The Problem

There can be so much confusion for couples wishing to get married in Ireland with a non-Church wedding, if they are not aware of the options available to them for getting legally married here.

There was a case just a few short years ago, where a couple flew in to Ireland from overseas, along with many wedding guests for the wedding of their dreams, or so they thought. Just days before their wedding day, the couple discovered to their horror that their wedding wasn’t really going to be a legal marriage after all.

Because their celebrant had failed to make it very clear that although she advertised as a “registered celebrant” on her business card, she wasn’t actually registered to conduct legal marriages. Oops! Instead she was registered with no more than a celebrants trade association. This was a terrible tragedy for all concerned and just should never have happened.

The Solution

If you are among the growing number of couples now getting married in Ireland with a non-Church wedding and you’d like your wedding ceremony to be a legal marriage, it is essential to know the correct job title to use when choosing your celebrant.

The following descriptions of the various celebrant job titles used by individuals conducting wedding ceremonies here in Ireland will help you to avoid getting caught out with a non-legal wedding ceremony, when what you really wanted was to be legally married.

Registered Solemniser, Registered Solemniser of Marriages or Civil Registrar: are the only job titles legally recognised by the Marriage Act here in Ireland for individuals who conduct and solemnise a legal marriage ceremonies. All Registered Solemnisers must be a registered member or employee of a government approved Secular or Religious body. The role of the Secular or Religious body is not only to provide the high standard of training necessary for registration as a solemniser of marriages, but also to maintain ongoing high standards of integrity and dignity with all marriage ceremonies conducted including compliance with the Marriage Act at all times.

The following job titles are also in use by individuals conducting wedding ceremonies here in Ireland:

  • Celebrant : This is a generic job title which refers to an individual who creates & conducts a ceremony of any kind. An individual using the job title of celebrant may or may not also be a Registered Solemniser. The job title of “Celebrant” used on its own is not an indication of the individuals authority to conduct legal marriages.
  • Ceremony Officiant : This job title is legally recognised in Northern Ireland where it is used to describe an individual who officiates a legal marriage ceremony on behalf of the government. This job title is sometimes used by their equivalent in the Republic of Ireland by those who don’t want to use the more generic title of “celebrant” due to the public confusion it may cause. The job title “ceremony officiant” is also sometimes used by lay celebrants who don’t realise that it refers to an official who officiates a legal marriage.
  • Civil Celebrant : This job title is from the Marriage Act of Australia and has no legal standing here in Ireland. An individual advertising as a civil celebrant here in Ireland is a lay celebrant and therefore not government registered to conduct and solemnise a legal marriage in Ireland. If you choose to have a non-legal wedding ceremony with a lay celebrant, unless you have previously married abroad, you must also attend the registry office on a separate day with your witnesses for a registry office marriage in order to be legally married. This was once a trend in Ireland many years ago, but times have changed and modern couples in Ireland are now realising they can have a unique & personalised fully legal marriage ceremony created to suit their own wishes if they choose a celebrant who is also a duly authorised and government-registered solemniser of marriages.
  • Civil Registrar : A civil registrar is a registered solemniser employed by the HSE Civil Registration Office to conduct strictly Secular and non-Religious but traditional government marriage ceremonies, either at a Registry Office or at a venue of your choice during business hours for an extra fee. Because a registry office marriage is always conducted by a HSE Civil Registrar, it is also known as a “civil ceremony”.
  • Lay Celebrant : This is a general job title and when used to describe a wedding celebrant, it means that the celebrant is not registered to conduct or solennise a legal marriage.
  • Marriage Celebrant : Again this job title is from the Marriage Act of Australia and is sometimes used here in Ireland although it has no legal standing here. The legal equivalent to a Marriage Celebrant here in Ireland is a Registered Solemniser.
  • Registered Celebrant : This job title has no legal standing in Ireland either, and is sometimes used by lay celebrants to indicate they are registered with a celebrant trade association. A registered celebrant is not authorised to conduct & solemnise legal marriages.
  • Wedding Celebrant : Generally this is a lay celebrant who conducts non-legal wedding ceremonies and the clue here is the word “marriage” – a legal term from the Marriage Act but the word “wedding” is not. The majority of “wedding celebrants” in Ireland are lay celebrants, ie. they are not registered to conduct legal marriages. There is a number of Registered Solemnisers also referring to themselves wedding celebrants because they also conduct non-legal wedding ceremonies.


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