Different types of marriage ceremony in Ireland
In Ireland, there are 3 different ways to legally marry. A marriage may be celebrated in a civil ceremony, a religious ceremony or in a secular ceremony and each is equally valid and binding under Irish law. For a marriage to be legal, the ceremony must be performed by a registered solemniser (see 'Registered solemnisers' below).
To have a legally valid marriage in Ireland, both parties must:
- Have the capacity to marry
- Freely consent to the marriage, and
- Meet the notification requirements for marriage.
Once you have fulfilled these conditions, you should consider how you wish to marry.
Types of wedding ceremony
Civil ceremonies are legally binding secular marriage ceremonies performed by a registrar. The registrar works for the State.
Civil ceremonies can take place in a registry office, or registrars can travel to perform civil ceremonies in an approved room or venue. In general, registrars only perform ceremonies in the county in which they are based.
Civil ceremonies can only take place within the office working hours of the registrar.
There can be no mention of anything religious or spiritual in your ceremony. If you are planning to get married by civil ceremony, you should contact the civil registration service in the district in which you intend to marry for advice on how to proceed. There is no requirement to live in the district where you want to get married.
Further information is also available in our page describing civil marriage ceremonies.
Religious ceremonies are performed by registered religious solemnisers of established religions. They typically take place in their places of worship and the ceremony is performed according to the beliefs and philosophies of the particular body or church.
If you are getting married by religious ceremony, you should contact the authorities of the religious body concerned for guidance on how to proceed.
Secular ceremonies are legally recognised in Ireland if they are carried out by a registered secular solemniser. Secular ceremonies are performed by bodies that have a viewpoint that does not include anything religious or spiritual. Humanist ceremonies are the most common type of secular ceremony in Ireland.
If you wish to get married by secular ceremony you should contact the authorities of the secular body concerned for advice on how to proceed.
Renewing your wedding vows
In Ireland, someone who is already married cannot get married again (even if it is to the same person). This means that you cannot renew your wedding vows in a civil ceremony in Ireland.
However, there is a long tradition of "church blessings" in Ireland. This is where Irish people who have married in civil ceremonies abroad, marry in a religious ceremony the next time they are home. Sometimes, people living in Ireland have their marriage blessed in a religious ceremony, to commemorate a special anniversary or event. If you would like to have your marriage blessed, you should get in touch with your local member of the clergy.
Whether you decide on a religious, secular or civil ceremony you will require a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). You can get your MRF by giving 3 months’ notice of intention to marry to the registrar at a Civil Registration Service. You should contact your local civil registration service to make an appointment with the registrar. You can also use the online booking system.
A solemniser is the term given to a person licensed by the State to conduct weddings. Only a registered solemniser can perform a legally binding wedding ceremony. The General Register Office maintains a Register of Solemnisers of Marriage (pdf) and anyone solemnising a civil, secular or religious marriage must be on the Register. These categories are clearly outlined in the Register of Solemnisers as civil/religious/secular.
How to apply?
If you are planning a civil ceremony in a Registry Office or other approved place, you should contact the Registrar of Civil Marriages for the district in which you intend to marry for advice on how to proceed.
If you are planning to get married by religious or secular ceremony, you should contact the religious or secular body concerned for guidance on how to proceed.
The Department of Social Protection has more information on the rules and requirements for Getting married in Ireland.