Planning Civil & Humanist Weddings

Civil Ceremony

The following are the requirements to get you started for planning your civil ceremony.

1. Decide when and where

The first thing to do is decide which county you want to get married in and when. Civil Ceremonies only occur from Monday to Fridays during office hours and there are some restrictions on the type of venues you can get married in. Unfortunately, you cannot marry on bank holidays or weekends. Ensure your wedding venue is approved by the HSE.

2. Give yourself plenty of time

Lengthy queues are often the norm when it comes to booking a civil ceremony and days such as Friday are popular and fill up fast. Give yourself plenty of time to secure a date and registrar to avoid disappointment!

3. Contact Registrar

Once you have decided when and where you wish to marry, you must apply to get married by civil ceremony in a Registry Office or other approved place such as a hotel or other type of venue. Contact the Registrar of Marriages for the district in which you intend to get married for information on what is involved. The local office is here in Newcastle, Galway.

4. Give notification

In addition to arranging your civil marriage ceremony, you must also give three months notification to the state of your intention to marry for the legal side of things. This doesn't have to be with the same registrar.

You can get married in a Registry Office or venue of your choice, providing it meets certain criteria:

It must be a licensed venue and be approved by a Registrar
The venue must be seemly and dignified.
The ceremony room must have adequate capacity.
It must be a place that is open to the public and it must meet health and safety requirements.
It must have adequate public liability cover.
It must be accessible to all including those with disabilities.
The venue mustn’t have any connection with any religion or religious practice.
The location must be clearly identifiable by description and location.
As of 2014, you can now have a civil marriage ceremony outdoors, providing it meets the above requirements but your family home, unfortunately, is still not an option as it is a private dwelling.

The Marriage Ceremony

The ceremony must be conducted by a Registrar (in this case a Civil Servant).
Two witnesses must be present and they must be aged 18 or over.
The following two declarations must be made by you and your partner: That you do not know of any impediment to the marriage AND that you accept each other as husband and wife.
If you, your partner or either of the two witnesses is not familiar with the language in which the ceremony is being conducted, the couple must arrange for an interpreter to be present.
Queries: if you have any queries on any part of the civil ceremony process, you can speak with your registrar or log onto www.citizensinformation.ie

Humanist Ceremony

Looking to have a non-religious ceremony but want to tie the knot at the weekend – then a Humanist Ceremony is your option here.

What is a Humanist Ceremony?

A Humanist wedding ceremony is a secular, non-religious ceremony that is legally recognised. According to the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI), “one of the tents of humanism is a tolerance for others who hold different belief systems” which means everyone feels included in a Humanist ceremony.

Humanists do not believe in God. Humanist ceremonies are open to any couple (you don’t have to call yourself a humanist to opt for this type of ceremony) and are often an option for couples that have different beliefs. You can make them as personal and as unique as you wish but they shouldn’t include any religious references.

1. State Notice

Humanist ceremonies are legally binding so as with every other type of ceremony; you must give the state at least three months’ notice of your intention to marry.

2. The Celebrant

Decide where you want to get married and when and contact a Humanist celebrant close to that area to check their availability. Humanist ceremonies are really popular at the moment so you may find there’s a bit of a waiting list – celebrants can be booked up to a year in advance for the weekend and holiday seasons. The HAI advise holding off booking a venue until you have arranged a celebrant’s service. Some celebrants may be happy to travel across the country but will charge travel expenses.

3. The Venue

The ceremony must take place in a venue that is open to the public and is clearly identifiable by an address which means the likes of your family home isn’t an option. However, you can get married outdoors providing it meets the above criteria. Once you’ve booked a celebrant, they will arrange a meeting to go through procedures and options for your ceremony.

4. The Ceremony

Obviously, the length of the ceremony will depend on the number of readings and songs you’ve included but will typically last between 25-35 minutes. According to the Humanist Association of Ireland, “a humanist wedding ceremony is typically made up of an introduction (with traditional entrance if you wish), words on love and marriage, music, readings, a symbolic ritual or two, vows, marriage declaration, exchange of rings, signing of the register and closing words” but it can be personalised to suit you and your partner. You have a lot of control over how you want it to feel and proceed.

5. Time & Day

There are no restrictions regarding the time of day or the day of the week you can get married.

6. Fee

Typically the fee will be in and around €450 but as celebrants all work independently, this may vary. Travel expenses may also be added on if the venue is further away. This is in addition to the €200 that must be paid to the state registrar for notification of your intention to marry.

If you need more information on Humanist ceremonies, see the Humanist Association of Ireland’s website here.

Tip of the Week:

Have all of the relevant details with you on your first visit to the Registration office: Passports, Birth certs, PPS number, names of witnesses and payment fee to avoid having to make a further appointment, saving you time as they are very busy.

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