Everything you need to know about marriage in Ireland

6 Mar 2023·20 min to read
Everything you need to know about marriage in Ireland 01

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe famous for its unique landmarks and scenic coastlines. Every year, over 9000 marriages are celebrated in Ireland, by both native Irish and foreign couples. There are three major types of marriages in Ireland: civil, religious, and secular marriages. These three types of marriages are recognized and protected by the laws of the country. The country is blessed with unique customs, traditions, and beautiful locations that make it a perfect option for destination weddings, serving couples from all around the world. 

The minimum marriage age in the country is 18 years, and this age must be reached by both spouses before they are permitted to get married. Child marriage is frowned upon by both the government and the citizens of the country. As such, occurrences of underage marriages are quite unpopular. Close families who are related by blood or affinity are not permitted to marry each other in the country. Spouses of the same gender may marry each other in Ireland. However, not all religious organizations or bodies conduct such marriage ceremonies, so spouses must check before the necessary marriage preparations begin. Continue reading to find out more about the types of marriages in Ireland and the laws guiding them.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages in Ireland are performed by both Irish and foreign spouses, and they are fully recognized and legally binding in the country. These types of marriages take place in the civil registry, and they are performed by a state-authorized registrar. In some cases, spouses may be allowed to conduct their marriage ceremony in their own preferred location; however, such a location or venue must have been approved by the officiating registrar. Civil marriages in Ireland take place during the working hours of the registrar, and the duration of the ceremony itself can be 30 minutes or less. 

Before two partners are allowed to conduct a civil marriage in Ireland, they must both be single and have no legal obstructions to marriage. Both partners must be mentally stable and free of any underlying diseases that might prevent the marriage from taking place. Also, a marriage may only be conducted when both spouses give their free consent. A civil marriage cannot be performed if one of the spouses is coerced or threatened. The minimum marriage age must also have been attained by both foreign and Irish nationals before the ceremony. To perform a civil marriage, there are documents and paperwork that must be submitted by both spouses, and these are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. This includes a national ID and valid passport provided by Irish and foreign spouses, respectively.
  • Original birth certificates Both spouses are required to submit their birth certificates, which include their names the way they are currently addressed.
  • Both spouses are required to submit paperwork stating the intended location as well as the date of the marriage ceremony.
  • Two witnesses must be provided by both spouses. These witnesses must not be related to either of the spouses by blood.
  • The marriage registration form must be submitted during the application process.
  • Divorce or death certificate. This document will serve as evidence that a previously married spouse legally terminated their previous marriage as a result of the death of a former spouse or separation.

Documents obtained from other countries must be notarized and apostilled to show their legitimacy. Also, the documents must be translated to English or Irish if they are in another language at the time of submission.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages in Ireland are also legally binding. These types of marriages are performed by registered and authorized religious solemnizers of popular religions. The predominant religion in Ireland is Christianity, and the large majority of Christian denominations fall under the Roman Catholic Church. This is followed by the Anglican Church of Ireland and all other religions. The percentage of Muslims in the country is quite low—less than 2% of the total population. 

In fact, irreligious people with no religious affiliation outnumber Muslims and other religions other than Christianity in the country. Since the Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most popular church denomination in Ireland, the majority of marriages are conducted according to the principles of the Catholic Church. Before a Catholic wedding is allowed to take place, there are certain conditions and documents required from both spouses, and these are stated below.

Required Documents 

  • Both spouses are required to submit their baptismal, holy communion, and confirmation certificates.
  • A prenuptial inquiry form must be filled out by both partners. Typically, this form will be obtained from the priest at the parish.
  • Certificate of single status. This document must demonstrate that both spouses are currently in single civil status and are not married to another person.
  • In cases where either of the spouses is a non-Catholic, a dispensation letter is required.
  • Both spouses must provide evidence that they have duly completed the marriage preparation course.

Secular marriages 

Ireland is one of the few countries in the world where secular marriages are accepted. Couples may conduct a secular marriage as an alternative to either civil or religious marriages, and this type of marriage must be performed by a registered secular solemnizer. Most times, spouses who do not have a religious affiliation opt for this option, and since there are a substantial number of Irish who are irreligious, the secular marriage is a popular option with them. In Ireland, the most common types of secular ceremonies are humanist ceremonies. Secular marriages generally present some freedom and flexibility that may not be available to couples conducting religious and civil marriage ceremonies.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Ireland 02

Marriage traditions in Ireland


This is a unique ceremonial rite that is performed as a way to ensure peace in the lives and marriages of the couples and keep evil spirits away. Here, church bells are rung during the marriage ceremony, and some guests or even the bride may carry small bells during the course of the ceremony. This tradition is still widely practiced.


In this marriage ritual, an Irish bride is required to carry an upright horseshoe during the course of the ceremony. The bride usually carries it as a symbol of good luck, and she carries it down the aisle with her. The horseshoe is carried in the bouquet of the bride, and in some cases, it may be sewn to her dress.

Wedding handkerchief 

In Ireland, carrying a white Irish linen handkerchief during the ceremony is a custom that used to be very popular in ancient times. Here, the bride is required to carry the handkerchief, which is ornamented and embroidered to be very beautiful and elegant. This is a tradition that is performed as a way of showcasing Irish culture.

Same-sex and polygamous marriages

Same-sex marriages in Ireland are recognized and protected by law. This type of marriage became legal in 2015, and it allows spouses of the same sex to enjoy most of the marriage rights and benefits available to spouses of the opposite sex. In the past, same-sex couples were allowed to cohabitate; however, they may now legally get married in the country.

Polygamy is strictly prohibited in Ireland. A man is not allowed to have more than one wife. Before spouses can enter a new marriage, the previous one must have been properly terminated. Since most Irish are Christians, there are usually only rare attempts to perform this type of marriage. Irish spouses in foreign countries are also not allowed to practice polygamy.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Ireland 03

Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties


Entering into marriage is one of the most important events of a person's life, and those who wish to enter into marriage in Ireland have to understand the rules and regulations guiding the act of marriage. Consent to marriage is a very essential part of the process of contracting marriage. Couples must have an adequate understanding of the concept of marriage before giving their consent to it. Consent from both parties must be obtained, and it must be free from any external influence. All citizens are allowed to contract marriage provided the legal age for marriage, which is 18 years for both males and females, is reached. Underage marriages are against the law in the country. Forced marriages are also against the law. 

Couples who wish to live together without entering into a formal marriage agreement are allowed to do so in Ireland. Couples must prove that they both have the capacity to contract marriage; they must be in a sound and stable state of mind before entering into marriage. Same-sex couples are allowed to marry in Ireland, but they must have attained the legal age to be able to contract marriage. The law of marriage in Ireland recognizes civil marriages, religious marriages, and secular marriages. Couples can decide to enter into any of the types of marriage. The requirements of the different types of marriage differ from one another, especially religious marriages. All couples, irrespective of the type of marriage contracted, have to register their marriage. 

All marriages must be conducted by the appropriate authorities, also known as solemnizers. Couples must not be in an existing marriage at the time of contracting marriage; if one or both parties have been married previously, they must provide proof that such marriage has been annulled or is no longer existing; in the case of divorce, a certificate of divorce must be presented; and in the case of widowhood, a certificate of death of the deceased spouse must be submitted. Persons who have a common ancestor are not permitted to marry. Consanguineous marriages are against the law in Ireland. 

Couples must be able to provide two witnesses who are over the age of 18 at the time of marriage, and they must testify with their signatures on the marriage register. Couples must submit a notice to the civil registrar or the various religious institutions where the marriage will take place at least three months before the chosen date, during which time they will be granted permission to marry. Foreigners are allowed to marry in Ireland, provided all the requirements are met. Both citizens and foreigners have to submit all required documents, such as birth certificates, and they must be verified by appropriate authorities before marriage can be legally binding.


Just like every citizen in the country, married couples have access to rights that are protected by the law. Couples even have access to exclusive rights and benefits that are not open to the public. Once marriage is contracted, couples have the right to receive financial support from one another. They have the right to receive respectful treatment from one another; neither member of the couple is allowed to treat the other with disrespect or contempt. They both have the right to exercise their conjugal rights within the marriage. 

They both possess the right to equal inheritance and property rights, and in the event of the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to receive the property of the deceased spouse. Under property rights, the couple have the right to own property jointly and individually, depending on the marital property regime under which the marriage is contracted. They both have the right to sign a prenup, which does not allow the division of property in the event of separation. Couples have the right to file joint or individual taxes, depending on which offers more benefits. 

The right to file for and finalize divorce is available to both parties. Couples can decide to file for divorce based on mutual terms or for specific reasons. They both possess the right to decide whether or not to have children; they also possess the right to adopt children, provided they are mentally and financially capable. They also have the right to raise the children according to their various moral, political, and religious beliefs.


It is safe to say there is nothing like an average cost when it comes to the cost of getting married, but a common ground can be agreed upon. In Ireland, the cost of contracting a civil marriage is €220: €200 for the notice of marriage and €20 for the marriage certificate. Same-sex couples in Ireland must pay around €150 for the notice of marriage. Different religious and non-religious institutions have various prices that differ from one another. An average wedding reception in Ireland is made up of different costs, such as venue, catering, etc. An average wedding venue in Ireland costs around €5000, depending on the location of the venue. 

The music at an average wedding, if you're hiring a band, costs around €2000; a DJ costs less, around €275. The wedding attire of the couple costs around €1,000, and this largely depends on whether it is a designer or local brand that the couple is patronizing. At €110 per guest, food and beverages would cost at least €11,000 for a wedding of at least 100 people. The videography and photography cost around €2000. For other costs such as transportation, cake, makeup, hair, and other miscellaneous items, couples should expect to spend around €2000. In essence, an average wedding budget in Ireland costs around €20,075; this cost can easily increase depending on the financial status of the couple or what the couple hopes to achieve.


The duties of husband and wife in the home are split equally; both the husband and wife have specific and general roles to perform to ensure the smooth running of the home. In the past, wives in Ireland were restricted from carrying out certain roles in the home; they were only seen as housekeepers. 

In recent times, wives are beginning to take on roles that were only for men in the past. Both the husband and wife are heads of the family, so any decisions made concerning the health and comfort of the family must be done with mutual agreement. They both have an obligation to jointly contribute and provide for the welfare of the family. They have the primary goal of caring for the children in the home; they are in charge of providing education and basic necessities. Both parties have a duty to be loyal and committed to one another.


Getting married in Ireland is quite simple because the procedures and required documents are clearly stated and straightforward. The country has a beautiful cultural heritage that is still upheld in marriages to this day. Both foreign and native Irish couples are able to get married fairly easily in the country.

Foreign spouses who want to get married in Ireland must ensure that the documents obtained from their home country or the consulate or embassy of such a country include an apostille. This will show the documents are original and were issued by the concerned authorities. Couples who want to conduct a civil marriage are required to give a three-month notice to the civil registry where the marriage will take place. We hope this article has provided you with all you need to know about marriage in Ireland.