But isn't it just a fake wedding?
'Why should I bother hiring you as a Celebrant when you can’t legalise my marriage'?
'Couldn’t I just make the one job of it and get married in a Registry Office'?
I’ve gotten these questions on more than one occasion, along with ‘So you don’t really marry people then, not legally like’? I’ve even heard on the grapevine a Celebrant led wedding being described as a ‘fake wedding’ Ouch!
I have thought long and hard how best to approach these questions and as I am only familiar with getting married in Ireland I cannot comment on other countries. The truth is you could go to a HSE Registrar and get married legally, legal solemnising is something that at present I cannot do. Things will hopefully change in the future but right now I and many of my Celebrant colleagues cannot perform legally binding wedding ceremonies.
Let’s look at the process when you decide to get married at a Registry Office. No matter whether you are going for a secular or a religious wedding you must give your Notice of Intent to Marry at least 3 months in advance and fill out the necessary paperwork along with the fee which is currently 200 euro. The Registry office then assigns you a date and time and you go along to the office with two of your witnesses. Note they tell you the date and time, not the other way around and they don’t do weddings at the weekend.
The process is all over in under 30 minutes with a script that is the more or less the same for every couple and you come out of the office legally married. It’s quick and convenient and it suits some couples down to a tee. But where is the ceremony? The love in the room? The rites and rituals to mark the day? The special way to honour and remember those who have passed? The unique blending of two families?
So, while I cannot give you a piece of paper that says in the eyes of the law you are married, I can give you the beautiful opportunity to be married in each other’s eyes. I love the planning process in the months before the wedding day, sitting down with a couple and really getting to know them. Little by little the precious nuggets of their love story come together. How they met, the realisation that they were falling in love, their lives together, the ups and downs, the proposal. These life stories hold me spell bound and I am always so humbled that a couple trust me to hold their story for them and to craft it into a beautiful ceremony. It is an absolute honour for me. Ritual is so important to me, marking an occasion with a special rite, making a memory – these are uniquely human connections that go back thousands of years across all cultures. The desire to bear witness to something great and meaningful, the longing for an opportunity to gather together in times of joy and celebration. I absolutely adore all the enhancements available to couples; the Hand Fasting, the Sand Ceremony, the ring warming, to name but a few. Each one so meaningful and heart led and perfectly created to enhance the experience for both the couple and their guests.
So absolutely get yourself legally married in a Registry Office, get that piece of paper that says ‘legal’ but then come to me to plan the heart-led ceremony that you have always hoped for and let’s make this a wedding to truly remember, one that is full of your personality, of opportunities for meaningful connection and above all one that is all about…LOVE.