Sunday 15 December 2019

Your Money: How to avoid wedding headaches

A few simple compromises could stop your big day from breaking the bank

Outlay: Irish weddings cost around €25,000 on average. Stock image
Outlay: Irish weddings cost around €25,000 on average. Stock image
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

We're told priests are becoming an endangered species. The number aged under 75 will halve over the next 10 years, according to Bishop Dermot Farrell, meaning fewer available to undertake ceremonies like marriages and christenings.

One of the factors is the uptake of secular weddings. Just 54.4pc of marriages in Ireland last year were religious in nature, while civil and humanist ceremonies rose to 38.8pc.

This week, I'm looking at what is involved in getting hitched the legal way.

While your day out can be romantic and intimate, the State's role gets down to brass tacks and logistics.

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Key numbers

There were 20,389 opposite-sex and 664 same-sex marriages, and no civil partnerships, in 2018.

The average newly wed age was 36.4 and 39.5 respectively, far higher than it used to be in previous decades - reflecting the fact that more people live together first, put career before marriage or are on the second time around, with the taboos over starting a family first gone. A quarter of all marriages take place in July and August (although it's no guarantee of good weather!).

Friday and Saturday account for a whopping 70.6pc of chosen wedding days.

The logistics

Civil weddings are under the remit of the HSE, which surprises many people.

Finding out how to go about it is your first step.

In order to get married, you need to make an appointment with a registrar. While the booking can be made online, the meeting is face to face, at least three months ahead of your planned day. This costs €200 and you must bring certain documentation with you:

- Passport, birth cert and proof of your PPS and address;

- If divorced, you must bring your divorce decree;

- If widowed, the original and a copy of the death certificate of your former spouse.

You must state the kind of service you'll be undertaking, the venue details (see below) or registry office and the name of the solemniser. The HSE has a lengthy list of these on its website and they include all religions and none, along with the Humanist Society, the Spiritualist Association, and even Amish, Pagan and Mormon celebrants are listed.

You must provide details of your witnesses, and there are additional requirements for non-Irish and non-EU people to ascertain their suitability and legal availability to wed.

Civil ceremonies can only be performed by registrars Monday to Friday. So forget the idea of a romantic hilltop on a Saturday afternoon unless you want to marry in a registry office first (which many people do, with minimal guests), and celebrate any way you like after that or even repeat the vows with a friend 'officiating'.


Keeping a lid on expenses is essential, yet the average Irish wedding costs around €25,000, a massive financial commitment to a 'day out'.

The easiest way to cut that back is inviting fewer guests, according to wedding planners at One Fab Day.

Doing away with things like guest favours, bathroom baskets and three-day hen/stag parties will certainly save cash.

Picking mid-summer weekends is the most expensive time to get married.

Off-peak months like December or January (avoiding the New Year period), and choosing a Thursday or even a Sunday, are far cheaper.

Postponing your honeymoon for a few months can let you save up (or cash those wedding gifts in), while calling on friends who are cake makers, florists, photographers or printers to offer their services as your gift, or at reduced cost, is a win-win.

Irish Independent

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