How to Legally Elope in Ireland

ireland elopement photographer

So, you’ve decided to elope to Ireland? First of all, congratulations! You’ve made the wonderful choice to honor your bond in one of the most mystically romantic places on earth. An eternal love runs through the sprawling landscapes, undulating hills, and dark waters of the emerald isle, making it one of the most popular elopement destinations right now.

Another reason why many hopefuls decide to tie the knot there is because it’s delightfully straightforward. That said, there’s still some tape to be cut before you can walk down the aisle, and we’re here to provide the scissors step-by-step below. 

Your Complete Guide to Eloping in Ireland (the Legal Way)

Step One: One or the Other 

Before eloping to Ireland, the first thing to consider is whether you’d like your ceremony to be legally binding or not.

You have the option to:

  • Have a marriage that’s legally recognised in Ireland.
  • Make your marriage official in the US and then exchange vows/rings in Ireland in a celebratory ceremony.

To legally marry in Ireland, you must be:

  • Over 18
  • Free to marry
  • Not related

Same-sex or opposite-sex are permitted in Ireland and seen as equal under the law - as it should be. 

Step Two: Know Your Resources 

The Embassy

When in doubt, contact the American Embassy in Ireland. They know a thing or two about all things Irish bureaucracy and should be able to point you in the right direction while keeping you well within the law. Similarly, you can contact the Irish Embassy here in America while planning.

Your Destination Photographer 

Your photographer should have all of the necessary permits and understand the labor laws of the land. If they don't know the answer to a question, they can likely point you in the direction of someone who does!

Step Three: Getting Your Details Ready 

The application process for marrying in Ireland is simple as long as you have all your ducks in a row before you get started. Here’s what you’ll need on hand to ensure everything goes smoothly: 

  • Both partner’s documentation, including Passport as ID, original Birth Certificate with Apostille, letter of freedom, and the fee of €200 (we’ll explain this later.)
  • The booked location where you plan to marry and the wedding day date.
  • The identity of your two witnesses (should you wish to have a civil ceremony.) 

Note: If one or both of you is divorced or widowed, additional documentation will be required. 

Documentation in any language that’s not English or Irish will have to be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Step Four: Notifying the Registrar 

The registrar is the gateway to marriage in Ireland, and everyone, citizen or not, must let them know their intentions before tying the knot. 

To do this, you can:

Book a notification appointment

This can be done online or over the phone. Have your documentation and witness information to hand while booking this appointment.

Something to keep in mind: you must notify the registrar at least 3 months before your planned wedding date. You cannot get married until after the 3-month notice period.

You get this from a HSE civil registration service. It is sometimes called a marriage license. It is needed for all civil, religious, or secular marriages.

Note: You must bring this form to your marriage ceremony, so that the person marrying you can sign it. Then, you use it to register the marriage.

Step Five: Attend the marriage notification appointment

Here’s the first step you’ll perform on the ground. After you arrive in Ireland, 4-5 days before your wedding date, you and your partner will need to attend the marriage notification appointment.

There, you’ll meet the registrar and sign a declaration that states you do not know of any legal reason why the marriage cannot happen. When all things going well, the registrar will give you a marriage registration form that’s valid for 6 months from the day you intend to marry.

At that meeting, you will both need to present the following original documents (as mentioned above:

  • Passport as ID
  • Original Birth Certificate with Apostille, 
  • Letter of Freedom 
  • A fee of €200

Don’t worry; it’s not some scary complex interview. Instead, think of it like a 20-minute meeting that usually goes without a single blip. 

Step 6: Book an appointment with a church (for religious and secular ceremonies)

You must book a notification appointment for a church, religious or secular ceremony.
Contact the religious or secular authority to arrange the ceremony, and meet beforehand.

And there you have it!

The 6 simple steps that stand along the path to your dream wedding in Ireland! Weddings can be stressful and eloping can cut down much of the organizational workload, but it's important to follow the proper steps to ensure you tie the knot seamlessly and well within the law.

Important note: this is a guide compiled by research at the time of publishing. Rules can always change, so be sure to reach out to your local embassy - find yours here!

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