First things First: Essential Tips for Choosing your Wedding Celebrant or Officiant

Your choices for a wedding ceremony here in Ireland are varied and sometimes very confusing. The first choice for you to make is:

a) do you want your wedding ceremony to be a fully legal marriage ceremony or
b) do you want a non-legal wedding ceremony?

Wedding Ceremony, or Marriage Ceremony?

A non-legal marriage ceremony is known as a wedding ceremony, but is never a marriage ceremony. A marriage ceremony is part of the legal registration of a marriage, therefore a marriage ceremony can only be conducted by a duly registered solemniser of marriages.

However a non-legal wedding ceremony can be conducted by anyone, without restriction. Sure you could even hire an actor to dress as Darth Vader if you really wanted, and nobody could stop you.

So You’d Like a Unique & Personalised Legal Marriage Ceremony?
Please Continue – Now for the Legal Bits:

The Marriage Act of Ireland states that there are 3 types of organisations or bodies who can register their members to conduct legal marriages.

  • A Registry office marriage (also known as a Civil Ceremony) this is a standard registry office ceremony conducted by a Civil Registrar either in the Registry Office or at your choice of wedding venue for an extra fee
  • A unique & fully personalised legal marriage ceremony created to suit your wishes – conducted by an independent marriage solemniser / ceremony officiant of your own choice.
  • A non-legal wedding ceremony created and performed by a celebrant, without any legal marriage registration – for this option you’ll need to do your legal marriage registration at the Registry Office by having a Registry office marriage ceremony your witnesses a few days before.

A legal marriage is “conducted”, while a non-legal wedding ceremony is “performed”.

In Ireland there are no laws regarding who can or can’t perform non-legal wedding ceremony – in fact you could ask anyone to perform a non-legal wedding ceremony. Sure you could even hire an actor dressed as Darth Vader to conduct a non-legal wedding ceremony if that’s what you really wanted!

conducted no rules regarding who can conduct a ceremony of any kind, except of course a legal marriage ceremony. For anyone wanting to conduct a non-legal wedding ceremony, there is no formal training required, and no training stanadards.

But if you are among the many modern couples opting for a non-Church wedding, anyone with the ability and skill to speak in front of a gathering of any size can create and conduct a ceremony, after all it’s not rocket-science, or is it?

You’ll find plenty of guides online with sample wedding ceremony scripts, and plenty of books and e-books available on the subject. Customise the wording and bingo! Bob’s your uncle. Or perhaps Uncle Bob, your best friend or a dear family member can officiate your beautiful wedding ceremony, and it would surely be some great craic!

But most would agree that weddings are an official occasion, and if you’re expecting dearest friends and family to spend their time and money to attend your wedding, you really want them to remember your big day for all the right reasons by giving them the best experience possible.

There is no doubt that engaging the right designated official to create & conduct your unique & personalised marriage ceremony will add a certain kind of presence and dignity to your auspicious occasion which just can’t be put into words.

With so many choices out there, this guide will help you to navigate the online web of confusion and find the right Celebrant/Officiant for your needs – as quickly and as simply as possible.

Registered Solemnisers

There are many Marriage Solemnisers and Celebrants who are registered to conduct legal marriages, but – there is also a growing number of unregistered celebrants conducting non-legal wedding ceremonies which can be a source of confusion for many.

For couples who don’t want a legal marriage ceremony that won’t be a problem at all, but with most couples now opting for a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony, the unregistered celebrant can be a growing cause of confusion, and here’s why:

Unregistered Celebrant

Unregistered celebrants are not registered to conduct legal marriages, and will often advertise as “independent celebrants”, “professional celebrants” or even “secular celebrants”. Many will have vast life experiences in a range of caring and helping professions and have undertaken some form of celebrant training short course.

Through their own personality, skills and the life experience of their past roles they have all the attributes to be a wonderful celebrant, creating beautiful non-legal wedding ceremonies.

However there has been more than one case of an unregistered celebrant falsely advertising as a “marriage celebrant”, who was consulted with and booked by an unsuspecting couple, only to find out during their notification meeting with the HSE, that the celebrant they had booked wasn’t registered to conduct legal marriages at all.

There are unregistered celebrants falsely claiming that to be legally married in Ireland with a unique & personalised wedding ceremony created to suit your own beliefs and wishes, that you must first attend the Registry Office on a separate day to “do the legal bits” and have your ceremony with your celebrant (them) on another day.

This is not true either. It is only true if you engage them to conduct your ceremony because they are not registered to conduct legal marriages.

Having said that, not all unregistered celebrants are misleading the public, many are wonderful celebrants, creating beautiful non-legal marriage ceremonies.

However if you are like most couples and you’d like to be married in Ireland with a fully legal marriage ceremony at one of the many glorious castles, hotels, mansion houses across Ireland which have beautiful function rooms available for hire for weddings, your best choice of Celebrant would be a Registered Marriage Solemniser.

A HSE Registrar

A HSE Registrar conducts civil marriage ceremonies. For example in Australia a civil marriage ceremony means a marriage conducted according to the wishes and beliefs of the couple instead of the requirements of a Religion. Therefore in Australia a civil ceremony is any marriage conducted by a civil marriage celebrant. In Ireland a civil ceremony has quite a different meaning. A civil ceremony in Ireland is a strictly non-religious and non-spiritual registry office marriage conducted by a Civil Registrar or other employee of the HSE Civil Registration Service .

There are many HSE Civil Registrars and HSE Civil Registration office staff across the country who will conduct your strictly non-religious and straightforward “Registry Office” style short, no-fuss legal marriage ceremony either in the Registry Office or at your choice of wedding venue either during or after business hours for an extra fee.

For couples who just want a short, simple basic marriage ceremony without any personalisation or fuss, a strictly non-religious and non-spiritual Registry Office marriage may be the best choice.

But for couples who would like their own unique & personalised marriage ceremony, created to suit their own beliefs and wishes, there are many registered Secular or Religious Marriage Solemnisers who can create & conduct a legal marriage ceremony to suit the couples beliefs, no matter what those beliefs may be.

Secular or Religious Solemniser?

There is a special kind of Marriage Solemniser not defined in the marriage act, because they conduct ceremonies for people of all beliefs or none. This means they conduct ceremonies to suit any secular, non-religious, spiritual, mixed faith or religious beliefs along with any possible combination in between.

That special kind of marriage solemniser is the interfaith marriage solemniser. An interfaith marriage solemniser us usually registered as religious, depending on the organisation they belong to, which adds to the confusion!

There are two types of Religious Solemnisers:

  1. Religious Solemniser – those who conduct marriages in religious buildings such as Churches, Temples or other meeting place, and who must conduct those marriages according to the rules of their Religion
  2. Interfaith Religious Solemniser – those whose interfaith beliefs allow them to conduct their ceremonies at any non-religious venue of your choosing. Their interfaith beliefs also allow them to create & conduct unique & personalised legal marriage ceremonies to suit the beliefs & requirements of the couples whatever that may be. Interfaith ceremonies can be non-religious, spiritual, religious or mixed faith and any combination in between. Interfaith ceremonies can be conducted on any day of the week, at any time and at any place of your choice which complies with the marriage act.

With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see that an interfaith legal marriage ceremony conducted by the appropriately Registered Marriage Solemniser offers you the most flexibility for a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony created exactly to suit your own beliefs and wishes.

With that in mind, here are your essential first choices for getting married in Ireland:

First, choose where you would like to be married. If a Church wedding is your dream – please contact the Church of your choice for guidance. If you dream of a non-Church wedding then please read on

For your non-Church wedding you first have two choices, no matter where you would like to be married:

  1. Fully Legal Marrage Ceremony
  2. Non-legal Wedding Ceremony

Non-legal Wedding Ceremony

Depending on your circumstances, a non-legal wedding ceremony can be your best choice – eg. if you live overseas and you have decided that it will be so much easiser to be married in your country of residence, with a non-legal wedding ceremony with family & friends with a beautiful unique & personalised non-legal wedding ceremony at a later date with family and friends here in Ireland.

Legal Marriage Ceremony

If a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony is what you want, there’s no reason why you can’t have your legal marriage ceremony, on any day of the week, at any venue of your choice, created to suit your own beliefs and wishes whatever they may be.

With the abundance of Registered Marriage Solemnisers now on the HSE list there is absolutley no need to attend the Registry office on a separate day for a basic Registry Office marriage and have your wedding ceremony on a different day.

There are many who are registered to create & conduct interfaith and non-religious ceremonies, and will create & conduct a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony to suit your beliefs and wishes of any kind, on any day of the week, any time at any place.

So if an all-in-one unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony is really what you want, here are some expert tips to guide you to the right Ceremony Officiant/Solemniser for your big day!

Firstly decide which type of marriage ceremony you would like.

If you dream of being married at one of the seemingly endless array of luxury castles, hotels and mansion houses across the country, your best choice would be to choose your Celebrant/Solemniser from an interfaith Religious body who can create & conduct a unique and personalised ceremony of any kind, tailored to suit your own wishes & beliefs.

To find an interfaith Solemniser for your unique & personalised legal marraige ceremony, you can also let Google be your friend.

Just Google search with the words “interfaith solemniser” or “interfaith celebrant” plus the location of your wedding venue. Eg. “interfaith celebrant galway” and voila!

Non-legal Wedding Ceremony

If a non-legal wedding ceremony is what you need, for whatever reason you need a celebrant for your non-legal wedding ceremony, let Google be your friend.

Just Google search with the words “wedding celebrant” plus the location of your wedding venue. Eg. “wedding celebrant galway” and voila!