Essential Advice for Choosing your Wedding Celebrant – Can a Celebrant Legally Marry You in Ireland?
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, but not every celebrant can conduct a legal marriage ceremony. There are two main types of wedding Celebrants here in Ireland:
- Those who are Government Authorised and Registered to Solemnise legal marriage, known as Registered Solemnisers, and
- Lay Celebrants – those who are NOT Registered to Solemnise Marriages, who conduct wedding ceremonies which don’t have any legal standing. If you engage a Lay Celebrant to conduct your wedding ceremony, and you wish to be legally married, you will be required to attend the Registry office on another day with your witnesses for a Registry office marriage.
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, you must be sure to choose a Celebrant (like myself) who is duly authorised and Registered to Solemnise legal marriages. You can easily tell which Celebrants are correctly Registered with the HSE, we always advertise as either a Registered Marriage Solemniser, Registered Solemniser, Solemniser of Marriage or simply a Solemniser.
There are some Lay Celebrants using the job title “Registered Celebrant” which has no legal standing. Any wedding ceremony with a Lay Celebrant will not be a legal marriage, which means if you wish to be legally married, you will need to also attend the Registry Office on another day with your witnesses for a Registry Office marriage.
With so many Registered Solemnisers in Ireland, who can conduct legal marriages, your job is to find a Solemniser who you know you can work with. (pick me!). The ceremonial services provided by each 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 should also know that in Ireland you can pay an extra fee to the HSE and book a HSE Civil Registrar to attend your wedding venue 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 need 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 you have 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.
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