Guide to Legal Marriage
There are two ways to get legally married in Northern Ireland:
A religious marriage conducted by a minister of religion
A civil marriage conducted at an approved venue by either a local council registrar or a humanist celebrant accredited by Humanists UK. Civil marriages are, by law, secular ceremonies.
Celebrants accredited by Humanists UK can all conduct legal weddings. Ann, the owner of Runaway Irish Weddings is an accredited Celebrant with Humanists UK and can conduct your wedding but warmly welcomes all other Celebrants and Officiants provided they are able to conduct legal weddings in Northern Ireland.
In general, anyone can get married in Northern Ireland and their marriage will be legal in their home country. Here are the basic requirements (full details can be found here):
It must be in a venue approved by the local council (We are an approved venue)
It must be conducted by an approved officiant (Humanists UK celebrants are approved officiants)
There must be 2 witnesses (We can provide if required)
The couple must each submit a notification of marriage form (form 446) to the local council registrar at least 28 days before their wedding day. Your celebrant must sign your forms before submission. More time may be required if either party was previously married or you need to provide an Immigration Status Statement (see below). The council will then issue a ‘marriage schedule', which must be collected in person during business hours, from the council office, during the 14 days before the wedding. The marriage schedule must be signed by the couple, 2 witnesses and the officiant during the ceremony and returned to the council office within 3 business days of the wedding. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is the local council for Runaway Irish Weddings venue. Their contact details and more information can be found here.
We are not from the UK, what do we need to know?
All the information above still applies plus......
If you are not a UK, EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss national you will need to complete an Immigration Status Statement before you can marry here. More information here. The council registrar may need your notification of marriage more than 28 days before your wedding date.
The above is intended to be a quick guide to legal weddings in Northern Ireland and does not constitute legal advice. For full, current details go here.
Celebrants can provide guidance and assistance with the process and paperwork but it is the responsibility of the couple to ensure they meet all the legal requirements and complete the process in time for their wedding.