Civil marriage ceremonies
What is a civil marriage ceremony?
A civil marriage ceremony is a non-secular (non-religious) and legally-binding way to get married in Ireland. If you choose to have a civil ceremony, there can be no mention of anything religious or spiritual in the ceremony.
In a civil ceremony, a marriage registrar (a person who works for the State) will solemnise (perform) the marriage.
A solemniser is the term used for people licensed by the State to conduct weddings. The Register of Solemnisers has information and contact details for people who can perform marriage ceremonies in Ireland. It is updated on a regular basis.
You can have a civil marriage ceremony in either a registry office, or in a public venue that has been approved by the registry office.
Getting married by civil ceremony
You and your partner must take certain steps before you can get married by civil ceremony:
- Decide on a venue – there are rules about where a civil ceremony can take place (see below)
- Tell the registrar about your intention to get married (also called giving notice and notification of intention to get married)
- Get a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) from the registrar, which must be signed immediately after the marriage ceremony by you, your partner, the registrar, and 2 witnesses
- The registrar will then use the MRF to legally register your marriage in Ireland. After this, you can get your marriage certificate.
Decide on a venue
You can have a civil ceremony in either a registry office, or a venue that is approved by a registrar.
You must pay an additional fee to have a registrar solemnise your marriage in a venue that is not the registry office.
Getting your wedding venue approved
To get your wedding venue approved, contact the civil registration service in the district the venue is located in. This registrar may have to inspect the venue.
The venue must be:
- A building that is open to the public, or
- A courtyard, garden, yard, field or piece of ground that is open to the public and is near to (and usually shared with) a building that is open to the public
Tell the registrar about your intention to marry
You must give the registrar at least 3 months’ notice of your intention to get married. This is sometimes called Notification of intention to marry.
You should contact the civil registration service in the district you want to marry in. You do not have to live in the same area as the venue.
Find out how to register your intention to marry and what documentation you will need.
Get a Marriage Registration Form (MRF)
Once you and your partner meet the 3-month notification requirements and you have signed a declaration that there is no lawful impediment to you getting married, the registrar will give you a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). ‘No lawful impediment’ means there is no legal reason why the marriage should not happen.
An MRF is like a marriage licence, as it gives you permission to get married in Ireland.
You should give the MRF to the registrar who will be solemnising the marriage before the marriage ceremony.
Signing the MRF after your marriage ceremony
Your marriage ceremony must be performed (solemnised) by the registrar in the presence of 2 witnesses, aged 18 or over.
During the ceremony, you and your intended spouse must declare:
- That you do not know of any impediment to the marriage
- That you accept each other as husband/wife/spouse
Immediately after the ceremony, the MRF must be signed by you, your spouse, the 2 witnesses and the registrar.
Registering your marriage
The registrar will use the signed MRF to register your marriage as soon as possible after the ceremony.
You do not have to pay a fee to register your marriage, but there are fees for getting a marriage certificate.
Further information on civil ceremonies
Find contact details for your local civil registration service on the HSE website.
Usually, you can also book a marriage notification appointment with a registrar online using the civil registration service’s online booking system. However, this service currently not available due to the cyber-attack on the HSE.
Language interpretive services
If you, your intended spouse, or either of the 2 witnesses does not speak English and cannot understand the ceremony, then you will need the services of an interpreter. It is your responsibility to provide the interpreter services. Interpreters must be from an independent verifiable translation or interpretation service.