braided handfasting chords I have personally handmade.  If you are unable to make or purchase your own handfasting chord I am happy to make you a handfasting chord in your choice of colors.

In the first example, each of the 5 strands of the braided chord are individually twisted to make the separate chords before being tied and braided together in a 5-part braided chord.  Each end of the chord is then wrapped to form a tassle at each end.  Each custom-made braided chord takes approx. 4 hours to make by hand.

Retail price of the 5-part braided handfasting chord as pictured above (top) is €69.50 (or approx. €20 materials only price if I am conducting your ceremony) which includes your very own choice of 5 colors, the symbolic meanings of your chosen colors for reciting in your ceremony, organza bag and postage anywhere within Ireland (if I am not conducting your ceremony).

In the second example, twisted chords of varying thickness are wrapped together and stitched in place, tassles made for the ends and sewn in for a very effective look.  This type of chord takes about 3 hours to make and costs around €15 in materials.

The Irish Wedding Coin Tradition

The Irish Wedding Coin Tradition

It is believed that the Irish tradition of the wedding coin has its roots in the Brehon law, when the groom would gift his new bride with a coin to represent that from this point forward, everything he owns would be equally shared.

There may be variants of this tradition depending on which family and region of Ireland, and availability of coins.  Some believe that once the wedding coin is gifted to the bride, it should be put into the bride’s shoe to ensure prosperity in the marriage.

The wedding coin can also be handed down from parents to eldest child, or first son, or so forth.  The great thing about wedding traditions is that you are free to make your own variation of the tradition in order to make it meaningful to you.

I have written some beautiful words for a wedding coin ceremony on a number of occasions, each ceremony unique and individual to the couple.  I will include the wedding coin ceremony wording here very soon!