I’m someone who likes to get to the nitty gritty. So, I’m going to get this out of the way. I can’t solemnise your wedding. That means I can’t make your marriage legal. I’d love to, but I can’t. And I could explain why, but I would need a separate blog post for that. Let’s just say it boils down to complicated marriage legislation. So, if you want me as your celebrant, your wedding will be a two-phase event. There’ll be a highly personal ceremony for you, your family and friends, conducted by me, and there’ll be a legal ceremony at the registry office.
Organising a separate legal ceremony is more doable than you think. It even gives you a good excuse for a party. So, I’ve created this blog post to show you how it all works.
Just Make An Appointment
I know that for Irish people in particular, it can be hard getting your head around organising a separate legal wedding ceremony. We’re used to having everything done in one place. But all you’re really doing is making an extra appointment to sign a document. All couples have to register their marriage three months in advance of their wedding with the Health Service Executive (HSE), no matter what type of ceremony they choose. You make a marriage notification appointment to register your marriage with your local Health Service Executive (HSE) and you make a second appointment for your legal signing. That’s it.
You can make your appointment for your legal ceremony at the same time as you make your marriage notification appointment. Or you can make it when you actually go to the marriage notification appointment. The registrar will ask you where and when you are getting married, and you tell them you want to be married in the registry office. You can then choose a date for your legal ceremony with the registrar.
Just remember that the date of your legal ceremony must be at least three months later than the date of your marriage notification appointment. So, if your marriage notification appointment is in May, you fix a date for your legal ceremony in August or later. The good news is that your legal ceremony can happen either before or after your wedding ceremony with me. It makes no difference to me and it makes no difference to the HSE as long as you make your marriage legal with them.
What Happens At the Legal Ceremony?
Your legal ceremony will be very short, fifteen minutes at most. You just turn up at the registry office with two witnesses and everything will be done. Afterwards, you and your witnesses can go for a drink or a slap-up lunch. That’s where the party bit comes in. In fact, I’d recommend organising your legal signing the day before your wedding ceremony with me. What a great way to get the party started.
And if you do want both your ceremonies to happen at the same time, it’s still possible. If you’re getting married on a weekday between 9am and 5pm, the registrar can come out to your venue, depending on availability. Then you can have your ceremony with me and the registrar will be on hand afterwards for you to sign the register with your witnesses.
How Much Will All This Cost?
I can understand why you’d be worried about the expense of a second ceremony, but it needn’t cost any extra. All couples pay €200 anyway to register their marriages with the HSE. I charge a fee of €450 for my wedding ceremonies, which falls within the standard fees charged by celebrants of all kinds. The only extra cost is if you want the registrar to come to your wedding venue. The HSE charges a standard fee of €100 for that service.
Why would you even bother with a separate legal ceremony?
Because it frees you up to have the wedding ceremony of your dreams. I’ll put no restriction on the shape of your ceremony – you can use whatever wording and music you want. All celebrants and solemnisers aim to offer a personal service, but they are bound by legalities or belief systems. For example, in a humanist or registry office ceremony, you can make no reference to religion or God and certain legal words have to be said. So, if you want a ceremony that fits perfectly with who you are and what you believe in, an independent celebrant is your best option. I promise you – it’ll be worth your while.
If you have any more questions about organising your legal ceremony, I’d be happy to help. Just send me a message using the website contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, you can get information from the HSE website about getting married in Ireland.