A DUBLIN couple say they were left "distraught and embarrassed" after being told they were not legally married two years after their dream wedding in Italy.
Glenn and Emer Richardson were left horrified after discovering that there was no record of their marriage when they sought to remortgage their north Dublin home in 2007.
Their solicitor, Patrick O'Neill, had told the couple they needed a marriage certificate to process the conveyancing of the remortgaging transaction.
The couple, who are expecting their second baby, spent €16,000 on the wedding, which was held in a village just north of Rome in 2005.
But after contacting the Italian authorities, they were told that there was no record of their wedding.
Mrs Richardson (32) yesterday told Dublin Circuit Civil Court of her horror when she realised that if, "God forbid", anything had happened to either of them, they would not even have been considered next of kin.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane, awarding her and her husband €36,000 damages, said the couple were very fortunate to discover by chance that they were not married.
Speaking to the Herald last night, Mr Richardson (36) said the couple were forced to remarry in a registry office in Dublin City Centre. "It's been a horrendous experience and we're delighted with the judgement. We've had this hanging over us for years.
"This was our dream wedding. We had friends and family who spent a lot of money coming over and the wedding itself was brilliant. Then we were given this terrible news," he added.
According to Mr Richardson, the incident caused "huge embarrassment" for him and his wife.
"We had to say to people, 'You came over for our wedding, but we're not actually married'. It was just horrendous to have to go through that. Nobody should have to go through that experience," he said.
Mr Richardson, who runs his own construction business, said they were never officially married because they failed to notify their intentions of holy matrimony to the Marriage Registry Office in Riva del Garda, Italy.
They had not been advised of this and, as a consequence, were not recognised by the Italian or Irish authorities as being married.
"We had paid €16,000 for our wedding and reception for 36 guests who had flown out to share our very special day," Mrs Richardson, who is 28 weeks pregnant, told the court. "Since I was a little girl I had dreamed of my wedding day, which should have been July 7, 2005, before a priest in that little church in Riva del Garda.
"Instead, my wedding anniversary now is August 13, 2007, following an accelerated marriage appointment before the Registrar of Civil Marriages in Dublin," she added.
The couple only discovered that they were not legally married after they hit legal difficulties in remortgaging their house at Greenwood Avenue, Blunden Drive, Dublin 13, and acquiring a property at Abbotstown Road, Finglas in Dublin 11.
Judge Linnane heard the couple attended a wedding fair at the RDS and had hired Vernon Travel Limited, trading as The Travel Broker, Vernon Avenue, Contarf, Dublin; and Tony Collins Travel Agency Limited, trading as Topflight, to handle the travel and wedding arrangements.
The couple told Shane English, counsel for Topflight, and Nicola Jane Andrews, for Travel Broker, that they had never been informed they had to register their marriage details with the Riva del Garda authorities at least four days before the ceremony, which would have made everything legal.
Judge Linnane awarded the Richardsons €36,000 in damages – 50/50 against both defendants.